Watch the video above for an introduction to and taste of Saturday morning’s performances of our new comic opera. You can also read more about the process of bringing it to life, both at our Family Concert, and at the German Society of Pennsylvania, by scrolling down below.
The Choir and the Bach Festival Orchestra met for our first rehearsal in Packer Memorial church last night. There have been a few tweaks in how the orchestra is placed and, from my perch on the choral risers, I have to say that it seems that the clarity has increased. As we rehearsed the opening passacaglia of Cantata 78, during the lengthy instrumental ritornelli, hearing the contrasting sections of winds and strings, the particular genius of Bach’s orchestration really seemed evident (it may also be that they were just in especially fine form). There’s such a wonderful sense of collaboration among the players, who are now reuniting en masse after The Creation at the end of March (some played together at the April Bach at Noon). Despite it being only the first go, the epic battle scene that is the opening chorus of Cantata 19 sounded thrilling, if daunting to assemble. We also ran several movements of the Mass, and revisited the opening and closing choruses of Cantata 34.
A few practical notes: longtime attendees will doubtless miss two of the beautiful stained glass windows from the front of Packer Memorial Church, as well as one of the windows in the south transept. They are currently being restored (if you’ve ever read about that process, you know what a nerve-wracking enterprise that is), and their return to Packer is something for which to look forward in 2015. If there’s less radiant sunlight in the space, we hope to make up for it with our singing and playing!
Second, if you are prone to seasonal allergies, take your meds before you come to the Festival. The Lehigh campus looks stunningly beautiful with scores of blooming trees, but the late April showers we’re currently enduring can only mean that there will be an abundance of pollen when the weather dries up for the weekend. Several of my colleagues are suffering already, and I can feel some sense of my allergy meds doing battle with the airborne particulates (or maybe it’s some leftover tension from the opening chorus of 19 – epic!).