Much exciting music is on tap for our 2010 Christmas Concerts, on Saturday, December 11th at the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown at 8 pm (pre-concert organ recital at 7:30 pm) and on Sunday, December 12th at the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, beginning at 4 pm (with a pre-concert organ recital at 3:30 pm). Plan to arrive early to hear the organ recitals – Tom Goeman, our Assistant Director, rehearsal accompanist and organist is a fantastic musician, and Bach’s organ works are his musical bread and butter. The instruments at the Presbyterian churches of Allentown and Bethlehem are both exceptional examples of the organbuilder’s art, and so these recitals will feature beautiful music, fabulously performed by a stellar musician, on great instruments. See you there!
The redoubtable Dr. Ellis Finger, director of Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Performing Arts, tenor in The Choir, and frequent translator for our programs, wrote a brilliant article explaining the music for this concert in the fall issue of the Bach Choir News. To his erudite ruminations, I will only add that this concert will definitely be an embarrassment of riches – all of the choral movements are among Bach’s best, and peppered among the cantatas and oratorio parts are some of Bach’s lesser known, yet wholly sublime arias for our accomplished band of instrumental and vocal soloists. I think the aria, Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze, from Cantata No. 61, alone, is worth the price of admission, and I can’t wait to hear Leslie Johnson sing this exceptional piece of music.
Also available at the concerts will be a treasure trove of Bach Choir merchandise, including all of our recordings, including our well-received first recording for Analekta of the Bach Magnificat, Vivaldi Gloria and Bach’s Cantata No. 191. All of our Christmas in Bethlehem recordings will also be available, as well as The Choir’s excellent recording of the Christmas Oratorio – all of which would make wonderful holiday gifts.
I will be posting updates with pictures of the final rehearsals and concerts as the week progresses, so stay tuned!
Update – 12/8/10: Nice preview article by the always-thoughtful Steve Siegel in the Morning Call.
Update – 12/10/10: Your intrepid blogger is ailing with very little voice, but this was a bit of a mitzvah, as I got to hear The Choir and orchestra rehearse tonight in Allentown. It’s been a while since I’ve heard The Choir from the audience end of things, and it was like intravenous Christmas joy! The Bethlehem concert is close to sold out, so if you’ve not already gotten tickets or weren’t planning on attending, tomorrow night’s concert presents a wonderful opportunity to hear glorious music, fabulously sung and played, in the crystal clear acoustical environs of the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown. We’d love to share this music with you!
Update – 12/13/10: Thanks to everyone who attended the Christmas Concerts this weekend. I’m told that there was an excellent showing in Allentown (alas, persistent illness kept me home), and there was a very-full house in Bethlehem. Congratulations to our excellent soloists and instrumentalists, with special mention to baritone Joshua Copeland for his fearless performance of the aria, Streite, siege, starker Held. It was a treat to welcome Fred Urrey and Leslie Johnson back, and to have Barbara Hollinshead join us for performances with the full choir (she’d sung once before at Bach at Noon). There’s much more to come in the coming months, but, for now, The Choir is on a brief holiday hiatus. Check back with the blog in the coming weeks – I’ll be previewing the January Bach at Noon and offering a few musical bonbons for Christmas.
Update – 12/14/10: Following up on his preview, Steve Siegel reviews Saturday evening’s concert here.