Get your Bach on at the 111th Bach Festival, Bethlehem
There is Bach for every taste, as well as some exciting new concerts, at the 111th Bach Festival, May 11-12, 18-19, at various sites in Bethlehem.
The Festival features performances by the Bethlehem Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra, along with guest vocalists and musicians, conducted by Bach Choir artistic director Greg Funfgeld.
The choir, celebrating its 120th anniversary, is the oldest Bach choir organization in the United States.
The Festival kicks off both weekends, noon May 11 and 18, with “Bach Outdoors!,” Payrow Plaza, Church and New streets, Bethlehem. The free outdoor concert features performances of Bach on cello, marimba and electric violin. Guest performers are Dale Henderson, creator of “Bach in the Subways”; Festival artist-in-residence She-e Wu, and Festival Orchestra principal violist Paul Miller.
Robin A. Leaver presents “120 Years of Bach in Bethlehem,” Distinguished Scholar Lecture, 2 p.m. May 11, 18, Zoellner Arts Center Room 145. Leaver is Bach Choir concert program annotator and a visiting professor, Yale University, and Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, and professor emeritus, Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
“Bach at 4” is at 4 p.m. May 11, 18, Incarnation of Our Lord Church, Thomas and Buchanan streets, Bethlehem.
Festival soloists are Cassandra Lemoine and Rosa Lamoreaux, sopranos; Daniel Taylor, countertenor; Benjamin Butterfield, tenor; William Sharp, baritone, and David Newman, bass.
The program includes Bach Cantata 156, “Ich steh mit einen Fuss im Grabe,” and two Bach arias sung by Lamoreaux and Taylor;
Sonata in D Major, BWV 1028, with Mollie Glazer, viola da gamba, and Funfgeld, harpsichord, and Cantata 106, “Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit.”
Also at 4 p.m. May 11, 18, Saal, Moravian Museum, Church Street, Bethlehem, Charlotte Mattax Moersch performs Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” one of the most ambitious works ever written for harpsichord. The Saal is on the second floor and is not handicapped-accessible.
At 5:45 p.m. May 11, 18, Larry Lipkis, professor of music and composer-in-residence at Moravian College, gives an informal talk during a buffet dinner, Butz Lobby, Zoellner Arts Center.
“Bach at 8” May 11, 18, featuring a performance by She-e Wu, is at 8 p.m. in Packer Memorial Church, Lehigh University. The Bach Choir and Orchestra perform Bach’s Cantata 21, “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis”; Wu plays Bach’s Third Cello Suite, BWV 1009 in C Major, transcribed for marimba, and the choir and orchestra perform Handel’s “Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day.”
Wu plays Eric Ewazen’s “Concerto for Marimba and Strings,” Ifor Jones Chamber Music Concert, 10:30 a.m. May 12, 19, Zoellner Arts Center. Also performing are Funfgeld, harpsicord, accompanied by Elizabeth Field, violin, and Robin Kani, flute, on Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto BWV 1050. The final piece is Bach’s Third Suite in D major, BWV 1068.
A Festival lunch is at 12:30 p.m. May 12, 19, Butz Lobby, Zoellner Arts Center.
The Bach Chorale Sing is at 2 p.m. May 12, 19, Packer Memorial Church, accompanied by The Festival Brass Choir.
The Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra present Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Part 1, at 2:30 p.m., and Part 2, at 4:30 p.m. May 12, 19, Packer Memorial Church, Lehigh University.
Pre-concert performances are presented by the Festival Brass Choir and youth ensembles, including the Lehigh Valley Suzuki violin program.
Young artists, chosen by audition, perform Baroque music in the cafe-style Zimmermann’s Coffee House, 7 p.m. May 12, 19, Peter Hall, Moravian College.
Rounding out the Festival is the Biennial Young American Singer Competition Finals, 1 p.m. May 20, Peter Hall, Moravian College. The event, sponsored by the American Bach Society and The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, is free and open to the public.
Tickets: bach.org; 610-866-4382