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Bethlehem Bach Festival

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The highest standards of musicianship by our volunteer choir make the annual Bethlehem Bach Festival a living expression of the arts in the community. Innovations added each year, along with treasured traditions (the Mass, World Farewell, Community Chorale sings), result in a vibrant, dynamic addition to every music lover's calendar.  

The 2018 Bethlehem Bach Festival   

In 2018, 111th Bethlehem Bach Festival awaits you on May 11 - 12 and May 18 - 19! Joining this year is artist-in-residence She-e Wu, one of the premiere percussive arts performers in the world, and soloists Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano, Cassandra Lemoine, soprano, Danial Taylor, countertenor, Benjamin Butterfield, tenor, William Sharp, baritone, David Newman, bass.

The Festival begins with a new free performance: Bach Outdoors! On Fridays (May 11 & 18), principal violist Paul Miller will be joined by artist-in-residence She-e Wu and Dale Henderson (founder of “Bach in the Subways”) to present original arrangements of some of Bach’s most beloved masterpieces on electric violin and other “modern” instruments. Weather permitting, this will take place on Payrow Plaza, adjacent to Bethlehem’s Public Library and City Hall. The Festival continues with another free event, a Distinguished Scholar Lecture by Dr. Robin A Leaver: 120 Years of Bach in Bethlehem.  

More music get underway with two intimate concerts: Chamber Music in the Saal of the Moravian Museum will feature Charlotte Mattax Moersch, performing the Goldberg Variations on harpsichord. She is revisiting this set of variations, unmatched in their scope and ingenuity, for the festival's 120th birthday. The “Bach at 4” concert features members of The Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra performing Bach’s Cantata 106, Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste, and other works. On Friday evening in Packer Memorial Church, “Bach at 8” features the full choir and orchestra performing Bach’s Cantata 21 Ich hatte viel Bekummernis. She-e Wu performs a transcription for marimba of Bach’s Third Cello Suite in C Major, BWV 1009. The festival closes with Handel’s Ode for Saint Cecelia’s Day, in honor of Saint Cecelia, patron saint of music.

Following Bach at 8, the festival invites everyone to enjoy champagne and strawberries as we toast the 120th anniversary and Artistic Director and Conductor Greg Funfgeld’s 35th anniversary. Lighting the path to the celebration will be 120 luminarias with the star of Bethlehem insignia.  

Saturday’s musical program begins at 10:30 a.m. in Zoellner Arts Center with the Ifor Jones Chamber Music Concert. Greg Funfgeld will play the harpsichord solo in Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, BWV 1050, joined by principal flautists Robin Kani and concertmaster Elizabeth Field. She-e Wu is the featured soloist in Concerto for Marimba and Strings; and the program closes with one of Bach’s most beloved works, the Third Suite in D Major, BWV 1068.  

The festival's treasured tradition, The Mass in B Minorbegins at 2:30 p.m., a concert beloved by thousands and the centerpiece of our Festival since 1900. That evening, Zimmermann’s Coffee House at historic Peter Hall at Moravian College offers chamber music “café style” in a relaxed setting, with German food and drink, and features young artists –chosen by audition –along with Greg Funfgeld and friends.  

On Sunday, May 20, the festival presents the finals of the Young American Singer Competition, sponsored by the American Bach Society and The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. No tickets required to this performance, which takes place at Peter Hall.

Full details on the 2018 Bethlehem Bach Festival, including ticket pricing, are available here

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