120th anniversary concert: Bach Choir of Bethlehem at State Theatre, Easton
In celebration of its 120th birthday, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem makes it debut performance at 7:30 p.m. March 17 at the State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.
Greg Funfgeld, Bach Choir Artistic Director and Conductor, says that the concert is part of “a very special anniversary season.
“This year marks the 120th anniversary of the Bach Choir’s founding in 1898,” he says. “This is our first time at the State and we are very excited.”
Funfgeld is in his 35th year with the Bach Choir. He became the first full-time Artistic Director for the Bach Choir in 1983, committing to an ambitious outreach program for the choir which boasts 85 singers from all walks of life.
“This is a gifted group that cares deeply about what they do,” he says.
For the State Theatre performance, the choir will be accompanied by a brass and percussion ensemble, along with organ and piano.
“We are calling it a celebration of the choral arts,” says Funfgeld.
Music by composer John Rutter will be featured. Rutter’s music is reminiscent of the music of Hollywood composer John Williams, however, Rutter wrote his music years before Williams. “It is an enjoyable, accessible and really fun program,” Funfgeld says.
Bach’s “Cantata 118” will also be presented. “It is a very soulful piece,” says Funfgeld. “It has a beautiful spirit.”
The Bach Choir has spent many hours preparing for this performance. “We rehearse every Monday for two hours, with more as a show gets closer,” says Funfgeld.
“The choir works very very hard. We try to perform music that people will really enjoy and to bring the music out into the community, and as far and wide as possible.”
Shelley Browne, President and CEO of the State Theatre, is thrilled that the State is hosting the 120th birthday concert of the Bach Choir.
“It’s monumental,” she says. “It’s amazing. The Bach Choir is internationally-renowned. It is so exciting to have such an iconic choir on our stage. I can’t imagine a better fit.”
Browne hopes for the Bach Choir to return to the State in the future and for more like-minded ensembles to perform at the State.
“People really need to understand that if they like something, and they want it to continue, then come on out and support it. Buy a ticket and that’s how you can support what you love.”
The Bach Choir is billing its 2017-18 concert schedule as a “season of musical milestones.” A second “Spring Concert” by the Bach Choir will be performed at 4 p.m. March 18 at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.
The program for the Easton and Bryn Mawr concerts is:
William Walton’s “Coronation Te Deum,” composed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953.
John Rutter’s “Gloria,” composed 20 years later.
Morten Lauridsen’s “Mid-Winter Songs,” based on poetry by Robert Graves.
J.S. Bach’s “Cantata 118 O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht,” one of the last choral works composed by Bach.
Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton; statetheatre.org; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132