Parkland Press

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Concert Review: 112th Bach Festival of Bethlehem has many memorable moments

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

They come for the “Mass,” but they stay for the cantatas, world premieres, instrumental works and events.

The 112th Bach Festival of Bethlehem, which continues May 17 and 18, ran the gamut of emotions, from somber reflection, to fascinating scholarship, to wonderful new works, to exciting soloists and instrumentalists to, yes, the grandeur of J.S. Bach’s “Mass in B Minor.”

There’s so much to take in at the Bach Festival, that a review cannot truly do it justice. Even so, there are moments to remember from the May 10 and 11 performances and events.

Movie Review: ‘Endgame,’ or is it?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

It is called “Avengers: Endgame.”

To quote the rock band, The Who, “Don’t get fooled again.”

There will be plenty more to see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe even though some of the main characters may be gone.

At the risk of being attacked by “Avengers” fans, we say no more.

Fans will relish “Avengers: Endgame” for its panoply of Marvel characters, quippy dialogue between characters, and huge action scenes, especially a concluding battle that recreates an armageddon of Biblical proportions.

On the road to Bethlehem for the Bach Festival in May

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Another May. Another ‘Mass.’”

So observed David R. Umla, of Allentown, who has sung J. S. Bach’s “Mass In B Minor” in the Bass I section of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem for two decades since the 1998-1999 season.

“It’s like coming home,” said Umla, standing outside Packer Memorial Church on the Lehigh University campus in Bethlehem between sessions of the “Mass,” presented in two parts on the afternoon of May 11 for the 112th Bach Festival.

“It never gets old,” continued Umla. “I could sing it every weekend.”

Movie Review: ‘Endgame,’ or is it?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

It is called “Avengers: Endgame.”

To quote the rock band, The Who, “Don’t get fooled again.”

There will be plenty more to see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe even though some of the main characters may be gone.

At the risk of being attacked by “Avengers” fans, we say no more.

Fans will relish “Avengers: Endgame” for its panoply of Marvel characters, quippy dialogue between characters, and huge action scenes, especially a concluding battle that recreates an armageddon of Biblical proportions.

Disney movie concert magic back on stage with Allentown Symphony

Thursday, May 9, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

The beauty, excitement and entertainment that are Disney movies will manifest itself in center city Allentown.

Disney fans won’t want to miss the Allentown Symphony Orchestra Pops concert, “Disney In Concert: A Dream Is A Wish,” 7:30 p.m. May 11, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

It’s the third time that Ronald Demkee, ASO Pops Conductor, has led the ASO Pops in a Disney-theme concert at Miller Symphony Hall.

Movie Review: ‘Amazing’ Aretha

Thursday, May 9, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

“Amazing Grace” depicts a concert by Aretha Franklin filmed in 1972 in a Los Angeles church during the recording of a live gospel music album of the same title.

Though billed as a documentary, there’s very little commentary and no interviews with Franklin nor those associated with the project. There are some explanatory title cards at the beginning of the film.

Basically, this is a concert film of a recording studio session, or a gospel version of concert films from the era, notably, “Woodstock” (1970) or “Gimme Shelter” (1970).

More than Bach and beer in Bethlehem: 112th Bach Festival adds concerts, events, venues

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Legendary journalist H.L. Mencken wrote of his attendance at the Bethlehem Bach Festival during Prohibition in terms of Bach and beer.

The 2019 Bach Festival of Bethlehem, in its 112th year, is much more than that.

In his 36th season, Bach Choir of Bethlehem Artistic Director and Conductor Greg Funfgeld has added depth and dimension to the Bach Festival.

The festival is May 10, 11 and May 17, 18 in Bethlehem, principally on the Lehigh University campus, with some events at a southside Bethlehem church and on the downtown Moravian College campus.

Curtain Rises:

Friday, May 3, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Civic’s ‘Fun Home’ puts the fun in dysfunction

The tagline for the musical, “Fun Home,” could be: “Putting the fun in dysfunction.”

Civic Theatre of Allentown presents the Lehigh Valley premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Fun Home,” May 3-19.

The original Broadway production, opening in 2015 and closing in 2016, was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, receiving five Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.

Review: ‘Breakthrough’

Friday, May 3, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

One wouldn’t necessarily expect a “More cowbell” joke in a Christian-themed movie.

That’s just one of the surprises in “Breakthrough,” based on the true story of a teen whose life floated in the balance after he fell through wintry ice in a pond in St. Charles, Mo. (St. Louis is the closest big city.)

“Breakthrough” portrays a realistic family, not a sanitized family. The family bickers. The son is surly to his mother. The boy is disrespectful of authority at the Christian middle school he attends and on the school basketball team on which he’s a standout player.

Curtain Rises:

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Civic’s ‘Fun Home’ puts the fun in dysfunction

The tagline for the musical, “Fun Home,” could be: “Putting the fun in dysfunction.”

Civic Theatre of Allentown presents the Lehigh Valley premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Fun Home,” May 3-19.

The original Broadway production, opening in 2015 and closing in 2016, was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, receiving five Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.