Apologies for the long absence from the blog – it’s been a busy couple of months, not the least of which for members of the Bach Choir. I’m going to offer a few wrap-ups, a couple of invitations, and a special request. Apologies in advance for what is sure to be a long post. There’s much to share!
51st Bach at Noon
We had another capacity audience at our 51st Bach at Noon on Tuesday, February 14th. It was The Choir’s first outing with Cantata 8 since 1917 (oh, to have been a fly on that wall!), and things went exceptionally well. Greg played the Eb French Suite with all the joy and elan for which he is justly known, and the cantata was especially beautiful. We had a near-capacity audience, and they were very generous in their appreciation at the conclusion of the concert. It was a delightful mid-day Valentine’s Day bon-bon.
Bach to School, February 22nd & 23rd
Around 40 members of The Choir went to back to school in Bethlehem, Bucks County and Lehighton to offer our compelling program for students at three schools. Every third grader in the city of Bethlehem sees the program every year, and we also visit other schools to offer a program of choral and orchestral music. The programs were very well received, and the students had lots of thoughtful questions for Greg, which he always answers with enthusiasm and charm. Thanks to the intrepid members of The Choir, many of whom take vacation time, to help with this very important component of our nationally-recognized Educational Outreach program.
Dancing with Bach: Baroque, Blue & Brilliant: The 2012 Family Concert
Dancers from the Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Performing Arts and Muhlenberg College were on hand for our 2012 Family Concert, which felt especially celebratory in nature. Educators, musicians, and choreographers collaborated to make an especially engaging experience for our youngest audience members, who filled the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University to capacity for this exciting program. Time prohibits me from mentioning by name everyone involved, but I hope it will suffice to say that all of the guest performers acquitted themselves marvelously, and it was a delight to see their movement added to music we love so much. Like Bach to School, this is part of our core Educational Outreach efforts, which were recently recognized by Chorus America and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Next on the Performance Calendar is Bach at Noon, this coming Tuesday, at the Central Moravian Church, in beautiful downtown Bethlehem. On the program is the Trio Sonata from Bach’s stunning opus, The Musical Offering, BWV 1079, and his beautiful solo cantata for baritone, Ich Habe Genug, BWV 82. The cantata will feature baritone Dashon Burton, who was a finalist in a recent Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers, which The Choir holds in cooperation with the American Bach Society. Members of the Bach Choir family who were in attendance at the final Remember to Love concert at Trinity Church, Wall Street (or who watched the streamed webcast) will recall Dashon’s gorgeous singing in the Fauré Requiem. I stood a few singers over from him in the choral portions of the concert, and his voice is magnificently rich and beautiful, and he’s also a very sensitive interpreter. The arias of Cantata N0. 82 are among Bach’s very best – each capturing a different shading and mood of a very beautiful (and appropriate for the Lenten season) text. Likewise, the Trio Sonata is one of Bach’s great instrumental pieces. The Musical Offering has a fascinating back story, memorably captured in James R. Gaines’ sublime book, An Evening in the Palace of Reason. Edmund Morris has a great review of the book on the New York Times website, though I suggest just picking up the book, which can be read in one long evening (with good recordings of The Musical Offering and Cantata No. 106 as accompaniment). The piece includes some of Bach’s most craftily-composed, rigorous counterpoint, and will be an excellent companion to the solo cantata. This is going to be a powerhouse of a concert – we’d love to have you join us!
The 2012 Spring Concert
In a little more than a week’s time, we will be gearing up for our Spring Concert, which includes three wonderful pieces: Bach’s euphoric motet, Der Geist Hilft, and two compositions by a composer deeply influenced by Bach, Johannes Brahms. We will offer his German Requiem, and baritone Christòpheren Nomura will sing his Four Serious Songs. I plan to write more about this concert in the coming days – this is some of my favorite repertoire, and this concert promises to be something very, very special. The Choir will be doing Brahms’ own transcription for the Requiem, arranged for choir, soprano and baritone soloists, and two pianos. The loss in orchestral sonorities to which we are accustomed in this piece will be more than offset by the brilliant accompanying at the piano of our own Tom Goeman, who will be joined by Eric Plutz, who is the University Organist at Princeton University, and the accompanist of Westminster Choir College’s Symphonic Choir (a role that was previously held by Greg Funfgeld and Tom Goeman). These two are amazing keyboard artists, and I fairly shiver at the promise of the depth of their music-making. I usually use this space to encourage my readers to attend all of our concerts. In this instance, I implore you – buy a ticket and experience the sublime. Buy tickets for your family and friends. This is transcendental music, deeply, deeply-moving music. The last time The Choir sang this piece, the Morning Call’s reviewer called it the concert event of the decade. If you use Facebook, post about it. E-mail your friends. We’d love to have a sold-out house, and, if ever there’s music that deserves to be heard, it’s this program. Stay tuned for more posts in the coming week!