Young Meister Bach Wrap Up

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It’s not entirely accurate to call this a wrap up, as there remain two performances of Young Meister Bach in our season, at the 2014 Bethlehem Bach Festival, but now the young Meister is going to take a well-deserved nap until May.  We completed the weekend with two performances of the one-act opera in two vastly different settings:  in the capacious Baker Hall at the Zoellner Arts Center of Lehigh University, and in the intimate auditorium of the German Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and, in doing so, we learned that YMB takes very well to the road!  The Family Concert on Saturday was very well-attended and everyone seemed to have a good time.  Greg’s introduction to opera was very well-considered, and set the stage for the exuberant performance to follow.  Steve Siegel has an excellent review up on the Lehigh Valley Music Blog of the Morning Call.  Choir members had to stand for the entire performance in Philadelphia, but, our placement afforded us much better view of the cast, and it was a treat to see what splendid actors they are, in addition to their excellent singing.  It was also a very intimate way to experience the orchestra, and we finally got to actually see Tom Goeman alternating between harpsichord and continuo organ to work his unbelievably dexterous magic.  Both audiences gave Chuck Holdeman and Bill Bly, composer and librettist, respectively, a warm ovation.

I must give hearty my congratulations to everyone involved – Christopher Schorr made an excellent director, his production staff was wonderful, particularly Emma Chong, who kept the whole enterprise on task with a firm hand and good humor. The Bach Choir family already knows and loves Leslie Johnson, who played Maria Barbara (and who is the daughter of an extremely proud member of the Choir, tenor Everett Johnson), and we’ve been treated to Stephen Ng’s gorgeously lyrical tenor before at Bach at Noon.   We’re delighted to have made the acquaintance of Jeffrey Chapman, who played the young Meister, and an especially ardent tip of the hat is due to Brian Ming Chu, whose agility in both character and costume gave great pleasure (not to mention his colorful singing). Big kudos to my colleagues in The Choir, who were featured ensemble performers:  Beth Allen-Gardner and Shannon Aloise, who both sang beautifully as soloists, and Wendy Borst, Stacy Gabel, Christina Lamonica, Grace Spruiell-Hochella, David Umla, Todd Fennel, and Bill Bly.  They had responsibilities with quick scene changes, and had to sing a folk tune while in various states of acted inebriation (and did marvelously, I’d add!) We’re also grateful to the German Society of Pennsylvania for hosting our Philadelphia performance – we received a very warm and gracious welcome, and it was a treat to rest in their opulent library.  Also a tip of the hat to Executive Director Bridget George and our administrative staff for their brilliant work keeping on top of the logistics and for their nurture in bringing all of this to life, and, of course, to Greg Funfgeld, for birthing another great commissioned work with his trademarked excitement, musical excellence, preternatural calm, patience, and love.  If you missed it, take heart, there are two more performances in May!

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