For information on booking The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and Bach Festival Orchestra contact Bridget George, Executive Director at 610.866.4382 ext. 111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem ProfileThe oldest American Bach Choir, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem gave the first complete American performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor in 1900 and Christmas Oratorio in 1901. Since its founding in 1898, the now-famous Choir has been attracting thousands of visitors from across the United States and beyond to the annual Bethlehem Bach Festival in Pennsylvania. Since 1983, under Greg Funfgeld’s direction, the 100 dedicated volunteer singers of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, performing with the Bach Festival Orchestra and distinguished soloists, have received international acclaim. Venues have included the Herkulessaal at Munich’s Royal Residence and the Thomaskirche, Bach’s church in Leipzig, as part of the 1995 Germany tour; The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall as part of The Choir’s Centennial Celebration in 1998-2000; the BBC Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of an eight-concert tour of the United Kingdom in 2003; and Severance Hall, Cleveland for the 75th anniversary of the Baldwin-Wallace Bach Festival in 2007. In September 2011, The Bach Choir represented the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a 10th anniversary musical observance of 9/11 in New York City, giving concerts in Saint Paul’s Chapel and Trinity Church, Wall Street. The Choir has released eight recordings on the Dorian and Analekta labels including most recently Songs of Hope (2011) and Saint John Passion (2012). The Choir has been featured on National Public Radio’s Performance Today and Prairie Home Companion, Deutsche Radio, the BBC World Service, CBS Sunday Morning, and the Emmy award-winning PBS documentary on The Choir, Make a Joyful Noise. The Choir has been recognized for its outstanding educational outreach programs (Bach at Noon, Bach to School, and interdisciplinary Family Concerts) by Chorus America (2010 finalist) and the National Endowment for the Arts (2011. 2012, and 2013 grant awards), and most recently by the J.S. Bach Foundation in Switzerland, which named The Bach Choir of Bethlehem as the first American recipient of its annual award to a single Bach organization, recognizing The Bach Choir’s outstanding work in Bach performance and education for young people (2012). Mr. Bach Comes to Call, a film based on the acclaimed Classical Kids CD, was co-produced by The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and is distributed internationally by The Children’s Group.
"The performance was one of integrity, movement, passion and weight. The effortless virtuosity and stylistic homegeneity of the combined forces in the chapel's stone sanctity, allowed Bach's music to sing out with infectious, exhilarating enthusiasm."
- The Huffington Post, 2017
"Nestled in the Pennsylvania countryside, on and around the bucolic campus of Lehigh University, the Bethlehem Bach Festival, under the artistic direction of conductor Greg Funfgeld, is in its 108th season and going strong. If it has flaws, they are like those that distinguish a fine emerald from the perfect clarity of a fake...their choral sonority is so rich you can feel it in your bones."
- The Wall Street Journal, May 2015
"Two days later I am Newark bound again, with a head full of the history of a town I previously had no awareness of, and with a heart full of the music of Bach, presented in a context that felt less like a festival than a glorious friendship between a great composer and the orchestra, conductor and choir at the heart of an extraordinary town."
- The Whole-Note - Toronto, June 2015
"The audience was thrilled by this outstanding performance of a Bach Cantata by seasoned experts immersed in the composer and informed by Greg Funfgeld's wisdom and enthusiasm...The Bachs [J.S.B and C.P.E] could not have been better served, not to mention two English Renaissances, as well as our own time. It went beyond mere intelligent programming and committed performance, enriched by a deep sense of the mutual nourishment of music and faith."
- New York Arts, 2015
"The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, founded in the 19th century, has gained international recognition through its annual Bach Festival, tours and recordings. The more than 100 vocalists displayed clean tone, excellent pitch and blend, and kept good tempo even in the most stressful numbers…outstanding, energetic and crisp. The orchestra was a collection of top freelancers from around the Eastern Seaboard including several from Washington… baritone Dashon Burton, was the standout. He has a clarion instrument that projects well throughout his range…a splendid dramatic performance. Soprano Rosa Lamoreaux was also excellent, expertly modulating her silvery tone for the various roles she took…This was the choir’s big night, though, and it gave great pleasure…”
- The Washington Post, March 2013
“A handsome account of Bach’s St. John Passion on this new release confirms that the Bach Choir of Bethlehem doesn’t rest on anything resembling laurels. Greg Funfgeld has trained his singers to articulate words crisply, dance lightly when the music must move and blend elegantly. Funfgeld brings a sure sense of phrasing, texture and pacing to the narrative, and the Bach Festival Orchestra—mostly modern instruments, with viola da gamba, violas d’amore and portative organ supplying period flavors—are cohesive and nimble. Charles Daniels stands out as a poetic and powerful Evangelist, William Sharp as a warmly inflected Jesus and Julia Doyle as a shining champion of the soprano arias.”
-Gramophone, November 2012
“The Bach Choir of Bethlehem sang a Brahms motet (“Lass Dich Nur Nichts”) with all the polish and fervor it brought to cantatas by its namesake.”
-New York Times, September 2011
“..inspired program of hope, optimism and comfort …disarmingly powerful…overflows with jubilation”
- The Morning Call, October 2011
“America’s venerable Bach Choir of Bethlehem makes its Analekta debut on a disc brimming-over with festive D major trumpets-and-drums brilliance…Julia Doyle and Daniel Taylor heading up a distinguished solo line-up.”
- BBC Music Magazine, May 2010
“Conductor Greg Funfgeld coaxed a lovely rich chamber orchestra sound from the Bach Festival Orchestra strings...The hauntingly beautiful voices of Taylor and Zsigovics—she in her festival debut—melted together like two precious metals, hers of bell-like clarity, his a more complex alchemy, with a sheen like liquid mercury.”
- The Morning Call, May 2010
“As I listen to The Bach Choir of Bethlehem with Greg Funfgeld conducting…I find it hard to believe this is an all-volunteer choir but it’s true…a well polished vocal ensemble, and a true level of musicianship and understanding of the choral music of Bach.”
- Minnesota Public Radio Review, December 2009
“…an American musical treasure… they sing with a fervor and a level of musicianship that carries one away—from bass to soprano, the supple strength and solidly integrated tone of this amateur choir reflects the most admirable qualities of the European-American tradition of choral song.”
- Wall Street Journal May, 2007
“By all accounts the chorus remains as vital an institution as ever…The B-Minor Mass performance was rousing, committed and touching…Bach’s ‘St. Matthew Passion’ too was ardently and lovingly performed…”
- New York Times, May 2007
“This is Bach at its finest. The conductor, orchestra, soloists, and chorus are eminently capable of the nuances of the rich harmonic texts …spirited and vivacious…It is not likely to get any better than this on this side of the Atlantic.”
- The American Organist, January, 2004
“America’s venerable Bach Choir of Bethlehem sang Bach and Mendelssohn with good-natured and ruddy-cheeked elation. And their centerpiece was a BBC/Bach Choir co-commission, the world premiere of Libby Larsen’s I It Am, a jubilant cantata based on the writings of Julian of Norwich…this highly coloured and disarmingly unsophisticated work came from, and went straight to, the heart.”
- The Times, London, July 2003
“The Bach Choir of Bethlehem…had their audience enthralled…The choir knows and loves this work – and it shows…transatlantic magic.”
- The Scotsman, Edinburgh, July 2003
“…the Choir and Festival Orchestra, under their director, Greg Funfgeld, perform these three cantatas beautifully and convincingly. The work of the soloists is excellent, too…Excitement, dedication, power—all things that we hear more and more seldom in Bach cantatas—lend distinction to this beautiful and well-produced recording.”
- American Record Guide, November/December 2002
“Nearly one hundred strong, the Bach Choir of Bethlehem tempers its power and energy with the intimacy of a much smaller group. It also blends seamlessly with the excellent modern-instrument Festival orchestra which Greg Funfgeld conducts with an obvious knowledge of, and sensitivity to, modern performance practice.”
- Early Music News, California, October/November 2002
“…intoxicating but precise choral sound that reminds you why choruses grew this large in the first place. The elemental power is startling…the Bethlehem approach under Greg Funfgeld isn’t anachronistic, but meets the historically enlightened approach halfway…We know from Bach’s often irritable correspondence that he campaigned for more singers. The Bach Choir of Bethlehem gives him all he could have wanted. Maybe this is “in-his-dreams” Bach.”
-Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2000
“The Bethlehem Bach Festival is one of the most venerable musical institutions in the USA, with an unmatched tradition of introducing Bach’s music to our shores. Greg Funfgeld…has revitalized this Pennsylvania institution, and Dorian is doing well to document its vibrancy in a recording series… genuine honesty and intelligence informs this performance…Funfgeld has forged a fine body of singers and players…tightly disciplined ensemble …rousing spirit and sacred joy aplenty. This recording will not disappoint.”
- American Record Guide, November/December 2000
“Sheer jubilance…exceptional elegance and grace…radiant performance…Having heard the Bethlehem Bach Choir pour its heart into the master’s vocal music, one will never listen to it in quite the same way again.”
Musical America, May 2001
“…a performance that confirmed my belief that this is one of the finest large amateur choruses in the United States.”
- The Washington Post, May 1999
For high resolution files of the following images, please contact Bridget George, Executive Director, at 610.866.4382 ext. 111, or by email at email@example.com
Photo Credits Left to Right:
Trevor Dixon, Theo Anderson