The Bach Choir, shown at the third Bach Festival in 1903.
Rather than cake and candles, the oldest Bach Festival in America will celebrate its 100th birthday with cantatas and concertos.
In other words, it will be the kind of tribute that Johann Sebastian Bach himself would have enjoyed.
Artists from the worlds of dance, jazz, film, theater, and visual arts will join together to honor The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and Bach Festival Orchestra, under the direction of Greg Funfgeld, at the 100th Bethlehem Bach Festival.
The celebration kicks off May 3 with the opening reception for the main exhibit in the Zoellner Arts Center Gallery on Lehigh's campus. The reception at Zoellner is free and open to the public. Titled "The Bach Choir of Bethlehem: A Visual History," the highly anticipated tribute is described by Ricardo Viera, director and curator of Lehigh University Art Galleries, as an "extraordinary testimony to the people who are the Bethlehem Bach community."
The exhibit is just one in a series of events celebrating this remarkable choir's 100-year dedication to Bach's music. Most events will be held at Lehigh University, site of the Bach Festival since 1912.
Renowned Bach scholar Michael Marissen, Ph.D., a music professor at Swarthmore College, will lecture the first two Fridays in May at Zoellner about the most recent musicological and theological insights into Bach's Saint Matthew Passion
. Following the lectures will be performances of this musical masterpiece in Lehigh's Packer Memorial Church.
Packer Church is also the site for the traditional Saturday performances of Bach's Mass in B Minor
, which was given its American premiere at the first Bethlehem Bach Festival in 1900.
Other highlights for Bach fans will be Taylor 2 Dance Company performing with The Bach Festival Orchestra at Zoellner on Saturday mornings May 5 and 12 and the world premiere film, Mr. Bach Comes to Call, May 6 at Moravian College and May 10 at Allentown Symphony Hall.
Bridget George, executive director of The Bach Choir, believes the celebration "will be of tremendous interest to alumni, many of whom are familiar with the history of Bach Festivals on the Lehigh campus."
For more information or to order tickets to any of the events, call (610) 866-4382 or visit here
Lehigh Alumni Bulletin
Photo courtesy of Bach Choir of Bethlehem