Bach Choir of Beth­le­hem an­nounces 2020 vir­tual Christ­mas con­cert

The Morning Call - - Entertainm­ent - By Morn­ing Call Staff Morn­ing Call Arts & En­ter­tain­ment Edi­tor Craig Larimer can be reached at 610-778-7993 or at clarimer@mcall.com

The Bach Choir of Beth­le­hem will spend the next sev­eral week­sre­hearsin­gandthen­videor ecord­ing its first vir­tual Christ­mas con­cert amid pan­demic safety mea­sures.

“Open­ing Up Our Hearts: The Music and In­spi­ra­tion of Christ­mas” will com­bine sea­sonal music with spo­ken word po­etry and sa­cred texts, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease. It will be recorded in Nazareth and Beth­le­hem. The pro­gram will be free.

The new re­lease says the con­cert will of­fer­peo­ple­awayto “gather” with friends and fam­ily to en­joy the pro­gram to­gether.

Long-time di­rec­tor GregFun­fgeld said the con­cert will feel “like Christ­mas.”

“The hu­man voice is a mir­a­cle and a marvel — it ex­presses the most pro­found thoughts and beauty, car­ries the heart and soul of the singers to the heart and soul of the lis­ten­ers and cre­ate a bond that is life-giv­ing, up­lift­ing, sus­tain­ing,” Fun­fgeld said at the start of the choir’s sea­son. “This bond­will be­asstrong as ever this year with­the­vir­tual con­nec­tions we make through this per­for­mance.”

The“Open­ingUpOurHe­arts” con­cert will fea­ture about 65 choir mem­bers per­form­ing out­doors in Nazareth. The reper­toire will in­clude Robert Parsons’ “Ave Maria,” tra­di­tional fa­vorites in­clud­ing “GoTell It On The Moun­tain” and “Ding Dong Mer­rily On High” as well as the choir’s tra­di­tional clos­ing “Silent Night.”

“Our au­di­ence joins us in this fa­vorite carol each year and we hope ev­ery­one will sing to­gether at home as the con­cert con­cludes,” the­news­re­leas­e­said.

The Bel Canto Youth Cho­rus will also record an out­door per­for­mance of “Up Above My Head,” con­ducted by Joy Hirokawa. Ad­di­tional music will be recorded at Beth­le­hem’s Cen­tral Mo­ra­vian Church. Soloists in­clude Nola Richard­son, so­prano; Meg Bra­gle, mezzo-so­prano; Lawrence Jones, tenor; Christo­pheren No­mura, bass-bari­tone; Robin Kani, flute; and Greg Fun­fgeld, or­gan and pi­ano.

The­p­ro­gramwill­includeari­as from Bach’s “Christ­mas Or­a­to­rio” and soloist per­for­mances in­clud­ing “O Holy Night” and “I Won­der as I Wan­der.”

Sa­cred text and spo­ken word mes­sage­sofhopewil­l­range­from St. Luke’s Gospel on the birth of Je­sus to a pas­sage from Dick­ens’ ”AChrist­mas Carol.”

The con­cert is free, but view­ers mus­treg­is­ter on­line to re­ceive a link to watch. The recorded pro­gram will be avail­able on the choir’s YouTube chan­nel and Face­book page. More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at bach.org/ event/christ­mas/. Freewill dona­tions are ap­pre­ci­ated, ac­cord­ing to event or­ga­niz­ers.

Choir­re­hearsals are be­ingheld out­doors­for small group­sof­singers un­til late Oc­to­ber, when the group will gather — for the first time since March — to re­hearse out­doors. In­door per­for­mances will fea­ture a small en­sem­ble of soloists and in­stru­men­tal­ists. All re­hearsals and recorded per­for­mances will fol­low COVID-19 safety pro­to­cols.

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