The Bach and Handel Chorale's annual Easter concert was held on Sunday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Jim Thorpe.

Young and old alike crowded into St. Mark's for the sold-out concert, which featured the full chorale, 23-piece orchestra and a cantata.

The highlight of the concert was "Son of God," a short Passion and Easter Cantata written by Chris Eubanks of Lehighton and composed by Randall Douglas Perry, director and founder of the chorale. The concert marked the first public performance of this piece.

"Son of God" was a fun surprise for concertgoers expecting a traditional Bach and Handel concert. Featuring the full orchestra and soloist Rebekah McFadden, "Son of God" had a distinctive contemporary sound and a strong rock beat.

The orchestra was supplemented by Timothy Perry on acoustic guitar and Robert Beck on drums. During the choruses, the voices of chorale members rose to accompany McFadden and the orchestra.

The program featured several other pieces composed or arranged by Perry, including "I'll Always Have a Friend," "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," and "Everything I Own," an arrangement of the popular song by David Gates, arranged by Randall Perry and his brother Timothy Perry.

As Perry stood by the piano before performing "Everything I Own," he noted that Gates originally intended the song as a tribute to his late father.

"It chokes me up, just talking about it," he added. "But you can very easily translate this text to how we feel about Jesus Christ, which is why I chose it for today." He encouraged the audience to follow along with the text during the song.

The chorale also offered an a cappella rendition of "God So Loved the World," from Sir John Stainer's "The Crucifixion," blending harmonies and melodies in the spacious St. Mark's sanctuary.

The concert featured several additional classical selections with an Easter theme, including Bach's "Et Incarnatus est" and "Crucisfixus" from "Mass in B Minor," and "Behold the Lamb of God" from Handel's "Messiah."

The chorale performed "Mass in B Minor" in its entirety in 2009 to celebrate its 25th anniversary, becoming the first in Carbon County to do so, and plans to perform Handel's "Messiah" in December.

The Bach and Handel Chorale has plans for several spring benefit concerts, and has also announced the dates for its annual Christmas concerts.

The chorale will host a benefit concert for the Summit Hill Heritage Center on Saturday, May 14 at 3 p.m. The Heritage Center is located at Hazard and Chestnut streets in Summit Hill.

The group will also perform on Sunday, June 5 at 3 p.m. at Zion's Reformed United Church of Christ, 620 Hamilton St. in Allentown. The concert will raise funds for the restoration of the church's pipe organ.

The chorale's annual Christmas concerts will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Race Street in Jim Thorpe; Saturday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. at St. John's Lutheran Church, 106 Main St. in Ringtown; and Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul's United Church of Christ, 1249 Trexlertown Rd. in Trexlertown.

The chorale will also perform Handel's "Messiah" on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe.

The Bach and Handel Chorale was founded by Perry in 1984 to celebrate the 300th anniversaries of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel.

Based in Jim Thorpe, the chorale is an active member of the American Bach Society and performs frequently throughout Carbon County and eastern Pennsylvania.

For more information on upcoming events or to learn more about the chorale, visit www.bachandhandelchorale.org.