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Bach and Handel Chorale to present spring concert Saturday

Published April 04. 2013 05:02PM

The Bach and Handel Chorale will perform its major concert of the season at 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 21 Race St., Jim Thorpe. The Festival Orchestra and guest soloists will also perform.

The first half of the concert pays homage to the chorale's namesake, leading with the "Easter Oratorio BWV 249" by Johann Sebastian Bach and "Lord in Thee Have I Trusted" (From the "Dettingen Te Deum) by George Frideric Handel. Artistic director Randall Douglas Perry conducts.

Three of the soloists are returning to perform with the chorale soprano Heidi Hayes, contralto Jennifer Brown-Laubach and bass-baritone Richard Johnson. Tenor Jeffrey A. Manns, the interim artistic director of the Delaware Valley Chorale in Wilmington, Del. will also perform.

The second half of the performance leads with a song written by Perry in memory of Laura Sheard, entitled "A Song for Laura." The daughter of Eugene E. and Carol (Eckard) Sheard, Laura was a promising graduate student in pharmacology at the University of Washington.

She and her boyfriend lost their lives in an automobile accident in Seattle, Wash in November of 2011.

Continuing with the music of the Easter season the chorale will sing the opening chorus from Cantata BWV 149 "Man Singet mit Freuden vom Sieg," "Hallelujah! Amen!" from "Judas Maccabaeus", and "Hallelujah" from "Messiah". Sir John Stainer's "I Am Alpha and Omega" features Hayes and is a longtime favorite of those who enjoy church music.

As for the past few years, the spring concert will include Perry's brother Tim, as well as Rob Beck, who are guitarist and drummer, respectively, with Becky and the Beasts.

This year Maestro Perry has arranged, orchestrated and will conduct "The Long and Winding Road," which was recorded by The Beatles. Finally, Maestro Perry has written a piece entitled "For All the Lonely Hearts that Never Mend," on which he will perform as piano soloist.

As the chorale nears its 30th anniversary it has sought ways to enlarge its audience base.

In December WVIA-TV, the PBS station in Wilkes-Barre, premiered the "Our Town: Jim Thorpe" documentary, which included chorale members and others townspeople exploring the rich history of Jim Thorpe.

This helped expose the chorale to northeastern Pennsylvania and parts of New York and New Jersey.

The December issue of Harper's Magazine featured an article by Rivka Galchen, entitled "Hallelujah: An economic companion to the 'Messiah'," and followed Galchen on a trip through time detailing the types of productions of the masterpiece from its first production in Ireland to smaller chorales which struggle to do "Messiah" justice and to keep it before the public.

Galchen spent the later part of 2011 attending productions of "Messiah" in varying places around Dublin, at Trinity Church during Occupy Wall Street, and in Jim Thorpe, which was representative of small towns who are keeping alive the music of the masters despite being unendowed.

She concluded that although producing sacred music of the old masters is a financial feat, there are those who still aspire to perform and save this music.

Tickets for Saturday's concert may be purchased at the door, or by calling the Bach and Handel office at (570) 325-4794, or email Children 10 and under are free.

Ticket holders are eligible for discounts on dinner at participating restaurants on the day of the concert.

For more information, call the chorale office.

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