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11th Young American Singers Competition, with Bach Choir sponsorship, back in Bethlehem

After a delay of more than 18 months, the finals of the 11th biennial Young American Singer’s Competition, sponsored by the American Bach Society and The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, will be held this fall in Bethlehem.

Finalists will appear before a panel of judges and an audience in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Sunday, 12:30 p.m. Nov. 14, Luckenbach Mill, 459 Old York Road, Colonial Industrial Quarter, Bethlehem.

The competition finals are open to the public free of charge.

From a group of some 50 applicants, nine finalists have been selected to compete for the top prize

Each singer will present one secco recitative and two arias by J.S. Bach.

The first-prize winner chosen by the judges will receive a career development grant of $3,000 and a solo performing opportunity with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, in a future season.

In addition to the first prize, up to three additional cash awards of $500 may be awarded to other finalists, at the judges’ discretion.

Bach Choir COVID-19 protocol requires audience members to show proof of vaccination and an identification card. Face masks must be worn indoors.

Of the long-awaited competition, Artistic Director and Conductor Greg Funfgeld said, “Our Competition for Young American Singers has identified some incredible talent, including Dashon Burton, Meg Bragle, Sascha Cooke and several others, all of whom are enjoying major international careers.

“Hearing these incredibly gifted young artists and doing our part to foster their career development and artistic and musical growth has been deeply rewarding and satisfying. It’s one more aspect of our educational engagement and I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished,” said Funfgeld.

Leela Breithaupt, who began her tenure as The Bach Choir’s Executive Director in July, is looking forward to meeting and hearing the finalists in November.

“The Young American Singers competition is such a vital way to discover and encourage young vocalists who have a special interest in the music of Bach. We’re delighted to once again host the competition and invite these talented musicians to Bethlehem,” said Breithaupt.

Judges at the Finals will include:

• Kendra Colton, soprano

• Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano and Bach Choir vocal coach

• David Newman, bass-baritone

• Stephen Crist, Bach Scholar and faculty member, Emory University

• Greg Funfgeld, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem

The American Bach Society was founded in 1972 by a group of American scholars in Princeton, N.J., who formed a chapter of the Neue Bachgesellschaft (New Bach Society), an organization founded in Germany in 1900 to promote the study and performance of Bach’s music.

Charter members of the American chapter included Gerhard Herz, Alfred Mann, Robert Marshall, Arthur Mendel, William Scheide, and Christoph Wolff.

Mann, as secretary, administered the business of the chapter from the offices of the oldest American Bach organization, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem (founded in 1898), where he served as director from 1970 to 1980.

The New Bach Society, American Chapter, held its first meeting in 1976 at the Moravian Seminary, Bethlehem, and continued to hold meetings on a triennial basis until 1988.

In 1988, under the guidance of George Buelow, the chapter incorporated as the American Bach Society, an independent, non-profit organization.

In 2000, in collaboration with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the Society established a biennial Bach Vocal Competition for Young American Singers.