Wilkes Chorus and the Arcadia Chorale to Perform Bach's "St. Matthew Passion"
The Wilkes University Chorus joins the Arcadia Chorale, the Kantorei Choir of the
Choral Society of Northeast Pennsylvania, and the Arcadia Festival Orchestra to perform
J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion during the 33rd annual Northeast Pennsylvania Bach Festival. The performance will take place at 3
p.m. on March 18 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Audio from an interview about the Bach Festival performances with Dr. Steven Thomas on WVIA-FM’s ArtScene program is available online.
The NEPA Bach Festival is a celebration of the music of J. S. Bach and his contemporaries, and is one of the highlights of Northeast Pennsylvania’s musical calendar. The Festival opens at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, with an organ concert at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. The concert will be given by organist Stephen Williams, who is Director of Music Ministries and Organist at Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Pa. Williams studied at Brevard College, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, The Juilliard School, and West Chester University, and has on multiple occasions performed the entire organ works of J. S. Bach in a series of recitals. Williams maintains an active concert schedule, having performed in many notable venues in the US, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and France.
At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre, members of the Arcadia Festival Orchestra will perform a program of chamber music by J. S. Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and Brahms. Ed Wargo, Martha McAdams and Tsukasa Waltich will perform Telemann’s Trio in F major for flute, viola, and continuo. Tom Heinze, Harold Levin and Gayle Klaber will perform a Bach trio sonata arranged by Mr. Heinze for oboe, viola and cello. Concertmaster Sophie Till, along with John Vaida, Amy Iwazumi and Christiane Appenheimer-Vaida, will perform Brahms’ String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, and Jeffrey Ellenberger will be the featured mandolin soloist in a performance of Vivaldi’s Mandolin Concerto in C major, RV 425.
The Bach Festival concludes at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 18, with a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre. The concert features the Arcadia Chorale, the Wilkes University Chorus, the Kantorei Choir of the Choral Society of NEPA (under the direction of Leslie Moran), the Arcadia Festival Orchestra, and a number of guest vocal soloists. The performance will be conducted by Steven Thomas, music director of the Arcadia Chorale, chair of the Division of Performing Arts and Professor of Music at Wilkes University.
The St. Matthew Passion is arguably Bach’s masterpiece and one of the greatest works of art in the Western
canon. This monumental and deeply moving setting of the Passion story features tenor
Gene Stenger as the Evangelist and baritone Timothy Lefebvre as Jesus, with additional
vocal solos by Jessica Hitchcock, Wilkes student Martina Barna, Ellen Rutkowski, Kathy
Brink, Vale Rideout, George Levandowski, Jenna Ash, Lauren Cuccia, Kathleen C. Shucosky,
Wes Poole, Wilkes alumnus Christopher Gallo and Llewellyn Miller.
Wilkes University faculty, staff and students will be admitted to all Bach Festival events for free with a Wilkes ID. General admission for the Chamber Music and Choral Concerts is $15. Admission is $12 for seniors and WVIA members and free for students. Admission to the Organ Concert is free, and a free-will offering will be taken.
The performance of the St. Matthew Passion is supported by a grant from Wilkes University’s Research and Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to faculty for their work as scholars and creative practitioners, and awards grants for developing or implementing a research, scholarly, and/or creative project. Many of the projects funded by this grant provide unique educational opportunities for students. The Arcadia Chorale is supported in part by a Lackawanna County Arts and Cultural grant, a program of the Lackawanna County Commissioners and the Lackawanna County Council on the Arts, and by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
The Arcadia Chorale is one of Northeast Pennsylvania’s premier musical organizations and has served the region with choral concerts of the highest quality for 40 years. The Chorale has received critical acclaim for performances of works ranging from the Renaissance to the present.
The Wilkes University Chorus is the University’s largest choral ensemble, and is open to any member of the Wilkes community, by audition. Recent repertoire includes Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata, Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and a variety of shorter works. The Wilkes University Chorus, along with the Wilkes University Chamber Singers, will perform a program entitled “Music of the Elements” at 3 p.m. on April 29 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
For more information regarding the Arcadia Chorale, to reserve tickets, or to order a copy of the Chorale’s CD, please visit www.arcadiachorale.org or contact the Chorale office at 570-871-0350. Parking information and directions are also available on the website, as is information about the Chorale’s spring Pops Concert on May 4.