The Bach Choir of Bethlehem was organized in 1898 to study Bach's Mass in B Minor. The choir performed the American premiere of the complete Mass on March 27, 1900 in Bethlehem, though there is evidence that parts of the Mass had been performed in the United States as early as 1870. The choir also gave the first complete performance in America of the Christmas Oratorio in 1901. Bruce Carey was the chorus's director from 1933-1938. William Ifor Jones from 1939-1969. The current director, Greg Funfgeld, has been directing since 1983.
In 2007, The Bethlehem and Baldwin Wallace University (BW Bach Festival), the oldest collegiate Bach festival in the nation as well as the second-oldest Bach festival in the nation; performed together for BW's 75th anniversary of the festival. These two groups have worked together to celebrate the milestones of their festivals. The Bethlehem choir was founded in 1898 by J. Fred Wolle. Riemenschneider, founder of the BW festival, was inspired by a 1931 trip to the Bethlehem Bach Festival.
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