Scott Morro’s latest young adult novel is about hidden treasure in Bethlehem!

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Bethlehem is the location of Bethlehem resident Scott Morro’s sixth novel, The Washington Pursuit (2020).

My Young Adult novels are set here in Bethlehem for very specific reasons. Though I was born and raised in Nazareth, Bethlehem is my home now. It’s where I’ve lived for the past 24 years . . . where I’ve raised my family and put down roots. My wife is a Bethlehem native, and we decided to live here once we were married. The vibe this town gives off, the fabric holding Bethlehem together, is woven into the DNA of everyone who visits or calls this place home. The downtown area is filled with history, legends, lore — what’s not to love? I’m proud of where I live. Such buildings as The Sun Inn, the Gemeinhaus, the Brethren’s House, God’s Acre Cemetery . . . you can just feel the past when you cross the thresholds of these special places. They get under your skin and grab a hold of you and don’t let go. There’s so much to see and experience here — I want to celebrate that in my books. Bethlehem doesn’t need my help promoting itself. But I want to do for Bethlehem what Ian Rankin has done for Edinburgh . . . what Dennis Lehane has done for Boston . . . make the city a living, breathing entity. Major cities like Philly, Chicago, LA, New York seem to get all of the literary love. I want to bring that feeling, that exposure here. I write about places I’m vaguely familiar with. Before writing, I have a general idea of where the story will take place, why the settings are important, and how they help breathe life into the book. After the first draft is written, I’ll take tours of places in the books to make sure what I remember is accurate. Accuracy is important to me. I want the locations on paper to reflect the actual structures in real life. Yes, I’ve made minor tweaks to locations and buildings — I needed to in order to make my plot work. But I carefully, methodically try to portray the spaces here and in every novel as accurately as possible.

In The Washington Pursuit, Freedom Middle School student Ernie seeks the “Moravian Enigma,” an elusive treasure stolen by the British, recovered by George Washington’s troops at the Battle of Brandywine, and not seen since — a treasure that consumed his mother’s thoughts, and when she failed to uncover it, she lost her purpose in living. Here Ernie and his friend Bobby ponder the last clue to the treasure’s whereabouts, a clue that leads them to the Sun Inn.

Excerpt from The Washington Pursuit (2020):

Rick finished describing the history of the area to the group, and we spread ourselves out to survey our new surroundings. Bobby and I nodded to each other, grateful for the opportunity to sit and ponder our latest bit of evidence, while the others scattered like aimless snowflakes.

Finding a bench nearby, we sat and read the clue again.

Beneath the sun in Bethlehem, 
Where Washington laid his head, 
Lie the riches of those men
Who in Brandywine now lay dead.

“Bethlehem doesn’t have a gigantic sun. It’s got a star.” Bobby said, puzzled.

“I know. I’ve been wondering about that, too. I mean, Bethlehem is the Christmas City. That star atop South Mountain can be seen for miles, and it’s constantly lit, but there’s no way Jonathan Stockwell would have known about that. He was dead and buried by the time electricity was invented, well before that star was mounted on the hill.”

“Maybe Washington and his men camped out on the hill where the star is, and the Brandywine treasure is buried there. I mean, it’s the highest point in the area, and when the sun is high in the sky, it certainly looks like it rests on top of the mountain. Maybe Stockwell’s clue has nothing to do with the Christmas star, just the area atop the mountain.” Bobby was grasping at straws, but at least he was trying.

“I thought of that, too,” I replied. “But all of the other clues had one thing in common, one central theme running through each of them.”

“Yeah. . . .” Bobby said, still not fully understanding.

“Each clue, each place, was somehow associated with the Moravians. Whether it was the church, the college, whatever. The next clue would have to be linked with the Moravians, too, dont’cha think? I know the star is definitely Moravian, but it’s modern, not historic like the others.”

Bobby nodded, the full weight of my explanation saturating his senses like a flooding river. Other members of our group sloshed by on their way to other parts of the cemetery. Rick was chatting on his cell phone, and my thoughts melted into the quiet surroundings. A few snow geese flew overhead while the soothing hum of traffic lulled me into a daydream.

I thought of Jonathan Stockwell again, and his passion for puzzles. I thought of my mother and her unending desire to solve the mysteries Jonathan Stockwell set upon the Lehigh Valley. I thought of my father and his beer cans. I thought of journals and clues, of bell towers and ancient drums.

I thought of bishops and brethren, of professors and pamphlets.

Pamphlets . . .

Beneath the sun in Bethlehem . . .

I snapped back to reality, rummaging through my backpack with a feverish purpose and intensity.

“What’s the matter, Ernie?” Bobby said, his words laced with surprise.

“Where’s the pamphlet Rick gave us when the tour started?”

“The pamphlet . . . why do we need that? We’re looking for a sun, remember?”

“I remember,” I said sarcastically. “But if you show me that pamphlet, I’ll show you the sun.”

Scott Morro has written six Young Adult novels: Last Ups (2005), The Cross Over (2006), Danni’s Gift (2008), What’s Brewing in Boston (2009), Fortunate (2018), and The Washington Pursuit (2020). Scott was born in Nazareth, lives in Bethlehem with wife Lisa and sons Connor and Ryan, and is in his 26th year as a 6th grade English teacher at DeFranco Elementary School in Bangor. The Morro family has a strong Bethlehem connection: Scott, Lisa, and Connor are all Moravian College graduates. History, humor, and the struggles of growing up lie at the heart of every Morro novel. Born in Nazareth, living in Bethlehem, Scott’s love of history comes naturally. He’s researched the Moravians, and he even contributed royalties from one of his novels to the Nazareth Moravian Church to help combat the chronic vandalism of Indian Tower, a Northampton County and Moravian Historical Society landmark. Scott makes frequent appearances at schools, book clubs, libraries, and reading conventions. The Washington Pursuit is his second novel with Creators Publishing, a classy publishing house with a perfect family, small-town feel. Stay in contact with Scott at https://scottmorro.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/scott.morro.

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George Hrab @Live from IceHouse Tonight, Tuesday 7PM

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Live from the IceHouse Tonight presents George Hrab

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, story teller, science advocate, producer, composer, and heliocentrist George Hrab has written and produced six independent CDs and a concert DVD; published two books; recorded over six-hundred and fifty episodes of an award-winning podcast; emceed countless science conferences; was a TEDx speaker; has been the drummer and musical director with The Philadelphia Funk Authority for over twenty years; and has even performed for President Clinton. He’s traveled to four continents promoting critical thinking, science, and skepticism through story and song. Join him on Tuesday as he performs virtually from his favorite venue in the world, Bethlehem’s famous IceHouse.

Performance will stream on the IceHouse Tonight facebook page and our new IceHouse Tonight YouTube channel.

Live from IceHouse Tonight delivers local arts to your living room. Presenting a diverse selection of virtual performances, the series is part of the larger IceHouse Tonight series, which features over 100 events each year.

The series is proudly sponsored by Fig Bethlehem magazine.

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Celebrating H.D. — tonight 7PM!

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Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

Live from IceHouse Tonight!

Radical Freedom: Poets on the Life and Work of H.D.
Join us September 8th at 7 PM as local poets celebrate the life and work of Bethlehem native Hilda Doolittle with a reading of H.D.’s poetry and their own. Featuring poets Nanette Smith, Sienna Mae Heath, Lynn Alexander, Katherine Falk, and Cleveland Wall—with an  introduction by Jennie Gilrain. This program is brought to you through the generous support of the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium.
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Performance will stream on the IceHouse Tonight Facebook page and on the IceHouse Tonight YouTube channel.
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Live from IceHouse Tonight delivers local arts to your living room. Presenting a diverse selection of virtual performances, the series is part of the larger IceHouse Tonight series, which features over 100 events each year. The series is proudly sponsored by Fig Bethlehem.
Cleveland Wall
————
Dear Finding H.D. participants,
The first year of Finding H.D., A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle culminated with a new play by Mock Turtle Marionette Theater: “The Secret” premiered at Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound in the fall of 2019.
“The Secret” was scheduled for a second run in April of 2020. Sadly, the spring run  of our play was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The good news is that some of the related events featuring H.D. have become virtual…
Introducing Act 2:  A Series of Performances by Local Artists Inspired by H.D.
Please enjoy Radical Freedom: Poets on the Life and Work of H.D. 
Sincerely,
Jennie Gilrain
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P.S. We hope you have enjoyed some of our “Finding H.D.” events–lectures, readings, nature walks, book talks–organized by Mock Turtle Marionette Theater, Bradbury Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Bethlehem Area Public Library and Lehigh University Department of English and the South Side Initiative.  If you would like to be removed from this email list, please email Jennie Gilrain at jega@lehigh.edu.
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For Gadfly’s coverage of last year’s “Finding H. D.” series, go to H. D.
on the right sidebar.
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Joey Mutis III, Live from IceHouse Tonight! Tuesday, Sept 1, 7 – 8PM

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Live from IceHouse Tonight!

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photo Paul Willistein

Joey Mutis III of The Electric Farm

Tuesday, September 1, 7 – 8PM

The Electric Farm

The event will stream on the IceHouse Tonight Facebook page and the IceHouse Tonight YouTube channel.

from Dave Howell, “Up on The Farm: Joey Mutis sows seeds of album in creative fields of The Electric Farm rock band.” Bethlehem Press, August 22, 2020.

Joey Mutis III is best-known as lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for the rock band, The Electric Farm, and has rarely done solo gigs, even though his performance and original songs sound great in that format.

When Mutis sings and plays his acoustic guitar, you can concentrate on his sublime melodies and lyrics. His gentle presence and high, wavering voice makes him sound fragile at times, while at other times, his fluid guitar work gives him a power-pop sound. He reaches the goals he sets for his Electric Farm albums: “lots of atmosphere, beautiful and mysterious, that takes you on a journey.”

Mutis has been compared to everyone from Neil Young and Nick Drake to Pink Floyd in their more melodic moments. One producer said he sounded like “Donovan backed by the Alan Parsons Project.”

“I have some folk leanings but I’m not a folk artist,” Mutis says in a phone interview from his Germansville home. “I do what I do naturally. I follow my own path. I’m not trying to sound like somebody. I do what I do to make myself happy.

Live from IceHouse Tonight delivers local arts to your living room. Presenting a diverse selection of virtual performances, the series is part of the larger IceHouse Tonight series, which features over 100 events each year.

The series is proudly sponsored by Fig Bethlehem magazine.

Donations are appreciated:  http://paypal.me/theelectricfarm 
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Calendar alert! Touchstone’s Festival UnBound rides again!

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Festival UnBound Sept 4 – Oct 16

Festival UnBound, year two, socially distanced

Touchstone opens 2020-21 season with reprise of community festival

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre will begin its COVID-friendly, social-distance-safe 2020-21 season with a return to Festival UnBound, a celebration of Lehigh Valley arts and community discourse that premiered in October 2019. This year’s festival will feature weekly events running from September 4-October 16, 2020.

The first year of Festival UnBound took place twenty years after the closing of Bethlehem Steel, a massively impactful and traumatic event for the community. In the years since the closing of the Steel, Touchstone began to explore questions of community and identity in the Bethlehem community: Who were we, now that the Steel was gone? What were the challenges ahead, and what were the values that would hold the community together as we faced the task of shaping our future? Out of these questions came Festival UnBound in October 2019, a ten-day festival of arts and community dialogue around concerns of diversity, sustainability, health, youth leadership, and interconnectedness. The festival was an immense success, and many in the community expressed a desire for the festival to continue.

“What emerged from the Festival was a vision of our community as a healthy, just, and loving place, as it had never been before— one full of music and play in the service of compassion and joy,” says Touchstone Ensemble Member Bill George, who coordinated Festival UnBound in 2019. “We knew we couldn’t let go of that vision but had to keep holding it up as a light to lead us forward. And so, the Festival must live.”

In an extraordinary 2020, Touchstone will be manifesting Festival UnBound in a series of outdoor events, parties, forums, and performances. Many will be free to attend, and most will provide a livestream or digital recording to accommodate audience members who are not comfortable attending for concerns of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Planned events include:

  • LATINX BLOCK PARTY – September 4, 7p – Kicking off the season with an end-of-the-summer party for our neighborhood and our neighbors – all are welcome! Join Touchstone for an evening of local food, live music by Héctor Rosado Latin Jazz Experience, and celebration of local Latinx culture and community. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain dates: September 5 and September 6, 7pm.
  • MEDICAL WORKERS SPEAK OUT – September 12, 7p – In the last year, doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals have come to the forefront of national attention for their work on the front lines of COVID-19. Come out and take a listen to what some of our local medical workers have to say about the experience – tales of trauma, triumph, and compassion, from the healers in our community. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain date: September 13, 7pm.
  • RUMI/NATION – September 18-19, 6p – An original project created by Touchstone/Moravian MFA student Sean Patrick Cassidy. This site-specific audio walking tour starts on the South Bethlehem Greenway and takes us into a world within our own, allowing the audience to reflect on how they interact with and benefit from natural cycles of change. Cost: FREE, donation welcome, limited spots available. Venue: Performance takes place outside, starting at the 400s block of the South Bethlehem Greenway and covers a 2-3 mile walk around Bethlehem. Rain date: September 20, 6pm.
  • SUSTAINABILITY FORUM – September 19, 6p – At last year’s Sustainability Forum, high schoolers from across Bethlehem came together to share projects that would create a more sustainable community for all of us. This year, our students – as they continue to reflect on the massive changes in our world – take those big plans and bring them to the steps of City Hall, to make their voices heard. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: Outside on the steps of Bethlehem City Hall. Rain date: September 20, 6pm.
  • ALOUD – September 26, Time TBA – An original project created by Touchstone/Moravian MFA student Adam Ercolani. LGBTQIA+ youth coming into their own identities often feel trapped and restrained by their surroundings and circumstance. How can artistic creation and performance allow us to process and understand our identities in a new way? An exploration of queer identity, self-discovery, and finding a way out of the bonds that hold us back. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: TBA. Rain date: September 26.
  • HOMECOMING – October 2, 7p – A continuation of last year’s celebration of the history, struggles, and successes in the Black community of the Lehigh Valley, recognizing exceptional talent, drive, and leadership. In this year of the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, civil discourse and loss of great civil rights icons – a year where the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are raised in voices across every state – we claim space and call for justice, recognizing that our history informs the present. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain date: October 3, 7pm.
  • TALES OF HOPE AND RESISTANCE – October 9, 8p – From around the world, myths and fairy tales have always taught us how to triumph in the face of overwhelming odds. Touchstone in collaboration with Mock Turtle Marionette Theater presents retellings of traditional stories from the diverse cultural backgrounds of the Lehigh Valley, featuring live music and puppetry. Together, we look to the wisdom of the past to remind us that we are capable of overcoming adversity, now and always. Cost: Tickets by table: $40 for a 4-top, $30 for a 2-top. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain dates: October 10 and 11, 7pm.
  • DICTATORS 4 DUMMIES… AND MORE! – October 16, 7p – An election season retrospective of original political satire. Ensemble Member Christopher Shorr presents a re-imagining of his 2018 musical, now a movie with larger-than-life characters played by action figures voiced by the original Dictators 4 Dummies cast. Plus: a live concert of satirical songs from the Touchstone archive. Join us for a comical evening… and a chilling reminder of the tenuous state of democracy. Cost: Tickets by table: $40 for a 4-top, $30 for a 2-top. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain dates: October 17 and 18, 7pm.

Funding for Festival UnBound is ongoing, but to date, Festival sponsors and supporters include: CADC Bethlehem, Discover Lehigh Valley, FIG Bethlehem, Freestone Productions, Kira Willey Productions LLC, PBS 39, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Morning Call, RCN, WDIY, Webfoot Digital, and Working Dog Press.

Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound takes place September 4-October 16, 2020, with performances taking place in the parking lot behind Touchstone Theatre and other locations throughout the city. More information at www.touchstone.org

“Where believers of many nations came to worship free . . . Let’s live out the best part of our legacy”

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Gadfly proposes that we think of this song as a kind of anthem for the Lehigh Valley
and that we start every morning with it.

“Lehigh Valley be Free” is the work of the Lehigh Valley Song Project that premiered at Touchstone Theatre’s “Songs of Hope & Resistance” event on July 24.

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DONATE NOW to support the musicians, artists, and producers who made the
Lehigh Valley Song Project possible!

https://bit.ly/LVsongdonate

“We’re all connected . . . Everybody needs freedom”

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“Lehigh Valley be Free,” original song and music video that premiered July 24th as part of Touchstone Theatre’s “Songs of Hope & Resistance” event.

Gadfly’s sobbing with the vision.

touchstone 2

DONATE NOW to support the musicians, artists, and producers who made the
Lehigh Valley Song Project possible!

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Bethlehem writer Joyce Hinnefeld

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“A Better Law of Gravity”

“A Better Law of Gravity,” collected in The Beauty of Their Youth (2020), began as a kind of playful experiment: I wanted to try to imagine the life of Frankie, the 12-year-old girl at the center of Carson McCullers’ 1946 novel The Member of the Wedding, as a disaffected 18-year-old. I changed a few other things along the way; Frankie is now called FJ, and the story has been moved to a later time—probably the 1970s or early 1980s. Though it began playfully, the story turned more serious as I wrote it, eventually pulling in themes of gender identity, social isolation, and sexual violence that are all there (though some are more immediately apparent than others) in the original novel.

Joyce Hinnefeld

Joyce reads “A Better Law of Gravity” here on The Other Stories podcast, where she is interviewed by Ilana Masad.

Excerpt from “A Better Law of Gravity” :

Gradually [FJ] realized that Janice had begun to cry.

“What is it, Janice?” she asked her then. “Are you okay?” And she patted the hand that held her own.

But Janice yanked her hand free then and slapped the air where FJ’s hand had been, “No, I’m not all right, I’m loose as a goose, I’m a firecracker ready to go off, a loose cannon aimed at the outer zones of the universe. If I can just get there, if I can just fly a little farther out, I’ll be off their screens for good. You’ll see, kiddo, I’ll fly right off the map and then they’ll never get me back.”

“Who?” FJ asked, even though she knew Janice had to mean Jarvis. And for FJ there was her father, Aunt Pet. Everyone who seemed to like her best when she was quiet and out of the way. And hadn’t she once talked about a similar feeling with Berenice and John Henry, seated around the kitchen table with the playing cards spread out in front of them? Everybody feels caught, she had said that day (and she winced, remembering Berenice’s reply—“I’m caught worse than you is”). But to her it seemed more like everyone—and most of all she herself—was coming loose.

“All of them, the psychiatrists, your brother, my parents, the whole bloody shebang,” Janice said as she grabbed her open handbag off the floor. For another cigarette FJ assumed, but instead she pulled out a bottle of pills.

“It’s these, squirt. Watch out for these things.” She shook the brown bottle, rattling it in FJ’s face. “They’ll pin you down with these.” She threw the bottle in FJ’s lap.

“It’s this they’re after,” Janice went on, pointing at her right temple. “It’s the top that’s spinning up here, spinning so hot and fast they can’t get a hold on it, but not because they aren’t trying, oh no. I’m spinning right out of their grip but they’re desperate to get to that hot spot at the middle. The tropical zone. The psycho-tropics.”

Janice giggled then, pleased with her pun, and FJ laughed, too. “The psycho-tropics,” FJ repeated. “That’s clever.” She put the bottle of pills in her shorts pocket and said, “I hate to tell you this, Janice, but I have to pee.”

This was true, she did in fact have to pee, but besides that, FJ was getting very nervous. The more Janice talked about her spinning top of a mind the faster she drove. Yes, FJ did remember feeling loose, too, when she was a kid. But right now the fact remained that at the line about the psycho-tropics, FJ looked over to see the speedometer needle coursing well beyond the speed limit, to sixty, seventy, eighty, and beyond. And at that point she looked closely at Janice and admitted to herself that yes, in fact, she felt afraid of being as loose as that.

But by this time Janice was mumbling to herself—more about not stopping, about what might happen if she did—and it was clear she’d forgotten FJ was even in the car.

“Not this time!” she hissed as ashes from the cigarette at the corner of her mouth drifted onto her skin-tight T-shirt and the bare, downy skin of her arm.

“Not. This. Time.” By now her voice was barely above a whisper, but she pounded the steering wheel furiously with each word.

And even though Janice had taken her foot off the accelerator now and the speedometer needle was on its way back down, FJ knew that all she could do was close her eyes and brace herself, grit her teeth and hope for the best, because like it or not, Janice was flying somewhere else right then and it didn’t matter whose car it was or who was in it. So that when they rolled off the highway and finally smacked into a tree, the only thing that surprised FJ was the silence afterwards.

Joyce Hinnefeld is the author of two short story collections, Tell Me Everything (1998) and The Beauty of Their Youth (2020), and the novels In Hovering Flight (2008) Hinnefeld photoand Stranger Here Below (2010). Tell Me Everything received the 1997 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize in Fiction, Stranger Here Below was a finalist for the 2006 Bellwether Prize in Fiction, and In Hovering Flight was the Booksense/Indie Next #1 Book for September 2008. Hinnefeld has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (in both Virginia and Le Moulin à Nef, France) and received a Christopher Isherwood Foundation Fellowship in 2010. She is Professor of English and the former Cohen Chair in English and Literature at Moravian College, where she founded and directs the Moravian College Writers’ Conference. The Beauty of Their Youth, in which “A Better Law of Gravity” appears, is available from Wolfson Press.     

Learn more about Joyce at www.joycehinnefeld.com or https://www.facebook.com/jhinnefeld.

Alliance for Sustainable Communities looking for all types of writing and art

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Peter Crownfield is officially retired but spends most of his time working with students in his role as internship coordinator for the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley.

Alliance 1
https://www.sustainlv.org/

We are making some big changes to our Sustainable Lehigh Valley booklet.  We’re going to use the space now used for detailed listings to feature more writing and art — and we  are also open to hybrid forms such as graphic stories or essays.  [Read the Guidelines!]  
 
One reason for this is that while the sciences can provide facts — we need to make some key decisions — they don’t really help us understand the ethical & moral dimensions at all — and many people ignore scientific writing or studies.  We also know that good writing and art can catch people’s attention and make a real difference in raising awareness.
We welcome submissions from all ages and backgrounds, and we’re looking for:
  • Writing —  short storiespoemsdescriptive features, and essays 
  • Visual art — drawings, photographs, and other forms that reproduce well
  • Hybrid forms — including graphic stories or essays, editorial cartoons, and more 
It has to be related to sustainability, of course — but nearly everything is! The Alliance’s view of sustainability has always been very broad, extending far beyond traditional environmental concerns.     [See our  Vision, Mission, & Goals.]
Please consider submitting something yourself — and please spread the word about this new opportunity to help raise public awareness.  (I am sure you also know others who also have the talent and skill to express themselves in one of these ways.)
We are now accepting submissions for our new fall issue!  Please contact peter@sustainlv.org or slv-editors@sustainlv.org if you have any questions.
Peace,
Peter

Crowded Kitchen Players on audio during the COVID period

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The Crowded Kitchen Players

“Twelveness: A Play in Three Scenes” by the Crowded Kitchen Players

Legendary American pianist and songwriter George Gershwin and Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg volley tennis balls, music theory, and musings on the meaning of art on a Beverly Hills tennis court and over dinner and drinks in a series of entertaining and provocative conversations that may never have taken place. But, they should have.

from Dave Howell, “Curtain Rises: Crowded Kitchen Players’ ‘Twelveness’ audio recording sound move for theater troupe.” Bethlehem Press, July 11, 2020.

The Crowded Kitchen Players release of “Twelveness: A Play in Three Scenes” by Charlie Barnett as an audio file retains the dramatic impact of the original stage production.

Plus, it has the advantage of portability and convenience. You can listen to it wherever and whenever you want.

Ara Barlieb and Pamela Wallace, cofounders of Crowded Kitchen Players, co-directed the audio version, recorded at Westwires Recording USA, Allentown, a fewArts 1 days before the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown.

The recording creates a three-dimensional sound that takes advantage of stereo and speaker separation. In the play’s opening scene, you can hear a tennis ball moving from channel to channel. The sound shifts as two tennis players talk to each other across the court.

Barnett recommends listening with headphones, preferably good ones, making sure you have the left and right channels set to the proper placement.

Barnett, an Easton native who lives in Washington, D.C., is better-known as a musician than a playwright. He has performed with his band, Chaise Lounge, at State Theatre Center for The Arts, Easton; Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown, and Musikfest and Godfrey Daniels, both Bethlehem.

Barnett has recorded numerous albums, including the recently-released “Charlie Barnett All By His Own Self.” He has composed music for TV shows, including “Saturday Night Live,” “Weeds,” “Royal Pains” and “Archer.”

The Crowded Kitchen Players has been performing at the Charles A. Brown Ice House, Bethlehem, but its recent productions were postponed because of the coronavirus shutdown. “There is no indication when it will be back up,” Barlieb says of the Ice House.

Barlieb is rehearsing the two plays that were postponed, “Book of Revelation: The Comedy” and “Dogcatcher,” and plans to present each as 10-episode videotape versions on YouiTube and other social media platforms.

Barlieb is establishing a Crowded Kitchen Players’ YouTube channel.

from Dave Howell, “Review: ‘Twelveness’ anyone? Audio play matches Gershwin, Schoenberg.” Bethlehem Press, July 11, 2020.

George Gershwin and Arnold Schoenberg did not seem to be natural tennis partners. Gershwin was 37 and Schoenberg was 62 when they met.

Although both were musical geniuses, Gershwin was a popular favorite while Schoenberg’s 12-tone method of composing was too academic and experimental to be embraced by the general public. It was called “atonal.” Schoenberg said it should have been called “pan-tonal.”

Schoenberg visited Gershwin weekly for tennis, which is the basis for the Crowded Kitchen Players audio drama production of “Twelveness: A Play in Three Scenes” by Charlie Barnett.

The Crowded Kitchen Players presented “Twelveness” in 2017 as a stage play that switched scenes between the first and second floors of the Charles A Brown Ice House, Bethlehem. It had a different cast that that for the audio version, except for Stauffer as Gertrud.

The audio version, “Twelveness: A Play in Three Scenes,” is one and one-half hour in length and is directed by Ara Barlieb and Pamela Wallace. It is much different than the stage version, drawing more attention to the theoretical music arguments, and requiring more imagination from the listener regarding character interaction.

With only four actors and an emphasis on dialogue, it works in the audio format. Oswald and Stauffer use light accents, so they can be understood, and can be distinguished from the other two characters.

The portrayals seem historically accurate and they perfectly fit the play, The story builds as Gershwin is portrayed by Ferry as gradually more and more neurotic. Schoenberg is portrayed by Oswald as unemotional except concerning music, Rogers is portrayed by Cipoletti as flirtatious. Gertrud is portrayed by Stauffer as slowly finding herself as a person.

“Twelveness: A Play in Three Scenes” by the Crowded Kitchen Players can be downloaded at: www.ckplayers.com/audio-theatre

Support Local Artists!

Turning Point for the White Boy

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Turning Point for the White Boy

There are “Sundown Towns,” towns in which it is not safe for a black after dark. I lived in a “Sun-drenched Town,” a town in which you’d hardly see a black at any time.

There was an “other side of the tracks” in my town. The Paoli Local split the town, not in half, but let’s say 90-10. The blacks stayed on their side of the tracks. This was the 1950s.

The school playground, however, was democratic terrain. There the many bloods of the American stream met.

It was on the playground that I met him.

I can’t remember his name. It was Homer or Horatio. It was Johnson or Brown or Washington.

Homer or Horatio was good-natured and gregarious. He faced life with what I would much later recognize as a plantation smile. He was also a natural athlete, a “superb physical specimen,” as they say when coldly dehumanizing a person, the kind of guy who never wore a shirt in warm weather and you didn’t mind.

Homer or Horatio and I played a lot of ball together in my high school years.

We were friends on the playground.

After graduation, I had a summer job delivering furniture and appliances, helping to meet college expenses.

Homer or Horatio wasn’t going to college. He needed a job to subsist. But he confided to me with inherited stoicism that everywhere he applied in our sun-drenched town he met polite but curt refusal. Remember, this was the 1950s.

Homer or Horatio was my friend.

He needed a recommendation.

So I made the well meaning offer to put in a good word for him with my boss, pretending I was a man of influence, of privilege, of power. Though I knew he was better equipped for this kind of work than me, who was a definite liability on the ass-end of a sofa going up two flights of stairs.

I offered to help Homer or Horatio. He was my friend.

But I never followed through.

My big boss was a big bigot – Mr. Sundrenched himself. His assistant – I remember her name precisely – was the snooty Mrs. DuBois – pronounced Du-bwa, mind you, not Du-boise – who barely tolerated my lower middle classness.

It was no good. I would be no help. I had not the courage to recommend my black friend.

Moreover, from some dark cellar of racial anxiety, I made the selfish calculation that even recommending my friend might endanger my job. That he might trump me.

I never followed through on the offer to help my friend.

I did nothing.

I thought the rash offer forgotten.

But this unpardonable sin was not to go unpunished.

Late one drowsily hot Saturday summer afternoon as the work week wound down, while killing time by fiddling with the front store window display, I saw Homer or Horatio confidently approaching in his Sunday best.

It hadn’t occurred to me that he would do this.

It felt like something never before done in our sun-drenched town.

I couldn’t breathe.

I lept from the window and blocked him at the door, stupidly, selfishly, and transparently lying that I had done my best but that the boss expressed sincere regret that at the moment there were no jobs available.

Homer or Horatio lowered eyes that had seen cowardice, neatly folded his smile for use another day with a better friend, joined the palms of his hands prayerfully on his chest, and, bowing subserviently ever so slightly from the waist, turned and disappeared.

I never saw Homer or Horatio Johnson or Brown or Washington again.

Except on the rack of conscience.

Except on the ever rising tide of resolve to do better by people of color that persists to this day.

Edward J. Gallagher

Gadfly is fostering local art and encourages followers to contribute creative work and personal responses to the George Floyd killing.

Touchdowns for Touchstone this week: support your local artists and art institutions

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It would be a very dead place if the arts community wasn’t here.
Pamela Wallace of Crowded Kitchen Players

Followers know that Gadfly has been making a concerted effort to support the residential arts community — home-grown talent!

He’s hoping that local artists in various genres will see Gadfly as a place to publish their work and to discuss their work. Pass the word to others!

Mark your calendars for the first and second week of June for the next Touchstone presentations: June 2, 5, 9, 12.

FRESH VOICES 2020

Always fresh, sometimes provocative, never ordinary – Touchstone’s apprentice showcase returns for 2020! In light of recent events concerning public health and safety, these performances have been developed to take place remotely, and will feature both downloadable and streaming content from Touchstone Theatre apprentices Sean Patrick Cassidy and Adam Ercolani.

June 5 @ 7pm, streaming on YouTube Live
POTHOLE
Let’s go for a drive. The best conversations happen in your car. The best concerts do, too. 

DR. SOGOL’S MAGNIFICENT, MALFUNCTIONING, INTERGALACTIC, COSMIC CAR WASH AND STAMPS
A Quality Wash. Everytime. A completely customized and curated, compacted dose of “live” theatre.

June 2, 5, 9, 12, released at www.isonationpresents.com
ISO/NATION PRESENTS
A modern radio play for deep listeners of the Lehigh Valley and Beyond.

Fresh Voices 2020
Viewing/listening is FREE, and donations are gratefully accepted at bit.ly/FreshVoices2020

touchstone 2
321 E. 4th St.

Re-discovering the Westgate Mall

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Some may see the Westgate Mall as a dying shell of itself, but for me it contains memories of family, friends, innocence, and discovery.  The poem asks you to look deeper than the surface and think about the real meaning and measure of the location and its people. It is a poem not just of discovery but of re-discovery of something familiar but changing.

Matt Wolf

The Westgate Mall

Been hanging out at the Westgate Mall
with the ghosts of my childhood
for the last two hours
Passed up 15 Facebook status post moments.
That thought is postable.
That image is postable.
Didn’t want to inundate the world with
any more of my life.

The Westgate Mall really isn’t part of this world anyway
just some bizarre weigh station in between here
and the next embodied go-around
An island of groceries, skateboards, elderly track stars
and benches.  Lots of benches.
Or perhaps this Mall is as real as any place in this universe
alive and kicking with its bus stop and
brazen beating hearts yearning to hold onto to the marrow
of Bethlehem, Pa.
I think I’ll stay a little longer and find out.

Matt Wolf has written and performed poetry for the last 22 years in the Lehigh Valley and Matt - 2020 headshotSan Francisco Bay Area. He has organized over 40 local poetry readings and multi-media events over the last 8 years in the Lehigh Valley area. He has taught many poetry workshops in Lehigh Valley schools. He is also a Mindfulness Instructor and is a member of the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission. Poems previously appeared in Lehigh Valley Vanguard and Lovers and Fighters: Poetry for Social Change. His book A Journey is published by BAPL Books, 2018. See the article “Giving Back” on Matt (with great picture) in the March 20, 2019, issue of Fig.

Fresh Voices from Touchstone in early June

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It would be a very dead place if the arts community wasn’t here.
Pamela Wallace of Crowded Kitchen Players

Followers know that Gadfly has been making a concerted effort to support the residential arts community — home-grown talent!

He’s hoping that local artists in various genres will see Gadfly as a place to publish their work and to discuss their work. Pass the word to others!

And he will call attention to local events and productions that showcase local artistic skills. Pass him the word!

Recently he called attention to Touchstone Theatre’s Young Playwrights’ Festival. 10 or so original works by our elementary school students. It was amazing — even more so because of the agility of the braintrust at Touchstone headquarters in moving this in-person experience online because of the coronavirus beast. It was — drum roll again — amazing. There were some 1200 online views of the Festival, and nearly $10,000 was raised. A special thanks to sponsor Peron Development too!

Mark your calendars for the first and second week of June for the next Touchstone presentations.

FRESH VOICES 2020

Always fresh, sometimes provocative, never ordinary – Touchstone’s apprentice showcase returns for 2020! In light of recent events concerning public health and safety, these performances have been developed to take place remotely, and will feature both downloadable and streaming content from Touchstone Theatre apprentices Sean Patrick Cassidy and Adam Ercolani.

June 5 @ 7pm, streaming on YouTube Live
POTHOLE
Let’s go for a drive. The best conversations happen in your car. The best concerts do, too. 

DR. SOGOL’S MAGNIFICENT, MALFUNCTIONING, INTERGALACTIC, COSMIC CAR WASH AND STAMPS
A Quality Wash. Everytime. A completely customized and curated, compacted dose of “live” theatre.

June 2, 5, 9, 12, released at www.isonationpresents.com
ISO/NATION PRESENTS
A modern radio play for deep listeners of the Lehigh Valley and Beyond.

Fresh Voices 2020
Viewing/listening is FREE, and donations are gratefully accepted at bit.ly/FreshVoices2020

touchstone 2
321 E. 4th St.

“It occurs to me I am right on the line / between heaven and earth”

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“It occurs to me I am right on the line
between heaven and earth.”
               Cleveland Wall

With all of April’s usual National Poetry Month festivities cancelled, Cleveland decided to record a poem a day and post it to YouTube. The site of “Liminal I” is the “spirit field,” a grassy swath along Lehigh Street at the bottom of 7th Avenue.

Liminal I

My lad and I take a short walk
to the bottom of the lane behind our house.
But the end of the lane is not the end.
Beyond lies a road, a swath of green,
a wild slope, and the railroad tracks.
Beyond the tracks: canal, towpath,
river, mountain; and beyond the mountain
are shops and a cinema we know
because we have been there. Our minds can see
a thousand miles in every direction.
We can see around corners.

The green swath is mown we know not
by whom. The wind makes a blunted sound
against our hoods, the sky
more pearly than leaden.
A keening comes from the brush
as of a baby crying, but as we approach
it fades and resurfaces farther on,
more like a goat’s voice. It strings us
along to the end of the field
where, through a break in the bracken,
we see a truck beside the tracks below,
the complaint of its engine borne up
on gusts of wind which bend its shape.

The lad lies down on thick-thatched grass
and bids me do the same, which needs
a quelling of the grown-up injunction
to remain always upright in public.
When I lie down, it is quiet. The wind
rushes smooth, unimpeded over me.
The blank white sky develops
subtleties of grey, a visible depth.
Unseen geese honk; smaller birds fly over.
It occurs to me I am right on the line
between heaven and earth.

Then I see sparks flitting in the air,
bright on bright like angels escaped
from the head of a pin, and I wonder
if I could be seeing into another plane
in which these busy sparks are darting
all the while, unseen by mind or eye.
I tell myself it is my vision tripping
on a surfeit of light. But my son
sees the same sparks and has no doubt.

Cleveland Wall is a poet and teaching artist in Bethlehem. She performs with poetry guitar duo The Starry Eyes and co-hosts Tuesday Muse, a performance and open-mic series at The Ice House on 2nd Tuesdays, currently meeting via Zoom. Her book Let X = X was published by Aldrich Press, 2019.

What are you doing tonight? Touchstone’s Young Playwrights’ Festival begins in 1/2 hour — Support local talent!

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Proudly presenting
THE 15th ANNUAL YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL
ONLINE!

WHEN: Saturday, May 9, 2020 @ 7pm – TONIGHT!
WHERE: Wherever you are!

We’re so excited to share this year’s festival with you!
You can watch the performance HERE
(PLEASE NOTE: If you click on the link before 7pm, it’ll take you to a placeholder page that you can leave open or bookmark for later. At 7pm and after, it’ll take you to our streaming festival on YouTube Live! You can also find it on YouTube by searching for “YPF Touchstone”)

———–

The Radioactive Octopus
by Jayden Velazquez, Donegan Elementary
Always Start from the Top
by Sean Haas, James Buchanan Elementary
The Dramatic Tale of the Singer That Can’t Sing
by Ana Stahley, Governor Wolf Elementary
Pizza Man
by Izzah Freer and Junior Collazzo, Sheridan Elementary
Where’s My Icing
by Skyler Snyder, Farmersville Elementary
Trapped in YouTube
by Emerson Espinal, Melissa Rojas, and Jael Garcia, Casa Guadalupe
The Adventures of Charlie and Nesty
by Gianna Vetter, Spring Garden Elementary
Jack, Jill, and the Unknowns
by Esdras Aquino-Gomez, Fountain Hill Elementary
The Marching Band Prince That Saved the Aliens
by Abrielle Brennan, Nitschmann Middle

Discovering Bob Cohen the poet

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“If I should lose my language,
That would be the end of me.”
Bob Cohen

Bob Cohen, Home at My Typewriter: Selected Poems, Bethlehem:
BAPL Books, 2018.

So I attended Matt Wolf’s poetry reading the other week as part of the Bethlehem Area Public Library’s fine online series during this coronavirus era of our lives.

And then I went to buy a copy of Matt’s book as part of the BAPL Books series.

And found a book by Bob Cohen. (More on Matt later, I promise.)

I knew Bob Cohen.

Lots of us knew Bob Cohen (1938-2016): Peace Corps volunteer, a Dean at Lehigh, owner of a College Admissions small business, president of the Rotary Club, member of the Bethlehem Arts Council, BAPL board member, WDIY commentator and Board member, cabaret singer, actor.  Cohen 1

That was Bob Cohen.

But I didn’t know the multi-talented Bob (if you don’t believe me, look here and here and here) as a poet.

Neither, apparently, did his wife Amy Miller Cohen, who describes in an introduction to this book finding among a “gold mine of his papers . . . several hundred poems.”

Several hundred secret poems! (Echoes of Emily Dickinson!)

And in this locally produced book you’ll find about a hundred of them selected by BAPL director Josh Berk.

It was hard to pick one to share here on Gadfly in the previous post. I had a dozen top picks. But I eventually decided on “I Saw You Take the Cat’s Head.”

A poem shouldn’t need somebody else’s analysis. It should stand on its own. And I hope you enjoyed it.

But let me say that I enjoyed Bob watching Amy, appreciating her domestic artistry, recognizing his own incapacity, and thankful to be with her. And he has nailed that haughty exiting cat dead on.

You’ll find much, much more enjoyable in the book.

Library users will be familiar with plans for the “Bob Cohen Room,” with donations still appreciated for space renovation.

“I Saw You Take the Cat’s Head”

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I Saw You Take the Cat’s Head
Bob Cohen

I saw you take the cat’s head
With your hand, all fingers working
Down to the bone through fur;
Then two other fingers, thumb and forefinger
Lit on one ear, stopped a moment,
And proceeded to turn it inside out,
Exposing the labyrinthine gulleys full of silty brown.
The first touch with your probing Q-tip
And she started in your hand, but you held fast,
And gentle-talked her into submission.
You went in, and in again
Until the brown stuff hung upon the cotton.
“Look what we got, Munchkin! Now
Was that so bad?”

The cat, released, walks away
Ungrateful; I go back to my book,
Brimming with gratitude.

Home at My Typewriter: Selected Poems, Bethlehem: BAPL Books, 2018.

Support your local young playwrights!

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Gadfly supports home-grown talent!

Please donate: the local arts community needs a solid financial base to thrive

Touchstone Theatre
Theatre that transforms

Touchstone 3

Proudly presenting
THE 15th ANNUAL
YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL
ONLINE!

WHEN: Saturday, May 9, 2020 @ 7pm
WHERE: Wherever you are!

Here’s how it works: We’ll be streaming concert readings of our festival finalists on YouTube live. You can tune in for the event, either dressed up in your festival best or in your pajamas.

Link to the livestream will be emailed out and posted on our website and social media by 12 noon on May 9th.

Make it dinner and a show: Since you’ll be watching the festival from home, why not order curbside pickup from your favorite local restaurant? Shop at local greats, like Jenny’s KualiMolinari’sMolly’s Irish PubThe MintBoleteAsiaSetta LunaThe BayouSouthside 313The Wooden Match, and more – they’ve been kind enough to donate to Touchstone and YPF over the years, and treating yourself to dinner is the most delicious way to support your local business community.

And speaking of support: On a normal year, the Festival performance is followed by our annual Gala, which raises money to support Touchstone’s award-winning arts in education programming. In lieu of the Gala, we’re simply accepting donations – we know that money is tight for many of you, and there are many worthy causes (especially now), but any support is greatly appreciated. You can donate directly here. Many thanks to those who have already donated – we’re blown away by your generosity!

Young Playwrights’ Festival is generously sponsored by our naming sponsor


YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL ONLINE

May 9, 2020
Please donate!

An invitation to local artists

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Life has kind of slowed down for the Gadfly in the coronavirus days.

None of the usual City Hall intrigues to cover.

No meetings to attend. (He misses the Parking Authority get-togethers. Sigh.)

Sometimes not much to do but watch his beard spread almost as fast as the virus.

But empty space has given him time to think.

He would like to do more to cover, to support, to promote, to publish the arts in Bethlehem.

Not the so-called big stuff — you know, ArtsQuest and all that. They are well taken care of.

But the “local arts,” the “resident arts community” — the home-grown!

Of which there is a substantial amount.

And which ever needs nourishing.

This was always part of the original conception of the Gadfly blog in the notion of “local color” pieces (a term borrowed from an American 19th century literary movement: works written in a region, about a region, that are recognizably regional, that, in effect, could be written nowhere else).

From the Gadfly About page: Local Color: original creative work with recognizably local Bethlehem subjects or connections — art, poems, mini-essays, vignettes, photographs, songs — that help us see or think about our town and townspeople in interesting ways.

Creative work by Bethlehem artists and, especially, about Bethlehem itself.

Followers know Gadfly’s orgasmic coverage of the Touchstone Festival and the H. D. celebration.

And you’ve watched him poach Dana Grubb’s treasures and gratefully receive Ron Yoshida’s perambulating perceptions.

But Gadfly would like to take this opportunity to beat the drum more forcefully.

Gadfly would like to publish original work of various sorts.

Gadfly would also like to publish pieces about resident art.

He’s not thinking so much as announcements of events — Facebook is good for that — though he will do so.

He’s thinking more of blog-length pieces that help us understand the art and artists and analyses or reviews of works or events. Thought-pieces.

Some followers are connected to the local resident arts community — please pass the word!

Some of you — perhaps with a bit more time on your hands these days — have something you would shyly and secretly want to share — Gadfly can offer the opportunity for a first-time publication.

Gadfly himself has put some things out there (for instance, “First day of school” and “The Downsizing Decision (nearing 80)”) and survived!

(Hmm, Gadfly rather likes his line “where excuses mate, and even the dust has weight” in the poem.)

So please let the word go forth that Gadfly invites creative work and posts about creative work!

Support your local artists: Matt Wolf poetry reading online tonight

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Matt Wolf poetry reading via BAPL:

Wednesday April 22, local Lehigh Valley poet (and BAPL’s own) Matt Wolf will read from his BAPL Books collection, A JOURNEY–and more!–online, via Zoom and Facebook Live. Stream from anywhere. A Q&A will follow.
Poet Matt Wolf Reads LIVE
Online!
Weds April 22, 2020
7:30 pm EST

Bach beckons noon tomorrow

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The Bach Choir at Bethlehem Presents: 

Bach at Noon In Your Home!

April 14, 2020 from 12 PM – 1 PM
 
You’re invited to an ONLINE watch party where we’ll present our January Bach at Noon concert in its entirety. The concert includes Greg Funfgeld’s informal, enlightening insights into the music, performed by members of The Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra.



You can access the concert on The Bach Choir’s YouTube Channel or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BethlehemBach