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Moravian Professor Receives NEH Grant to Introduce Teachers to Bach

Competitive Interdisciplinary Gathering Is Unique in Region

Bethlehem, Pa.—Hilde Binford, assistant professor of music at Moravian College, has received a $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to hold a five-week NEH Summer Institute for School Teachers on the cultural background and connections of the music of J.S. Bach. The institute will be held at Moravian College in the summer of 2005.

Among the faculty for the institute are the distinguished Bach scholars Christoph Wolff of Harvard University, author of the definitive biography J.S. Bach: The Learned Musician; and Michael Marissen, chair of the music department at Swarthmore College and author of Lutheranism, Anti-Judaism, and Bach's St. John Passion, among many publications on Bach and his world.

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, under artistic director Gregory Funfgeld, also is a partner in the institute. Funfgeld will lecture, while the choir itself will serve as a reading instrument for the teachers, who will be able to hear rehearsals of Bach’s complex counterpoint and even conduct the choir.

In keeping with the focus of the institute, whose title is “Bach Across the Centuries: An Interdisciplinary View of His Life and Works,” two visiting faculty members will lead sessions on cross-cultural topics. Koffi Maglo, visiting professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will discuss Bach and his relationship with the Enlightenment flowering of modern science. Sylvia Forman, assistant professor of mathematics at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, will illustrate the mathematical concepts behind much of Bach’s work.

Co-director of the institute is Paul Larson, professor emeritus of music at the College, who has written a biography of the Wolle family of Bethlehem. Its members include J. Frederick Wolle, founder of the Bach Choir

Other participants include Larry Lipkis, Bertha-Mae Starner '27 and Jay L. Starner Professor of Music and Composer-in-Residence at the College, who teaches 18th-century counterpoint as part of his music theory courses; world-renowned harpsichord maker Willard Martin, a 1964 graduate of Moravian College; Wendy Juniper, a librarian at Moravian’s Reeves Library, who will provide on-line bibliographic assistance; and Neil Wetzel, director of the Jazz Studies Program at the College.

From nearby Lafayette College in Easton, Ellis and Phyllis Finger will join the teaching staff. Ellis Finger is director of the Williams Center for the Arts at Lafayette, one of the most respected arts venues in the region. He is a former professor or German and sings in the Bach Choir.

The Bethlehem Bach Choir presented the first performance in the New World of the Mass in B Minor (1900 in Central Moravian Church). Funfgeld, its artistic director for 20 years, has shaped the annual two-week Bethlehem Bach Festival, held every May, into an event that draws international artists and audiences. He also has conducted the choir in nine critically acclaimed recordings. Marissen has been scholar-in-residence with the Bach Festival for the past two years.

The institute will take place July 11-August 12, 2005, its final week coinciding with Bethlehem’s annual Musikfest. The area also includes several archive-museums of the Moravian Church in America and its communities, as well as a priceless trove of Moravian music in manuscript and print. The College and the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth are home to period harpsichords and organs by Colonial and pre-Colonial builders.

Many of the buildings in the Historic Bethlehem section of the city are contemporaneous with Bach, as the city was founded in 1741; and the Church Street campus, where the institute will take place, is at one end of a thoroughfare that has been called the most historic street in America. The Brethren’s House, centerpiece of the College’s Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus (which houses the music and art departments), is an outstanding example of German Colonial architecture.

The institute will host 25 teachers, chosen from a nationwide pool of applicants. Topics will be focused to help teachers of all school levels enrich the classroom experience of students of all ages. It is not necessary to know anything about music, only to have an interest in the ability of music to cast light on a historical period, to attend the institute.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.