Music In Bethlehem

Blog post and information presented by:
Kaamilah Furqan, Adam Weiner, and Alyssa Wedge


  • Oldest American Bach choir performing the first American performances of The Mass in B Minor and The Christmas Oratorio
  • Directed by: Greg Funfgeld
  • Founded in 1898, the now famous choir has been attracting thousands of national and international visitors every May to its annual Bethlehem Bach Festival
  • In May 2007, the choir celebrated its 100th Festival
  • During the past decade The Choir has received critical acclaim for performances at:
    – Thomaskirche in Leipzig
    – Herkulessaal at Munich’s Royal Residence
    – The Kennedy Center in Washington
    – Carnegie Hall in New York
  • The choir toured the United Kingdom in July, 2003 including a performance for the prestigious BBC Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem Bach To School, Bach At Noon, and Family Concert


Once upon a time, there was a greasy little donut shop on the South Side of Bethlehem. Sadly, its owners had abandoned it for bigger and better things. But, to Dave Fry and Cindy Dinsmore, it glowed with the radiance of the dream they shared – or was that leftover donut glazing? On March 17, 1976 (after hours of cleaning, painting, and scraping “donut goop” off the floors and walls), Dave and Cindy opened the doors of their new coffee house, called “Godfrey Daniels” after the euphemistic expletive favored by W. C. Fields. The performers that night, who included Dave Fry, the Shimersville Sheiks, Mary Faith Rhoads and other local musicians, played to a small, but enthusiastic, audience. Friends pitched in to help run the shows and send out flyers, and even though most of the money taken in at the door went to the performers, Godfrey’s somehow managed to stay afloat.
Over the years, Godfrey’s has grown from a little-known haven for lovers of live folk music to an internationally acclaimed club on the “folk circuit.” In 1978 Godfrey Daniels became a nonprofit corporation, and today, as in the early days, most of the money spent on admission still goes to the performers. The big financial difference now is a result of Godfrey’s very successful membership program, begun in 1984, which has made possible numerous “luxuries” like air conditioning and a computer.

Godfrey Daniels – Where Legends Are Made


1984 ‘fest poster

In 1984 a community, non-profit organization was born. It’s name? Bethlehem Musikfest Association. Its purpose? To celebrate arts and culture.

In its first year, the organization celebrated its first major milestone – it gave Musikfest to the Lehigh Valley community.

That first festival drew somewhere in the vicinity of 182,000 people to Bethlehem’s downtown area and it featured 295 performances across 6 different stages!

Currently in its 29th year, Musikfest attracts more than one million people to visit Bethlehem to experience its annual festivals. The festival showcases more than 500 performances on 15 indoor and outdoor stages, and to this day remains the organization’s flagship program.

Ana Popovic – Unconditional at Musikfest 2011

New York Funk Exchange “Show Me” Live at Musikfest 2011


The Celtic Classichas since blossomed into one of the largest Highland Games and Festival in North America. Annually, over 250,000 visitors come to Historic Bethlehem to join in this celebration of all things Celtic.

The organization as expanded into year-round program. In partnership with Moravian College, a series of lectures were introduced and presented in Foy Hall, on the Moravian College campus. In the years that have followed, the educational programming has expanded to include community outreach events in area school districts, religious institutions, local theaters and colleges throughout the Lehigh Valley. A series of scholarships are awarded each year in varied areas of Celtic culture.

All about Celtic Classic


Founded in 1984, ArtsQuest is a Bethlehem, a PA-based nonprofit organization, is dedicated to providing access to exceptional artistic, cultural and educational experiences for residents of the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania and beyond.

For nearly three decades, ArtsQuest has presented festivals, cultural experiences and educational and outreach programs that aid in economic development, urban revitalization and community enrichment. Through festivals such as its flagship event, Musikfest; the Banana Factory community arts and education center; and the new ArtsQuest Center and SteelStacks arts and cultural campus, the nonprofit’s programming reaches more than 1.3 million people annually, with more than 80 percent of this programming offered to the community free of charge.

In 2011 ArtsQuest, along with the City of Bethlehem, Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority and several other public and private partners, launched SteelStacks, a dynamic arts and cultural campus that’s bringing new life to the city’s former Bethlehem Steel plant, which closed in 1995. Once one of the largest Brownfields in the U.S., the plant is now a popular destination for music, art, community events and more. For the residents of the local community, the campus also plays an important role by providing programs and services that benefit those members of the community who are underserved. In the south Bethlehem neighborhoods surrounding ArtsQuest and the SteelStacks campus, where 63% of residents are minorities:

  • 28% live below the poverty line
  • 35% of adults never complete high school
  • The median household income is only $23,000

Through the SteelStacks Partnership for Education and Outreach, made possible through Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Partnership Program, ArtsQuest and its programming partner, PBS39, have joined with area corporate partners to launch a unique educational initiative designed to have a major impact on the community. Over a 10-year period, the funding partners are investing in a series of programs aimed at providing quality arts and educational opportunities for local school students, parents and caregivers, as well as residents of Bethlehem and beyond. These programs include after-school enrichment programs, a teen mentoring program, classes for at-risk youth and more.

As part of its commitment to enhancing the quality of life in the community, ArtsQuest has also launched a farmers’ market at SteelStacks to promote healthy eating and healthy living, bringing fresh foods to an area that’s considered a food desert because there is little access to supermarkets and fresh produce. Each spring through fall, 30 vendors – all of whom grow and produce locally – present their products at the open-air market. In addition, ArtsQuest partners with healthcare agencies, hospitals and educational organizations on a variety of presentations and programs designed to help people lead healthier, happier lives.

Overview of ArtsQuest Center at SteeleStacks: