Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bach Week Festival announces cast update for April 22 concert in Evanston

Tenor Klaus Georg to replace Hoss Brock
as soloist in J. S. Bach cantatas


Tenor Klaus Georg has appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra and Music of the Baroque in major works by J.S. Bach.


The Bach Week Festival today announced a cast change for the 43rd annual festival’s opening concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22, at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. Tenor Klaus Georg, making his Bach Week debut, will join the roster of soloists for J. S. Bach’s Cantata BWV 66 and Cantata BWV 106, replacing Hoss Brock, who has withdrawn from the concert.
“We regret to announce that Hoss Brock, who has sung marvelously with us in the past, will be unable to participate in the concert because of scheduling conflicts related to his work with the Lyric Opera of Chicago,” said Richard Webster, Bach Week Festival music director. “At the same time, we're looking forward to welcoming Klaus Georg to the Bach Week family.

“He will be singing a short but wonderful aria in Cantata 106 and two duets with mezzo-soprano Nina Heebink in Cantata 66,” Webster said.

Also performing in the cantatas are David Govertson, bass; guest choir Bella Voce, making its Bach Week debut; and the Bach Week Festival Chorus and Orchestra.
Born in Bonn, Germany, Georg (pronounced GAY-org) is fluent in German and Italian.

Georg has appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Music of the Baroque as Servus in J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion and as soloist with Music of the Baroque in Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Dixit Dominus and Monteverdi’s Mentre vaga angioletta. He recently performed Bach’s Cantata 147 with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra.

He has sung the Evangelist part in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion under Don H. Horisberger at The Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Ill., and in Bach’s St. John Passion with the Ars Voce ensemble under Mark Wells in Battle Creek, Mich.

Georg is a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, and Grant Park choruses.

He holds a doctor of musical arts degree in voice performance from Northwestern University and is chorus director at Beth Emet Synagogue in Evanston.
Bach Week Festival concert tickets are available at www.bachweek.org or by calling 800-838-3006.

Bach Week is one of the Midwest’s premiere Baroque music festivals. The event enlists musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, and other top-tier ensembles on the same stage, while featuring some of the Chicago area’s finest instrumental and vocal soloists and distinguished guest artists from out of town.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Bach Week Festival opens April 22

Scene from 2015 Bach Week Festival
A scene from the 2015 Bach Week Festival's opening concert.
Photo copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel.
Guest choir Bella Voce to perform  in two cantatas

Well-known works will include ‘The Musical Offering,’
 ‘Art of Fugue,' and selections from ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’

WFMT radio’s Carl Grapentine to present pre-concert talks in Evanston

The 43nd annual edition of the Chicago area’s Bach Week Festival will welcome first-time guest choir Bella Voce, an acclaimed Chicago vocal ensemble, when the spring festival celebrating the rich variety of J.S. Bach’s music opens April 22 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

Festival concerts will also take place on April 24 at Nichols Hall and May 6 at Anderson Chapel at North Park University on Chicago’s North Side. The festival is a collaboration between Bach Week and North Park’s School of Music.

An intimate, late-evening Candlelight Concert in Evanston on April 22 will offer music for recorder and viola da gamba.

Bach Week music director and conductor Richard Webster says concertgoers can expect some festival firsts, including Bach’s Cantata BWV 66 and a piano performance of selections from Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” a work heard only once before at the festival, in the 1990s, on harpsichord. In fact, this will be just the second solo piano performance in Bach Week history.

“This year’s typically varied program will have variations in abundance,” Webster adds, pointing to a pair of well-known Bach works, “The Musical Offering” and the “Art of Fugue,” each comprising multiple compositions based on a single melodic idea.

Webster, who performed in and helped organize Evanston’s inaugural Bach Week Festival in 1974, has been music director since 1975.

Evanston Concerts April 22 & 24
Bella Voce
Bella Voce makes its Bach Week debut
on  April 22
The festival gets underway at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22, at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave.,Evanston. The program, conducted by Webster, will include Bach’s Concerto in A Minor, BWV 1041, forviolin and orchestra, featuring violinist Desirée Ruhstrat of the Lincoln Trio. Guest choir Bella Voce will join the Bach Week Festival Chorus, Orchestra, and guest soloists for Bach’s cantatas “Gottes Zeit ist dieallerbeste Zeit" (God’s time is the best of times), BWV 106; and “Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen” (Rejoice, you hearts), BWV 66. Soloists will be Nina Heebink, mezzo-soprano; Klaus Georg, tenor, making his Bach Week debut; and David Govertsen, bass.

WFMT radio's morning host Carl Grapentine will present a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m.

At 10 p.m., following the season-opener concert, recorder player Lisette Kielson and violist da gamba Phillip Serna from the group L’Ensemble Portique will perform a Candlelight Concert titled “Canons, Imitation, and Flights of Fancy” in the Nichols Hall lobby. The viola da gamba is a cello-sized Baroque string instrument. Guests can partake of complimentary champagne and fine chocolates.

The program will encompass works from the late Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, and 20th century. The earliest composer, known today by a single name, Piero, was active in the mid-1300s. Others represented on the program are 16th-century Renaissance figures Pierre Certon, Thomas Morley, and Georg Forster; and Baroque composers George Frideric Handel and Marin Marais; and contemporary composers Frederic Palmer and Laurie G. Alberts.

Pianist Matthew Hagle
Pianist Matthew Hagle will play works
 by Bach and Busoni.
At 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 24, at Nichols Hall, piano will take center stage when Matthew Hagle performs Bach’s Preludes and Fugues in C Minor and A-flat Major from “Das Wohltemperierte Klavier” (The Well-Tempered Clavier), Book II.  Hagel will also give the Bach Week premiere of turn-of-the-century Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni’s piano edition of Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor, BWV 1004.

The Sunday concert will see Webster conducting Bach’s cantata “Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn” (Step upon the path of faith), BWV 152, with the Bach Week Festival Orchestra, soprano Chelsea Morris, and bass-baritone David Govertsen; and Bach’s “Das musikalische Opfer” (The Musical Offering), BWV 1079, consisting of 13 pieces, including a trio sonata featuring flute, all based on a musical theme given to Bach by the King of Prussia.

WFMT’s Grapentine will give a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. 

Chicago Concert May 6

The festival will head to Chicago on Friday, May 6, for a 7:30 p.m. season-finale concert at North Park University’s Anderson Chapel, 5149 N. Spaulding Ave.

The program will offer Bach’s "Die Kunst der Fuge" (The Art of Fugue), BWV 1080, in a surround-sound experience with instrumentalists placed in different locations around the hall.

Julia Davids conducts the North Park University Chamber Singers
Julia Davids conducts the North Park
University Chamber Singers


Soprano Rosalind Lee, tenor William Watson, and bass Will Liverman will join the Bach Week Festival Chorus and Orchestra and North Park University Chamber Singers for the cantata “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis” (I had much trouble), BWV 21, conducted by Julia Davids, associate professor of music and director of choral activities at North Park University School of Music.

Tickets and Information

Single tickets for each of the festival’s three main concerts are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students with ID.  All tickets for the April 22 Candlelight Concert are $20. Festival subscriptions for the three main concerts are $80 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $20 for students. Tickets are available at bachweek.org or by calling 800-838-3006.

Bach Week is one of the Midwest’s premiere Baroque music festivals. The event enlists musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, and other top-tier ensembles on the same stage, while featuring some of the Chicago area’s finest instrumental and vocal soloists and distinguished guest artists from out of town.

The 2016 Bach Week Festival is partially supported by the Richard H. Driehaus and Elizabeth F. Cheney foundations. The debut collaboration with Bella Voce is sponsored by Advent Press.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

WFMT radio's Carl Grapentine reflects on Bach Week: "I love it!"

Carl Grapentine
WFMT radio's popular morning host Carl Grapentine is known as a J. S. Bach super-fan. Grapentine, who will give pre-concert talks at Bach Week on April 22 and 24, reflected on the festival and the composer it celebrates in a brief email interview today.  Below is an edited transcript.

Q: Unlike in 1974, when Bach Week started, the Chicago area has many more offerings in early and Baroque music. Why is Bach Week still essential?
A:  As important as the music is, I think what makes it extra special is the sense of occasion. A whole gathering of people who love J.S. Bach!  It's like a pilgrimage each spring: heading to Evanston with like-minded souls--and reveling in Bach. I love it!

Q: Can you talk about your long relationship with Bach's music and why your enthusiasm never wanes?
A: The older I get—and I’m getting pretty old!—the more I love Bach. He speaks to me in a more complete way than any other composer. Bach’s music appeals to me because it’s beautiful, of course. But it also appeals to me on a logical level—the sheer genius of the construction. And Bach’s music appeals to me on a spiritual level. I think those four-line German/Lutheran/Bach chorales are hard-wired in my soul. They were used in some of his most complex works as “anchors”—points of familiarity for the congregation. And they have that effect on me to this day.

Q: What excites you about this year's Bach Week programs?
A: There are several cantatas in all of the concerts. The 200 religious cantatas of Bach contain such musical and spiritual riches! Beautiful arias and duets for the soloists. The exciting opening choruses and those sturdy chorales. They’re the best.The very first work on the first concert, Cantata 106, is one of my favorites. I’m really looking forward to hearing the Bach Festival Chorus plus Bella Voce!  Great soloists, too. Then, to hear violinist Desirée Ruhstrat and pianist Matthew Hagle as soloists—they are the cherries atop the sundae! I can’t wait for the festival to start—except for the fact that my talks aren’t finished yet!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

42nd Annual Bach Week Festival Slated for Evanston April 10, Chicago May 1 & 3


Festival firsts include complete ‘Brandenburg’ Concertos
and music for recorder and theorbo

CSO cellist Katinka Kleijn continues
her survey of J.S. Bach’s solo suites

Debut artists include:

  • Soprano Tina Beverly
  • Mezzo-soprano Julia Elise Hardin
  • Bass-baritone Will Liverman
  • Bass David Govertsen
  • Flutist Jennifer Gunn
  • Recorder players Lisette Kielson
    and Mirja Lorenz
  • Horn player Adam Unsworth
The 42nd annual edition of the Chicago area’s Bach Week Festival will feature all six of J.S. Bach’s beloved “Brandenburg” Concertos, performed in the course of concerts April 10 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston and May 1 and 3 at Anderson Chapel at North Park University on Chicago’s North Side.

The festival is a collaboration between Bach Week and North Park’s School of Music.

This will be the first Bach Week Festival to present the complete “Brandenburg” Concerto cycle. Two of the concertos will anchor each principal concert program, alongside other Bach compositions.

An intimate, late-evening Candlelight Concert in Evanston on April 10 will offer music for recorder and theorbo, another festival first.

“Invigorating variety”

The festival opted not to program all six concertos in a single concert, as was recently done by other ensembles who gave Chicago performances of the complete set.

“Taking a marathon approach to these vigorous, inventive, and virtuosic works can test the stamina of concertgoers and musicians alike,” says Richard Webster, who helped organize first Bach Week Festival in 1974 and has been music director since 1975.
 
“In true festival fashion, we always aim for a stimulating range of musical colors, textures, and ensemble forces in each program,” Webster says. “Invigorating variety and high-octane artistry are what make the Bach Week Festival so festive.”

The May 1 concert will have a 20th-century twist: it will include Igor Stravinsky’s Bach-inspired “Dumbarton Oaks” Concerto, which shares themes with the “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 3, also part of the evening’s program. This will be the festival’s first pairing of those two works since the early 1990s.

Festival’s new faces

Webster unveiled the complete roster of 2015 festival musicians, which includes artists making their Bach Week debuts. Among them are rising young professionals Tina Beverly, soprano; Will Liverman, bass-baritone; and David Govertsen, bass. All are alums of the Ryan Opera Center, the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s elite singer-training program. Mezzo-soprano Julia Elise Hardin is a resident studio artist with Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera.

Other new faces at Bach Week are flutist Jennifer Gunn, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s piccolo player; recorder players Lisette Kielson and Mirja Lorenz; and horn player Adam Unsworth.

The 2015 festival will also see the long-awaited returns of revered artists such as trumpeter Barbara Butler, music professor at Rice University, whose credits include Music of the Baroque, Eastman Brass, and the Grant Park Orchestra; and horn player Gail Williams, music professor at Northwestern University, original member of the Summit Brass, and former associate principal horn with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
   
Evanston concerts April 10

The festival gets underway at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 10, at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston. The concerts will include Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins, BWV 1043; the Cantata “Ich habe genug” (I have enough), BWV 82; and “Brandenburg” Concertos No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047, and No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050.

The evening’s soloists will include singer Douglas Anderson, bass; flutist John Thorne; oboist Judith Kulb; trumpeter Barbara Butler; violinists Renée-Paule Gauthier, Stefan Hersh, Desirée Ruhstrat, and Matthias Tacke; and harpsichordist Jason Moy.

At 10 p.m., following the season-opener concert, Mirja Lorenz, recorder, and Joel Spears, theorbo, will perform a Candlelight Concert in the Nichols Hall lobby. The theorbo is a large, long-necked lute, a pear-shaped predecessor of the modern guitar.

Founding members of the new ensemble Black Tulip, they’ll perform works from the early and late Baroque:  Bartolomé de Selma y Salaverde’s Canzon Terza,  J. S. Bach’s Sonata in C Major, Georg Philipp Telemann’s Sonata in D Minor, Johann Hieronymous Kapsberger’s Toccata Settima, Dario Castello’s Sonata Seconda, and Nocola Matteis’s “Ground after the Scotch Humour.”

Concertgoers can partake of complimentary champagne and fine chocolates.

Chicago concerts May 1 & 3

The festival will head to Chicago in early May for a two-concert series at North Park University’s Anderson Chapel, 5149 N. Spaulding Ave.

A concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 1, will offer Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 1 in F, BWV 1046, and No. 3 in G, BWV 1048; Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto in E Flat (“Dumbarton Oaks”); and Bach’s “Coffee” Cantata, "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" (Be quiet, do not chat), BWV 211. The cantata, which has been likened to a mini-opera, takes a humorous look at caffeine addiction in Baroque Germany.

Soloists will include soprano Tina Beverly, tenor William Watson, bass-baritone Will Liverman, and flutist Jennifer Gunn.

The notoriously difficult French horn parts in the First "Brandenburg" and “Dumbarton Oaks” will be handled by Gail Williams and her former student Adam Unsworth, a University of Michigan instructor who has played with the Detroit Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestras.

The festival-finale concert at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, at North Park will include Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concertos No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049, and No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV 1051.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist and festival stalwart Katinka Kleijn’s performances of Bach's unaccompanied cello suites have been a recurring festival feature in recent years. This year, she’ll play Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012.

The concert will conclude with Bach’s Mass in F Major, BWV 233.   
   
The afternoon’s soloists, in addition to Kleijn, will be soprano Julia Davids, associate music professor and director of choral activities at North Park University; mezzo-soprano Julia Elise Hardin; bass David Govertsen; recorder players Lisette Kielson and Mirja Lorenz; and violists Roger Chase and Claudia Lasareff-Mironoff.
   
Richard Webster will conduct the Bach Week Festival Orchestra and Chorus and North Park University Chamber Singers.

Tickets and information

Single tickets for each of the festival’s three main concerts are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students with ID.  All tickets for the April 10 Candlelight Concert are $20. Festival subscriptions for the three main concerts are $80 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $20 for students. Tickets are available at www.bachweek.org or by calling 800-838-3006.

Bach Week is one of the Midwest’s premiere Baroque music festivals. The event enlists musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, and other top-tier ensembles, while featuring some of the Chicago area’s finest instrumental and vocal soloists and distinguished guest artists from out of town.

The 2015 Bach Week Festival is supported in part by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation for the “Brandenburg” Concertos cycle, The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Harmonica master Howard Levy to headline October 12 benefit for Bach Week

Bach Week board member Naida Lodgaard of Evanston and harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy of Evanston meet at Nichols Concert Hall to discuss the festival's October 12 "Bachtoberfest" fundraiser at the venue.



‘Bachtoberfest’ program to include
‘dueling’ organ and harmonica


Fundraiser in Evanston will support
42nd annual spring festival

German food, wine, beer,
and Baroque music

Globe-trotting, Grammy Award-winning harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy of Evanston will headline the Bach Week Festival’s fall Bachtoberfest fundraiser, to be held 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 12, at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Ill.
Bachtoberfest will feature instrumental and choral music of German Baroque composer J. S. Bach, a silent auction, and German appetizers, desserts, wines, and beers.

Tickets are $50 each and are available online or by calling 800-838-3006.

Proceeds will benefit the 42nd annual Bach Week Festival slated for spring 2015 at Nichols Hall in Evanston and at Anderson Chapel at North Park University in Chicago. The festival will be a  collaboration between Bach Week and North Park’s school of music.
Organ vs. Harmonica

Levy, on harmonica, and Bach Week Festival music director Richard Webster, on organ, will perform Bach’s dramatic organ showpiece, the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565, famously heard in Walt Disney’s Fantasia. For this performance, Webster has christened it the “Dueling” Toccata and Fugue because he and Levy will trade passages throughout the piece.

Levy, who pioneered a method for producing a full range of notes from the traditional version of the harmonica, also will be heard in the Overture from Bach’s dance-inspired Orchestral Suite in B Minor, BWV 1067, where he'll play the solo flute part on harmonica. He'll play his own arrangement of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Cantata 147 and two movements from Bach’s Sonata No. 2 for flute and continuo, BWV 1034.

This will be Levy’s debut appearance at a Bach Week Festival event.

The North Park University Chamber Singers, directed by Julia Davids, will perform Bach’s motet “Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden” (Praise the Lord, all nations), BWV 230. Davids is the university’s Stephen J. Hendrickson associate professor of music and its director of choral activities. She serves as music director of suburban Chicago’s 140-voice North Shore Choral Society and is artistic director of the Canadian Chamber Choir.
Julia Davids
Award-winning young violinist Dawn Gingrich, who has performed internationally as a soloist and chamber musician, will play the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004, for unaccompanied violin.
Dawn Gingrich
Although best known as a trailblazing harmonica player, Levy is also a composer and classically trained pianist.  His Concerto for Diatonic Harmonica and Orchestra, commissioned by the Illinois Philharmonic in 2001, was the first concerto ever composed for the familiar harmonica associated with folk, country, and blues music. Since then, he’s performed the concerto on multiple occasions in the US and Europe, including with the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Levy is a founding member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, the renowned instrumental ensemble with a style all its own. He won a 2011 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for “Life in Eleven,” which he wrote with bandleader and banjo player Fleck. As a member of the Flecktones, he won a 1996 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for “The Sinister Minister.”

The London Observer proclaimed, “Howard Levy is a revelation; there are times when it is hard to believe he is playing only a harmonica.” His jazz CDs have received four-star reviews in Downbeat magazine.
A native New Yorker, Levy has lived in Evanston since 1972.

Webster to Run It
Bach Week’s Webster will run more than just Bachtoberfest’s music program. He will also run the Chicago Marathon that morning to raise money for the festival, as he has done in previous years. Webster, who played organ and harpsichord at Evanston’s first Bach Week in 1974, has been music director for every festival since 1975.

Bach Week is one of the Midwest’s premiere Baroque music festivals. The event enlists musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, and other top-tier ensembles, while featuring some of the Chicago area’s finest instrumental and vocal soloists and distinguished guest artists from out of town.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bach Week Festival 2014: An Overview


41st Annual Bach Week Festival Slated
for Evanston April 25, Chicago May 2 


Concert Series Includes Four Bach Works
That Are New to the Festival 

Soloists to include (in order of appearance):
Sergei Babayan, piano
Adam Levin, guitar
William Watson, tenor
Christopher Martin, trumpet
Renée-Paule Gauthier, violin
Roger Chase and Claudia Lasareff-Mironoff,violas
Nina Heebink, mezzo-soprano
Katinka Kleijn, cello 

Collaboration with North Park University
brings beloved concert series to Chicago
for second Year

The 41st annual edition of the Chicago area’s Bach Week Festival will offer four different concerts of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music in Evanston and Chicago, April 25 to May 4, 2014, featuring soloists of international stature and several Bach compositions that have never been performed at the venerable music series.

Richard Webster will conduct the Bach Week Festival Orchestra and Chorus, with the North Park University Chamber Singers. Webster, who performed at Evanston’s inaugural Bach Week Festival in 1974, has been music director since 1975.

"Even I was surprised by how many of J. S. Bach's works have never been heard at Bach Week, even after 40 consecutive concert seasons," Webster says.

This year’s festival continues a partnership forged last season between Bach Week and Chicago’s North Park University School of Music.

"Our collaboration with North Park harkens back to Bach's own musical world," Webster says. "For example, professional musicians and students performed together at Bach's legendary weekly concert series at Zimmermann's coffee house in Leipzig, Germany."

Keyboard Concertos with Sergei Babayan

The festival gets underway at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25, at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, with a back-by-popular-demand appearance by pianist Sergei Babayan, an artist in residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music. At his festival debut in 2013, the charismatic Russian-trained Armenian-born pianist impressed audiences, critics, and fellow musicians with his bracing and sensitively nuanced playing.

The pianist and the orchestra will perform three of Bach’s keyboard concertos, the Concerto in A Major, BWV 1055; and two that are new to Bach Week: the Concerto in D Major, BWV 1054; and Concerto in G Minor, BWV 1058.

New York Times critic Allan Kozinn noted Babayan's "extraordinary technique" and "his ability to play densely harmonized works with an illuminating transparency." When Babayan played a modern Steinway grand in Mozart's Piano Concert No. 24 with Cleveland period-instrument ensemble Apollo's Fire, Plain Dealer music critic Donald Rosenberg marveled at the "glorious results." The pianist "scaled his playing to complement the orchestra's lean elegance,"Rosenberg wrote. "Babayan paid keen attention to Mozart's dramatic needs, shaping phrases with urgent or tender subtlety and gauging dynamics to heighten the music's changing qualities."

Babayan is teacher and mentor to the prize-winning young Russian piano phenomenon Daniil Trifonov, whose performances have attracted sold-out crowds and critical acclaim across the country. Trifonov chose to attend the Cleveland Institute of Music expressly to study with Babayan.

Tenor William Watson, an internationally noted Bach interpreter, will be soloist with the Bach Week Festival Chorus and Orchestra in Bach’s sacred Cantata “Ich armer Mensch, ich Sündenknecht” (I pitiful man, I
slave to sin), BWV 55, a reflection on man's sinfulness and God's mercy.

Watson has sung major Bach roles with Music of the Baroque, Bach Society of St. Louis, Oratorio Society of New York (Carnegie Hall), and the Noord Nederland Orkest (Holland). Other concert appearances include the Carmel Bach Festival and Boston Baroque, as well as the Chicago Symphony with Sir Georg Solti conducting, the St. Louis Symphony with Leonard Slatkin, the Rochester Philharmonic with Mark Elder, the Milwaukee Symphony with Lukas Foss, and the Montreal Symphony with Charles Dutoit. He can be heard on the London Records "St. Matthew Passion," BWV 244, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Georg Solti.

The festival's opening concert is sponsored in part by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Chicago. 

Candlelight Concert with Guitarist Adam Levin

Immediately following the season-opener concert, award-winning young Boston-based guitarist and Naxos recording artist Adam Levin, who was raised in north suburban Lake Bluff, Ill., will present a solo Candlelight Concert titled “Bach, Variations, and Witches” in the Nichols Hall lobby at 10 p.m.

Levin’s program will include late Renaissance composer Girolamo Frescobaldi’s “Aria Con Variazioni detta la Frescobalda”; J. S. Bach’s Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004; and two 21st-century works: Ricardo Llorca’s Baroque-inspired “Handeliana,” consisting of variations on a theme by G. F. Handel; and Eduardo Morales-Caso’s Suite “Il Sogno Delle Streghe” (Witches’ Dream).

"With these works we hear the compositional lineage from Frescobaldi to Bach and then we leap into the future," Levin says. The recital "spans a large period of history and rich and diverse compositional languages."

He says the "extremely lyrical" Frescobaldi piece was originally written for harpsichord and "later masterfully transcribed by Andrés Segovia in the key of E minor for solo guitar." The Bach Chaconne "demands a thorough technical command of the guitar and an even more assiduous study of the piece to respect Bach’s intentions and give a convincing performance."

Levin commissioned Llorca to write "Handeliana" for him in 2011, one of 30 new works Levin commissioned during his residency in Spain as a Fulbright Scholar.

Morales-Caso's contemporary work is a "stark contrast to the music performed earlier in the program and thematically places the heavenly and divinely inspired works by Frescobaldi, Bach and Llorca alongside a more brutish and witch-inspired piece."

Chicago Concerts at North Park University

The festival will head to Chicago in early May for a two-concert series at North Park University’s Anderson Chapel, 5149 N. Spaulding Ave.

At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 2, Christopher Martin, principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and North Park University organist Margaret Martin will play Bach’s Concerto in D Major, BWV 972, which has never been heard at the festival. In this version, the orchestral score has been transcribed for organ.

The Violin Sonata in E Minor, BWV 1023; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV 1051; and Cantata “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust” (Delightful rest, beloved pleasure of the soul), BWV 170, will round out the program.

Canadian violinist Renée-Paule Gauthier, an instructor on North Park's music faculty, will make her Bach Week Festival debut in the Sonata, BWV 1023. A graduate of the University of Montreal and Eastman School of Music, she was concertmaster of the New World Symphony Orchestra, a member of the first violin section of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada, and assistant concertmaster of the Calgary Philharmonic. She is founder and artistic director of the Rendez-vous Musical de Laterrière chamber music festival in Quebec province and principal second violin with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and Northwest Indiana Symphony.

The unusually scored, sumptuous-sounding Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 features low string instruments and harpsichord, with no violins. Bach gives the limelight to a pair of violas. Viola soloists are Roger Chase and Claudia Lasareff-Mironoff.

Chase is making his Bach Week Festival debut. Born in London, he made his debut with the English Chamber Orchestra in 1979, and in 1987 he appeared as a soloist at a Promenade Concert at The Royal Albert Hall in London. He has since played as a soloist or chamber musician in major cities throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He's been a been a member of the Nash Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, Esterhazy Baryton Trio, Quartet of London, Hausmusik, and the London Chamber Orchestra. He is a faculty member at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts.

Lasareff-Mironoff, director of chamber music and viola instructor at North Park, has performed with Chicago's Lyric Opera and Grant Park Orchestras, as well as with Music of the Baroque. She has also been principal violist of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Opera Theater Orchestra, and other ensembles. She holds a master of music degree and performer's certificate from Northwestern University.

Soloist in the Cantata 170 will be mezzo-soprano Nina Heebink. She has appeared as a soloist with Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, the University of Chicago Presents Contempo series, DuPage Opera, Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Choral Union, North Shore Choral Society, The Crossing at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, and on WTTW-TV’s “Chicago Tonight” and Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

  Season Finale: Mass in G Major, Cello Suite, and More

The series-finale concert at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 4, at North Park will include yet another work new to the festival, Bach’s Mass in G Major, BWV 236.

Chicago Symphony cellist and festival stalwart Katinka Kleijn will play the unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011.

Other Bach fare will include the Orchestral Suite No. 3, BWV 1068; and Cantata “Nun is das Heil und die Kraft” (Now is come salvation and strength), BWV 50, scored for double chorus and orchestra.

The North Park University Chamber Singers will join forces with the Festival Chorus for the G-Major Mass and Cantata.

The Chamber Singers are a small, select group, chosen by audition, that specializes in Renaissance and Baroque music while including music of many styles and periods. Director is Dr. Julia Davids, the university's Stephen J. Hendrickson Assistant Professor of Music and director of choral activities.

Tickets and Information

Single tickets for each of the festival’s three main concerts are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students with ID. All tickets for the April 25 Candlelight Concert are $20. Festival subscriptions for the three main concerts are $80 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $20 for students. Tickets are available at www.bachweek.org or by calling 800-838-3006.

Bach Week is one of the Midwest’s premiere Baroque music festivals. The event enlists musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, and other top-tier ensembles, while featuring some of the Chicago area’s finest instrumental and vocal soloists and distinguished guest artists from out of town.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Meet Bachtoberfest's Cornucopia of Keyboardists

Bachtoberfest, the fall fundraiser for the Chicago area’s Bach Week Festival, will offer something unusual this year: music of J. S. Bach played on a “Cornucopia of Keyboards” — bayan, harmonium, harpsichord, duo pianos, and organ.

“Guests will have the rare experience of hearing Bach’s music performed on five distinctly different keyboard instruments all in one evening,” noted festival co-founder and music director Richard Webster.

Bachtoberfest keyboard performances will include Stanislav “Stas” Venglevski playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, on bayan, a Russian-style concert accordion; Gregory Ceurvorst, playing the Sinfonia No. 11 in G minor, BWV 797, on harmonium; Jason Moy playing three selections from the English Suite in D minor, BWV 811, on harpsichord; Mark George and Fiona Queen playing “Sheep May Safely Graze,” from Cantata 208, on pianos; and Webster playing the Fugue in G Major (Gigue), BWV 577, on organ.

The event runs from  from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 7, at Nichols Concert Hall of the Music Institute of Chicago, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston. The relatively early starting time is to accommodate those planning to attend Music of the Baroque's subscription concert that evening in Skokie.

General admission tickets to “Bachtoberfest: A Cornucopia of Keyboards” are $50 per person, which includes the concert, German buffet, and one beverage. Patron tickets at $100 each include two beverages; Champion tickets at $150 each include three beverages.

Tickets are available online at www.bachweek.org and also by phone, (847) 293-6686.

Proceeds will support the 40th annual Bach Week Festival in spring 2013 (April 19 and 21 in Evanston and May 5 in Chicago).

A selection of German wines and beers will be served, complementing a Bachtoberfest buffet of German meats, cheeses, potato salad and breads. Desserts will include Black Forest cake and apple strudel.

Silent auction items will include vacation home getaways; beauty, wellness, and spa packages; subscription concert tickets; original art; consumer electronics; and more. A unique offering is a private, guided tour of historic Trinity Church on Boston’s Copley Square, followed by dinner in Boston, with Webster, Bach Week’s music director, who is also music director at Trinity Church.

Members of the Bach Week Festival’s Bachtoberfest planning committee are Christopher Plotner of Chicago; Merlin Lehman of Deerfield; and Naida Lodgaard and Dorothy Scott of Evanston.