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 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.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bach Week Festival Coming to Chicago in 2013

A  collaboration with North Park University's School of Music will bring a Bach Week Festival concert to Chicago for the first time. Here's the text of the press release announcing the new initiative, issued earlier today:

Bach Week Festival to Make
Its Chicago Debut May 5
at North Park University

Festival's 40th Anniversary Plans Also Include
Performances with Pianist Sergei Babayan
at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston

EVANSTON, Ill., June 2, 2012 -- The Evanston-based Bach Week Festival will venture beyond its home territory for its 40th anniversary season in 2013 to present its first concert in the city of Chicago.

Bach Week, the region's annual celebration of the diverse music of J.S. Bach, will collaborate with the North Park University School of Music on Chicago's northwest side to present a festival finale concert at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, at the university's Anderson Chapel, located at Foster and Spaulding Avenues.

The concert will include Bach's "Magnificat," with the North Park Chamber Singers, the university's elite vocal chamber ensemble, performing with the Bach Week Festival Chorus. Also on the program are Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, plus works to be announced.

The collaboration was spearheaded by Bach Week's longtime music director Richard Webster, who has been involved with the festival since its debut in 1974, and Dr. Craig Johnson, dean of North Park's music school since 2011. Webster and Johnson have been close friends since their undergraduate years as music students at Northwestern University, where they were roommates.

"This is an exciting opportunity to attract new audiences to the festival," Webster says. "North Park is a logical location for a Bach Week presentation because of its fine music school and devoted community of students, faculty, and alumni. And there's no other professional Baroque music series in the vicinity."

North Park's Johnson sees the concert collaboration as "a new and valuable opportunity for our students to observe and be part of music-making at the highest professional level.

"Hosting an organization of the Bach Week Festival's stature and visibility will create excitement throughout the North Park community," he says. "I can envision this pilot partnership expanding to include festival-related master classes and other educational events."

"We hope our loyal Evanston and North Shore audience members will join us for the North Park concert," Bach Week's Webster says. "North Park's campus, Anderson Chapel, and especially its Chamber Singers will be delightful discoveries for many concertgoers. Free on-campus parking and easy access to the Edens Expressway are additional benefits."

Rounding out the 2013 Bach Week Festival are two concerts at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. Pianist Sergei Babayan, an international concert and recording artist, will perform two of Bach's keyboard concertos with the Bach Week Festival Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 19, in a program that will include other Bach works. Babayan will give a solo recital featuring Bach's "Goldberg" Variations at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 21, in a concert co-presented with the Music Institute of Chicago celebrating the 40th anniversary of Bach Week, the 10th anniversary the Music Institute's Nichols Hall, and the 150th anniversary of the city of Evanston.

Complete festival details and ticket information for the 2013 Bach Week Festival will be announced at a later date. The festival's website is
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