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.