Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Press Release: Bach Week ‘Bachanalia’ benefit October 9 will match music and wine from France, Germany, Italy, and Spain

Expert pairings of music of the Baroque era and beyond with wine and hearty hors d'oeuvres from France, Germany, Italy, and Spain will take center stage at the Bach Week Festival’s “Bachtoberfest Bachanalia” fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 9, 2016, at the Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

"The music of J. S. Bach and others will be matched with specially selected bottles of the beverage beloved by Bacchus, Roman god of wine,” says Richard Webster, Bach Week’s longtime music director and emcee for the fundraiser. “It’ll be a high-spirited event."

Chicago wine expert Mike Baker, an Advanced Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers and lead buyer for retailer Vin Chicago, will select regional wines that guests can consume with hors d’oeuvres before hearing music from the corresponding countries.

The program will unfold in segments devoted to each nationality. The musicians will briefly discuss the music and Baker will talk about the wine, followed by a performance.

Harpsichord and brass
Chicago keyboard artists Jason Moy and Andrew Rosenblum will perform works for two harpsichords, including Francois Couperin’s Allemande à deux clavecins from his Pièces de clavecin Livre II, 9e ordre; J. S. Bach’s Concerto in C Major for Two Harpsichords, BWV 1061; and Venice-born, Spanish-based Classical composer Luigi Boccherini’s Fandango, arranged from his Guitar Quintet in D Major, G. 448.

The Axiom Brass quintet will perform Italian Baroque composer Giovanni Gabrieli’s Canzona per Sonare No. 3 and modern French composer Patrice Caratini’s “Passages,” from 1996.

Moy is principal keyboardist with the Bach Week Festival Orchestra and a frequent guest artist with Music of the Baroque, Newberry Consort, Baroque Band, and other ensembles. He has performed at the Boston Early Music Festival and York Early Music Festival in the United Kingdom. He is a member of the period instrument ensemble Trio Speranza and also serves on the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music, where he teaches harpsichord and directs the Baroque Ensemble.

Rosenblum has performed as harpsichord soloist with Yo-Yo Ma and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He was pianist for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Opera in the Neighborhoods” production of “Second Nature” by Matthew Aucoin. He is on the collaborative piano faculty of the Heifetz International Music Institute and works as a pianist for vocal and instrumental studios at DePaul University. Rosenblum served as a staff pianist at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he received his master's degree in collaborative piano and harpsichord.

Chicago-based Axiom Brass quintet won the Passau International Competition for Brass Instruments (2012), the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition (2012), the International Brass Chamber Music Competition (2008), and the Fischoff Educator Award (2010). Axiom Brass is an ensemble-in-residence at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and Rush Hour Concerts' “Back of the Yards” program in Chicago.

Axiom Brass

Tickets and information
Tickets for the “Bachtoberfest Bachanalia” benefit, which will also offer a silent auction, are $50 per person and are available online at bachweek.org. For additional information, phone the festival’s office at 847-269-9050.

Event planning committee members include Evanston residents Michael Coleman, Melissa Trier Kirk, Judith Kulb, Naida Lodgaard, Mary Mumbrue, and Dorothy Scott.

All proceeds will support the spring 2017 Bach Week Festival, which will be its 44th annual installment.

Bach Week Festival concerts will take place April 28 and May 5 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, and May 7 at Anderson Chapel at North Park University, Chicago. The festival is a collaboration between Bach Week and North Park’s School of Music.

Marathon run for Bach Week
On the morning of the benefit, Bach Week’s Webster will run in the Chicago Marathon as a costumed character, Cash Cow, to raise funds for the annual spring music festival. Webster has led Bach Week since 1975 and performed in and helped organize the 1974 inaugural festival in Evanston. He is currently director of music and organist at Boston's historic Trinity Church on Copley Square.

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!