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 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.

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