Wednesday, February 14, 2018

UPDATED March 2, 2018 - Press Release: Bach Week Festival Announces Plans for 2018 Edition April 27–May 4

45th annual concert series will feature world premiere
of Marcos Balter’s new Bach-inspired work for solo cello,
pianist Sergei Babayan in a Bach concerto and solo works,
and festival’s first performance of Bach’s Cantata 191

The Bach Week Festival has announced its 45th annual program of concerts in Evanston April 27 and 29 and Chicago May 4, featuring new twists on presenting music by the event’s namesake, German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

“Each season, we go ‘Bach’ to the drawing board to keep the festival fresh while remaining true to our mission,” says Richard Webster, Bach Week’s long-time music director and conductor. Webster performed in and helped organize Evanston’s inaugural Bach Week in 1974 and has been music director since 1975.

Katinka Kleijn
Katinka Kleijn. Photo: Todd Rosenberg
The festival will host its first world premiere of a new work when Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Katinka Kleijn performs Marcos Balter’s “Ensuite,” a multi-movement work based on J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites. Kleijn, whom the New York Times calls “a player of formidable expressive gifts,” commissioned the piece for her Bach Week Candlelight Concert solo recital, scheduled for 10 p.m. on April 27. The work will include movements from various Bach Cello Suites and new movements composed by Balter in response to Bach’s music.
Sergei Babayan. Photo: Marco Borggreve
Fresh off an international duo-recital tour with his superstar student Daniil Trifonov and solo appearances with orchestras in Germany and Italy, pianist Sergei Babayan of the Cleveland Institute of Music will return for another installment in his traversal of Bach’s complete single keyboard concertos. He’ll give an opening-night performance of the Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1052.

Robert Sullivan
Evanston’s Robert Sullivan, professor of trumpet at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, will make his Bach Week Festival debut April 27 in Bach’s cantata “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen,” BWV 51, which demands virtuosic trumpet playing in its opening and closing movements.  Soprano soloist will be Dutch-born singer Josefien Stoppelenburg of Wilmette.

Sullivan has served as principal trumpet of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, assistant principal trumpet of the Cleveland Orchestra, and associate principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic. Since moving to the Chicago area, Sullivan frequently performs with the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago, and the Chicago Philharmonic.

Josefien Stoppelenburg
Photo: Basvan Oort

Stoppelenburg, who made her Bach Week debut in 2017, performs with the Rembrandt Chamber Players, Boulder Bach Festival, Cincinnati Bach Ensemble, Peoria Bach Festival, and Camerata Amsterdam, among many other collaborations.

Bookending the opening-night program will be a pair of distinctly different Brandenburg Concertos. The Third Concerto is scored for strings with harpsichord accompaniment, while the Fifth Concerto features major roles for flute, violin, and harpsichord.

Pianist Babayan will perform a solo recital April 29 with a selection of Preludes and Fugues from Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” Book I, BWV 846-869, and Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A Minor, K. 310, and Piano Sonata in F Major, K. 332.

Desirée Ruhstrat
Bach’s festive church cantata “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” BWV 191, which contains echoes of the Gloria from his monumental Mass in B Minor, will receive its first-ever Bach Week performance at the festival finale May 4 — in an unusual staging. Between the first and second movements, where Bach’s score indicates a break for a sermon, concert-goers will hear violinist Desirée Ruhstrat of Highland Park, a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio, play Bach’s Partita in D Minor, BWV 1004.

Music of Bach’s contemporary Georg Philipp Telemann will be heard in the same program. Telemann’s Concerto in D Major for Three Trumpets, Two Oboes, Timpani, Strings and Basso Continuo, TWV 54:D3, employs instrumentation similar to that of Bach’s cantata. “Listeners will experience strikingly different approaches to the same musical forces,” Webster says. “Bach loved complex counterpoint, while Telemann favored simple melodies.”

The concert will open with what Webster describes as a "double-header" featuring the hymn tune "St. Anne." First, the choir will sing the hymn "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," by English Baroque composer William Croft, with text by Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 90. Then, Webster will perform J.S. Bach's organ Fugue in E-flat Major ("St. Anne"), BWV 552, which uses a remarkably similar melody.

The finale concert also offers a richly textured, choral tour-de-force: Bach’s motet “Singet dem Herren,” BWV 225, for double choir accompanied by cello, bass violin, and harpsichord.

The 2018 festival is a partnership between the Bach Week Festival and North Park University’s School of Music, Art, and Theatre.

2018 Bach Week Festival Schedule

Friday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.
Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
45th Annual Opening Night

J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No 3 in G Major, BWV 1048
J.S. Bach: Cantata “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen,” BWV 51
J.S. Bach: Keyboard Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1052
J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050

Sergei Babayan, piano

John Macfarlane, violin
Jason Moy, harpsichord
Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano
Robert Sullivan, trumpet

Marie Tachouet, flute
Bach Week Festival Chamber Orchestra
Richard Webster, conductor

Friday, April 27, 10 p.m.
Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Candlelight Concert with Katinka Kleijn
World Premiere of Marcos Balter’s “Ensuite”

Katinka Kleijn, cello

Sunday, April 29, 3 p.m.
Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Sergei Babayan Piano Recital: Bach and Mozart

J. S. Bach: Selections from “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” Book 1, BWV 846–869
W. A. Mozart: Piano Sonata in A Minor, K. 310; Piano Sonata in F Major, K. 332

Sergei Babayan, piano

Friday, May 4, 7:30 p.m.
Anderson Chapel, North Park University
5149 N. Spaulding Ave., Chicago
Bach’s Glorious Cantata 191

William Croft (music, “St. Anne”)/Isaac Watts (words, Psalm 90): “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
J.S. Bach: Fugue in E-flat Major for organ ("St. Anne"), BWV 552

Georg Philipp Telemann: Concerto in D Major for Three Trumpets, Two Oboes, Timpani, Strings, and Basso Continuo, TWV 54:D3
J.S. Bach: Cantata “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” BWV 191, with Bach’s Partita in D Minor, BWV 1004, for unaccompanied violin.
J.S. Bach: Motet “Singet dem Herren,” BWV 225

Klaus Georg, tenor
Rosalind Lee, soprano 
Jason Moy, keyboard
Desirée Ruhstrat, violin
Richard Webster, organ

North Park University Chamber Singers
Members of Bella Voce
Bach Week Festival Chorus and Orchestra
Richard Webster, conductor

Tickets and information

Single-admission tickets to each of the three main concerts are $30 for adults, $20 seniors, $10 students. Subscriptions to the main concerts are $80 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $20 for students. All tickets for the April 27 Candlelight Concert are $20. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone, (800) 838-3006. For general festival information, phone 847-269-9050 or email

The 2018 Bach Week Festival is supported by The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.

On the Net:
Bach Week Festival:
Sergei Babayan, piano:
Marcos Balter, composer:

Klaus Georg, tenor:
Katinka Kleijn, cello:

Rosalind Lee, soprano:
John Macfarlane, violin:
Jason Moy, harpsichord:
Desirée Ruhstrat, violin:
Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano:

Robert Sullivan, trumpet:
Marie Tachouet, flute:

Monday, February 5, 2018

Press Release: Bach Week to Stage 'Gallery Gala' Benefit Feb. 18

Fundraiser for Spring Concert Series to Feature
Chamber Music by Black Oak Ensemble
With Contemporary Art Exhibits

Evanston-based Bach Week Festival's first “Gallery Gala” fundraiser will feature the North Shore's Black Oak Ensemble in music of J.S. Bach and other composers, plus viewings of contemporary art, at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 18, 2018, at the Evanston Art Center, 1717 Central St., Evanston.

Proceeds from the Gallery Gala, which includes wine, beer, and light hors d’oeuvres, will support the 45th annual Bach Week Festival April 27 to May 4, 2018. The festival’s board is hosting the fundraiser.

“Gala guests will hear music of J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Erno Dohnanyi, Bela Bartok, Astor Piazzola, Fritz Kreisler, Vittorio Monti, and a piece by Black Oak guitarist Goran Ivanovic,” says Richard Webster, Bach Week’s longtime music director and emcee for the fundraiser. “They’ll also have the opportunity to view two intriguing contemporary art exhibits curated by the center. So, it’s going to be an evening of musical and visual delights.”

Founded in 2011, the Black Oak Ensemble has performed for the Stradivari Society and appeared at the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Cultural Center, Art Institute of Chicago, and other prestigious venues in the U.S. and Europe.

Black Oak Ensemble members are violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, violist Aurelien Pederzoli, cellist David Cunliffe, and Serbian classical and jazz guitarist Ivanovic. Ruhstrat and Cunliffe are founding members of the 2017 Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio. Pederzoli was a founding member of 2017 Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet and the Anaphora Ensemble. The Chicago Sun-Times has praised Ivanovic for a “stirring style” that incorporates jazz, traditional Balkan, flamenco and classical elements.

In a program they call “From Bach to Balkan,” Black Oak plans to perform the Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations; Variations from Beethoven’s Serenade in D Major, Op. 8; Rondo (Finale) from Dohnanyi’s Serenade in C Major, Op. 10; Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances; Ivanovic’s Kalajdzisko Oro, based on a Macedonian folk song; Piazolla’s La Calle 92 and Libertango; Kreisler’s “Danse Espagnole” from La Vida Breve by Manuel de Falla; and Monti’s Czardas.

Guests can view two art exhibits during the event, both reflecting the Evanston Art Center’s focus on showing contemporary art, particularly new work and new artistic ideas and forms.

“Janina Monkute Marks” is an exhibit of the Lithuanian-born artist’s fiber tapestries, paintings, and prints, inspired by her native country’s folklore. Her work shows experimentation with collage and gesso priming. Her prints combine the rough shaping of individual forms and geometric ornaments. Marks (1923–2010) used road and journey motifs to represent a quest for meaning.
“Barry Lorberbaum” is an exhibition of the Chicago-area artist’s works on paper. His geometric drawings, created with colored pencils, are simple yet striking. Each depicts beauty that can emerge from negative emotions.

Tickets for Bach Week’s Gallery Gala benefit are $60 per person and are available online at and by phone, (800) 838-3006. For additional information, phone the festival’s office at 847-269-9050.

Bach Week Festival concerts in 2018 will take place April 27 and 29 in Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston and May 4 Anderson Chapel at North Park University, Chicago. The festival is a collaboration between Bach Week and North Park’s School of Music, Art, and Theatre.

A musical rite of spring on the North Shore, 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.