Susanna Phillips to Headline Bach Week Benefit Concert at Anderson Chapel, 10/13
Soprano Susanna Phillips, a star of New York's Metropolitan and Chicago's Lyric Opera stages, will headline a concert at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 13, in Anderson Chapel at North Park University, 5149 N. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, to benefit the spring 2014 Bach Week Festival in Evanston and Chicago.
"This will be a special opportunity to hear Susanna Phillips in a setting far more intimate than an opera house or symphony hall," says Richard Webster, Bach Week Festival co-founder and music director.
Titled "A Musical Afternoon With Susanna Phillips," the concert will feature Phillips in two works by J.S. Bach: the aria "Ich folge dir gleichfalls" (I follow you likewise) from the St. John Passion, BWV 245; and the cantata "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen!" (Rejoice unto God in all lands!), BWV 51, with trumpet soloist John Hagstrom of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and members of the Bach Week Festival Orchestra, conducted by Webster. (Webster will have run the entire 26.2-mile Bank of America Chicago Marathon earlier that day to raise funds for Bach Week.)
The program includes an instrumental work by Bach, the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049, a lively, lighthearted concerto featuring two flutes and a violin as solo instruments. Soloists are flutists John Thorne and Jennifer Gunn and violinist Mathias Tacke.
Phillips will also sing Franz Schubert's "The Shepherd on the Rock," accompanied by Larry Combs, former principal clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and pianist Elizabeth Buccheri, a favorite Chicago recital partner of top-tier singers and instrumentalists. The song is unusual among Schubert's vocal works. Believed to have been composed as a showpiece for an operatic soprano, its instrumentation, multi-section structure, and wide range of emotion in the vocal part give it the aura of a brilliant concert aria.
The program will take a novel twist when Phillips sings a duet with the winner of Bach Week's "Sing With Susanna" online auction, which closes at noon on October 6.
Phillips says she relishes the opportunity to sing non-operatic works. "Concert repertoire is some of the most beautiful music ever written, and I frequently seek out opportunities to perform it," she said in an email interview with Bach Week. "With these works an artist has the chance to collaborate with individual musicians - almost in a chamber music setting. You can have a free flow of musical ideas in a way that you may not in a larger scale work, such as opera or a full orchestral piece."
Winner of the Metropolitan Opera's 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, the youthful, in-demand soprano will have sung a principal role in the Met's production of Mozart's "Così fan tutte" just prior to the Chicago concert. She is to return to the Met in December to sing a principal role in Johann Strauss Jr.'s "Die Fledermaus."
Among her previous Chicago appearances, Phillips sang the role of Stella at Lyric Opera of Chicago in André Previn's "A Streetcar Named Desire" opposite Renée Fleming and the title role in Lyric Opera's 2011 production of Gaetano Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor."
"Sing With Susanna" Auction
Aspiring vocalists, be they sopranos, altos, tenors, or bass-baritones, can bid in an online auction to "Sing With Susanna" on stage during the benefit concert. Auction proceeds benefit Bach Week.
The winning bidder will sing a duet of his or her choice from a predetermined song list. These include, for soprano, "Che soave zeffiretto" from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," and "Pie Jesu" from John Rutter's Requiem. Alto choices are "Sous le dôme épais" from Léo Delibes' "Lakmé" and "Belle nuit" from Jacques Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffman."
Tenor choices include "O soave fanciulla" from Giacomo Puccini's "La bohème" and "Tonight" from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story." Bass-baritones can select "Là ci darem la mano" from Mozart's "Don Giovanni" or "Why Do I Love You?" from Jerome Kern's "Show Boat."
Sheet music will be provided to the winner at the close of the auction on October 6.
Members of the Bach Week Festival's 2013 benefit concert planning committee are Jay Phelan of Arlington Heights; Craig Johnson and Marjorie Johnston of Chicago; Melissa Kirk, Judith Kulb, and Dorothy Scott of Evanston; and Cornelia Babbitt of Northbrook.
Single tickets to "A Musical Afternoon With Susanna Phillips" are $25, $50, $75, and $200 per person, based on seat location. The $200 tickets also include a private, post-concert reception with Ms. Phillips and other performers at the nearby Tre Kronor restaurant, 3258 W. Foster Ave., a short walk from the concert hall.
Concert tickets and information about the "Sing with Susanna" auction are available at bachweek.org. Box office phone number is (800) 838-3006. The festival's general information number is (847) 293-6686.
Dates for the 2014 Bach Week Festival are Friday, April 25, at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston and Friday, May 2, and Sunday, May 4, at North Park University's Anderson Chapel in Chicago. Concert programs have yet to be announced. The festival, like the benefit concert, is a collaboration between Evanston-based Bach Week and North Park University's School of Music.
Now in its fourth decade, the Bach Week Festival is among 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.