44th Annual BACH WEEK FESTIVAL to Feature Artist Debuts and More

44th Annual BACH WEEK FESTIVAL to Feature Artist Debuts and More

The Chicago area's 44th annual Bach Week Festival, opening April 28 in Evanston, Ill., will feature festival debuts of local and visiting artists of international stature in concerts devoted to the music of the festival's namesake, German Baroque composer J. S. Bach.

Soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg and mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, both residents of Chicago's North Shore, will make their festival debuts April 28 in a program designed to showcase their talents.

Stoppelenburg has sung at the Arizona Bach Festival and Boulder Bach Festival and with the St. Louis Bach Society and Cincinnati Bach Ensemble. Platts is a favorite of revered German choral conductor Helmuth Rilling, who is a founder of the Oregon Bach Festival, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, and other Bach academies. She has performed with Rilling on numerous occasions.

Acclaimed artists from out of town will include a returning Bach Week favorite, pianist Sergei Babayan of the Cleveland Institute of Music, mentor to some of today's highest-profile young pianists (including Russian phenomenon Daniil Trifonov); and Bach Week newcomer Grace Fong, a former Babayan student and Southern California-based pianist with her own successful concert and recording career. Both will perform at the May 5 Bach Week concert in Evanston.

Globe-trotting Chicago harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, who performs recitals across Europe and North America, will make his first Bach Week appearance May 7 in the festival's finale concert at North Park University in Chicago. Early Music America magazine recently hailed him as "the Renaissance man of Baroque music."

"Something new is always blooming at this spring festival," say Bach Week's music director and conductor Richard Webster. "This season, we welcome some exciting new artists, while presenting new installments of ongoing projects."

Webster performed in and helped organize Evanston's inaugural Bach Week in 1974 and has been music director since 1975. He is currently director of music and organist at Boston's historic Trinity Church on Copley Square.

In a first for the festival, a highly select group of choristers from Evanston Township High School will sing in the Bach Week Festival's finale concert, alongside the Bach Week Festival Chorus, the North Park University Chamber Singers, and members of the acclaimed professional chamber choir Bella Voce.

According to Webster, this is Bach Week's first collaboration with a high school music department.

The 2017 festival is a partnership between the Bach Week Festival and North Park University's School of Music, Art, and Theatre.


2017 Bach Week Festival Concerts:

"Dueling Divas"
Friday, April 28, 7:30 p.m.
Nichols Concert Hall
1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

Soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg and mezzo-soprano Susan Platts will sing two duets: "Wir eilen" ("We hasten") from J. S. Bach's sacred cantata "Jesu, der du meine Seele" (Jesus, by whom my soul"), BWV 78; and "Christe eleison" (Christ, have mercy) from the "Kyrie" movement of Bach's monumental Mass in B Minor, BWV 232. Stoppelenburg will solo in Bach's sunny, nine-movement wedding cantata "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten" (Dissipate, you troublesome shadows), BWV 202, which celebrates the "newly born world" of springtime. Platts takes her solo turn in the three-movement sacred cantata "Widerstehe doch der Sünde" (Just resist sin), BWV 54, composed for Oculi Sunday.

Bach Week stalwarts Dawn Gingrich, violin, and Jason Moy, harpsichord, will perform Bach's Sonata in B Minor for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1014, written during the same happy and productive period that yielded his Brandenburg Concertos.

Richard Webster, festival music director, will conduct the Bach Week Festival Orchestra.

"Virtuoso Soloists"
Friday, May 5, 7:30 p.m.
Nichols Concert Hall
1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston.
6:30 p.m. Pre-concert lecture with WFMT Radio's
morning host Carl Grapentine

"Virtuoso Soloists" sees pianist Sergei Babayan of the Cleveland Institute of Music continuing his Bach Week traversal of Bach's keyboard concertos. This season, he performs the Concerto in E Major, BWV 1053. Babayan will be joined by pianist Grace Fong, one of his former students, for Bach's double keyboard Concerto in C Minor, BWV 1016. This is the first time since the 1970s that the festival has presented one of Bach's multiple keyboard concertos on piano, rather than harpsichord. Music Director Richard Webster will conduct the Bach Week Festival Orchestra.

Concertgoers will also hear two Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians in works on a more intimate scale. Katinka Kleijn will perform Bach's Suite No. 2 in D Minor for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1008, the latest installment in her Bach Week survey of the composer's complete cello suites. Jennifer Gunn will play Bach's Partita in A Minor for Unaccompanied Flute, BWV 1013.

"Festival Finale"
Sunday, May 7, 2:30 p.m.
Anderson Chapel
North Park University
5149 N. Spaulding Ave., Chicago
1:30 p.m. Pre-concert lecture with WFMT Radio's
morning host Carl Grapentine

The "Festival Finale" concert of the 44th annual Bach Week Festival presents Chicago Symphony Orchestra flutist Jennifer Gunn, violinist Desirée Ruhstrat of the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio, and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour in Bach's rarely performed Concerto in A Minor for Flute, Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1044. "It's a very complicated piece, heard only once before at Bach Week," says festival music director Richard Webster. "It's a thrill to be doing it with these three superb performers."

The motet "Jesu, meine Freude" (Jesus, my joy), BWV 227, will feature the Bach Week Festival Chorus, members of professional chamber choir Bella Voce, the North Park University Chamber Singers, and singers from Evanston Township High School's elite choral ensembles.

The concert concludes with Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major, BWV 1069. Webster will conduct The Combined choral forces and the Bach Week Festival Orchestra.


Single-admission concert tickets are $30 for adults, $20 seniors, $10 students. Subscriptions to all three festival concerts are $80 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $20 for students. Tickets can be purchased online at bachweek.org or by phone, (800) 838-3006. For general festival information, phone 847-269-9050 or email info@bachweek.org.

Bach Week is also 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. Founded in 1974, the Bach Week Festival was the brainchild of Karel Paukert, professor of organ and church music at Northwestern University and choirmaster and organist at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston.

The 2017 Bach Week Festival is supported by grants from the MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Howard and Ursula Dubin Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Advent Press.

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