44th annual Bach Week Preview-3 great concerts in Evanston and Chicago

The 44th annual Bach Week Festival will open April 28th, hosting the first 2 concerts at Nichols Hall in Evanston and the final concert at Festival partner North Park University in Chicago, with returning favorite artists as well as local and international stars making their debuts in programs devoted to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

 

Music Director/Conductor Richard Webster

The opening concert, “Dueling Divas”, on April 28th will showcase the talent of 2 fine vocal soloists, both residents of Chicago’s North Shore, soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg and mezzo-soprano Susan Platts. Other performers include Bach week stalwarts Dawn Gingrich, violin and Jason Moy, harpsichord, with the Bach Week Festival Orchestra under the baton of Conductor Richard Webster.

 The May 5th concert, “Virtuoso Soloists” stars world-class pianist Sergei Babayan playing a Bach solo keyboard concerto (BWV 1053) as well as performing in a double keyboard duet with his former pupil, Bach Week newcomer Grace Fong. Also on the program will be two Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians, Katinka Klejin, cello, and Jennifer Gunn, flute, with Richard Webster conducting the Bach Week Festival Orchestra.

 

Violinist Dawn Gingrich

On May 7th, famed Chicago harpsichordist Jory Vinikour will make his Bach Week debut at the festival’s finale. Featured performers for “Festival Finale” include flutist Jennifer Gunn, returning Festival violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, The Bach Week Festival Chorus, members of Bella Voce chamber choir, the North Park University Chamber Singers and vocalists from Evanston Township High School, in addition to the Bach Week Festival Orchestra, all led by Music Director Richard Webster.

 Richard Webster, Music Director and Conductor since 1975, has said he anticipates welcoming “Some exciting new artists, while presenting new installments of ongoing projects”.

 

Pianist Sergei Babayan; photo by Christian Steiner

This reviewer had the opportunity to speak with world-acclaimed pianist Sergei Babayan about his dual upcoming appearances in Evanston April 27th and May 5th. The prolific performer will be headlining Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music’s Skyline Piano Artist Series/Opening event of the American Liszt Society Festival at The Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall on the Evanston Campus, on April 27th, with a program that includes a lot of Bach. On May 5th, he’ll be presenting the 3rd installment in his cycle of Bach keyboard concertos. His performances of Bach have gained him much public and critical acclaim, as has the immediacy, sensitivity and depth of his presentations.

Babayan mentioned that his relationship with The Bach Festival "Is very deep". He went on to say “The music of Bach is like an ocean which has complete healing power. If one is in any upset emotional state, it will restore equilibrium.” He also noted, “Bach held deep beliefs, the best and noble ideals, which are reflected in his music in a sublime harmony and beauty. The music has an incredible combination of the physical and metaphysical; it can lift you up or bring you back to earth”.

Soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg; photo by Basvan Oort

 2017 Bach Week Festival Schedule


Friday, April 28, 7:30 p.m.

Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston.
“Dueling Divas

 Sonata in B Minor for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1014

Duet: “Wir eilen” from Cantata 78 (featuring Josefien Stoppelenburg and Susan Platts)
Cantata 54: “Widerstehe doch der Sünde (featuring S. Platts)
Duet: “Christe eleison” from Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 (featuring J. Stoppelenburg and S. Platts)
Cantata 202: “Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten” (featuring J. Stoppelenburg)

 

Pianist Grace Fong

 Friday, May 5, 7:30 p.m.

Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

6:30 p.m. Pre-concert lecture with WFMT Radio morning host Carl Grapentine
“Virtuoso Soloists”

 Suite No. 2 in D Minor for unaccompanied 'cello, BWV 1008

Concerto in E Major for Keyboard, BWV 1053
Partita in A Minor for Unaccompanied Flute, BWV 1013
Concerto in C Minor for 2 Keyboards, BWV 1062

 

Mezzo-Soprano Susan Platts

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 morning host Carl Grapentine

“Festival Finale”

Concerto in A Minor for Flute, Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1044

Motet: “Jesu, meine Freude,” BWV 227
Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major, BWV 1069

 

For tickets to the Bach Week Festival, go to the Back Week Festival website

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Bach Week Festival and North Park University

 

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