Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Press Release: Bach Week Festival to Feature Artist Debuts April 28 to May 7

Bach Week Festival photo (c) Elliott Mandel
Dueling Divas’ April 28 in Evanston
‘Virtuoso Soloists’ May 5 in Evanston
‘Festival Finale’ May 7 in Chicago

Soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg, mezzo Susan Platts,
 pianist Grace Fong, and  harpsichordist Jory Vinikour
 to make their first Bach Week appearances

Pianist Sergei Babayan, a festival favorite, returns
 for the third installment in his cycle
of Bach keyboard concertos 

Editors: For press interviews, photos, and concert passes, please contact Nat Silverman, nat [at] njscompany [dot] com.

EVANSTON, Ill., April 19, 2017 — The Chicago area’s 44th annual Bach Week Festival, opening April 28 in Evanston, 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

Tickets and information

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 or by phone, (800) 838-3006. For general festival information, phone 847-269-9050 or email 

Bach Week: A Beloved Rite of Spring

“One of the most beloved rites of spring in Chicago music” (Chicago Tribune), 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. 

On the Net:

Bach Week Festival:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Press Release: Duo Sonidos to headline Bach Week benefit March 19 in historic Dawes House

Chamber ensemble Duo Sonidos, comprising guitarist Adam Levin, a native of Chicago’s North Shore, and violinist William Knuth, will entertain guests at the Sunday, March 19, “Hauskonzert” (house concert) fundraiser for the Evanston-based Bach Week Festival.

The benefit event also celebrates the March 21 birthday of the festival’s namesake, German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750).

The Hauskonzert will take place at the Charles G. Dawes House, 225 Greenwood St., Evanston. The late-19th-century National Historic Landmark was the home of U.S. Vice President Charles Gates Dawes and now houses the Evanston History Center.

The event starts at 5:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception and light hors d'oeuvres, followed by a 6 p.m. concert.

“This performance takes us back to the age of salon concerts,” guitarist Levin says. “A laugh, a drink, a walk in the park.”

The music program will include the Sarabande/Double and Tempo di Bourée/Double movements from J. S. Bach’s Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002; George Frideric Handel’s Sonata No. 4 in D Major, Op. 1/13; Arcangelo Corelli’s Sonata No. 12 in D Minor, “La Follia,” Op. 5/12; and two movements from Astor Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango, “Café 1930” and “Nightclub 1960.” The Handel and Corelli works were transcribed for Duo Sonidos by Allen Krantz.

“The repertoire for the event was selected not only to celebrate Bach's legacy, but to celebrate those key figures of the same era who made significant contributions,” Levin says. “In this instance, Handel and Corelli.”

Levin says that while 20th-century Argentinian composer Piazzolla is a “distant relative of the Baroque period,” his music likewise evokes “a different world. He did for the tango what Andrés Segovia did for the classical guitar.”

Based in Boston, Mass., and Madrid, Spain, Duo Sonidos has been expanding the repertoire for its unusual pairing of violin and guitar by commissioning entirely new works and creating new arrangements.  The ensemble won first prize at the 2010 Luys Milan International Chamber Music Competition in Valencia, Spain.

Levin (pronounced LEV-in) and Knuth (pronounced kah-NOOTH) have performed throughout the United States and Europe and have been honored as US Fulbright Scholars in the field of music performance in Madrid, Spain, and Vienna, Austria, respectively. In January 2011 Knuth and Levin were featured artists on the Chicago WFMT radio program “Live from Mayne Stage.”

Levin has been praised by renowned American guitarist, Eliot Fisk as a “virtuoso guitarist and a true 21st century renaissance man with the élan, intelligence, charm, tenacity, and conviction to change the world.” Knuth studied with Nicholas Kitchen of the famed Borromeo Quartet and has performed at California’s Ojai Festival as a member of Signal Ensemble, working with Steve Reich, Julia Wolfe, Philip Glass, and other composers.

Hauskonzert master of ceremonies will be Bach Week’s music director Richard Webster, who has led the festival since 1975 and performed in and helped organize the 1974 inaugural festival in Evanston. He is currently director of music and organist at Boston's historic Trinity Church on Copley Square.

North Shore residents on Bach Week’s Hauskonzert planning committee include Evanstonians Michael Coleman, Melissa Trier Kirk, Judith Kulb, Naida Lodgaard, Mary Mumbrue, and Dorothy Scott.

Tickets to the event are $60 per-person general admission and are available online at For additional information, phone the festival’s office at 847-269-9050.

All proceeds will benefit the 2017 spring festival, which will be its 44th annual installment. Bach Week Festival concerts will be presented April 28 and May 5 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, and May 7 at 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.