The Evanston-based Bach Week Festival, opening April 26, will feature several Johann Sebastian Bach works never before heard at the festival; the return of pianist Sergei Babayan, praised by The New York Times for his “consummate technique and insight”; and a first-time collaboration with gifted pre-college musicians of the Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago.
J. S. Bach works to be performed for the first time at Bach Week, now in its 46th season, include the Prelude and Fugue in B Minor, BWV 544; celebratory wedding cantata
“O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit,” BWV 210; and church cantata “Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens,” BWV 148, said Richard Webster, Bach Week’s long-time music director and conductor. Mr. Webster performed in and helped organize Evanston’s inaugural Bach Week in 1974 and has been music director since 1975.
Other new programming twists, Mr. Webster says, include opening the festival with Spanish Baroque composer Antonio Soler’s fiery Fandango for harpsichord and including in the festival lineup, for variety and contrast, a concerto for woodwinds, brass, and strings by Italian Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi and a well-known instrumental suite for recorder and strings by Bach’s German contemporary and rival, Georg Phillip Telemann.
Pianist Babayan will be soloist in Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054, accompanied by an ensemble of professional musicians of the Bach Week Festival Orchestra and string students from the Music Institute Academy. He will also play solo piano pieces by French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Mr. Webster notes a historical precedent for the participation of pre-professional musicians. Many of Bach’s secular instrumental and vocal works received their premieres in concerts given by his Collegium Musicum, an ensemble of talented local university students, at Zimmermann’s coffee house in Leipzig, Germany.
Mr. Babayan is a Bach Week mainstay who is working his way through Bach’s complete keyboard concertos during return visits to the festival. He teaches at The Juilliard School in New York and is artist-in-residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Concerts are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on April 26 and 3 p.m. on April 28 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston and 7:30 p.m. on May 3 at in Chicago at North Park University’s Anderson Chapel. Tickets and information at www.bachweek.org.