The Evanston-based Bach Week Festival’s 2020 Gallery Gala fundraiser, featuring the North Shore’s internationally renowned string trio Black Oak Ensemble, hailed for its “insightful, committed, masterful performances” (Classics Today), is set for 5:30 p.m. on March 22 at the Evanston Art Center, 1717 Central St.
Proceeds from the annual event, which includes light hors d’oeuvres, wine, and the opportunity to view the center’s newest exhibit of modern art, will support the 47th annual Bach Week Festival, to be held May 1 to May 30,.
The festival’s board is hosting the fundraiser, and Richard Webster, Bach Week’s longtime music director, will emcee the gala.
“Black Oak Ensemble is a virtuosic group packed with personality,” he says. “For our Gallery Gala, the trio has created a program ranging from Bach to the Balkans with a bit of tango in between.”
The ensemble of violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, violist Aurelién Fort Pederzoli, and cellist David Cunliffe will perform arrangements of movements from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, excerpts from a Beethoven string trio, tangos by Astor Piazzolla, and more.
Ruhstrat and Cunliffe are also members of the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio. Pederzoli was a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet.
The Black Oak Ensemble’s 2019 debut recording, Silenced Voices, on Chicago’s Cedille Records label, received stellar reviews at home and abroad. The Times of London found it “a compelling collection of characterful music for string trio … played with fierce eloquence.” Audiophile Audition praised the musicians’ “verve and intelligence.”
Copies of the group’s CD will be offered as door prizes at the Gallery Gala, courtesy of Cedille Records.
Guests will have access to the art center’s exhibit “Eleanor Spiess-Ferris: Daphne’s Sister,” curated by the Illinois State Museum. Ms. Spiess-Ferris is a Chicago-based American symbolist painter cited as a significant surrealist, narrative figurative, and feminist artist. The exhibition, which covers more than 40 years of her painting and drawing, traces the development of her distinctive figures and compares studies and sketches with final works.
“Our annual Gallery Gala engages the eyes as well as the ears,” Mr. Webster says.
He has been Bach Week’s music director since 1975. He played organ and harpsichord at Evanston’s first Bach Week in 1974 during his senior year at Northwestern University’s music school and helped organize the inaugural concert series.
Tickets for the Bach Week Festival’s Gallery Gala are are available online at bachweek.org/gallery-gala and by phone, (800) 838-3006. For additional information, phone the festival’s office at 847-269-9050.
The 2020 Bach Week Festival will include concerts May 1 at Chicago’s North Park University, May 5 and 8 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston, and May 30 at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood. Among highlights are the festival’s first-ever mainstage period-instrument program and a recital with pianist Sergei Babayan, international concert and recording sensation, featuring solo piano works by Frédéric Chopin and a selection of György Kurtág’s piano four-hand transcriptions of J.S. Bach chorales (with pianist Fiona Queen). For complete festival details, visit bachweek.org.