Free webcast to feature live performances from Nichols Hall
Bach Week Festival’s virtual spring fundraiser, “Happy Birthday, Bach,” will celebrate J.S. Bach with livestreamed performances of chamber music by Bach and two of his contemporaries during a free-to-view webcast at 3 p.m. on March 21. Bach was born on that date in 1685.
Information and video links will be available on the festival’s website, bachweek.org.
The “Happy Birthday, Bach” performances will be streamed live from the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.
Making her Bach Week Festival debut, harpist Eleanor Kirk will be soloist in George Frideric Handel’s three-movement Harp Concerto in B-Flat Major, Op. 4, No. 6, HWV 294. Considered a strikingly novel idea in its day, the Harp Concerto received its world premiere in London in 1736. Kirk is principal harpist with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Bach Week’s principal harpsichordist Jason Moy will solo in the Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings in G Minor by Wilhelmine of Prussia, Margravine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, a princess who was a gifted composer and supporter of the arts. Grove Music Online says of the concerto, “Her love of the music of J. S. Bach is manifest in the vigorous first movement, while the second and third movements show that she could be equally expressive in the natural simplicity of slow music.” Moy is artistic director of Ars Musica Chicago and a faculty member at the DePaul University School of Music, where he serves as director of the Baroque Ensemble.
Five string players will accompany the soloists: violinists Robert Hanford and Sheila Hanford, violist Melissa Trier Kirk, cellist Mark Brandfonbrener, and double bassist Collins Trier.
Robert Hanford, concertmaster of Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, will also perform in J. S. Bach’s Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in E Minor, BWV 1023, along with cellist Brandfonbrener and harpsichordist Moy. The sonata concludes with a pair of Baroque dance movements. AllMusic.com notes, “The challenge in each of these two movements is for the violinist to provide a sense of strong rhythmic movement while maintaining an essentially lyrical line.”
These will be Bach Week’s first livestreamed performances.
Bach Week’s longtime music director Richard Webster will offer “festive, lighthearted” commentary in prerecorded segments taped in Boston, where he serves as music director of historic Trinity Church on Copley Square.
Donations solicited during the webcast will support the virtual 2021 Bach Week Festival – the 48th annual edition of what the Chicago Tribune has called “one of the most welcome rites of spring in Chicago area music.”
The 2021 festival will offer a variety of concerts in May, all of them online. Details will be posted on bachweek.org.
The festival is a collaboration between Bach Week and North Park University’s School of Music, Art, and Theatre.
Founded in Evanston in 1974, the Bach Week Festival 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.