North Park to Host Bach Week Festival Concerts

Richard Webster, Bach Week Festival Director
Richard Webster, Bach Week Festival music director, conducted one of the concerts held at North Park University during the 2013 festival. Bach Week returns to North Park May 2 and 4, 2014.

CHICAGO (March 28, 2014) — North Park University will welcome the Bach Week Festival to its campus in May, making this the second consecutive year that the institution has taken an active role in the Chicago area’s annual two-week celebration of Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

The University’s Chamber Singers, a student ensemble specializing in Renaissance and Baroque music, and four North Park University musicians will join other internationally renowned performers at two concerts scheduled for May 2 and 4 in the campus’ Anderson Chapel. The two North Park performances will represent the final concerts in the 2014 series, which for more than 40 years has been one of the Midwest’s premier classical music festivals. Other concerts, scheduled for April 25, will be in Evanston.

“We are delighted to be able to offer this wonderful opportunity to our students and to the community,” said Dr. Craig Johnson, dean of North Park’s School of Music. ”Part of the school’s vision from the very beginning has been to provide our student ensembles the opportunity to perform with professionals in the field.”

The May 2 concert will feature North Park organist Margaret Martin, who will perform with her husband Christopher Martin, principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, playing Bach’s Concerto in D Major, BWV 972, a piece never before played at the festival. The Martins also performed in last year’s concert on the North Park campus.

The evening’s repertoire will also include Sonata in e minor for violin, BWV 1023, featuring violin soloist Renee-Paule Gauthier, who teaches violin at North Park, and Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat Major, BWV 1051, with Claudia Lasareff-Mironoff, North Park viola instructor and director of chamber music, and Roger Chase as viola soloists; and Cantata: Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, BWV 1.

The May 4 concert will feature a soprano solo by Julia Davids, professor of music and director of choral activities at North Park, in the performance of the G-Major Mass and Cantata, BWV 50. The Chamber Singers, a select University ensemble that includes both graduate and undergraduate students, will join the Festival Chorus for that performance.

The participating North Park faculty members are highly accomplished in their fields. Gauthier was named “one the best upcoming violinists of the new generation” in the book Violin Virtuosos, from Paganini to the 21st Century; she is also principal second violin with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and the Northwest Indiana Symphony. Lasareff-Mironoff has played principal viola with the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Chicago Opera Theater, and the Joffrey Ballet. Davids directs the Chamber Singers and University Choir, and is a founding member of the Canadian Chamber Choir. Bach Week musical performers—both vocalists and instrumentalists—are invited from various high-profile musical groups in and around Chicago, including the Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as musicians from out of town.

Bach Week a good fit for North Park

The annual Bach celebration, which is in its 41st year, has until recently offered performances only in Evanston. Its original home was St. Luke’s Church; this relationship ended when festival director and conductor Richard Webster left St. Luke’s in 2005 to become music director at Trinity Church in Boston.

“We wanted to keep Bach Week alive but we were essentially a festival without a home,” Webster said, adding that they rented performing space in Evanston as a venue for their concerts. “We had been casting around for a new home when I learned that my good friend and college roommate, Craig Johnson, had become dean of the music school at North Park.” Webster said he had long been familiar with North Park and with its music programs and approached Johnson about a partnership.

“It’s been exactly the right thing for the festival,” he says. “It brings us a much larger community of students, alumni, and friends to support Bach Week. Last year, we filled Anderson Chapel with a standing-room-only audience and hope to do the same this year.”

The School of Music has been an integral part of North Park since the University’s earliest days. Johnson credits the institution’s close connection with the Evangelical Covenant Church—which has long made music a large part of its tradition—for the fact that music has always figured so prominently in North Park’s history and academic offerings. While the Bach Festival is one of the institution’s musical highlights, North Park offers instrumental, vocal, and operatic concerts for the community throughout the year.

The school, which has eight full-time faculty and about 40 adjunct faculty—most of whom are seasoned musicians—offers four bachelor’s degrees, including a BA with four specialty concentrations, and a master of music in vocal performance.

“We’re very excited about our collaboration with the Bach Week Festival and happy to bring these concerts to our campus,” Johnson said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to enjoy high-level music right on our own campus, and the concerts help expand our reach to our alumni and to the community.”

Tickets for each concert are $30 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students with ID. They may be purchased online or by calling (800) 838-3006.

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. Learn more about North Park University.