Chicago-area Bach Week Fest Announces 50th Anniversary – and Final – Season

By Keegan Morris |

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Sergei Babayan gives a coy half smile while wearing eccentric and unique eyeglasses

Sergei Babayan

Evanston-based Bach Week Festival will open its doors one last time this spring. From April 26 to May 5, the Chicago-area institution will share a four-program swansong.

From its opening 1974 season to now, the festival has cemented itself as a springtime institution for classical music.

The announcement cites the increasing responsibilities falling to a small, long-devoted core of boardmembers and volunteers. But longtime music director Richard Webster also hastens to note that the audience and donation levels have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Across three venues in the Chicago area, the festival will showcase Baroque-era repertoire of Bach and his contemporaries.

In Nichols Concert Hall, pianist Sergei Babayan will give a solo recital on April 26 to kick off this final festival. The concert is the public debut of a brand-new program conceived by Babayan with some special Bach additions.

That same day, soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg and harpsichordist Stephen Alltop will convene in the lobby of Nichols Concert Hall to share a candlelit concert of “Italian Delights” featuring vocal works by Handel, Leonarda, Monteverdi, and Vivaldi.

On Sunday, April 28, All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood will host a chamber recital highlighting music of Baroque contemporaries Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, and more. The concert will feature soprano Hannah De Priest, violinist Shelby Yamin, cellist Ana Kim, and Jason J. Moy, the festival’s principal harpsichordist and organist and the organizer of this concert.

Aptly, Bach’s preeminent Mass in B Minor will be the culmination of the farewell season on May 5, 2024. Richard Webster will preside over the performance, which features Stoppelenberg as well as soprano Lindsay Metzger, contralto Susan Platts, tenor Tyler Lee, bass David Govertsen, the North Park University Chamber Singers, and the Bach Week Festival Orchestra and Chorus. The performance will be held at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston.

The festival emphasizes that this farewell is a joyful one. Webster reflects that he and his festival colleagues feel “that it's the right time for Bach Week to bid adieu, and on a high note.”

The Bach Week Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary — and final — season from April 26 to May 5, 2024. For ticketing and information, visit