A Rite of Spring in the Chicagoland Area

Bach Week Festival was founded in 1974 by Karel Paukert, then associate professor of Organ and Church Music at Northwestern University and Organist/Choirmaster at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Mr. Paukert combined St. Luke’s renowned choirs with professional instrumentalists from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera Orchestra and Northwestern with a mission in mind: To showcase the music of Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

The festival, now entering its 47th season, has continued since its inception without interruption — the first year directed by Mr. Paukert, and successive years by Richard Webster, Bach Week’s current music director.

After several years, Bach Week Festival began to explore the music of other Baroque composers, with a few 20th-century icons (Stravinsky, among them) added for aural interest. Four years ago the festival returned to its original mission of performing the works of J.S. Bach. This focus has earned the Festival praise from both critics and fans of classical music.

Bach Week Festival’s concerts were originally performed at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, a Gothic structure that was once Chicago’s Episcopal pro-cathedral. The 2020 Festival concerts will take place in Nichols Concert Hall at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston, Anderson Chapel at North Park University in Chicago, and All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

Bach week festival orchestra and chorus

  • Musicians from the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera Orchestra and other professional musicians come together each spring to form the Bach Week Festival Chamber Orchestra. These superb musicians are dedicated to the concept of the Bach Week Festival; many also appear as instrumental soloists during the Festival week.

  • The Bach Week Festival Chorus made its debut in 2000 with a performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. Since that time, the chorus has performed all six of the Bach Motets, the Christmas Oratorio, St. John Passion, Magnificat and many of the composer’s best-known cantatas.

    The ensemble is composed of auditioned singers who also sing professionally/semi-professionally around the Chicago area.