Bach Takes Center Stage

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Byline: Bill Gowen

Richard Webster, music director of the Bach Week Festival for more than three decades, is taking this year's festival back to its roots: all Bach, all the time.

Starting with today's opening concert at the Music Institute of Chicago, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, all three concerts over the next two weekends will be devoted entirely to the music of the festival's namesake composer, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

"The festival will showcase the range of Bach's genius - from intimate pieces for solo instruments to grand works for chorus, soloists, and orchestra," Webster said, noting that the last time the festival was completely devoted to Bach's music was in 1981.

The Bach Week Festival Orchestra consists of many members of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestras. Also taking part will be the Bach Week Festival Chorus; along with renowned instrumental and vocal soloists.

The participating artists include CSO flutist Louise Dixon, who played at the first Bach Week Festival in 1974 - the same year she joined the CSO - and has missed only one festival.

This year's festival will include four concerts over three days, including a "candlelight concert" of solo harpsichord music on the closing night next weekend..

Today's opening concert at 7:30 p.m. will include the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, featuring former Vermeer Quartet violinist Mathias Tacke, along with flutists Anita Rieder and Alyce Johnson.

Bass vocalist Douglas Anderson and oboist Judith Kulb are the soloists in the cantata "Ich habe genug" ("I have enough"), and Webster will perform the Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, one of Bach's most famous solo organ works.

The program will conclude with the Suite No. 4 in D Major for Orchestra.

The festival's second concert, at 7:30 p. …