Bach Week | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Now in its 33rd year, Evanston's annual Bach Week festival concludes with Bach's emotionally intense choral masterpiece Saint John Passion (1723). Its surprisingly creepy chromatic opening turns chilling with the entry of the choir, and after several hypnotic repetitions the story begins, told primarily through the recitative of the evangelist (tenor William Watson). But it's the gorgeous chorales, spectacular orchestral writing, and moving vocal solos--such as the aria for bass with interjecting chorus "Eilt Ihr Angefochten Seelen"--that make this music powerful even if you don't share the faith it proclaims. With soprano Patrice Michaels, alto Karen Brunssen, tenor Harold Breck, bass Douglas Anderson, and Mary Springfels on viola da gamba, the only period instrument in this performance; Richard Webster conducts. Other Bach Week events include two concerts on Friday, May 11, at the same venue: works by Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel at 7:30 PM and a candlelight recital of music by Bach and Pachelbel at 10:15 PM. a3 PM, Nichols Concert Hall, Music Institute of Chicago, 1490 Chicago, Evanston, 800-595-4849 or 847-648-0813 or bachweek.org, $10-$45.

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