Bach Week Festival Announces 2020 Fundraiser

Illinois-based Bach Week Festival’s 2020 Bachanalia, its fourth annual fall fundraiser featuring pairings of classical music with wines selected for the occasion by an advanced sommelier, will take place this season as a free, prerecorded online video presentation. The performance will premiere at 3 p.m. (CDT) on Sunday, October 18, via Facebook and YouTube. Links will be posted on the festival’s website,

Performers will include festival favorites of international stature from the Chicago area, including string trio Black Oak Ensemble, cellist David Cunliffe, soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg with harpsichordist Stephen Alltop, plus Boston-based organist and choirmaster Richard Webster, Bach Week’s longtime music director.

Carl Grapentine, veteran WFMT Chicago radio personality and J. S. Bach aficionado, will host the program.

The event title combines the last name of German Baroque composer J. S. Bach, the festival’s namesake, and “bacchanalia,” the ancient Roman festival of entertainment and revelry named for Bacchus, Roman god of wine.

Bach Week’s wine consultant for the event, Mike Baker, an Advanced Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers and lead buyer for Vin Chicago, confers with the musicians, listens to recordings, and researches the music prior to selecting wines intended to echo the flavor of the pieces to be performed.

For those who want to imbibe at home, Baker’s wine recommendations will be posted in advance on Bach Week’s website, along with a companion video in which he describes how his choices pair with the characteristics of the musical selections.

The online Bachanalia, necessitated by public health restrictions, will run approximately 45 minutes and will continue to be available for free on-demand streaming after its October 18 release.

Donations will be solicited during the virtual Bachanalia to support the spring 2021 Bach Week Festival — the 48th edition of what the Chicago Tribune has called  “one of the most welcome rites of spring in Chicago area music.”