Bach Week Festival's 'Bachanalia' is back: Music and wine fundraiser set for October 8 in Evanston

  • Sommelier Mike Baker discusses one of the wines chosen to complement the music guests are about to hear at Bach Week Festival's fall 2019 'Bachanalia' fundraiser at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. Nathan Silverman

    Sommelier Mike Baker discusses one of the wines chosen to complement the music guests are about to hear at Bach Week Festival's fall 2019 'Bachanalia' fundraiser at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. Nathan Silverman

Updated 9/28/2022 9:01 AM

Evanston-based Bach Week Festival's fall Bachanalia, its signature fundraiser featuring pairings of live classical music with specially selected wines, will take place 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, 2022, at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

Proceeds from the Bachanalia, hosted by the festival board and open to the public, will support the 50th annual Bach Week Festival, to be held in April and May 2023, with concerts in Evanston and Chicago, and the festival's golden anniversary season in 2024.


Bach Week's Bachanalia returns to its full, original format of live music, wine pourings, hearty hors d' oeuvres, and desserts for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

Richard Webster, Bach Week's longtime music director and emcee for the Bachanalia, says, "With a beautiful Baroque program accompanied by carefully curated wines, this enchanted evening is bound to whet everyone's appetite for Bach Week's historic 50th festival this spring."

Webster has led Bach Week since 1975 and performed in and helped organize the 1974 inaugural festival in Evanston under the direction of festival founder Karel Paukert. Webster recently retired as director of music and organist at Boston's historic Trinity Church on Copley Square.

Bachanalia performers will be Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano; Ryan Belongie, countertenor; and Stephen Alltop, harpsichord.

Stoppelenburg is an internationally acclaimed Baroque music specialist and Bach Week favorite who solos at Bach festivals across the country and overseas.

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Alltop has performed with many of today's leading early-music proponents and conducts the Baroque Music Ensemble at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music.

Making his debut appearance at a Bach Week-hosted event, Belongie has been praised for his "oft-astounding vocalism" by San Francisco Classical Voice, for possessing a "remarkably warm, evenly produced voice whose supple phrasing included many an exquisite shade," by Opera News, and by the Chicago Tribune for musicianship that "brought wonderfully stylish singing."

As he has for past Bachanalias, Mike Baker, an Advanced Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers, will consult with the performers and select wines that echo the personalities of the musical works to be performed. Baker also listens to recordings and researches the music before making his wine choices.

Baker will discuss each wine as it's poured for guests, followed by a performance of the musical work the wine was selected to complement.

The concert program, titled "Vocal Fireworks," will include Claudio Monteverdi's "Laudate Dominum"; J. S. Bach's "Vergnügte Ruh" from Cantata 170; George Frideric Handel's lo t' abbraccio" from "Rodelinda"; Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre's "Chaconne" from Pièces de Clavecin, (A minor); Handel's "Da tempeste" from "Giulio Cesare"; Antonio Vivaldi's "Vedro con mio diletto" from "II Giustino, RV 717"; Handel's "Quoniam tu solus sanctus, Cum sancto spiritu"from "Gloria in excelsis Deo"; and Monteverdi's "Pur ti miro" from "L'incoronazione di Poppea."


The companion wines will be announced at the event.

A silent auction will feature items donated by local businesses and performing arts organizations.

Bachanalia planning committee members include Evanston residents Michael Coleman, Melissa Trier Kirk, Judith Kulb, Naida Lodgaard, Mary Mumbrue, and Dorothy Scott; and Laura Reczek and Susan Ross of Skokie.

The event's whimsical title combines the last name of the festival's namesake, German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach, and "bacchanalia," the ancient Roman festival of entertainment and revelry named for Bacchus, Roman god of wine.

Tickets and Information

Tickets for Bach Week's Bachanalia benefit, including wine and food, are $60 per person. Tickets and information are available at and by phone, 847-269-9050. Pandemic-related public health protocols are posted on the website.

Webster Runs for Bach Week Funds

Bach Week's Webster will run in the Chicago Marathon on October 9 to raise funds for the festival.

Bach Week Festival

A musical rite of spring on the North Shore, Bach Week is one of the Midwest's premiere Baroque music festivals. The event enlists musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, and other top-tier ensembles, while featuring some of the Chicago area's finest instrumental and vocal soloists and distinguished guest artists from out of town. Website:

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