“Toward the Passion”

2018 Illinois Bach Academy
June 24-29, 2018

School of Music and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Registration is expected to open February 1, 2018

After a tremendous initial offering of Bach’s St. John Passion, the Illinois Bach Academy will return in 2018 with an intimate look into Bach’s Cantatas.

As music director for the city of Leipzig, one of Bach’s duties was to compose a cantata each week which was then sung as the central music offering on Sunday – except for the period of Lent, when no complex music with independent instruments was heard.  Over his years as Thomaskantor, Bach performed five cantatas on the last Sunday before this “quiet time”, all of which point forward to the great Passion settings which broke the Lenten silence. This year’s Bach academy explores these cantatas, four by JS himself (BWV 21, 22, 127, and 159), and one by his second cousin, Johann Ludwig Bach (Ja, mir hast du Arbeit gemacht).

The Academy faculty includes some of the country’s leading experts in the study and performance of 17thth and 18th-century music, including musicologist Robin Leaver, Baroque violinists Nancy Wilson and Leah Gale Nelson, conductor Andrew Megill, and members of Fuma Sacra, one of the country’s finest professional vocal ensembles specializing in early music, as well as members of the Fuma Sacra Baroque Orchestra.

The Academy is designed for musicians of all experience levels, united by their interest in the music of Bach. Each day begins with the IBA participants gathering for a lecture exploring the historical and liturgical context of the works being studied. The rest of the morning and early afternoon are spent in rehearsals. In the late afternoon, participants divide into tracks with daily events geared toward their particular interest and experience. (see descriptions of the various tracks available below). The week also includes seminars on Baroque performance practice, as well as related concerts, including an IBA Faculty recital.

The final concert will take place Friday evening, at 7:30 pm.

Participant Tracks
SINGER. This track is ideal for passionate amateur and experienced choral singers, with the ability to read music, as well as music teachers and undergraduate music education and performance students who want to learn about and perform a major Bach work, Participants in the SINGER track, will be divided into small groups for voice lessons and German diction classes.

YOUNG ARTISTS. This track is ideal for undergraduate or graduate music majors (or recent graduates) with significant vocal experience. Participants in the YOUNG ARTIST track will be mentored by members of Fuma Sacra, receive daily coaching on solo and small ensemble repertoire which will be performed on an evening recital. In addition to coaching and singing in the choir, the Young Artists will understudy arias from the St. John Passon, coach with Andrew Megill and Nancy Wilson, and may also be considered for the small chorsolisten roles (Judas, Peter, etc.). A maximum of a double quartet of singers will be admitted in this track through a recorded audition process (for audition requirements email Andrew Megill at amegill@illniois.edu).

CONDUCTORS. This track is ideal for conductors with some experience. In addition to participating in the choir, participants in the CONDUCTOR track will attend lectures with Andrew Megill on score study and analysis, rehearsal technique, working with instruments, performance practice, and recitative conducting. Only eight conductors will be admitted to this track. Contact Andrew Megill at amegill@illinois.edu to express interest.

MUSICOLOGY: The musicology track is designed for those who have a love for music history, and a desire to more fully understand Bach’s world and the relationship of his music to his time and place. In addition to participating in the choir, musicology students will enjoy daily seminars with Robin Leaver, exploring Bach’s world in greater detail.

INSTRUMENTALIST: Admittance to this track is by audition only, and is reserved for highly skilled professional instrumentalists who want to expand their knowledge of Baroque performance practice. Participants in this track receive daily coaching with Nancy Wilson and Leah Nelson on solo and chamber music repertoire, and will play as part of the orchestra in the final performance of Bach’s St. John Passion. If you are interested in this track, please contact Andrew Megill at amegill@illinois.edu.

Housing and meals are available through the University at a moderate rate, or participants may choose to make their own housing arrangements in one of the many reasonable hotels in Champaign-Urbana. Contact Steve Burian for more information.

Academic credit is available for an additional fee.


Learn more about Choral Music at the University of Illinois.