Music of the Baroque, Chicago
Music of the Baroque is a professional chorus and orchestra based in Chicago and one of the few groups of its stature in the country devoted to the performance of eighteenth-century works. Under the direction of internationally acclaimed British conductor Jane Glover, Music of the Baroque is consistently positioned among Chicago’s leading classical music groups. The ensemble has drawn particular praise for its performances of the major choral works of J. S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Handel. Opera News calls Music of the Baroque “one of Chicago’s musical glories” and the Chicago Sun-Times writes, “Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra may be the big guys on the local classical music scene, but in terms of sheer quality of performance…Music of the Baroque inhabits the same stratosphere.”
The Chicago area’s finest professional musicians make up the chorus and orchestra of Music of the Baroque. Many have played and sung for years with the ensemble. Most members of the orchestra also perform with other leading groups, including the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera. Chorus members have active operatic, teaching and recital careers and several perform regularly as soloists with Music of the Baroque.
The ensemble was founded by Thomas S. Wikman in 1972 as a program of the choir of the Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer in Hyde Park. It was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1975, and achieved critical acclaim early in its history. Conductor Jane Glover was named Music Director in September 2002. Nicholas Kraemer is the ensemble’s Principal Guest Conductor. William Jon Gray was named chorus director in 2010. Karen Fishman has served as the organization's executive director since 1999.
Over nearly four decades, Music of the Baroque has presented premiere and revival performances of many early masterpieces—among them Claudio Monteverdi’s operas and 1610 Vespers, Georg Philipp Telemann’s Day of Judgment, Mozart’s Idomeneo, and numerous Handel operas and oratorios. The ensemble has drawn particular praise throughout its history for its performances of the major choral works of J. S. Bach and Handel. In recent seasons, Music of the Baroque has given modern premieres of several works by Telemann, including the cantatas, "Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft," "Dich rühmen die Welten," and "Siehe, das ist Gottes Lamm."
Listeners across the country enjoy the work of Music of the Baroque through radio broadcasts and recordings on 98.7WFMT Radio. Their Emmy-nominated DVD, "A Renaissance Christmas," is heard regularly on public television stations around the country.
Music of the Baroque performs at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, and at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, as well as in other neighborhood churches chosen for their acoustics and architectural interest. Running from October through May, the ensemble presents eight programs for a total of 18 concerts per year. Music of the Baroque's 2016-17 season includes Handel's Alexander's Feast; a program exploring the music of J. S. Bach and three of his sons; Mozart's Mass in C Minor (Great), "Exsultate, jubilate," and music of Beethoven; an evening devoted to Baroque orchestral music featuring music of Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi, Rameau, and more; choral music by Bach, Vivaldi, Albinoni, and Lotti; British pianist Imogen Cooper as soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major; Telemann's rarely performed oratorio The Day of Judgment; and the ensemble's annual Holiday Brass and Choral concerts.
Music of the Baroque's available recordings include "Glover Conducts Mozart," featuring Symphonies 40 and 41; "Kraemer Conducts Bach," including Bach's Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3, 4, and 6; "Mother & Child," recorded live during the ensemble's 2013 holiday concerts and conducted by Paul Agnew; Haydn's The Creation, Telemann's Day of Judgement, Renaissance Christmas (two volumes), and four discs featuring performances by Concertmaster Emeritus Elliot Golub.
Through its "Strong Voices" program, Music of the Baroque conducts arts education to support and enhance music education programs at Chicago public high schools. Combining individual and group vocal instruction by Music of the Baroque chorus members with exposure to high-quality musical performances, the program currently includes Curie High School, Hubbard High School, Kelly High School, Kenwood Academy, Lane Technical High School, and Lindblom Math and Science Academy.