Music of the Baroque
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.
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 Judgement, 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."
Music of the Baroque 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.
Music of the Baroque was the first professional chorus in America to have its own regularly scheduled nationwide broadcast series, and its performances are aired around the country. Music of the Baroque concerts are currently heard on WFMT Radio. Their Emmy-nominated holiday special, "A Renaissance Christmas," made in conjunction with WTTW Television, has been broadcast on public television stations across the United States.
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 seven programs for a total of 16 concerts per year. Music of the Baroque's 2013-14 season includes J. S. Bach's Cantatas 197 and 159, and the Magnificat in D; a program of classical works by Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven; two of Handel's great Coronation Anthems, Mozart's Coronation Mass, and Haydn's Symphony No. 85, also known as "La Reine"; an evening devoted to Handel and Bach with excerpts from Handel's Apollo e Dafne and Bach's A Minor Violin Concerto in A Minor; Haydn's Creation; and Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, with pieces by Purcell, Rameau, Vivaldi and C. P. E. Bach; and the ensemble's annual Holiday Brass and Choral concerts, conducted by Paul Agnew in his American directing debut.
Music of the Baroque's recordings include Bach's Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3, 4, and 6, 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 Hubbard High School, Kelly High School, Lake View High School, Lane Technical High School, and Lindblom Math and Science Academy.