Announcing the Chicago Bach Project

It has been a long-held dream at Soli Deo Gloria to launch a series of concerts in Chicago that would symbolize the mission we carry out in the world at large. Now the dream is becoming a reality. Beginning in 2011, we are proud to launch the Chicago Bach Project, opening with the Bach’s “Great Passion,” the St. Matthew.

"The launch of this project is a much-anticipated milestone in SDG’s 17-year journey from birth to maturity. I have every reason to believe that the energy we’ve poured into this idea over the years will be well rewarded. We have great people in place at every level of development on this project. It promises to be exceptional."—Chandler Branch, CEO

Chicago Bach Project
Notre Dame Cathedral

John Nelson conducting
Bach’s Mass in B Minor
(Photo courtesy of Ensemble
orchestral de Paris)

For over a decade, our Artistic Director, Maestro John Nelson, presented a different masterpiece from Bach’s great trilogy (the St. John Passion, the St. Matthew Passion, and the Mass in B Minor) each Easter season at the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

“The City of Paris is privileged to support the extraordinary work of the Ensemble orchestral de Paris under John Nelson’s magical direction. We congratulate their magnificent concerts at Notre Dame Cathedral.”—Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris

Inspired by the great success and audience acclaim of this annual Paris event, SDG is now set to start the same tradition in the Windy City. Like the Paris audiences who came year after year to experience something sublime, Chicagoans are in for a musical feast. These three Bach works are the pinnacle of western sacred music, and all three were signed by Bach himself with “S.D.G.” (”To God alone be the Glory”), the very reason Soli Deo Gloria exists.

“I’m often asked, ‘What is your ‘Island’ piece?’ When it comes to a single work, my hands-down choice is Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. It tells the greatest story ever told with unequaled perception and dramatic power. It is the most moving of all sacred works. It is utter perfection from begin­ning to end. That is why I can hardly contain the excitement and anticipation of launching the Chicago Bach Project by conducting this masterpiece.”
—John Nelson
St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Chicago

St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Chicago
(Photo: Ron Pateman)

One of the not-to-be missed highlights of the April 20th concert is the venue itself. St. Vincent de Paul Parish, on the campus of DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the country, is stunningly beautiful, with un­obstructed views from every seat and near perfect acoustics. The leaders of St. Vincent de Paul maintain a deep respect for the church as a place of worship, and it is precisely this sense of worship that we hope concertgoers will experience when they hear this glorious music of Bach. It is our hope that the annual Chicago Bach Project concert will become a meaningful way of enriching Holy Week observances for many in Chicago and beyond.

“St. Vincent De Paul Parish is a magnificent venue. I’ll never forget the thrill of introducing it to John to for the very first time. He was blown away. In fact, he remarked, 'I frankly cannot think of any church I have seen in the entire world that is more perfectly suited for our purposes!' ”
—Chandler Branch

The Chicago Bach Project is part of SDG’s mission to make expensive art available to those who cannot afford it. We want to extend the invitation to a broad population of the Chicago area, not just to the musical elite. We plan to look for creative ways to inspire students and people with physical or financial challenges by bringing them into direct contact with the music and the performers. We have no higher hope for the concert itself than that, through partnerships with social agencies in the city, the audience will include many for whom such an experience might otherwise be a financial or physical impossibility.

The St. Matthew Passion performance will be a red-letter night on the cultural scene in Chicago, with world-class soloists; Chorus Master, Donald Nally, Chorus Master of Chicago’s Lyric Opera; a hand-selected 32-voice choir and an orchestra comprised of the finest players in the area.

John Nelson (Photo: David Zaugh)

John Nelson
Photo: David Zaugh

Even if you don’t live in the Greater Chicago area, you might want to consider traveling for this event. “I assure you,” urges Maestro Nelson, “it will be well worth your trip. I can tell you from many years of conducting this work, if you can come to this performance, you will not leave the same as you entered.”

Whether you’re coming from across town or across states, there’s one thing you need to know: We fully expect this concert to sell out, so we encourage you to order your tickets today for this very special occasion. Click here for our ticket service, Brown Paper Tickets, or, if you prefer, call them at 1-800-838-3006.


The Chicago Bach Project is generously sponsored by Fellowes,

with additional support from Martin Avenue Pharmacy and Tassos.