Chris Ludwa

The Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus, Kalamazoo Children's Chorus, three opera soloists and the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra will unite to perform the improbably popular Carmina Burana, by Carl Orff, on Sunday, April 28 at 4 pm in Chenery Auditorium. This 1937 cantata survived an early association with Nazi Germany to become a universal celebration of spring, life, love, and the inexorable turning of the wheel of fate, expressed in poetry by anonymous monks-in-training in the 12th and early 13th centuries.

Who was Carl Orff? Andrew Koehler, who prepared the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony and will conduct the performance, explains the way the composer's different interests coalesced into his biggest success. Kalamazoo Bach Festival artistic director Chris Ludwa explains the parts played by the soloists and chorus, and Darlene Sang says the children in the Treble Choir have worked hard on the different languages and will be amazed when the final rehearsals bring together over 125 people to perform the piece.

Samantha Celera, via flickr

Note: Due to inclement weather, this concert has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 6 at 7 pm, at First Congregational Church.

Inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2016 Tony acceptance speech in which he read a newly-composed sonnet, "Love Is Love," director Chris Ludwa has created a second program of eclectic choral works on many aspects of love. The Bach Festival Chorus will be joined by guest artist soprano Rhea Olivaccé, the Kalamazoo College Singers, and instrumentalists Kory Heitzig, piano; Joe Lekan, saxophone; and Anders Dahlberg, bass. It begins at 7 pm on Wednesday, Feb 13., via Flickr

Chris Ludwa, the director of the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus, will conduct the annual program, "Holidays with Bach," twice this weekend: on Saturday, at 3:30 pm at Trinity Lutheran Church in Battle Creek, and Sunday at 4 pm in Stetson Chapel, at Kalamazoo College. He joins Cara Lieurance to preview the concerts, which will include audience carols, a segment of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, a lullaby in Mandarin, a Fred Waring setting of "'Twas The Night Before Christmas," and much more.

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Actor Rob Johansen and Kalamazoo Bach Festival artistic director Chris Ludwa each weigh in separately on "The Cole Porter Radio Hour," an afternoon of music and story focusing on the life and wittily sublime songs of the great American songwriter. It will be held on Sunday, Oct 28 at 4 pm at Kalamazoo College.

Andrew J. Swan

The Kalamazoo Bach Festival will open its 2018 Bach Fest Week on Saturday, June 2 at 8 pm in Chenery Auditorium with two visceral, all-hands-on-deck works for voices and orchestra: William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast and Yevhen Stankovych's Requiem For Those Who Died Of Famine. The Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus and Kalamazoo Philharmonia are the first to perform the Requiem outside Europe.

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Ludwa talks about some of the big attractions of Belshazzar's Feast, and Koehler explains the circumstances that brought his attention to the Requiem, honoring the victims of Holodomor (an artificially engineered famine orchestrated by the Soviet leadership in Ukraine in 1932-33). Koehler learned about the Requiem when he was put in touch with the director of the Ukranian Genocide Famine Foundation. Koehler was "blown away by the raw power, the immediacy of communication" upon hearing it, and agreed to give the Requiem For Those Who Dies Of Famine its first performances in North America.