The year 2008 brings the sixth anniversary of the Peoria Bach Festival, as well as the 323rd birthday of its namesake, composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Since its beginning in 2003, the Bach Festival has taken place the first week of each June at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Local, regional and national musicians come together to celebrate Bach in a gorgeous setting provided by Trinity’s gothic architecture, reverberant acoustics and historical roots. Martin Dicke, Trinity’s cantor, and Dr. John Jost, director of choral activities at Bradley University, co-direct the week’s events.

The festival kicks off on Monday and Tuesday with two youth concerts entitled “Peoria PLAYS Bach,” featuring children and young adults playing the music of Bach and his sons. On Wednesday, the “Bach at Noon” concert will feature Peoria Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Marcia Henry Liebenow on violin, playing Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E Major. At 4pm, Mr. and Mrs. Bach will make a special appearance for children with the performance of Bach: The Musical Magician.

Thursday’s events begin with a noon lecture, “Lunch with Bach,” given by Festival directors Dicke and Jost, offering insight on the cantatas to be performed over the weekend. At 5:30pm, a chamber concert of The Musical Offering will feature Laraine Kaizer and EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, violin; Carol Wessler, cello; and Jonathan Wessler, harpsichord.

On Friday, the “Bach at Noon” concert will feature organ music for the seasons of Advent, Epiphany, Easter and the Festival of the Reformation. At 7:30pm, the annual “Coffee with Bach” concert will be presented, featuring the Peoria Bach Festival Orchestra and Choir in performances of Brandenburg Concertos 1 and 6, and Cantatas 1 and 61.

The 2008 Festival Concert will be presented on Saturday, June 7th at 7:30pm. This year, the Bradley Chorale will make its first appearance at the Bach Festival, performing with the Peoria Bach Festival Orchestra.

Sunday morning services will conclude the Festival on June 8th at 8 and 10:45am. For more information, visit peoriabachfestival.com or call 676-4609. a&s