Civic makes a joyful return for annual Bach Marathon

After a year's hiatus, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago returned to the city's  communities for its seventh annual Bach Marathon on Dec. 6. The marathon was established in 2014 with guidance from Yo-Yo Ma, then the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant. He asked the Civic to begin a new tradition that shared the music of J.S. Bach with Chicagoans during the holidays.

On Dec. 6, Civic Orchestra musicians once again rose to the challenge, as they traveled to 13 different locations across Chicagoland to perform Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos for students, senior citizens and the public.

The orchestra split up into six ensembles, with each performing one of the six Brandenburg Concertos for audiences at Chicago Public Schools and retirement communities. With artistic guidance from Principal Conductor Ken-David Masur and master teaching artist David Wallace, Civic members rehearsed in their teams to develop interactive concerts that connected audiences to the music.

Wallace, who has helped to prepare the musicians the last four seasons for the Bach Marathon, reflected on how this year’s presentations were impacted by the pandemic. “I'm always interested and intrigued by how the musicians come up with different entry points and angles,” he said. “This year, everyone really seemed drawn to communication, which I don't think had surfaced in the past. I'm sure that everyone was tapping into a need that we all feel, and I knew that would translate well with the audience.”

After a full day of traveling and performing around the city, the musicians convened for a sold-out finale concert at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago, featuring all six ensembles performing their respective concertos.

Visit (or the red tab below) to learn more about Civic’s upcoming concerts in the community and at Symphony Center.