About Us

The Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois ("BACH"), was founded in 1996 for the purpose of teaching, learning, and performing music of the Baroque era. Chester L. Alwes, professor of choral music at the University of Illinois and director of music at Grace Lutheran Church, Champaign, is its musical director.

BACH specializes in vibrant, historically-informed performances of music from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is the only professional ensemble in Illinois outside Chicago solely dedicated to live performances of works by Bach, Handel, Purcell, Monteverdi, Corelli, Vivaldi, Schütz, Rameau, Couperin, and other Baroque composers.

A not-for-profit organization, BACH was named "Chamber Ensemble of the Year 2000" by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. It receives support from the Illinois Arts Council, as well as many generous local donors — individual and corporate.

"Hence it was a special treat to see the labors of love expended upon (J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, 1998) by Chester Alwes and the impressive array of vocal and instrumental talent which goes under the name of BACH ... delivered with magnificently buoyant energy ... (and) remarkable skill."

"All the elements of this performance (of Handel’s Messiah, 1999) added significantly to the wonderful overall effect. The young members ... of the choir sang with superb discipline.... It is easy to become jaundiced by performances of this most popular of classical compositions, but there are always new insights to be gained from this marvelous work, especially in a performance as fresh and lively as that Sunday."
— John Frayne, News-Gazette

BACH is a not-for-profit organization offering vibrant, historically-informed performances of music from the 17th and 18th centuries. BACH is the only professional group in Illinios outside of Chicago dedicated to live performances of baroque music. It is a true community enterprise, drawing on the talent of music faculty, students, and area professionals as well as the support of volunteers. A notable feature of the group is its flexibility of personnel, which allows for widely varied programming of vocal and instrumental music. BACH aims to bring baroque music to groups that may not otherwise have many chances to hear it, and in so doing, offers educational opportunities for performers and listeners alike.