Evanston’s annual marathon of J.S. Bach’s music is fast becoming a springtime tradition. As much as I appreciate the organizers’ zeal, however, I can’t quite fathom why Bach, as ubiquitous as ever, needs this sort of attention. On the other hand, this year’s festival does include a rare performance of The Art of the Fugue. Written shortly before the kapellmesiter’s death in 1749 (and in fact left unfinished), this set of 16 fugues and 4 canons represents the summation of a lifetime’s worth of thought on the sublimeness and almost mathematical beauty of contrapuntal composition. Ignored even during the intense Bach revival in the 19th century, these minatures still haven’t quite caught on. The Chicago Brass Ensemble will help redress this unjust neglect at next Wednesday’s concert; Bach, who didn’t specify any instruments, certainly would’ve been intrigued by a brass quintet, an entity unknown to him, doing the honors. A general helping of concerti, cantatas, and organ pieces are promised at other concerts, as well as obscure works by Telemann and by Bohemian composers Zelenka and Gassmann. Featured soloists include well-known harpsichordists David Schrader and Michael Bahmann and flutist Louise Dixon. Festival chieftain Richard Webster will direct the Saint Luke’s Choir for Men and Boys and a chamber orchestra. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Wednesday, 8 PM, next Friday, May 15, 8 PM, and next Sunday, May 17, 7:30 PM, Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, 939 Hinman, Evanston; 708-945-5625.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Burlingham.