Chicago Bach Project 2011: St. Matthew Passion

St. Matthew Passion, St. Vincent de Paul Church, Chicago, Photo: Charles Osgood  


Johann Sebastian Bach

St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244

April 20, 2011

In 2011, Soli Deo Gloria launched the Chicago Bach Project with Johann Sebastian Bach’s profoundly moving St. Matthew Passion. An audience of more than 800 packed the magnificent St. Vincent de Paul Church in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. SDG’s Artistic Director, John Nelson, conducted a distinguished roster of soloists, the Chicago Bach Choir & Orchestra, and Anima-Young Singers of Greater Chicago in this “Great Passion,” as the St. Matthew is known.


John Nelson, Photo: David Zaugh  

One of the highlights of the evening was the venue itself: St. Vincent de Paul Church. It is an amazingly beautiful  space, and the breadth of the church allowed the Passion to be performed with antiphonal double choir and orchestra, as Bach originally intended.


The 32 singers in the Chicago Bach Chorus were auditioned by Maestri John Nelson and Donald Nally (former Chorus Master of the Lyric Opera pf Chicago), and the Chicago Bach Orchestra wascomprised of 16 violins, 4 violas, 4 cellos, 2 basses, 1 viola da gamba, 4 flutes, 4 oboes doubling on oboe d’amore and oboe da caccia, 2 bassoons, and 2 organs. Many of the orchestra and chorus members are associated with Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Grant Park Festival, Music of the Baroque, Ars Viva, and the music faculties of DePaul University and Wheaton College.



"Nelson leads majestic performance"-Chicago Classical Review


"The soaring, majestic performance of Bach’s epic St. Matthew Passion conducted by John Nelson at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Lincoln Park was a success across the board, idiomatically directed, sensitively sung and brilliantly played by the orchestra in one of the highlights of the current music season." Read Lawrence Johnson's complete review.

"Chicago Bach Project off to a strong start with 'St. Matthew Passion' "-Chicago Tribune


"The choruses that are the work's cathedral-like pillars came off impressively ... The orchestral playing also was of a remarkably high order." Read John von Rhein's complete review.


"A formidable artistic success and a moving experience"


"The musical forces ... could hardly have been bettered ... The Chicago Bach Project enjoyed a healthy birth, to say the least." Read Mark Ketterson's complete review.



"I was blown away. The evening was just stunning."

"I was sitting with moist eyes time and again leaning forward, captured by the sound, sights and totality of the evening.  I was the beneficiary of a spiritual journey, and I am very grateful."


"Deeply moving and meaningful, brilliantly conducted and performed."


"A smashing success ... sublime."

"A spiritual as well as a musical experience."

 "Stirred our souls and lifted our hearts!"


"Moved me to a place where language fails to express the depth of the experience."

"A spectacular musical event!"

John NELSON, conductor
Stanford OLSEN, Evangelist
Stephen MORSCHECK, Jesus
Nicole CABELL, soprano
Jennifer LANE, mezzo-soprano
Nicholas PHAN, tenor
Douglas  WILLIAMS, bass
CHICAGO BACH Chorus and Orchestra
Donald NALLY, chorus master
ANIMA-Young Singers of Greater Chicago, Emily ELLSWORTH, artistic director

Saint Vincent de Paul Church
1010 W. Webster Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60614


The concert was broadcast live by Chicago's classical music radio station, 98.7WFMT-FM and streamed live via WFMT's website and smart phone apps.

Click to read more about the history of the Chicago Bach Project.

The 2011 Chicago Bach Project was made possible in part through lead support from Fellowes, Inc., with additional support from Martin Avenue Pharmacy, Tassos and  Performance Trust Investment Advisors.