The History of the Chicago Bach Project


The Chicago Bach Project was born out of a ten-year success, and a dream.

For over a decade at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Soli Deo Gloria’s Founding Artistic Director John Nelson conducted a rotating concert cycle in which one of Bach’s three epic sacred masterworks was staged each year during the Easter season. This yearly event became a cultural and spiritual highpoint in the life of Paris and won the support of the city’s mayor, the country’s Minister of Culture, and Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. Some of the performances were filmed, broadcast on European television or released worldwide on DVD to critical acclaim.

It was a long-held dream of Maestro Nelson and Soli Deo Gloria to bring the same Bach cycle to Chicago audiences in a sacred space. In 2011, when Soli Deo Gloria launched the Chicago Bach Project at St. Vincent de Paul Church with a presentation of the St. Matthew Passion, the response was overwhelming, from media to musicians to audience members. Enthusiastic praise from the press ranged from “One of the Top 10 Performances of 2011” (Chicago Classical Review) to “A formidable artistic success and a moving experience” (Concerto Net).

The 2012 performance of the St. John Passion was described as a performance “worthy of a timeless masterpiece that remains at once a monumental expression of Protestant religious belief and a deeply moving human drama” (Chicago Tribune).

In 2013, Chicago Classical Review hailed the Mass in B Minor concert as "memorable ... brilliantly building in momentum and dynamics."

The Chicago Bach Project will return in 2014 to begin the cycle again, with Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on Friday, April 11, 2014.