Kalamazoo, MI – The Kalamazoo Bach Festival Society is very excited to announce that Dr. Chris Ludwa has accepted the position of Music and Artistic Director, beginning in September 2017. In addition to Dr. Ludwa’s responsibilities with the Bach Festival, he will also serve as Assistant Professor of Music for Kalamazoo College and will conduct the Kalamazoo College Singers and select Chamber Singers ensembles.  Dr. Ludwa replaces Jim Turner who retired after 21 years as Music Director.  


Dr. Ludwa received his DMA and Master’s in conducting with minors in business and leadership studies from Indiana University in 2012 and 1999 respectively. In addition to his position with the Bach Festival and Kalamazoo College, Dr. Ludwa will continue as the Principal Conductor and the Artistic Director of the Bay View Music Festival in Petoskey, MI. Chris has worked with the Bay View Music Festival since 2007, where he leads a 100-voice festival choir, collegiate chamber choir, orchestra, and musical theatre productions. In addition, he oversees over 30 faculty artists, 150 college musicians, 10 theatre technicians, and over 100 volunteers as the festival produces nearly 50 performances over two months each summer.


Ludwa has been a conductor and/or director for many organizations including Kaleidosong, Cuyahoga Community College, Encore Vocal Arts, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, Bloomington Pop Orchestra and Chorus, Bloomington Youth Symphony Orchestra and Ensemble, Indianapolis Opera, and at several churches in Indianapolis and Cleveland. He has taught at the Academy of the Performing Arts in Chagrin Falls, OH and Kent State University. In addition, Dr. Ludwa has taught music history and arts integration at Butler University Honors and Choral and Instrumental Music at the International School of Indiana. He has been heavily involved in numerous artistic collaborations throughout his career and is well respected for his creativity, his leadership, and ability to work with many kinds of arts and non-arts organizations. He has worked as an arts presenter, educator, speaker, advocate, and activist in various settings, presenting or collaborating with everyone from Diana Krall and Bobby McFerrin to Bruce Hornsby, using various artistic mediums that include choir, opera, orchestra, chamber music and dance to transcend differences and break down barriers. 


Bach Festival Society Executive Director Cori Somers has been working closely with Dr. Ludwa to plan the 2017-2018 season, the Bach Festival’s 71st year of bringing beautiful music to the Kalamazoo area.  The Bach Festival is excited to join with the Michigan Sacred Music Festival to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” onto the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and altered not only the world’s theological landscape, but also the entire European musical perspective. Five hundred years later, those hammer blows still resonate. Piffaro, The Renaissance Band and The Rose Ensemble will guide listeners through a musical exploration of that first formative century of the Reformation, from intimate hymns penned by Luther himself to the great master Michael Praetorius’ grand elaborations for multiple choirs of instruments and voices (Chenery Auditorium, November 15).


Dr. Ludwa will make his conducting debut with the Bach Festival Chorus on Sunday, December 3rd, at the 48th annual BachFest Christmas concert held each year in Stetson Chapel.


Ludwa will conduct the Bach Festival Chorus and Kalamazoo College vocal ensembles in a February fundraising event (Light Fine Arts/K College, February 14).  “LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS….” will celebrate love in its many forms by presenting songs from different genres ranging from classical to contemporary. 


For the Bach Festival’s Spring Finale Concert, the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus and Kalamazoo Philharmonia conducted by Andrew Koehler will partner to present William Walton's spectacular oratorio Belshazzar's Feast, and contemporary Ukrainian composer Yevhan Stankovych's Requiem for Those Who Died of Famine which will be presented both in Chicago, at the invitation of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation, and in Kalamazoo, collectively the work's U.S. premiere, memorializing the tragedy's 85th anniversary (May 19, Harris Theatre in Chicago, and June 2, Chenery Auditorium). 


Additional Bach Festival events for the 2017-18 season include Bachtoberfest (October 5, Bell’s Brewery Backroom), a Community Sing during the June 1, 2018 Art Hop, many educational and community outreach events, and the 2018 Bach Festival Week which will close with a concert by The Merling Trio (June 1-9, 2018).


The Kalamazoo Bach Festival brings excellent vocal, choral and instrumental music to the widest possible audience in southwest Michigan through performances of major works by the Bach Festival Chorus and Orchestra, the sponsorship of renowned vocal artists and choral groups such as The St. Olaf Choir, Chanticleer, and Cantus, and through educational outreach activities. The Kalamazoo Bach Festival focuses on the music of J. S. Bach and composers from the Renaissance to the contemporary era. For full information about the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Society, visit www.KalamazooBachFestival.org or call 269-337-7407.

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