Bach Festival of Society

1000 Holt Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

407-646-2182

History:

The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park has the distinction of being the third-oldest continuously operating Bach Festival in the United States, as well as being Central Florida’s oldest operating performing arts organization.

The Bach Festival Society, a not-for-profit organization, was founded in 1935 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s birth by presenting the composer’s orchestral and choral music to the public for “its enlightenment, education, pleasure, and enjoyment.”  Mrs. Isabelle Sprague-Smith, a former New York artist and school principal, was the president and driving force behind the Bach Festival from 1935 until her death in 1950.  During her tenure, the Bach Festival Choir grew to become a true community choir, and the Festival was expanded to include instrumental music.  At Mrs. Sprague-Smith’s death, the future of the Bach Festival was uncertain. Rollins President Hugh McKean asked John M. Tiedtke, the treasurer of the College, to fulfill the obligation and he accepted. Mr. Tiedtke served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees until his death in December 2004.  Eric Ravndal III currently serves as President.

The Bach Festival Society is well known internationally and has enjoyed a long tradition of bringing world-class talent to Central Florida.  Since its inception in 1935, the Society has expanded its offerings to include the annual Winter Park Bach Festival, Visiting Artist Concert Series, Choral Masterworks Concert Series, Fred Rogers Family Series, and a variety of educational and community outreach programs to encourage youth participation in music at all levels. 

Artistic Director and Conductor John V. Sinclair has led the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra since Fall 1990, presenting the music of a wide variety of composers, including the first Florida performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, and world premieres created for the Bach Festival Choir.  As the 160-voice Choir has matured, its reputation for quality and excellence has spread, resulting in invitations to perform outside the Festival with other organizations.  The Choir has performed with other groups, such as the Bach Choir of London, Bournemouth (England) Symphony Chorus, and Orlando’s Southern Ballet Theatre.  The Bach Festival Choir performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra at its invitation in the summer of 2007.

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