Musical Magic Not To Be Missed

Evanston-based Lakeside Singers, led by Robert Bowker, perform this Friday at The Music Institute of Chicago.



Pop quiz:

How are each of the following artists connected to one Evanstonian?

Jennifer Armstrong, Michael Bolton, The Carpenters, Peter Cetera, Cliff Colnot, James Conlon, Brian Culbertson, Rollo Dilworth, Celine Dion, Len Dresslar, David Foster, Steve Goodman, Ron Hawking, Bonnie Herman, Kitty Haywood, Margaret Hillis, Greg Jasperse, R. Kelley, Carole King, Gladys Knight, Erich Kunzel, Bobby Lewis, Kenny Loggins, Richard Marx, Sherrill Milnes, Andre Previn, John Prine, Gene Puerling, Helmut Rilling, Peter Schreier, Robert Shaw, Don Shelton, Beverly Sills, Barbara Steisand, and Luther Vandross.

The connection is Robert Bowker, the Founding Artistic Director of The Lakeside Singers. As an ensemble singer, Bowker has performed on stage and/or recorded with every one of the names listed above.

Robert Bowker received both his bachelor’s and Masters degrees from Northwestern University, then put them to amazing use throughout the years (click here for his bio).

I had no idea how impressive Bowker’s resumé was until I started thinking about this Friday’s Lakeside Singers’ Holiday Concert. The performance has become an annual tradition for my family, one which always appears to bring the Evanston community together to kick off the holiday season.

If you haven’t heard of The Lakeside Singers, click here for a description (or, click here to REALLY hear them!). 

This year’s Lakeside Singers’ Holiday Concert Series, called I Hear The Bells, kicks off this Friday at 8pm in the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Hall, a truly spectactular space.  Click here for some information about the building’s history. If you can’t make this Friday’s performance, the ensemble will also perform in Crystal Lake (12/4), Arlington Heights (12/5), Chicago (12/16) and Naperville (12/17).

To purchase tickets for any of the performances, click here.

I recently sent Robert Bowker a few questions for this article. Here they are, along with his responses:

Patch: How did you come to be involved with The Lakeside Singers?

I was invited to teach at the Music Institute of Chicago in 1999 by then director, Frank Little. At that time I expressed my interest in starting a different type of vocal ensemble. He was excited by the idea and the Music Institute was our sponsor and incubator of The Lakeside Singers beginning that year.

Patch: How often does the group rehearse?

We rehearse weekly beginning in Sept through April. In addition, three of the past four years we have had additional rehearsals to prepare for performances at Ravinia in the summertime.

Patch: How would you describe this year's holiday performance? What can audience members expect?

This will be a great concert. In the first half we have an enormous variety of music from Palestrina to Lauridesen (and everything in between) including music from Canada, Australia, France, Argentina and a new medley of Chanukah songs. The second half features arrangements of songs made famous by Glee, Straight No Chaser, Kristin Chenoweth, and a very unusual "No Accounting for Taste" medley of rather 'unusual' holiday songs. (I can't give away any more than that :-)  Our audiences like the variety in our concerts and we like to think that even if you are not too fond of an individual piece, you are likely to hear something you do like VERY SOON. We will have a fun singalong, too so everyone can get into the spirit of the holidays.

Patch: Is Evanston your home (and if so, how long have you lived here?).

My wife Sue and I met in a choir rehearsal while students at the music school at Northwestern. We settled here and have been Evanston residents since our marriage in 1969.

Patch: What's your favorite restaurant in Evanston and why?

Too tough! We are grateful constantly for the wonderful variety and quality of the restaurants here.


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