The Illinois Bach Academy is designed for musicians of all experience levels, united by their interest in the music of Bach. Each day begins with the IBA participants gathering for a lecture exploring the historical and liturgical context of the works being studied. The rest of the morning and early afternoon are spent in rehearsals. In the late afternoon, participants divide into tracks with daily events geared toward their particular interest and experience. The week also includes seminars on Baroque performance practice, as well as related concerts, including an Academy faculty recital.
This year's Academy will culminate in a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion, a portion of the Gospel according to St. Matthew transformed into an oratorio with libretto by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici), telling the story of the last days of Jesus. This work is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Baroque sacred music.
Masks are required throughout the event.