The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park

Knowles Memorial Chapel

Knowles Memorial Chapel

The Bach Festival Society was founded in 1935 at Rollins College 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. 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. Autumn Ames 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, the Society has expanded its offerings beyond the annual Bach Festival to include Choral Masterworks and  Visiting Artists performances, as well as a variety of educational and community outreach programs to encourage participation in music at all levels.

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 celebrated its 75th Annual Festival in 2010. Download and view a PDF of the commemorative book celebrating this anniversary and the history of the organization here: Volume 1 | Volume 2.