Press Release: ABS Presents Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" December 12 2015

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Contact: Jeff McMillan
(415) 621-7900 ext. 204

Jeffrey Thomas Conducts Four Soloists, Period-Instrument Orchestra, and American Bach Choir in Epic Masterwork Comprised of Six Cantatas
Also Presented at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in
Davis, California on December 13
OCTOBER 27, 2015—SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The American Bach Soloists (ABS) officially launch their 2015-16 season with Johann Sebastian Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" (Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248) on December 12 at San Francisco’s splendid St. Ignatius Church. ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas—“unsurpassable as a Bach interpreter” (San Francisco Classical Voice)—conducts the period instrument specialists of ABS, the acclaimed American Bach Choir, and a quartet of soloists in this expansive work, which will be performed in its entirety. The work will be repeated at the Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis on December 13.
One of the most celebratory works in Bach's entire output, the six parts of the “Christmas Oratorio” relate the story of Christ’s birth with a diverse array of musical forms and instrumental textures that make full use of a large group of wind instruments, including four oboes, three trumpets, two horns, two flutes, and a bassoon. As with Bach’s two great settings of the Passion story, “Christmas Oratorio” features an Evangelist who narrates the story along with vocal soloists and a choir who comment on the story, sing arias, and assume the parts of shepherds, wise men, and roles such as the Angel and King Herod.
Bach composed only three works that he considered oratorios, all of which mark important celebrations in the liturgical calendar: Christmas (Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248), Easter (Oster-Oratorium, BWV 249), and the Feast of Ascension (Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen, BWV 11, also known as "The Ascension Oratorio"). ABS will perform all three of Bach's oratorios during the 2015-16 season beginning with “Christmas Oratorio” on December 12-13, 2015, and the Easter and Ascension Oratorios April 22-25, 2016, as part of the subscription season.
Tenor Kyle Stegall will perform the role of the Evangelist and also sing the arias Bach allotted to tenor soloist. An ABS Academy alum who has since been praised by the Sydney Morning Herald for “a ringing mastery of the required compass,” Mr. Stegall made his ABS debut last season in Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral. The quartet of vocal soloists will also include soprano Hélène Brunet who was hailed by the Calgary Herald for her “tonal and breath control, particularly in her resplendent upper register”; mezzo-soprano Agnes Vojtko “magnificent, sonorous voice” (Classical Sonoma); and baritone Jesse Blumberg “rich sound and dramatic authority” (New York Times). All four soloists will also appear in ABS’s annual performances of Handel’s Messiah at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral (December 16-18, 2015) within a few days of performing Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio.”
Single Tickets: $20-$105
Tickets for ABS subscribers $20-$89
Discounted tickets available for students (21 and under with Valid ID). Please call the ABS Office, (415) 621-7900.
Jeff McMillan
Marketing & Communications Director
(415) 621-7900, ext. 204
DECEMBER 12, 2015
BACH: “Christmas Oratorio” (Weihnachts-Oratorium), BWV 248
Hélène Brunet, soprano
Agnes Vojtko, alto
Kyle Stegall, tenor
Jesse Blumberg, baritone
American Bach Soloists and American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
Saturday December 12 2015 at 7:30 pm
St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco, 650 Parker Avenue
Additional performance:
Sunday December 13 2015 4:00
Mondavi Center, UC Davis – For tickets call (530) 754-ARTS

PR-2015-Christmas-Oratorio 2

The American Bach Soloists engage and inspire audiences through historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs that emphasize the music of the Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic eras. Founded in 1989, the ensemble has achieved its vision of assembling the world’s finest vocalists and period-instrument performers to bring this brilliant music to life. For more than two decades, Jeffrey Thomas has brought thoughtful, meaningful, and informed perspectives to his performances as Artistic and Music Director of the American Bach Soloists. Fanfare Magazine proclaimed that “Thomas’s direction seems just right, capturing the humanity of the music…there is no higher praise for Bach performance.”


Renowned for his experience, knowledge and sensitivity for the music of the Baroque, Jeffrey Thomas’s preparation of the major works of the repertory such as Bach’s Mass in B Minor, St. Matthew Passion, and Handel’s Messiah have led to inspired, definitive performances that have become synonymous with the ensemble he has led with such distinction, American Bach Soloists. San Francisco Classical Voice said, “Jeffrey Thomas is still pushing the musical Baroque envelope.” Before devoting all of his time to conducting, he was one of the first recipients of the San Francisco Opera Company's prestigious Adler Fellowships. Cited by The Wall Street Journal as “a superstar among oratorio tenors,” Mr. Thomas's extensive discography of vocal music includes dozens of recordings of major works for Decca, EMI, Erato, Koch International Classics, Denon, Harmonia Mundi, Smithsonian, Newport Classics, and Arabesque. He is a Professor of Music at the University of California, Davis, where he holds the Barbara K. Jackson Chair in Choral Conducting. Mr. Thomas currently hosts two shows on one of the nation's premiere classical music radio stations, KDFC, the most recent major commercial classical station in America to make the transition to public radio. Through worldwide streaming audio, he brings his experience and love for baroque and choral music to a global audience. [more...]
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