Press Release: ABS presents Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral December 16, 18 & 19 2014

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Additional performances at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the
Performing Arts and the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University
Perennially sold-out tradition enters 16th year
Contact: Jeff McMillan
(415) 621-7900, ext. 204
American Bach Soloists present Handel’s Messiah
December 16, 18, & 19, 2014, 7:30 pm
Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, San Francisco
Tickets: $27 - $97 / / (415) 621-7900
Additional performances:
Sunday, December 14, 2014, 4:00 pm
Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, Mrak Hall Drive, DAVIS
Sunday, December 21, 2014, 3:00 pm
Green Music Center at Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Avenue, ROHNERT PARK

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—October 29, 2014—The American Bach Soloists (ABS) return to San Francisco’s majestic Grace Cathedral to perform Handel’s Messiah on December 16, 18, & 19. Additional performances will be held at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis on December 14 and the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park on December 21. Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas directs all five performances, leading the virtuoso ABS period instrument orchestra, acclaimed American Bach Choir, and an outstanding quartet of vocal soloists:
Mary Wilson, soprano
“Her light, alluring, velvety voice is as soothing as a soft warm blanket.” – Opera News
Eric Jurenas, countertenor
“Beautiful, well-supported tone and compelling expression …” – The New York Times
Wesley Rogers, tenor
“Who couldn’t enjoy tenor Wesley Rogers’ aria ‘Ev’ry valley shall be exalted,’ which he sang so melodically, with dexterity, strength, and depth of tone?” – San Jose Mercury News
Jesse Blumberg, baritone
“Confident, forceful, expressive. His attitude seemed to galvanize the entire performance.” – New York Classical Review
The Wall Street Journal recently praised Maestro Thomas and ABS for their “unique group style, level of artistry, and sense of community.” Their annual performances of Messiah at Grace Cathedral, a beloved Bay Area tradition entering its 16th year, are an eagerly anticipated musical event each year and always sell out. San Francisco Classical Voice called the performances “an unforgettable wedding of performance and locale.”
Having already presented the myriad versions of Messiah that Handel prepared during his lifetime, this season ABS returns to the composer’s 1753 version for the dedication of London’s Foundling Hospital Chapel. Communicating the humanity and brilliance of the work with great immediacy, this version has both a familiar and unusual allocation of vocal solos. One surprising feature is that an alto soloist performs the final aria, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” In 1753, Handel awarded this aria to the celebrated castrato Gaetano Guadagni. Taking advantage of Guadagni’s bravura technique as well as his apparently considerable low notes, Handel also composed a new middle section for the aria “But who may abide” and reworked other arias for this version to suit the singer’s gifts. Countertenor Eric Jurenas will sing the music allotted to Guadagni in this year’s performances.
“Beneath the vaulted arches of Grace Cathedral, Handel’s Messiah surged and stormed. Onward!” observed the San Jose Mercury News, “This was Thursday night, and the American Bach Soloists were performing the famous Baroque oratorio, a staple of the Christmas season, in what is definitely is the Bay Area’s coolest setting for hearing it.”
*Sunday, December 14, 2014, 4:00 pm
Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, Mrak Hall Drive, DAVIS
Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 7:30 pm
Friday, December 19, 2014, 7:30 pm
Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, SAN FRANCISCO
**Sunday, December 21, 2014, 3:00 pm
Green Music Center, 1801 E. Cotati Avenue, ROHNERT PARK
Single tickets: $27 - $97
For more information, visit or call (415) 621-7900
*For Mondavi Center tickets, call (530) 754-ARTS
**For Green Music Center tickets, call (866) 955-6040
HANDEL: Messiah (Foundling Hospital Version)
Mary Wilson, soprano
Eric Jurenas, countertenor
Wesley Rogers, tenor
Jesse Blumberg, baritone
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
American Bach Soloists
American Bach Choir

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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