Press Release: American Bach Soloists Announce 2015-16 Season

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JEFFREY THOMAS ~ ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

 

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
PRESS & MEDIA RELATIONS:
Contact: Jeff McMillan
(415) 621-7900 ext. 204
jmcmillan@americanbach.org

 
 
AMERICAN BACH SOLOISTS ANNOUNCE THEIR 2015-16 SEASON
 
Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" Presented in San Francisco’s
Historic Saint Ignatius Church and at the Mondavi Center in Davis
 
Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral
 
"Bach Favorites" Featuring Cantatas and Works for Violin
 
Handel's Alexander's Feast and Instrumental Concertos
 
Bach’s "Easter Oratorio" and "Ascension Oratorio" and
Works by Johann Kuhnau and Dieterich Buxtehude
 
 
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—March 18, 2015—The American Bach Soloists (ABS) are pleased to announce their 27th season. Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas will lead three, thrilling subscription series concerts in 2016 showcasing masterpieces and lesser known gems by Bach, Handel, Kuhnau, and Buxtehude. San Francisco performances also include the return of Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral and a special holiday presentation of Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” in Saint Ignatius Church.
 
The 2015-16 season opens December 12 with Johann Sebastian Bach’s vast and inspiring “Christmas Oratorio” (Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248). Last presented by ABS in 2008, this festive work contains elements of three secular cantatas and an otherwise lost church cantata that Bach synthesized into a single, unified musical expression of the Christmas story. Requiring four vocal soloists, a full complement of wind instruments, and choir, it is an expansive piece comprised of six separate cantatas originally performed over multiple days. ABS will present Bach’s grand work in its entirety within the gorgeous sanctuary of San Francisco’s Saint Ignatius Church. The “Christmas Oratorio” will also be performed on December 13 at the Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis.
 
Every December, ABS’s presentations of Messiah in Grace Cathedral bring together Handel’s timeless score, the outstanding performances of ABS, and one of San Francisco’s most breathtaking settings in an indelible Bay Area experience. Thomas will direct the renowned period-instrument orchestra, the American Bach Choir, and vocal soloists soprano Hélène Brunet, alto Agnes Vojtko, tenor Kyle Stegall, and baritone Jesse Blumberg in three unforgettable performances.
 
ABS kicks off its 27th subscription series January 22-25, 2016 with "Bach Favorites," displaying the composer’s genius in a variety of settings. Maestro Thomas leads his ABS forces in two brilliant cantatas, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 ("Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life"), a work best known for the beloved chorale setting, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring,” and Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!, BWV 70 (“Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!”), a bold and urgent setting of a text about the Day of Judgment. Soprano Mary Wilson, tenor Derek Chester, and baritone Mischa Bouvier will join the ensemble as vocal soloists. Violinist Tatiana Chulochnikova, the 2016 recipient of The Jeffrey Thomas Award, will be featured in a pair of thrilling instrumental works. Exhibiting the dazzling technique and bravura style that have made her one of today’s most exciting new Baroque violinists, Chulochnikova will perform her own transcription for solo violin of Bach’s organ Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and the Concerto for Violin in E Major (BWV 1042).
 
From February 26-29, 2016, Maestro Thomas leads an all-out Handelian celebration with the presentation of Alexander’s Feast. Based on a poem by John Dryden, subtitled “The Power of Music,” Handel’s ode recounts a banquet held for Alexander the Great in the conquered city of Persepolis at which the musician Timotheus moves the great military commander through a course of emotions until he is compelled to seek revenge for his perished Greek soldiers, killed by the armies of the Persian King Darius III. Avoiding operatic conventions such as da capo arias, Handel's richly scored setting expresses the narrative in a direct manner that is, at times, surprising in its intensity. First performed in 1737, Alexander’s Feast was a tremendous hit with eighteenth-century London and continues to delight contemporary audiences. This evening-length work of some of the composer’s most ambitious and glorious choral music will feature the acclaimed American Bach Choir and an outstanding trio of vocal soloists: soprano Anna Gorbachyova in her ABS debut, tenor Aaron Sheehan, and baritone William Sharp. Following Handel’s tradition of inserting instrumental concertos between the work’s different parts, ABS will perform his Concerto Grosso in C Major and Harp Concerto in B Flat Major.
 
Concluding the subscription season on a festive note, ABS performs celebratory works by Bach, Kuhnau, and Buxtehude from April 22-25, 2016. Bach composed impressive oratorios for three important occasions of the Lutheran calendar: Christmas, Easter, and the Feast of the Ascension. Completing the trilogy begun in December (see December 12-13 for “Christmas Oratorio”), ABS will perform the composer’s exuberant “Easter Oratorio” (Oster-Oratorium, BWV 249) and “Ascension Oratorio” (Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen, BWV 11) with vocal soloists soprano Clara Rottsolk, countertenor Eric Jurenas, tenor Zachary Wilder, and bass Joshua Copeland. Pulling out all the stops for these jubilant works—trumpets, timpani, flutes, oboes, recorders, strings, and voices—Bach composed joyful, extroverted music, tempered by exquisite moments of reflective calm. Along with these masterworks from Bach’s mature years in Leipzig, Thomas and his ABS forces will perform an Ascension cantata by Bach’s predecessor Johann Kuhnau and Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn (“Today God’s Son triumphs”), a work for Easter by one of Bach’s important musical influences, Dieterich Buxtehude.
 
 
SUBSCRIPTIONS
Subscription renewals for the 2015-16 season go on sale March 18 with new subscriptions available May 1. The three-concert subscriptions range from $78–$183.
Tickets for Handel's Messiah in Grace Cathedral and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio may be purchased along with a subscription and range from $30-$105 for each added special event. To purchase a season subscription, call (415) 621-7900 or visit americanbach.org.
 
SINGLE TICKETS
Single tickets for all 2015-16 events go on sale July 1. Tickets for subscription series concerts range from $30­–$72 and tickets for Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral and Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” range from $30–$105 ($26–$89 with a subscription).
 
 
CALENDAR EDITORS PLEASE NOTE
 
December 12, 2015
BACH’S CHRISTMAS ORATORIO
 

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 – Saint Ignatius Church, San Francisco
 
Additional performance:
Sunday December 13 2015 4:00 - Mondavi Center, UC Davis - Call (530) 754-ARTS
 
 
December 16-18, 2015
HANDEL’S MESSIAH IN GRACE CATHEDRAL
 
HANDEL: Messiah
 
Hélène Brunet, soprano
Agnes Vojtko, alto
Kyle Stegall, tenor
Jesse Blumberg, baritone
American Bach Soloists and American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
 
Wednesday December 16, 2015 7:30 pm - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Thursday December 17, 2015 7:30 pm - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Friday December 18, 2015 7:30 pm - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
 
January 22-25, 2016
BACH FAVORITES
 
BACH: Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565
    Transcribed for violin by Tatiana Chulochnikova
BACH: Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147
BACH: Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!, BWV 70
BACH: Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042
 
Mary Wilson, soprano
Derek Chester, tenor
Mischa Bouvier, baritone
Tatiana Chulochnikova, violin [2016 recipient of The Jeffrey Thomas Award]
American Bach Soloists and American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
 
Friday January 22, 2016 8:00 pm – St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday January 23 2016 8:00 pm – First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday January 24 2016 4:00 pm – St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday January 25 2016 7:00 pm – Davis Community Church, Davis
 
 
February 26-29, 2016
ALEXANDER’S FEAST
 
HANDEL: Alexander's Feast
HANDEL: Harp Concerto in B Flat Major
HANDEL: Concerto Grosso in C Major
 
Anna Gorbachyova, soprano [debut]
Aaron Sheehan, tenor
William Sharp, baritone
American Bach Soloists and American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
 
Friday February 26, 2016 8:00 pm – St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday February 27 2016 8:00 pm – First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday February 28 2016 4:00 pm – St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday February 29 2016 7:00 pm – Davis Community Church, Davis
 
 
April 22-25, 2016
EASTER & ASCENSION ORATORIOS
 

BACH: "Easter Oratorio" (Oster-Oratorium, BWV 249)
BUXTEHUDE: Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn, BuxWV 43
BACH: "Ascension Oratorio" (Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen, BWV 11)
KUHNAU: Ihr Himmel jubiliert von oben
 
Clara Rottsolk, soprano
Eric Jurenas, countertenor
Zachary Wilder, tenor
Joshua Copeland, bass
American Bach Soloists and American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
 
Friday April 22 2016 8:00 pm – St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday April 23 2016 8:00 pm – First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday April 24 2016 4:00 pm – St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday April 25 2016 7:00 pm – Davis Community Church, Davis
 
 
ABOUT AMERICAN BACH SOLOISTS
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.”

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ABOUT JEFFREY THOMAS
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...]
 
High resolution images and more information, including full artist biographies,
available at: americanbach.org/press

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