American Bach Soloists Announce 2014-15 SEASON

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

“Some of the greatest period-instrument players in the world”
-San Francisco Classical Voice
Five performances of Handel’s Messiah
Messiah Video Project
Bach’s St. Matthew Passion
Handel’s Acis and Galatea
2015 Jeffrey Thomas Award Winner

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—February 13, 2014—Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas and American Bach Soloists (ABS) announce the 2014-15 season, which will include five performances of Handel's Messiah and three subscription concert weekends featuring Bach's St. Matthew Passion, Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major, and the solo cantata Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, along with Handel's Acis and Galatea, works by Vivaldi, and Leonardo Leo’s Concerto for Violoncello in A Major featuring the 2015 Jeffrey Thomas Award winner, Gretchen Claassen. Packed with Baroque masterpieces and rarities, the new season promises musical delight and discovery. Thomas is especially pleased to present a roster of frequent ABS performers and new artists during ABS’s 26th season.


The season kicks off in December with five performances of the enduring masterwork, Handel’s Messiah, given in three venues. Beginning on Sunday December 14, Thomas will conduct the ABS period-instrument orchestra, the acclaimed American Bach Choir, and outstanding quartet of soloists at the Robert and Magrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis, followed closely by three performances in San Francisco’s historic Grace Cathedral, and the ensemble’s debut at the Donald & Maureen Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, Northern California’s newest home for the performing arts. The soloists for all five performances will be ABS favorites soprano Mary Wilson, tenor Wesley Rogers, baritone Jesse Blumberg, as well as countertenor Eric Jurenas who astounded audiences in last year’s performances.
Messiah VIDEO Project

ABS’s presentation of Messiah in Grace Cathedral has been a beloved annual tradition and a perennial sell-out event for sixteen years. To share this magical experience with an even broader audience and to preserve it for future generations, Emmy Award winning Zamacona Productions will record this season’s performances utilizing seven High-Definition cameras, which will allow for release on local and national television stations, as well as DVD and BluRay. ABS Executive Director Don Scott Carpenter said, “This project has been in the works since 2011 and we are pleased to have secured the private funding to bring this amazing experience to national and international audiences.  I am so pleased to work with director Frank Zamacona on this production; his work with the San Francisco Opera assures me that the final product will be something we will be proud of for years to come.”
Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major
Handel’s Acis and Galatea

The subscription season opens January 23-26, 2015, with “Bach & Handel,” an attractive pairing of masterworks by two musical giants. First, Thomas directs his renowned players through Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major. The balance of the program will be devoted to Handel’s 1718 pastoral, Acis and Galatea. Buoyant, witty, and generously stocked with charming melodies, Acis and Galatea is one of Handel’s most popular operatic works. Thomas conducts a trio of charismatic artists in this story of love and jealousy. Soprano Nola Richardson will sing the role of Galatea, tenor Kyle Stegall will sing the role of Acis, and baritone Mischa Bouvier will sing the role of the jealous and murderous giant Polyphemus.

From February 27-March 2, 2015, ABS will revisit Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. ABS and Thomas, "unsurpassable as a Bach interpreter" (SFCV), have become closely associated with this masterpiece. Their emotionally stirring performances are unforgettable. The experience of their 2012 performance of an early version of the work made a profound impact on audiences and critics alike. “I am so grateful I was there,” one patron excitedly proclaimed. SFCV remarked that the work’s “subject matter does not necessarily carry the same appeal and emotional sway as it did to believers close to 300 years ago. Yet, when cleansed of much historical baggage, it shone as new. Thanks to Thomas and ABS for such a profoundly beautiful, moving evening.” Returning to the work’s more familiar form this season, Thomas will direct the Passion with his accustomed focus on transparent textures, direct expression, and intense intimacy. ABS and the American Bach Choir will be joined by soloists tenor Wesley Rogers as the Evangelista and William Sharp as Christus.

Bach: Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169
Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major
Vivaldi: Nisi Dominus
Leonardo Leo: Concerto for Violoncello in A Major

The subscription season concludes May 1-4 with “Bach & Vivaldi." Balancing vocal and instrumental works, the program includes the solo cantata Gott soll allein mein Herze haben (“God alone shall have my heart”) performed by countertenor Ian Howell. The Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major, Bach’s virtuosic tour through French dance forms will showcase the magnificent forces of ABS. Howell will again be featured in Vivaldi’s setting of the Psalm, Nisi Dominus, often described as a concerto for voice. It was written for an extraordinary soloist in his Venetian ensemble at the Ospedale della Pietà. Another highlight will be the opportunity to hear the 2015 Jeffrey Thomas Award recipient, Gretchen Claassen, performing Leonardo Leo’s Concerto for Violoncello in A Major.

Subscription renewals for the 2014-15 season go on sale March 1 with new subscriptions available on April 21. The three-concert subscriptions range from $69 - $168. Messiah tickets may be purchased along with a subscription and range from $92 - $251. To purchase a subscription, call (415) 621-7900 or visit

Single tickets for subscription series concerts range in price from $27 - $66 or for Messiah from $27 - $97 and go on sale July 1. For tickets or more information about the new season, please visit

Jesse Blumberg
A cherished ABS collaborator since 2007, Jesse Blumberg most recently appeared in Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral in 2012 when SFCV observed, “Baritone Jesse Blumberg took the listeners deep into the valley of darkness, which only made the softly gleaming shaft of ‘Light’ he found there more transforming.”

Mischa Bouvier
Mischa Bouvier attended the ABS Academy in 2010 and has since developed an impressive and diverse career as recitalist, concert singer, and operatic artist. His most recent collaborations with ABS included Handel’s Messiah and Apollo & Dafne when he was praised by SFCV for his "rare vocal and interpretive gifts."
Gretchen Claassen
Gretchen Claassen, winner of the 2015 Jeffrey Thomas Award, is precisely the type of performer the award was designed to encourage: hard working, talented, and deserving of wider recognition. Ms. Claassen is a three-time ABS Academy participant.
Ian Howell
Ian Howell has been praised by The New York Times for “his clear and attractive timbre.” Mr. Howell’s debut recording was ABS’s 1685 and the Art of Ian Howell featuring a program of arias by Bach, Handel, and Scarlatti.
Eric Jurenas
A 2011 Academy participant, Eric Jurenas has emerged as a favorite ABS artist, most notably in his performance of Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral in 2013. Opus Colorado said “I don’t ever recall hearing a countertenor who had the incredible power as Eric Jurenas, not to mention his breath control.”
Nola Richardson
A 2012 and 2013 participant at the ABS Academy, Nola Richardson has been praised by The Washington Post for her “astonishing balance and accuracy, lavishing crystalline diction on everything she touched."
Wesley Rogers
Wesley Rogers’ “Evangelist” from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is a role for which he has been praised as “flawless” (SFCV) and “intense… with a loud ringing voice” (Not For Fun Only).

William Sharp
William Sharp has performed with ABS for more than two decades and is featured on ABS recordings of Bach cantatas, St. Matthew Passion, Mass in B Minor, and Handel’s Messiah.
Kyle Stegall
Kyle Stegall is an Academy alum who impressed many ABS Academy goers in 2013 with the clear quality of his voice and beautiful lyricism. He will make his ABS season debut.
Mary Wilson
Mary Wilson is an extraordinary artist and beloved favorite of ABS audiences. Ms. Wilson is “a fresh-voiced singer and a direct communicator,” observed the San Jose Mercury News, “she loops and embellishes, executing Handel’s tricky flights with seemingly little effort.”

Mary Wilson soprano
Eric Jurenas countertenor
Wesley Rogers tenor
Jesse Blumberg baritone
Sunday December 14 2014 4:00 p.m. - Mondavi Center, UC Davis
Tuesday December 16 2014 7:30 p.m. - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Wednesday December 17 2014 7:30 p.m. - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Friday December 19 2014 7:30 p.m. - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Sunday December 21 2014 3:00 p.m. - Green Music Center, Rohnert Park
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major
Handel: Acis and Galatea
Nola Richardson soprano
Kyle Stegall tenor
Mischa Bouvier baritone
Friday January 23 2015 8:00 p.m. - St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday January 24 2015 8:00 p.m. - First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday January 25 2015 4:00 p.m. - St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday January 26 2015 7:00 p.m. - Davis Community Church, Davis
Wesley Rogers tenor (Evangelista)
William Sharp baritone (Christus)
Friday February 27 2015 8:00 p.m. - St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday February 28 2015 8:00 p.m. - First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday March 1 2015 4:00 p.m. - St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday March 2 2015 7:00 p.m. - Davis Community Church, Davis
Bach: Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169
Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major
Vivaldi: Nisi Dominus
Leo: Concerto for Violoncello in A Major
Ian Howell countertenor
Gretchen Claassen violoncello - 2015 Jeffrey Thomas Award Recipient
Friday May 1 2015 8:00 p.m. - St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday May 2 2015 8:00 p.m. - First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday May 3 2015 4:00 p.m. - St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday May 4 2015 7:00 p.m. - Davis Community Church, Davis
Subscriptions range from $69 to $251
Single tickets range from $27 to $97

For more information, visit or call 415-621-7900.

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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