Press Release: ABS announces 2015 Festival & Academy




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

Theme for 6th Annual Festival is “Versailles & The Parisian Baroque”
August 7-16 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Festival Opens With The Parisian Baroque, a Two-Part Program
Featuring Works by Couperin, Rameau, Rebel, and others
First Complete Performance Outside of Europe of
Marin Marais’s 1709 opera, Sémélé
Two Performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor,
Distinguished Artist Series Concert Features
John Thiessen, trumpet
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—February 27, 2015—Tickets for the 6th annual American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy—San Francisco’s Summer Bach Festival—are now on sale. Titled “Versailles & The Parisian Baroque,” the 2015 Festival will feature concerts, lectures, and colloquia that celebrate Bach’s French contemporaries and the splendid music of the extravagant court at Versailles. Along with a survey of French masterworks by Couperin, Rameau, and others performed by ABS, Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas will lead the ABS Festival Orchestra in the United States premiere of an opera by Marais and two performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. All events will be held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, August 7-16.
The Festival opens with a two-part program celebrating Versailles & The Parisian Baroque, August 7-8. For Part I, Director Jeffrey Thomas leads ABS—“the best American specialists in early music”­—in a trio of stunning orchestral works by three French Masters. The high-minded musical ideals and splendor of the era are fully evident in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Ouverture & Suite of dances from his opera Naïs. Here beauty and grandeur are enhanced by a third trait: velocity! As first violinist at the Paris Opéra, Jacques Aubert had an ear for music suitable for drama and dance. His D Major Concert de Symphonie, an early incarnation of what would become the French symphony, is a delightful, foot taping tour of dance forms. Finally, Jean-Féry Rebel’s imaginative and vivid work for orchestra, Les élémens, depicts the creation of the world from chaos using motifs associated with earth, air, fire, and water.
From the grand to the intimate, ABS continues its exploration of the Parisian Baroque on August 8 with a look into the era’s drawing rooms, private halls, and the Royal residence at Versailles, for a sampling of exquisite works by Marin Marais, François Couperin, André Campra, and Quirinus van Blankenburg, a Dutchman who felt it necessary to compose an answer to Campra’s Les Femmes. The elegance, refinement, mirth, and poignancy that were all hallmarks of the Parisian Baroque will be presented.
Bach’s Mass in B Minor is the pinnacle of the Baroque repertory and ABS’s annual Festival performances—“one of the best” according to the Wall Street Journal—draw Bach pilgrims to San Francisco from around the world. Jeffrey Thomas and the ABS Festival Orchestra, with vocal and instrumental soloists from the ABS Academy, perform the masterwork on each Sunday during the Festival, August 9 & 16.
On Friday, August 14, Marin Marais’s 1709 opera, Sémélé will be presented in its first complete performance outside of Europe. Drawn from the same mythological source that would inspire Handel over three decades later, Marais’s Sémélé is an amorous tale of desire and ambition. The mortal woman Semele wins the devotion of Jupiter, king of the gods. Inflamed by her husband’s wandering eye, Juno devises a plan to ruin the pairing that ends in tragedy and a wondrous new beginning. Utilizing a cast of musicians from the ABS Academy and Festival Orchestra, Jeffrey Thomas leads a concert version of this gem from the golden era of musical Paris.
Baroque trumpeter John Thiessen will be the featured performer in the annual Distinguished Artist Series concert on August 15. Performing a diverse program of Italian chamber music and cantatas, English music for the theater, and oratorio, John Thiessen will demonstrate his instrumental mastery in an astonishing variety of styles and settings in music by Corelli, Jeremiah Clarke, Handel, and Alessandro Scarlatti. For this special recital, members of ABS and guest soloists, including soprano Kathryn Mueller, will join Thiessen.
The Festival concludes on August 16 with a matinee performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor by The ABS Festival Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Thomas.
Festival Passes (8 concerts) $115–$296
Single tickets range from $10–$75
For more information, visit or call 415-621-7900.
All concerts and free events held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
50 Oak Street, San Francisco
Friday, August 7: Opening Night dinner
Dobbs Ferry Restaurant
409 Gough Street, San Francisco
Friday, August 7 - Versailles & The Parisian Baroque - Part I
RAMEAU: Ouverture & Suite from Naïs
J. AUBERT: Concert de Symphonie, No. 2 in D Major
REBEL: Les élémens
American Bach Soloists
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
Saturday, August 8 –
Versailles &The Parisian Baroque - Part II
MARAIS: Pièces de Violes
COUPERIN: “L’Imperiale” from Les nations
CAMPRA: Les femmes
VAN BLANKENBURG: L’Apologie des Femmes
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Robert Mealy, violin
William Skeen, viola da gamba
Kenneth Slowik, viola da gamba
Steven Lehning, viola da gamba
Corey Jamason, harpsichord
Sandra Miller, flute
Debra Nagy, oboe
Dominic Teresi, bassoon
Max van Egmond, baritone
William Sharp, baritone
Judith Malafronte, mezzo soprano
Sunday, August 9 – Bach’s Mass in B Minor
ABS Festival Orchestra with soloists from the ABS Academy
American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
Monday–Wednesday, August 10-12
Academy-in-Action concerts
Friday, August 14 – Marin Marais’s Sémélé (First Complete Performance Outside of Europe)
ABS Festival Orchestra with soloists from the ABS Academy
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
Saturday, August 15 - Distinguished Artist Series: John Thiessen, trumpet
FANTINI: Sonata detta del Nero from Trumpet and Continuo
CORELLI: Sonata for Trumpet, Two Violins, and Continuo
CLARKE: Suite of Ayres for the Theatre
A. SCARLATTI: Su le sponde del Tebro
HANDEL: “Let the Bright Seraphim” from Samson
John Thiessen, trumpet
Kathryn Mueller, soprano
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
Sunday, August 16 – Bach’s Mass in B Minor
ABS Festival Orchestra with soloists from the ABS Academy
American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

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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