Why I'm excited about this summer's
ABS FESTIVAL August 3–12 2018
I’m often asked which of our ABS Festival programs bring me the greatest joy and excitement. That’s a tough call! Our 2018 Festival is jam-packed with enticements! A few years ago, when our Summer Festival focused on music from Versailles, it was a thrill to prepare and perform the stunning music that was composed for some of the greatest performers in Baroque Europe who performed in Paris. But, whereas one would be well justified in remarking that it was the composers who shone brightest in that ilk, at this summer's Festival we visit the legacy of what was probably the finest orchestra in all of Europe at the time, the famed Hofkapelle , or court orchestra, in Dresden. We've put together two extraordinary programs that focus on music for that incredible Dresden orchestra.

  • The first, which shares its title with the moniker for this year's Festival, is called "The Glorious Court of Dresden" and features music composed by Dresden's finest resident composers. Their names might be a little less recognizable than some, but their music demanded the virtuosity of the Hofkapelle's roster, and we've got our own ABS virtuosi lined up to take us back to that golden age. 

  • On the second evening of our Festival, titled "To Dresden With Love," we present music composed by non-residents of Dresden but sent to the court through some sort of solicitation or, in the case of the Bach celebratory cantata on our program, offered to its Elector as a testimonial of its composer's esteem for the Dresden musicians and, more to the point, of his desire and ambition to be a part of the city's coveted musical scene as developed first under the patronage of Augustus II the Strong, then upheld by his son and successor, Frederick Augustus III. Paired with the Bach is Vivaldi's "Dixit Dominus" that was rediscovered in our current 21st century in a Dresden library. 

As extensions of our work with this year's Academy participants, we'll be performing the gorgeous opera/oratorio, Handel's Semele , and Bach's immortal Mass in B Minor . That annual tradition for ABS has become an annual tradition for our audiences, too, who have made yearly pilgrimages to hear the work that represents the pinnacle of Bach's genius. And Handel's Semele contains many of everyone's favorite arias including "Hence, Iris, hence away" and the serenely beautiful "Where'er you walk."

Generating even more excitement for me are the free public lectures and master classes given by our esteemed Academy Faculty, who will present a concert of fantastic music by the " Baroque Masters " at the end of the Festival. And this year's free public Colloquium will be barn burner when ABS musicians offer their experienced insights into the history and, more importantly, the evolution of the Early Music movement along with a heartfelt tribute to the career of Early Music's most famous baritone, Max van Egmond!

Like I wrote, it's a tough call to choose which of these events excites me the most. But I don't have to choose: I'll be there for them all. I hope you will be, too!

— Jeffrey
The Glorious Court of Dresden
Friday August 3 • 8:00 p.m.
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, S.F.
Concertos, Sinfonias, & Overtures by Fasch, Quantz, Pisendel, Zelenka, and Heinichen
To Dresden With Love
Saturday August 4 • 8:00 p.m.
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, S.F.
Works for Orchestra, Chorus, & Soloists by Bach, Veracini, and Vivaldi
Bach's Mass in B Minor
Sunday August 5 • 7:00 p.m.
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, S.F.
Sunday August 12 • 2:00 p.m.
S.F. Conservatory of Music
American Bach Choir & ABS Festival Orchestra
Handel's Semele
Thursday August 9 • 7:30 p.m.
Friday August 10 • 7:30 p.m.
S.F. Conservatory of Music
Academy Singers & ABS Academy Festival Orchestra
Baroque Masters
Saturday August 11 • 8:00 p.m.
S.F. Conservatory of Music
featuring ABS instrumentalists & baritone Max van Egmond
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