Nearly 30 years ago, the American Bach Soloists established their initial and primary focus on the rich repertoire of Bach’s more than 200 cantatas. Each one is an amalgam of dramatic rhetoric and musical inventiveness, flawlessly and expertly combined by the genius composer who is still, to this day, the most important influence on generations of composers since.
For decades, ABS has invited audiences to participate in their performances of cantatas by encouraging all to sing the final chorales of each cantata, the movement that was meant to capsulize the essence of each cantata’s meaning and purpose.
We’ve been thrilled to see other Bay Area musical organizations take up the same idea, and in February we invite you to join us again through your own musical contribution as we celebrate 30 years by looking back to the beginning (or, “Bach” to the beginning!) with a program of four cantatas that helped establish the solid reputation of ABS as California’s leading Bach ensemble. In fact, ABS’s acclaimed recording of “Favorite Cantatas” is at the core of February’s programs, complemented by Bach’s German setting of the Magnificat text,
Meine Seel erhebt den Herren
(“My soul magnifies the Lord”).
American Bach Soloists’ Music Director Jeffrey Thomas commented on the occasion of February’s upcoming celebration of ABS’s musical roots:
- “The astonishing variety of musical sounds and effects and the inspiration provided by Bach’s musical and dramatic depth in the cantatas is really unparalleled in all other categories of Bach’s works. Each cantata—a mini-drama as effective as operas five times as long—provides never-ending opportunities to our musicians to dig deeper and to draw upon every aspect of their performance and interpretive skills in order to reveal the astonishing complexity of Bach’s creative soul and spirit. And the sheer excitement that musicians feel when they render and perform this peerless music is palpable. In these cantatas, one is always wondering, ‘What inspiring music awaits us next?’ ”
For both cantata devotees and those new to this music, the passion and the soul-searching impetus found in these beautiful works are both compelling and exciting, especially in the hands of noted Bach interpreter, Jeffrey Thomas. ABS’s instrumental and vocal ensembles, critically celebrated for their attention to detail and sensitivity, will be joined by a solo vocal quartet of Bach specialists, each one recognized as a premier interpreter of the repertoire.