American Bach Soloists Delve Back into the Turn of 17th-century Italy

March 14, 2018 – San Francisco, CA – American Bach Soloists’ (ABS) 29th subscription season continues with four performances of Claudio Monteverdi’s  Vespro della Beata Vergine  and Giovanni Gabrieli’s In ecclesiis and Magnificat à 14 . Under the direction of Jeffrey Thomas, the magnificent ABS orchestra and an ensemble of ten superb vocal soloists combine to present this splendid music from the Venetian school.
Monteverdi’s “Vespers of 1610” (as commonly referred to today) is a monumental work that displays its composer’s brilliant assimilation of styles—old and new, sacred and secular—and his masterful command of a wide palette of musical structures including psalm settings, sacred concertos, hymns, and motets. Many of the psalm settings were composed in the style of the high Renaissance, or prima pratica , while the direct, rhetorical expressions of the text setting in the motets challenged the norms of composition, pointing to the new, emerging Baroque, or seconda pratica
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Venetian organist and composer Giovanni Gabrieli, like Monteverdi, was a prominent bridge between the Renaissance and Baroque eras. His Magnificat à 14 , published in the 1597 Sacrae Symphoniae , sets the narrative text of the Virgin Mary’s Visitation, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. The canticle juxtaposes monody with polychoral grandeur. Of similar length and stature is his In ecclesiis , another 1 4-voice work on the program, published in 1615, three years after his death. Five verses from Psalm 26 (Vulgate 25) are interspersed with exclamations of “Alleluia” in a virtuosic display of both counterpoint and homophony. 
Katelyn Aungst (soprano), an alumna of the ABS Summer Festival and Academy, is excited to return to the Bay Area, commenting, “ It almost doesn't seem fair that I get to perform some of my favorite music in such a gorgeous city. I'm truly honored to be part of this performance, and I can't wait to share it with San Francisco!” She has been a soloist with the Washington Bach Consort, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Master Chorale, the City Choir of Washington, and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. Her choral and chamber experiences include performances with the Washington Master Chorale, the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, Third Practice, and Church Circle Singers. She is presently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Early Music from The Peabody Institute. 
Julie Bosworth (soprano) interprets a vast array of musical genres, from medieval cantigas to newly-composed works, reveling in the performance practice of every age. She has appeared as a soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Early Music Festival, Mountainside Baroque, the Tucson Desert Song Festival, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, and The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. Ms. Bosworth is a core member of the critically acclaimed chamber group The Broken Consort, an exuberant and experimental Medieval and New Music ensemble. Furthermore, she has sung extensively with The Peabody Consort, Hesperus, The Thirteen, The Bridge Ensemble, and The New Consort. She resides in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area where she is a chorister at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “To execute a monumental work such as this, you need the best musicians. I cannot imagine a better team than that which Jeffrey Thomas has assembled for this task. I’m thrilled to be singing alongside colleagues both new and familiar.”
Steven Brennfleck (tenor) has been consistently acknowledged for his consummate artistry, vocal flexibility, and moving interpretations on the operatic and concert stage. His operatic credits include performances with the Alamo City Opera, American Opera Projects, the Caramoor Festival, Glimmerglass Opera, New York Lyric Opera Theatre, Portland Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, The Tanglewood Festival, Theatre Nohgaku, and the Westminster Opera Theatre. Recent collaborations include concert appearances with the American Bach Soloists, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, Georgetown Festival of the Arts, Handel Choir of Baltimore, LA International New Music Festival, June in Buffalo Festival, Round Rock Symphony, Temple Symphony Orchestra, and the Victoria Bach Festival. “Works such as these require more than your usual cast of soloists. It truly needs to feel like a team sport. It reminds me of how miraculous a career in music is. To think of so many hardworking colleagues gathering together from all over the world, each bringing their own unique life experience and years of practice to bring a great work to life, is really amazing.”
Nils Brown (tenor) is a distinguished solo performer, regularly engaged in the USA, Canada, and Great Britain, with groups including the Boston Handel and Haydn Society, the Smithsonian Chamber Players, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Chicago Music of the Baroque, Tafelmusik and Aradia Ensemble in Toronto, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, I Musici de Montréal, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver and Edmonton Symphonies, the Calgary Philharmonic, and Symphony Nova Scotia.  He has performed and recorded with Montréal's le Nouvel Opera, Obsidian Entertainment, and for a new radio opera based on Gertrude Stein's play, Short Sentences. He will soon be among the soloists in seven performances of Mozart's Requiem for the Eifmann Ballet St. Petersburg-Grands Ballets Canadiens, and will perform at the Music and Beyond festival in Ottawa Canada. This autumn he will launch his own project in historical popular song: excerpts from the Scots Musical Museum of 1787, under the auspices of Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal (Les concerts intimes series). A renowned singer of sea-shanties, he will tour this year promoting La Nef's (from Montréal) album, Sea-songs and Shanties. He greatly appreciates and values his experience as guest artist with great choral societies including Montréal's Choeur St. Laurent, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Ottawa Choral Society, and the Vancouver Bach Choir.
Nicholas Burns (countertenor) says, “Singing with ABS is always a treat, but to do a one-voice-per-part Vespers is especially exciting. I can’t wait for the first rehearsal so I can be inspired by everyone else’s musical imaginations and discover this piece as brand-new, yet again!” His recent solo oratorio engagements have been with Ensemble Caprice, Bande Baroque Montréal, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and le Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. Equally at home on the opera stage, Mr. Burns has recently performed the role of Bertarido in Handel’s Rodelinda, and the role of Polinesso in Handel’s Ariodante. Later this season he will be the alto soloist for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Ensemble Caprice and will return to Festival international de musique baroque de Lamèque. He recently conducted a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, and is also an accomplished bagpiper, winning the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow in 2012. 
Jay Carter (countertenor) is recognized as a leading interpreter of late Baroque repertoire and has been lauded for his luminous tone, stylish interpretations, and clarion delivery. He recently appeared with the American Bach Soloists, the Choir of St. Thomas Church, the National Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Musica Vocale, the Kansas City Baroque Consortium, and Ars Lyrica. He has premiered works by John Tavener, Augusta Read Thomas, Chester Alwes, and Anthony Maglione. Highlights of his 2017 season include appearances with the Bach Collegium Japan, the Portland Baroque Festival, The Bach Virtuosi, and the Saint Louis Symphony. He received a Master’s Degree in Music from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, after receiving his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College where he now serves as Artist-in-Resident and leads the Schola Cantorum. “Monteverdi’s genius is on full display, and opportunities to perform this work don’t pop up as often as any of us would like. Performing it in the Bay Area, one of the most beautiful and varied regions in America, is a definite plus—but additionally, the audiences are so unique and exceptionally enthusiastic; the chance to see and sing for them again is an added joy.”
Jeffrey Fields (baritone) has performed regularly throughout California as a concert soloist. In 1998 he was selected as an Adams Fellow at the Carmel Bach Festival and has had numerous solo appearances there since. He also sings regularly with American Bach Soloists and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Other recent engagements have been with Berkeley Opera, the Bach Society of St. Louis, the Music in the Mountains Festival, and the San Francisco Bach Choir. Mr. Fields taught at the University of Iowa and was an artist fellow for three seasons at the Bach Aria Festival, Stony Brook, New York. “In addition to being such a p leasure to work with colleagues who are old friends, that ABS gives opportunities to exciting, new, young artists, as well, makes the experience richer with opportunities to discover fine, new colleagues!”
David McFerrin (baritone) has won critical acclaim in a variety of repertoire. His opera credits include Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, the Rossini Festival in Germany, and numerous appearances with Boston Lyric Opera. As concert soloist he has sung with the Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, and Boston Pops, and in recital at the Caramoor, Ravinia, and Marlboro Festivals. Recently Mr. McFerrin was an Adams Fellow at the Carmel Bach Festival in California, debuted with Boston Baroque and Apollo's Fire in Cleveland, and performed with the Handel & Haydn Society. He was also runner-up in the Oratorio Society of New York's 2016 Lyndon Woodside Solo Competition. This season's highlights include the world premiere of The Nefarious, Immoral, yet Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke and Mr. Hare with Boston Lyric Opera, and debuts with the Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montréal and American Bach Soloists, solo appearances with the Handel & Haydn Society, and various programs with the renaissance ensemble Blue Heron.
William Meinert (bass), concurring with several of his colleagues, shares how “immensely rewarding it is to make music with so many unique and fine artists. There is an environment of professionalism and camaraderie that helps the music grow to its fullest potential. By the time of the first performance, the ensemble feels like a well-oiled machine, and the music flows without inhibition.” He is a proud participant of the Dolora Zajick Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. During the 2017-18 season, he will participate in performances of Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and Le philosophe in Massenet's Chérubin at Peabody Institute. In the summer of 2017 he joined Des Moines Metro Opera and returns in summer 2018. Highlights of previous seasons include performances with Commonwealth Lyric Theatre, Opera North, Loudoun Lyric Opera, American Bach Soloists Academy, Old Towne Opera, and Metro Opera Workshop of Detroit. Mr. Meinert currently studies with William Sharp at the Peabody Institute.
Jonathan Smucker (tenor), Ohio-born and Bay Area-based, is a member of the American Bach Choir and makes his ABS solo debut in this performance. This season he debuted with Ars Minerva as Gligoro in the modern premiere of Zeani's La Circe, its first performance since 1665. He is a long-time member of the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale, and has sung with Fresno Philharmonic, West Edge Opera, and Black Box Baroque. Equally passionate about new music, Mr. Smucker has sung in numerous premieres and workshops, including the San Francisco readings of Bates's The (r)Evolution of Steve Jobs and Perla's Shalimar the Clown, as Manager/Secretary in the U.S. premiere of O'Regan's Heart of Darkness with Opera Parallèle, and as Max in the world premiere of Colombo's Hunter with Opera Theater Unlimited. He is the Voice Department Chair at the San Francisco Community Music Center. “To be a member of such an esteemed group of colleagues is like a dream come true. There is nothing quite like being part of a group, unified in its musical purpose. I expect this project to be nothing short of transportive!”

Friday April 6 2018 at 8:00 pm
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
3 Bay View Avenue, Belvedere, CA 94920

Saturday April 7 2018 at 8:00 pm
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

Sunday April 8 2018 at 4:00 pm
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
1111 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Monday April 9 2018 at 7:00 pm
Davis Community Church
412 C Street, Davis, CA 95616


Phone: 800-595-4TIX (-4849)
$10 student tickets for ages 25 and under with valid student ID, at the door or reserve at 415-621-7900 


One hour prior to each performance, ticket holders can enjoy a free and informative lecture given by musicologist and conductor Victor Gavenda, an accomplished scholar who will share his insights about the repertoire, the composers, and the experience of hearing great music from the Baroque era performed to the highest standards.
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. San Francisco Classical Voice said, “Jeffrey Thomas is still pushing the musical Baroque envelope.” [ MORE ]
American Bach Soloists are leading performers in the field of Baroque music, dedicated to historically informed performances of Bach and his contemporaries. ABS provides meaningful, memorable, and valuable musical experiences for our audiences through inspiring performances and recordings, and it supports the preservation of early music through educational programs for students and emerging professionals. [ MORE ]
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Jonathon Hampton
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415-621-7900 ext. 207
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