American Bach Soloists present their 30th Season
featuring Bach, Versailles, and Baroque Opera

June 1, 2018 – San Francisco, CA. The American Bach Soloists 30th Season commemorates the core of ABS’s rich history through stunning performances of works that represent the finest of the Baroque era. Grand special events including the "Sparkle 2018 Gala" and "A Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera," a glamorous evening of stars in San Francisco’s Herbst Theater, make this an unparalleled celebratory season of the organization’s past, present, and future.

For three decades, a synthesis of the musical and expressive gifts of some of the world’s most distinguished Baroque music experts and new generations of young virtuosi has inspired audiences far and wide through polished, insightful, and revelatory performances. Together, and through the mentoring and curatorship of Jeffrey Thomas, American Bach Soloists have cultivated an internationally appreciated and cherished ensemble of extraordinary musicians.

Approaching its 30th season, recent praise of American Bach Soloists has focused on the ensemble’s consistency and innovation:

“The American Bach Soloists again showed its willingness to take risks, investigate interesting corners of the repertory, and shed new light on well-known masterpieces.”

“We can (and should) be grateful that there are people like Jeffrey Thomas and his band of musicians: the singers and instrumentalists of the American Bach Soloists, whose sole purpose (and soul purpose) it is to create and maintain beauty.”

San Francisco Classical Voice
ABS artistic and music director Jeffrey Thomas is thrilled to approach the organization’s milestone season:

“For 30 years my life and soul have been blessed by the amazing musicians, audiences, and benefactors of ABS. They have enabled us all to cherish, polish, and preserve some of the greatest examples of Musical Art from a period in history that was distinguished by grace, detail, and palpable expressions of humanity. I am so utterly grateful.”

Feelings of excitement about the ensemble’s upcoming Bach-centered programs have emerged from within its ranks of dedicated musicians and staff members, marking a watershed year:
ABS concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock said, “I consider my 30 years with ABS to be among the most rewarding parts of my entire career. Loving the music of Bach as I do, what a long and wonderful opportunity this has turned out to be! But the icing on the cake is working with Jeffrey, who brings his profound understanding, meticulousness, and care to literally every phrase, every note, building the most nuanced performances of this repertoire I have experienced.”
Executive Director Don Scott Carpenter added, “Every time I witness Jeffrey give the downbeat at a performance, I am reminded what a joy it is to oversee the administrative functions necessary to support such a worthwhile endeavor. ABS is a rare gem in the Bay Area, and I am so pleased to serve the cultural needs of our community.”
The 30th Season Programs
Saturday September 29 2018 5:00 p.m. • The James Leary Flood Mansion, San Francisco

Featuring some of ABS’s core musicians — including the remarkable young soprano, Nola Richardson, who made her debut with the ensemble through its distinguished summer Academy program — "Sparkle 2018 ~ Versailles” celebrates the Court of Louis XIV and the music of Baroque France. This 16th Annual Gala Auction, Concert, & Dinner includes a special performance of works by Couperin, Rameau, Leclair, and Aubert featuring violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, flutist Sandra Miller, Steven Lehning on viola da gamba, and harpsichordist Corey Jamason, along with additional members of ABS, all performing in the magnificent chapel of the James Leary Flood Mansion, an almost-secret treasure in San Francisco’s picturesque Pacific Heights. Marked by the music's grace, suppleness, and magical beauty, the event’s program will include:

François Couperin:  Deuxième Concert
Jean-Philippe Rameau:  Pieces de Clavecin en Concerts (No. 3)
Jean-Philippe Rameau:  L'Impatience
Jean-Marie Leclair: Violin Concerto in A Major
Jacques Aubert:  Concert de simphonies (Suite No. 2)

Nola Richardson soprano • Elizabeth Blumenstock violin
Sandra Miller flute • Steven Lehning viola da gamba
Corey Jamason harpsichord
American Bach Soloists
Jeffrey Thomas  conductor
Friday October 19 2018 8:00 p.m. • St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday October 20 2018 8:00 p.m. • First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday October 21 2018 4:00 p.m. • St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday October 22 2018 7:00 p.m. • Davis Community Church, Davis

The opening concerts of the 30th All-Bach Season will feature the sonorous  corno da caccia or “hunting horn” in two works that reveal Bach’s playful dispositions while employed in Weimar and Cöthen. The joyful “Hunting Cantata,”  Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd! (“What pleases me is the lively hunt!”) is Bach’s earliest surviving secular cantata, composed for the 31st birthday of Duke Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels whose wise governance and adept hunting skills are allegorically praised in song. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major brings the Baroque horn to the foreground in some of Bach’s most robust instrumental music, and the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major for three groups of string instruments matches violins, violas, and ‘cellos in a rally of friendly competition, a tour de force volley of virtuosity.

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048
Bach:  Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd , BWV 208

Hélène Brunet  soprano (Pales) • Julie Bosworth  soprano (Diana)
Derek Chester  tenor (Endymion) • Mischa Bouvier  baritone (Pan)
American Bach Soloists & American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas  conductor
Wednesday December 12 2018 7:30 p.m. • Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Thursday December 13 2018 7:30 p.m. • Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Friday December 14 2018 7:30 p.m. • Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Handel’s timeless masterpiece will be presented for the 21st consecutive year in the awe-inspiring majesty of Grace Cathedral. Perennially a sold-out event, audience members from far and wide attend this Bay Area favorite that features the superb American Bach Choir and the period-instrument specialists of ABS in one of their largest configurations, under the direction of Jeffrey Thomas. Praising his performances of Handel,  Opera News wrote “Jeffrey Thomas draws crisp, vital playing from the ace Baroque instrumentalists of American Bach Soloists.” An annual holiday tradition, these performances meld together Handel’s glorious music with the serene beauty of one of San Francisco’s greatest architectural treasures.

George Frideric Handel:  Messiah

Mary Wilson  soprano • Eric Jurenas  countertenor
Aaron Sheehan  tenor • Jesse Blumberg  baritone
American Bach Soloists & American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas  conductor
featuring Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen  countertenor
Monday December 31 2018 4:00 p.m. • Herbst Theater, San Francisco

This special event, presented in San Francisco’s beautiful Herbst Theatre — a cornerstone and jewel among the city’s most prestigious venues — will feature one of the opera world’s exciting new vocal talents, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. The 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Young Artists Award Winner, former Merola Opera Program participant, 2018 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, and ABS Academy alumnus has been capturing the hearts of opera lovers around the world. 

The New York Times wrote that the young breakout artist “possesses a remarkable gift for intimate communication in a vast hall, combined with a voice of velvety gentleness — surprisingly penetrating given the tenderness of its texture — and a taste for adventure. … Expressive yet dignified, his phrasing confident and his ornamentation stylishly discreet, he brought tears to my eyes.”

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen will be featured in arias by Handel and Gluck. Along with the incomparable soprano Mary Wilson and a delightful program of instrumental music from opera and concert by Vivaldi and Bach, this early night on the town will joyfully ring in the New Year in elegant style.

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen  countertenor • Mary Wilson  soprano
American Bach Soloists
Jeffrey Thomas  conductor
Friday February 15 2019 8:00 p.m. • St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday February 16 2019 8:00 p.m. • First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday February 17 2019 4:00 p.m. • St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday February 18 2019 7:00 p.m. • Davis Community Church, Davis

“Bach to the Beginning” presents a renewed focus on the invaluable gems found in Bach’s cantatas. When ABS was founded in 1989, its mission included a primary emphasis on that repertoire of more than 200 works, each containing exquisite and dramatic music that often calls upon the virtuosity of individual members of an ensemble — singers and instrumentalists alike — to display their talents in the expression of each mini-drama that is at the heart and soul of the cantatas by Bach. 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.

Bach:  Meine Seel erhebt den Herren , Cantata 10
Bach:  Jesu, der du meine Seele , Cantata 78
Bach:  Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott , Cantata 80
Bach:  Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme , Cantata 140

Nola Richardson  soprano • Jay Carter  countertenor
Zachary Wilder  tenor • Tyler Duncan  baritone
American Bach Soloists & American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas  conductor
Friday March 22 2019 7:00 p.m. • St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday March 23 2019 7:00 p.m. • First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday March 24 2019 4:00 p.m. • St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday March 25 2019 7:00 p.m. • Davis Community Church, Davis

ABS and Thomas, “unsurpassable as a Bach interpreter” ( San Francisco Classical Voice ), have become closely associated with Bach’s masterpiece, the  Saint Matthew Passion . Their emotionally stirring performances are unforgettable. The experience of their 2012 performances 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 also remarked that the work, “when cleansed of much historical baggage, shone as new. Thanks to Thomas and ABS for such a profoundly beautiful, moving evening.” Returning to its more familiar form this season, Thomas will direct the Passion with his distinctive focus on musical detail, transparent textures, direct expression, and intense intimacy. ABS and the American Bach Choir will be joined by ten superb vocal soloists.

Bach:  Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244

Guy Cutting  tenor (Evangelista) • William Sharp  baritone (Christus)
Hélène Brunet & Katelyn Aungst  sopranos • Agnes Vojtko & Nicholas Burns  altos
Steven Brennfleck & Matthew Hill  tenors • Jesse Blumberg  baritone
American Bach Soloists & American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas  conductor
Friday May 3 2019 8:00 p.m. • St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday May 4 2019 8:00 p.m. • First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday May 5 2019 4:00 p.m. • St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday May 6 2019 7:00 p.m. • Davis Community Church, Davis

The 30th Season will conclude with the remaining four Brandenburg Concertos, Nos. 2, 4, 5, and 6, each one featuring the renowned Bach specialists of ABS. The second concerto brings together the disparate solo forces of trumpet, oboe, violin, and recorder in perfect interplay as only Bach could have achieved; the fourth concerto is a legendary showcase for virtuoso  violino principale and two recorders; the fifth is supremely elegant in its scoring for violin, the gentle  flauto traverso , and  cembalo concertato , including the extravagant and even hair-raising cadenza for the harpsichordist; and in the sixth concerto Bach pits the old against the new as a pair of violas da gamba and violone take on their more “modern” counterparts, a pair of violas and violoncello, in repartee that is both rich in sonority and enlightening in its glimpse at a magical moment in history.

Johann Sebastian Bach:
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV 1051

John Thiessen  trumpet • Stephen Bard  oboe • Aldo Abreu  recorder
Sandra Miller  flute • Corey Jamason  harpsichord
Tatiana Chulochnikova, Carla Moore, and Jude Ziliak  violins
Clio Tilton and Ramón Negrón Pérez  violas
American Bach Soloists
Jeffrey Thomas conductor
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 ]
Additional Press Resources:
Jonathon Hampton
Communications Manager
415-621-7900 ext. 207
American Bach Soloists
44 Page Street, Suite 403
San Francisco, CA, 94102
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