In celebration of their first 25 years of presenting the finest in early music performances in Northern California, across the United States, and around the world, and to commemorate ABS artistic and music director Jeffrey Thomas’s 25 year tenure of inspired leadership, the American Bach Soloists have created the Jeffrey Thomas Award to honor, recognize, and encourage exceptionally gifted emerging professionals in the field of early music.
The Jeffrey Thomas Award takes its place within the organization’s already robust and long history of rewarding young talent. In 1998, the American Bach Soloists established their International Young Artists Competition as a way to foster emerging musicians who wish to pursue a career in early music. In 2006, the competition was named the American Bach Soloists & Henry I. Goldberg International Young Artists Competition, in memory of Dr. Henry I. Goldberg, who served as Board President for the ensemble from 2002 until September 2005. In addition, the First Prize was named in honor of the inestimable legacy of Laurette Goldberg, a leading force in the Bay Area's early music community for many years. To ensure the broadest scope in this endeavor, from year to year the competitions focused on different instruments, attracting musicians from around the globe. The first competition, in 1998, was for harpsichord. In subsequent years, violin, flute, oboe, and vocalists took the spotlight. In 2010, competition award funds were offered as a Goldberg Prize to three promising participants of the American Bach Soloists ACADEMY, an advanced training program for emerging professionals and accomplished students of Historically Informed Performance Practice. In 2011, the Competition and special prizes were suspended in favor of funding scholarships for the Academy.
Inaugurated in 2013, The Jeffrey Thomas Award will be granted annually at the artistic director’s discretion to emerging professionals who show exceptional promise and accomplishment in the field of early music performance. In tandem with a cash prize, recipients are invited to perform with American Bach Soloists.