ABS Festival & Academy Highlight: Bach’s Mass in B Minor, August 9 & 16

Johann Sebastian Bach by Haussmann

Johann Sebastian Bach by Haussmann

One of the highlights of the 2015 ABS Festival & Academy (August 7-16) is a highlight every year: Bach’s monumental Mass in B Minor. The ABS Festival Orchestra, American Bach Choir, and soloists from the Academy, all under the direction of Jeffrey Thomas, perform this pinnacle work to capacity audiences year after year in what has become a beloved annual tradition. This summer the Mass in B Minor will be performed at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on both Festival Sundays, August 9 & 16.

The composition that many consider the greatest musical work of all time was never, in fact, performed during Bach’s lifetime. Comprised of movements hand-picked from over 35 years of composing, Bach compiled the Mass toward the end of his life to document the diverse techniques and compositional styles that he utilized and perfected throughout his career. As a testament to the artistic and humanistic ideals of the time, there is nothing like it. As a musical experience to be enjoyed 265 years after Bach’s death, it continues to reward deep engagement and multiple hearings.

Whether you are new to the work or revisiting it for the 50th time, the 30-minute ABS documentary, “Bach’s Mass in B Minor: Anatomy of a Masterwork” is a wonderful, free resource to visit. In the film, the musicians of ABS (Jeffrey Thomas, Debra Nagy, Elizabeth Blumenstock, John Thiessen, Steven Lehning, Sandra Miller, and others) describe the work and their experiences of performing it each year.

With an outstanding new group of Academy participants arriving to study and perform the Mass alongside their ABS Faculty mentors, we hope you do not miss this year’s performances: August 9 at 7:00 p.m. and August 16 at 2:00 p.m.  Tickets are still available for both dates (best availability on August 9). You can read more about Bach’s masterwork, including the 1900 United States Premiere of the Mass in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1900, on the ABS blog here.