The details of ABS’s exciting new 2016-17 season have been announced and subscriptions to the new season are now available! With works by Bach, Handel, and a handful of masters of the French Baroque, the new season offers a showcase of peerless musical inspiration from the Baroque era. Don’t miss ABS Artistic Director Jeffrey Thomas and his ABS forces of leading period-instrumentalists and historically informed singers, including three vocal soloists making their ABS debuts, in these unforgettable programs. Purchase a subscription today! Remember subscribers get the best seats at the best prices.
Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral
For the eighteenth consecutive season, ABS returns to San Francisco’s magnificent Grace Cathedral to present its annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, December 14-16, 2016. Maestro Thomas will direct the renowned American Bach Choir, ABS orchestra, and vocal soloists soprano Hélène Brunet, alto Emily Marvosh in her ABS debut, tenor Derek Chester, and baritone Mischa Bouvier in three performances of Handel’s beloved work in one of San Francisco’s most awe-inspiring sacred spaces. Always a highlight of the holiday season in the Bay Area, ABS’s annual performances attract music lovers from around the world.
A Weekend in Paris
ABS’s 28th subscription season opens February 10-13, 2017, with “A Weekend in Paris,” a program of works by five masters of the French Baroque. When Jean-Baptiste Lully’s monopoly on music in France ended in the late seventeenth century, an explosion of musical creativity erupted in Paris from a new generation of composers. Marin Marais and Jean-Féry Rebel were both students of Lully, played under his direction in the King’s royal orchestra, and were among the first to emerge as faces of the “new music.” Thomas conducts the period-instrument specialists of ABS in a suite of dances from Marais’ 1709 opera Sémélé, including the lively Act II chaconne, and Rebel’s benchmark of French style, Les caractères de la danse. Jean-Joseph de Mondonville and Michel Corrette were significant participants in the next wave of French invention and elevated the Grand Motet to brilliant new heights by incorporating new cosmopolitan influences from abroad. The Italian style is especially evident in Corrette’s Laudate Dominum, which includes an interpolation of Vivaldi’s “Spring” from the Four Seasons arranged for choir, vocal soloists, and orchestra. Finally, Thomas conducts ABS in a suite of dances from the opera Dardanus by the great genius of the French Baroque, Jean-Philippe Rameau. Haute-contre Steven Brennfleck, an ABS Academy alumnus, makes his ABS debut singing the mellifluous lines for high tenor that are so central to French music of the period. Soprano Nola Richardson, who the Washington Post applauded for her “astonishing balance and accuracy,” and baritone William Sharp, “a superbly communicative vocal artist” (Baltimore Sun), round out the assemblage of artists for this tour of works for the Opéra, Ballet, and Chapelle.
Bach’s Motets for Double Chorus
Among the most compelling and mysterious of Bach’s sacred works are his motets for double choir. From March 31-April 3, Thomas will lead the American Bach Choir and instrumentalists in Bach’s Motets for Double Chorus. Composed for special occasions, these mesmerizing and ethereal works rely on the human voice, in its multifaceted splendor, to provide the color palette, melodic movement, harmonic textures, and, of course, the message of the text. Thomas and the American Bach Choir left the audience breathless when they last performed Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (BWV 225) and Fürchte dich nicht (BWV 228) at the 2012 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition. This presentation of Bach’s motets, including some frequently overlooked works only recently attributed to Bach, promises to be a banquet of sublime vocalism.
Handel’s La Resurrezione
The ABS subscription season closes May 5-8 with performances of Handel’s La Resurrezione. Composed and first performed during the composer’s youthful sojourn in Rome, the 1708 work is a marvel of creative power and imagination. La Resurrezione, a truly operatic oratorio, scandalized the Vatican (opera was prohibited in Rome by Papal edict at the time) yet assured Handel’s place as the new master of Italian operatic style. Heaven and Hell—embodied in Lucifer and an Angel—battle for supremacy on earth through this dramatic telling of the emotions and convictions of Mary Magdalene and St. John the Evangelist. Thomas conducts an outstanding cast of Handelians in this brilliant work, which demands bravura performances from singers and instrumentalists alike. As the opposing divine forces, soprano Mary Wilson and baritone Jesse Blumberg assume the roles of the Angel and Lucifer. ABS Academy alumna Nola Richardson sings the role of Mary Magdalene, contralto Meg Bragle makes her ABS debut as Mary Cleophas, and tenor Guy Cutting, the 2014 recipient of The Jeffrey Thomas Award, sings the role of St. John.
Subscriptions are available online or by calling the ABS office at (415) 621-7900. Subscribers enjoy the following benefits:
- best seats at the best prices
- additional seats at 15% off
- ticket exchanges
- invitations to special events