Tickets for the 2014 ABS Festival and Academy are now on sale! Titled “Bach’s Inspiration,” this summer’s event continues ABS’s 25th season celebration with a line-up of concerts, free lectures and master classes, and a public colloquium that promise to be the greatest two-week Baroque immersion in the history of the ABS Festival. Purchase your single tickets and Festival Pass subscriptions today.
Musical delights and discoveries will fill the days and nights of the 2014 Festival. From large-scaled masterworks for full orchestra, choir, and vocal soloists to intimate instrumental works, there will be something for everyone to enjoy and, more likely, ample reason to “move in” to the Conservatory for two weeks in order to take it all in. Bach only set two works to Italian texts—Amore Traditore BWV 203 and Non sa che sia dolore BWV 209—and both will be part of the Festival. Many fabulous instrumental works will also be performed, including Vivaldi’s Concerto for four violins in B minor, concerti by Alessandro Marcello, Frederick the Great, and, of course, J.S. Bach with, among others, his Concerto for Three Harpsichords in C Major and Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. It is going to be an unforgettable event. Read below for a sneak peak at the events and be sure to visit the Festival page for tickets and more information.
The Festival kicks off on Friday, July 11, with a celebratory opening night dinner at Dobbs Ferry Restaurant in Hayes Valley. Dine with ABS Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas and other members of the ABS family before heading over to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for “Bach’s Inspiration—Part I,” the opening program which traces the influences of Italian and North German composers on J.S. Bach’s life and music. Works by composers who inspired him, including his uncle, Johann Christoph Bach, Dieterich Buxtehude, Johann Kuhnau, Frederick the Great, and Alessandro Marcello will be performed along with his paraphrase of Psalm 51, a fascinating re-working of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s famous Stabat Mater. ABS and the Faculty of the Academy will be joined by guest artists soprano Mary Wilson, countertenor Eric Jurenas, and tenor Derek Chester.
The exploration of Bach’s influences and compositions will continue on Saturday, July 12, with “Bach’s Inspiration—Part II.” This captivating program will include works the young Bach may have heard on his 1705-1706 journey to Lübeck to hear Dieterich Buxtehude. Compositions by Johann Adam Reincken, Nicolaus Bruhns, Buxtehude, and George Melchior Hoffmann will be performed. After intermission, ABS will perform mature works by Bach composed after he had absorbed all that he could from his forebears, peers and colleagues, including the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 and the trio-sonata from the “Musical Offering.”
Regular ABS Festivalgoers know that the two Festival Sundays each July are reserved for Bach’s monumental Mass in B Minor as performed by the ABS Festival Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Thomas. This year, the July 13 performance will begin at 7:00 pm and July 20 will begin at 2:00 pm. These performances are among the highlights of the musical calendar for Bach lovers and ABS fans—don’t miss out! (or maybe hear it twice?)
Three Academy-In-Action programs, July 14-16, will give you the opportunity to hear the work of the 2014 Academy in beautiful and rarely heard works performed by the next generation of early music virtuosi. At $10 a ticket, these concerts are a great value for truly rewarding experiences. Hear these outrageously talented emerging artists before they become stars.
Friday, July 18, is Baroque opera and oratorio night at the Festival and this year Handel’s L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato will command the stage. Composed in the years between Israel in Egypt and Messiah, Handel’s masterful adaption of pastoral poems by John Milton and Charles Jennens is an expressive, musical romp through the pleasures of Happiness, Melancholy, and Moderation. Featuring vocal soloists from the Academy and a performance by the ABS Festival Orchestra, tickets for this delightful oratorio will surely go fast!
Soprano Mary Wilson, this year’s Distinguished Artist, will command the spotlight on Saturday, July 19. A well-established favorite of ABS audiences and musicians alike, Ms. Wilson and ABS will continue to explore the theme of “Bach’s Inspiration” with a diverse program devoted to Bach’s Italianate side. Along with Bach’s cantata Non sa che sia dolore, Wilson will also perform works by Vivaldi, whose scores Bach studied while in Cöthen, and his contemporary, G.F. Handel, who was also born in the year 1685. It is only fitting that Wilson who has won admiration for her thrilling performances of Handel’s music, will perform his cantata Tra le fiamme. The text cautions that butterflies drawn to a flame will burn, but a phoenix will rise again—expect fireworks!
The 2014 Festival concludes on Sunday, July 20, with a matinee performance of the Mass in B Minor; a final opportunity to hear Maestro Thomas and the ABS Festival Orchestra and American Bach Choir as they perform one of the greatest works of art ever created.
Following a banner year for the ABS Festival in 2013 when every main stage concert sold out, we strongly encourage Festivalgoers to secure their tickets early. As an attraction for music fans from all over Northern California, the country, and beyond, the 2014 ABS Festival—San Francisco’s Summer Bach Festival—promises to be one of this summer’s greatest highlights!