March 21 is an important day every year for music enthusiasts as it is the birthday of the greatest composer in recorded history: Johann Sebastian Bach. March 21, 2014 proved doubly significant for American Bach Soloists as it was a day to celebrate our namesake while also honoring a significant milestone in the ensemble’s own history: twenty-five years of performances! A gala affair was held at Haas-Lilienthal House—a crown jewel of San Francisco historic sites.
Jeffrey Thomas, the musicians, board, and staff of ABS were on hand to toast a glorious history and usher in the next quarter-century of musical excellence with many of ABS’s generous supporters and ardent fans. Since emerging on the scene with that first concert of Bach cantatas at St. Stephen’s Church on February 2, 1990, ABS has been a strong musical force within the Bay Area community and further abroad. To honor its reaching this landmark season, civic leaders feted ABS for its contributions on Bach’s birthday.
Mayor of San Francisco proclaims “American Bach Soloists Day”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee proclaimed March 21 “American Bach Soloists Day” and State Senator Mark Leno presented a Resolution by the State Senate to ABS Board President Hugh Davies. Senator Leno opened the festivities with a moving speech about the impact ABS has had on cultural life in Northern California, the State’s goal to improve conditions for arts groups within California, its efforts to make music education a priority for young people, and then encouraged the attendees of the soirée to enjoy the music, keep up its support for this valuable treasure, and to bid extravagantly on the auction items!
Baritone Mischa Bouvier and members of ABS perform works by Bach and Telemann
Next up was a program of works by Bach and Telemann featuring baritone Mischa Bouvier, harpsichordist Corey Jamason, violinist Noah Strick, violist Clio Tilton, and violoncellist Gretchen Claassen. The program opened with one of only two Bach settings with an Italian text, Amore traditore. ABS Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas introduced the work, explaining how the three-movement cantata for baritone soloists and harpsichord might also be viewed as a sort of concerto for harpsichord due to virtuosic demands in the second part. Bouvier and Jamason proved a delightful musical duo in this number with the baritone movingly portraying the narrator’s emotional turmoil toward a traitorous love and Jamason astonishing the audience with his breathtaking facility at the keyboard. The strings joined in for performances of Telemann’s “Ode on the Death of a Pet Canary” and an aria from Bach’s Ich habe genug. Thomas explained how the latter was included in an album of music the Bach family kept for private music making and intimate soirées. On this occasion, ABS and its loyal supporters all gathered to enjoy the same music with a similar environment of appreciation and intimacy.
The concert portion of the night was followed by a live auction for four fabulous get-away packages to New York, Napa Valley, Santa Fe, and a “stay-cation” here in San Francisco. Four lucky bidders now have some exciting adventures ahead of them.
Fine wine, tasty food
When friends gather to celebrate and enjoy one another’s company, the addition of fine wine, tasty food, and champagne often contribute to the occasion being a memorable one for all. Following the superb musical presentation and auction in the ballroom, the attendees of the event returned to the first floor of the Haas-Lilienthal for a reception among the elegant social spaces of the Victorian home. Delicious! Catering provided a beautiful spread of refreshments and hors d’ouevre and, aided by stimulating conversation and a familial kind of camaraderie, the party to celebrate ABS’s 25th season became a night to remember.
“The evening … represented a cross-section of ABS’s tremendous achievements”
“It was the perfect way to celebrate our first twenty-five years,” said ABS Executive Director Don Scott Carpenter, “The evening brought together founders, including Sandy Ogden, generous supporters, and Academy alumni who together represented a cross-section of ABS’s tremendous achievements over a quarter century. I would like to send a special thank you to Carmen Florez-Mansi our Development and Donor Services Associate for overseeing such a historic event.” Thank you to all who made the evening so special: Mayor Lee, Senator Leno, Jeffrey Thomas, Steven Lehning, and the Development Committee, co-chaired by Jan Goldberg and Rick Boyer. And, of course, thank you to all of our supporters who have helped get ABS this far and are committed to making the next 25 years a period of unparalleled musical excellence.