Every summer, ABS welcomes more than 50 instrumentalists and vocalists to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for an intense period of study and performance as participants in the annual Academy. This program, which runs concurrently with ABS’s annual summer Bach Festival is designed to provide opportunities for emerging professionals to engage with and learn from the members of American Bach Soloists in a multi-disciplinary environment.
Yesterday, all 62 members of the 2014 Academy class reported to the lobby of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to begin their Academy experience with an orientation meeting at 9:00 am. This is always an exciting time and a highlight of the musical year for all of us at ABS as it is a moment loaded with potential and expectation. Above all, it is a thrill to meet these aspiring early music players and to watch them get acquainted with one another. This year’s class has a few returning participants from last summer and they seemed to settle in quickly. Most of this year’s participants are new to the Academy and new to San Francisco. They could be observed gazing all around the spacious Conservatory lobby, taking it all in.
Once schedules and ground rules were covered in the orientation meeting with the ABS faculty, the music-making began almost immediately: the first orchestra rehearsal for Bach’s Mass in B Minor started at 10:00 am! At that point the 22 singers went off to meet with the members of the voice faculty: Judith Malafronte, Max van Egmond, and William Sharp. After lunch, master classes and chamber music rehearsals occupied the afternoon hours for all the participants. The chamber works they began rehearsing together will be heard next week from Monday through Wednesday (July 14-16) in the Academy-in-Action concerts. At 5:00 pm, all participants, faculty, ABS staff, and many of the generous supporters who make the Academy possible met on the top floor of the Conservatory for a reception. This opportunity to celebrate the conclusion of a busy and exciting first day is always a fun occasion and last night was no exception. The Academy participants were clearly hungry for the musical experience they had embraced throughout the day… and also hungry for the refreshments at the reception. Though the participants had the rest of the evening off, the singers of the American Bach Choir arrived for an evening rehearsal for Handel’s L’Allegro and the ABS faculty went from the reception right into an evening of rehearsals for the Bach’s Inspiration programs on Friday and Saturday. As ever, it was a great beginning!