If you joined us for St. Matthew Passion last month, you received a sneak peek into ABS’s 2015-16 season. Well, the full season has just been announced and it is a good one … make that a GREAT one! Outstanding concert programs and an exciting roster of artists make this one of ABS’s best seasons yet. Current ABS subscribers may renew their current seats for the new season anytime through April 24 and new subscriptions go on sale May 1. Single tickets for all 2015-16 events will go on sale July 1. Remember: subscribers enjoy the best seats at the lowest prices. Without further ado, lets take a look at what the 2015-16 ABS season will bring!
December special events
St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco
Bach lovers rejoice because the ABS concert season will open on December 12 with Johann Sebastian Bach’s vast and inspiring “Christmas Oratorio.” Last presented by ABS in 2008, this festive work contains elements of three secular cantatas and an otherwise lost church cantata that Bach synthesized into a single, unified musical expression of the Christmas story. ABS will present Bach’s grand work in its entirety within San Francisco’s historic Saint Ignatius Church. The “Christmas Oratorio” will also be performed on December 13 at the Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis.
ABS in Grace Cathedral.
Every December, ABS’s presentations of Messiah in Grace Cathedral bring together Handel’s timeless score, the outstanding performances of ABS, and one of San Francisco’s most breathtaking settings in an indelible Bay Area experience. Jeffrey Thomas will direct the renowned period-instrument orchestra, the American Bach Choir, and vocal soloists soprano Hélène Brunet, alto Agnes Vojtko, tenor Kyle Stegall, and baritone Jesse Blumberg in three unforgettable performances December 16, 17, & 18.
27th Subscription series concerts
Jeffrey Thomas and Tatiana Chulochnikova
The new subscription series opens January 22-25, 2016 with “Bach Favorites,” a program displaying the composer’s genius in a variety of settings. Maestro Thomas leads his ABS forces in two brilliant cantatas, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 (“Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life”), a work best known for the beloved chorale setting, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!, BWV 70 (“Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!”), a bold setting of a text about the Day of Judgment. Soprano Mary Wilson, tenor Derek Chester, and baritone Mischa Bouvier will join the ensemble as vocal soloists. Violinist Tatiana Chulochnikova, the 2016 recipient of The Jeffrey Thomas Award, will be featured in a pair of thrilling instrumental works. Exhibiting the dazzling technique and bravura style that have made her one of today’s most exciting new Baroque violinists, Chulochnikova will perform her own transcription for solo violin of Bach’s organ Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and the Concerto for Violin in E Major [Read more about Tatiana Chulochnikova receiving the award and performing at last year’s ABS Gala].
Alexander the Great
From February 26-29, 2016, Maestro Thomas leads an all-out Handelian celebration with the presentation of Alexander’s Feast. Based on a poem by John Dryden, subtitled “The Power of Music,” Handel’s ode recounts a banquet held for Alexander the Great in the conquered city of Persepolis at which the musician Timotheus moves the military commander through a course of emotions until he is compelled to seek revenge for his perished Greek soldiers. Avoiding operatic conventions such as da capo arias, Handel’s richly scored setting expresses the narrative in a direct manner that is, at times, surprising in its intensity. This evening-length work of some of the composer’s most ambitious and glorious choral music will feature the acclaimed American Bach Choir and an outstanding trio of vocal soloists: soprano Anna Gorbachyova in her ABS debut, tenor Aaron Sheehan [Read more about Mr. Sheehan’s 2015 GRAMMY win for “Best Opera Recording”], and baritone William Sharp. Following Handel’s tradition of inserting instrumental concertos between the work’s different parts, ABS will perform his Concerto Grosso in C Major and Harp Concerto in B Flat Major.
American Bach Soloists. Photo: Gas Lamp Productions
Concluding the subscription season on a festive note, ABS performs celebratory works by Bach, Kuhnau, and Buxtehude from April 22-25, 2016. Bach composed impressive oratorios for three important occasions of the Lutheran calendar: Christmas, Easter, and the Feast of the Ascension. Completing the trilogy begun in December (see “Christmas Oratorio” above), ABS will perform the composer’s exuberant “Easter Oratorio” and “Ascension Oratorio” with vocal soloists soprano Clara Rottsolk, countertenor Eric Jurenas, tenor Zachary Wilder, and bass Joshua Copeland. Pulling out all the stops for these jubilant works—trumpets, timpani, flutes, oboes, recorders, strings, and voices—Bach composed joyful, extroverted music, tempered by exquisite moments of reflective calm. Along with these masterworks from Bach’s mature years in Leipzig, Thomas and ABS will perform an Ascension cantata by Bach’s predecessor Johann Kuhnau and Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn (“Today God’s Son triumphs”), a work for Easter by one of Bach’s important musical influences, Dieterich Buxtehude.
2015-16 ABS Season
December 12-13 – Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio”
December 16-18 – Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral
January 22-25 – Bach Favorites
February 26-29 – Alexander’s Feast
April 22-25 – Easter & Ascension Oratorios
It’s going to be a great season!