2023-2024 35th Season Press Release

March 22 2023

Oliver Moore


  • New logos and a new name encompass all of the organization’s productions and special events
  • “SF Baroque” brings American Bach’s newest performance style to new audiences
  • Three Bach masterpieces — Mass in B Minor, Magnificat in D, and Saint John Passion —conducted by Jeffrey Thomas, “unsurpassed as a Bach interpreter”
  • The exclusive debut of a newly composed work, specifically crafted for period instruments
  • The 25th annual presentations of Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral
  • “Explorations” concert features Bach in the hands of Busoni, Liszt, and Saint-Saëns
  • American Bach Academy returns after three-year hiatus
  • Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen joins ABS to perform Bach solo cantatas
  • “A Baroque Christmas” features Charpentier’s treasured “Midnight Mass”
  • Christian Pursell is featured in “A Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera”

SAN FRANCISCO — American Bach is the new shortened name of one of America’s premiere music consortiums that includes American Bach Soloists, American Bach Choir, American Bach Cantorei, American Bach Soloists Academy, the San Francisco Bach Festival, and its newest performance platform called “SF Baroque.” The refreshed ethos of the organization puts its dynamic and captivating artists front and center in a variety of programs that showcase their incredible talents as they present some of the best of the Baroque that calls on their riveting performance styles and virtuosity.

The 2023–2024 Season begins with American Bach’s San Francisco Bach Festival which this year takes place in four different concert venues, each chosen to be a perfect match for the festival programs. The 35th season continues with the annual Gala Benefit, Holiday Programming, additional concerts throughout the great Bay Area, and the debut of SF Baroque! 

BAROQUE OLD & NEW (July 27 2023) — The San Francisco Bach Festival Opening Night Concert is a stunning program of music that captures the fun and vitality of the Baroque! Concertos for two flutes, two violas, four violins, and harpsichord will enthrall your senses. Sarah Coit — a recent recipient of The Jeffrey Thomas Award — will sing Bach's ravishing Cantata 170 that Classical FM says is “so beautiful it's basically from another planet.” Voice and oboe d'amore blend together to express the work's title, “Delightful rest, beloved pleasure of the soul!” A unique aspect of this program will be the exclusive debut of a newly composed work, specifically crafted for period instruments. American Bach has sponsored a competition among composition students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the victorious piece will make its world premiere during this highly anticipated concert. This is an event that you won't want to miss!

EXPLORATIONS: BACH BEYOND BAROQUE (July 28 2023) — The passionate connections felt by 19th- and 20th-century composers to Johann Sebastian Bach and his legacy inspired some of the piano repertoire's most virtuoso compositions. In this program that presents transformations of Bach's music into brilliant bravura works, performed by the 22-year-old rising star pianist Oliver Moore, you'll hear one of the most exalted arrangements of Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor, originally for solo violin: Ferruccio Busoni's hypnotic transcription is utterly mesmeric. Johannes Brahms was inspired by a melody from Handel, and the resulting set of variations and fugue captures that particular Brahmsian texture that is like no other. Camille Saint-Saëns' short arrangement of the famous Sinfonia that came from one of Bach's solo violin partitas is thrilling. And the crème de la crème on this extraordinary program is Franz Liszt's monumental testament to the letters of Bach's name that correspond to four notes on the keyboard. The result is a towering masterpiece of depth and drama, the titanic Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H.

VIVALDI’S FOUR SEASONS FEATURING SF BAROQUE (July 29 2023) — Come dressed as your favorite season! And get ready for unforgettable experiences as SF Baroque's violinists will play each of Vivaldi's “Four Seasons” concertos while moving throughout the room, performing some of the wildest music of the Baroque from only an arm's distance away. Specialty cocktails will be designed for the night's theme, and casual cafe-style seating offers easy mingling with the performers. SF Baroque is American Bach's newest innovation in audience performance experiences. An offshoot of the core of American Bach Soloists, the group's name represents both the new ensemble's musicians and a bold new performance style that welcomes non-traditional classical music audiences and all who seek an informal, fun, and dramatically powerful adventure. This season, the events take place in the spectacular Green Room in San Francisco's War Memorial and Performing Arts Center.

BACH’S MASS IN B MINOR (July 30 2023) — Bach’s Mass in B Minor is the pinnacle of Baroque repertoire and ABS’s now renewed annual performances draw audiences to San Francisco from around the world. Under the meticulous and insightful direction of Jeffrey Thomas, these performances of the Mass in B Minor — Johann Sebastian Bach’s consummate masterwork — bring eye-opening revelations of Bach’s score that draws upon 35 years of his compositions. Recognized worldwide as one of the foremost interpreters of the music of Bach and the Baroque, Maestro Thomas continues to inspire audiences and performers alike through his keen insights into the passions behind musical expression. Fanfare Magazine proclaimed that “Thomas’ direction seems just right, capturing the humanity of the music… there is no higher praise for Bach performance.”

AMERICAN BACH ACADEMY (August 5–13 2023) — The American Bach Academy returns after a hiatus of three years, offering a tuition-free advanced training program exclusively for emerging professionals and highly accomplished students of Historically Informed Performance Practice. Public performances and events including free lectures and master classes will be offered. Highlights are two performances by the Academy Faculty and a concert featuring Bach’s Magnificat in D performed by all Academy participants. One of J.S. Bach’s most joyous and universally popular works, the Magnificat in D Major, brings trumpets, timpani, oboes, flutes, and strings together in a glorious celebration of sound. Also on the program is the “Trauerode,” Bach's tribute to a beloved heroine of Saxony, the Electress Christiane Eberhardine. Standing uniquely among his most extraordinary works, the cantata’s rich orchestration including two violas da gamba supports the distinguished poetry of one of the greatest reformers of the German language of all time. Each group of instruments is featured in movements that include an astonishingly pictorial recitative depicting bells.

SPARKLE: STARRY NIGHT (October 21 2023) — American Bach’s 21st Annual Benefit Gala Concert, Auction, and Dinner returns to the spectacularly ornate Flood Mansion at the top of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. An evening of Music, Gemstones, and Cosmic Glamour offers fabulous cocktails, auction items, a splendid dinner, and what promises to be an absolutely knock-out private concert, all in the extravagantly fun setting of a building with amazing views of the San Francisco Bay. The special event, in addition to raising support funds for American Bach, will honor Jeffrey Thomas and his 35 years as artistic director of American Bach. Optional black tie, diamonds, rubies, and strings of pearls are encouraged!

ARYEH NUSSBAUM COHEN SINGS BACH (November 3–6 2023) — The praise for the artistry of countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen is unending. The San Francisco Chronicle described him as "Extravagantly gifted... poised to redefine what’s possible for singers of this distinctive voice type, and Opera News proclaimed him as "A rising star... ravishing... otherworldly." Aryeh will sing two gorgeous Bach cantatas for solo voice. With perhaps the most startling initial chord in any of Bach's compositions, the early cantata Widerstehe doch der Sünde (“Stand steadfast against transgression”) is a work of outstanding sonority and chromatic harmony. Bach called upon his youthful inspiration and contrapuntal mastery to create a soul-stirring and compelling admonishment to do good. Unequivocally one of Bach's most moving and haunting solo cantatas, Ich habe genug (“I have enough”) presents a soul who has experienced life's blessings and who, having seen and felt enlightenment, is ready to pass into the next realm, rejoicing in his readiness. The music tugs on our empathy and compassion while, at the same time, gently encourages our own wishes for bliss. Perfectly paired with Bach's cantatas, the program also includes the dynamic Concerto in C Minor for Oboe & Violin and the richly sonorous Concerto Grosso in G Major by Georg Muffat.

A BAROQUE CHRISTMAS (December 13 2023) — In this special abridged evening performance, perfect for the whole family, you’ll hear the Christmas portion (Part I) of Handel’s Messiah along with music of the season by Baroque composers including Michel Richard de Lalande and Marc-Antoine Charpentier. The finely tuned voices of the American Bach Choir and the polished sheen of sonorities brought by ABS’s period-instrument orchestra soar within the majestic interior of San Francisco’s Nob Hill landmark. Together with the best highlights of Handel's peerless composition, ABS will perform Charpentier's Messe de Minuit (“Midnight Mass”), one of the most treasured Christmas compositions from the Parisian Baroque.

HANDEL'S MESSIAH IN GRACE CATHEDRAL (December 14–15 2023) — No other Bay Area performances come close to offering the visual, aural, and emotional qualities that have made ABS’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral so superlative. Featuring a stellar cast of vocal soloists — soprano Mary Wilson, countertenor Eric Jurenas, tenor Steven Brennfleck, and bass William Meinert — American Bach’s annual tradition of performing Handel’s Messiah in San Francisco’s historic Grace Cathedral perennially provides a treasured December holiday event to capacity audiences. A Bay Area holiday tradition now in its 25th year, ABS’s performances of Handel’s timeless work have become an essential part of the musical year for many music lovers and have attracted audiences of more than 50,000 from around the world.

A BAROQUE NEW YEAR'S EVE AT THE OPERA (December 31 2023) — Back by popular demand, “A Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera” will usher in the new year within San Francisco’s beautiful Herbst Theatre. Start an early night on the town with a delightful program of arias, duets, and instrumental music from Baroque opera and concert, with plenty of time left for more celebrations in the evening or an early return home for a peaceful night. Bass-baritone Christian Pursell is the concert’s headliner. Bring your family and friends to celebrate a New Year full of wonderful music.

MADNESS & MAYHEM FEATURING SF BAROQUE (January 26 2024) — Mad Scenes are among the most exciting moments in opera! Characters express their mental distractions with high notes, low notes, fast notes, and passionate conviction. In the hands of Baroque masters like Handel and Vivaldi, those moments create pinnacles of drama that tear at your heartstrings as if the characters are people that we know. Mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit and baritone Hadleigh Adams will bring you unforgettable experiences as they move throughout the room and among the audience, delivering gripping theatrics from only an arm's distance away. Of course, specialty cocktails will be designed for the night's theme, and casual cafe-style seating offers easy mingling with the performers. The performers are all part of SF Baroque, American Bach's newest innovation in audience performance experiences.

BACH’S SAINT JOHN PASSION (March 8–11 2024) — Celebrate the 300th anniversary of the creation of this masterwork! The great Passions of J. S. Bach remain unparalleled in their dramatic impact and universally experienced emotional effects. Bach took the genre to new worlds of expression, incorporating new Italianate operatic elements with the Lutheran tradition of sung chorales. The result is a powerful force of rhetoric that tells the Passion story reinforced by personalized illuminations. This is music that transcends cultural, religious, and theatrical boundaries between performers and audience members, drawing in listeners as historical participants. Jeffrey Thomas, one of the Baroque music world’s most celebrated Bach specialists, brings his unique and insightful perspectives to the podium in definitive performances that are profoundly beautiful and moving.

BACH'S FAVORITE INSTRUMENTS (April 26–29 2024) — Bach's compositions for several different types of instruments were focused to a great extent on the instruments that he loved the most: violin, violoncello, flute, oboe d'amore, and harpsichord. This program presents those instruments in works by Bach himself. It is said that Bach played the viola and was as masterful at that as he was an unparalleled keyboard player. But Bach didn't write much for viola alone, so we turn to his friend and colleague Georg Philipp Telemann for his popular Concerto in G Major for Viola. The American Bach roster of amazing soloists will take turns in presenting this sound catalogue of JSB's best-loved instruments.


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San Francisco CA 94142


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Fax: +1 (415) 621 7920