The Jeffrey Thomas Award

Nate Helgeson, bassoon
Bethanne Walker, flute
2023 Recipients

The American Bach Soloists are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Jeffrey Thomas Award which is granted annually at the Artistic Director’s discretion to honor, recognize, and encourage exceptionally gifted emerging professionals in the field of Early Music who show extraordinary promise and accomplishment.

Nate Helgeson Bethanne Walker

NATE HELGESON (bassoon) was born into a musical family in Eugene, Oregon (his brother, Aaron Helgeson, and uncle, Stephen Gryc, are both accomplished composers). Nate studied modern bassoon before taking up the Baroque instrument, continuing his studies at The Juilliard School, and is now one of the West Coast’s leading specialists in historical bassoons. Now back in Oregon, he performs on stages large and small throughout North America. In addition to solo and orchestral appearances with premier period ensembles across the country, he can be heard on recordings by Apollo’s Fire, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. Beginning in 2018, Nate has enjoyed performing works of Rossini and Bellini on period instruments as part of Teatro Nuovo, a festival in New York exploring 19th-century bel canto sounds and performance practices on the opera stage. Nate is on faculty at the Bozeman Symphony Baroque Performance workshop, and was professor of bassoon at the University of Oregon.

BETHANNE WALKER (flute) began her historical performance studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she was introduced to the Baroque flute by her teacher, Timothy Day. One afternoon, Mr. Day brought a Baroque flute out from a dusty shelf, and he requested she return the next week with a Telemann Fantasie. She immediately fell in love with the fragile expressivity and vulnerability of the instrument and knew it needed to be a part of her life. She studied historical performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Corey Jamason and continued with Sandra Miller at The Juilliard School. Dedicated to modern, orchestral, and historical performance practice, she finds joy and personal satisfaction with the variety in her musical career. You can find her playing anywhere from the San Francisco Symphony, American Bach Soloists, San Francisco Bach Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Boston Baroque, Les Arts Florissants, Mercury Chamber Orchestra, New York Baroque Incorporated, TENET, Sonnambula, and Ars Antiqua, as well as in orchestras and ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area, Tri-State area, and New England. She currently calls New York City home, where she enjoys drinking fine wine, discovering new restaurants, and going to various museums around the city.

Inaugurated in 2013, the Jeffrey Thomas Award was created by the American Bach Soloists in celebration of their first 25 years of ABS Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas’s tenure of inspired leadership. The Jeffrey Thomas Award takes its place within the organization’s already robust and long history of rewarding young talent. 


Nate Helgeson, bassoon
Bethanne Walker, flute

Gabriel Benton, harpsichord

Tomà Iliev, violin
YuEun Gemma Kim, violin
Rachell Ellen Wong, violin

Sarah Coit, mezzo-soprano

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor

Jude Ziliak, violin

Eric Jurenas, countertenor

Tatiana Chulochnikova, violin

Gretchen Claassen, violoncello

Guy Cutting, tenor

The American Bach Soloists and Henry I. Goldberg 
Young Artists Competition


In 1998, in conjunction with the Fifth Biennial Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, the American Bach Soloists established the International Young Artists Competition as a way to foster emerging musicians who wish to pursue a career in early music. In 2006, the competition was named the American Bach Soloists & Henry I. Goldberg International Young Artists Competition, in memory of Dr. Henry I. Goldberg, who served as Board President for the ensemble from 2002 until September 2005. In addition, the First Prize is named in honor of the inestimable legacy of Laurette Goldberg, a leading force in the Bay Area's early music community for many years.

To ensure the broadest scope in this endeavor, from year to year the competitions have focused on different instruments, attracting musicians from around the globe. The first competition, in 1998, was for harpsichord. Violin took the spotlight in 2000, followed by flute and oboe in 2002. The competition was postponed in 2004. The 2006 competition was for vocalists, and the 2008 competition was for violinists.

In 2010, competition award funds were offered as a Goldberg Prize to three promising participants of the American Bach Soloists ACADEMY, an advanced training program for emerging professionals and accomplished students of Historically Informed Performance Practice. In 2011, the Competition and special prizes were suspended in favor of funding scholarships for the Academy.

Previous Winners

2008 Violin
Andrew Fouts (First Prize)
Johanna Novom (First Prize)
Marc Levine

2006 Vocalists
Ian Howell, countertenor (First Prize)
Derek Chester, tenor
Joshua Copeland, baritone
Yulia Van Doren, soprano

2002 Flute & Oboe
Amy Guitry, flute (First Prize)
Debra Nagy, oboe (First Prize)
Christopher Milan Palameta, oboe

2000 Violin
Simos Papanas (First Prize)
Emily Fowler
Heidi Powell

1998 Harpsichord
Michael Sponseller (First Prize)
Corey Jamason
Ho-Sun Moon
Heidi Tsai


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