Academy Curriculum


Beginning with the 2023 Academy, American Bach Soloists will be offering an even more intensive and personalized program of mentorship to a smaller number of participants than in previous years.

Participant/Faculty ratios will average less than 4:1.

Public performances are kept to a minimum to ensure optimal focus on individual studies. One “Academy-in-Action Marathon” and one final full Academy concert will be scheduled. Additionally, a “Coffee House” will be held on the final Saturday night, when all members of the Academy — participants and faculty — may perform whatever they like. The only public to be in attendance at that event are Academy Sponsors and invited guests and VIPs. Various events — including opening and closing receptions — will be part of the Academy’s social activities.

Individual Instruction and Studio Classes

A key element of the program — in fact, the most significant component — is that each participant will have daily lessons with the Academy's faculty, one on one, in the presence of other members of that studio, enabling multiple pathways of learning. This quasi-group setting of 3-hour studio classes becomes a defining experience of the ABS Academy.

Collaborative Sessions

Ensemble work takes place in “Collaborative Sessions” which are meant to be opportunities for participants to rehearse music within a forum that allows them to share knowledge and musical ideas with each other. In collaboration with faculty, we will provide a list of suggested works that participants can opt in to play. Those works will include the “top” pieces for each instrument type — important sonatas and chamber works vs. more obscure compositions — and will include some of the most challenging Bach obbligato arias for instruments and singers. All ensembles may participate in the “Academy-in-Action Marathon” at the end of the Academy. Whereas faculty members will offer assistance and, at the very least, an additional pair of ears, the focus should remain on the collegial processes of discovery and collaboration among the participants. 

Public Master Classes

During Week Two, each major studio type division will present a Public Masterclass:
     • Upper Strings
     • Lower Strings
     • Harpsichord
     • Winds
     • Voices

Seminars & Lectures

Monday through Friday of each week, every faculty member will present a 45-minute seminar or lecture. These will cover a wide range of topics related to performance practice, musicology, and career development. Those scheduled for Week Two will be open to the public.

Full Ensemble

The full Academy class will consist of

     12 violinists including 2 violists and 2 violin/viola performers
     4 ‘cellists (including viola da gambists)
     2 bassists
     4 harpsichordists
     2 oboists
     2 flautists
     8 or 12 vocalists

totaling 34 or 38 participants.

This distribution of instruments and voices creates a perfect opportunity for the entire ensemble to perform a Bach cantata or two, and/or a Bach Missa, and purely instrumental works. With strings, two oboes, two flutes, dual accompaniment (harpsichord and organ), and a vocal ensemble of 8 (or 12), there is much repertoire that would be well suited and that will afford opportunities for all participants to perform together. 

The Full Ensemble meetings at the end of each day (afternoons during Week One and early evenings during Week Two) are a consistent opportunity for the entire assembly to collaborate.

Works Performed at Previous Academies

2019 - Bach: Trauerode; Lotti: Missa in A Major; Handel: Terpsicore
2018 - Handel: Semele
2017 - Purcell: King Arthur
2016 – Handel: Parnasso in festa (American premiere)
2015 – Marais: Sémélé (first performances outside Europe)
2014 – Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
2013 – Handel: Esther & Biber: Missa Salisburgensis (North American premiere)
2012 – Rameau: Pygmalion / Purcell: Dido and Aeneas
2011 – Handel: Ariodante
2010 – Handel: La Resurrezione


182 Howard Street, #536
San Francisco, CA 94105


Phone: +1 (415) 621 7900 
Fax: +1 (415) 621 7920