American Bach Soloists begin landmark 25th season with all-Bach program

By From page A9 | January 14, 2014

American Bach SoloistsW

The American Bach Soloists under the direction of Jeffrey Thomas will perform at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, in Davis Community Church. Ken Howard/Courtesy photo

For 25 years, the American Bach Soloists have specialized in the music by their namesake, J.S. Bach. What better way to usher in their new season — and the next 25 years — than with an all-Bach program?

Music director Jeffrey Thomas handpicked some of his favorite works by Bach for the opening concert of this benchmark season at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, at Davis Community Church, 412 C St.

Three of the compositions on this program call upon especially heraldic trumpet ensembles. Bach’s “Magnificat” (BWV 243), one of the best known and popular among his liturgical works, is like a smorgasbord of sweet and savory vocal delights, and “Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!” (“Sound, you drums! Ring forth, trumpets!,” BWV 214) is a grand secular cantata featuring music that eventually became part of the “Christmas Oratorio.”

Bach’s virtuoso Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor (BWV 1067) will feature flutist Sandra Miller. The program closes with one of the composer’s most extraordinary cantatas, “Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir” (BWV 130), an extroverted work composed for Leipzig’s lavish celebrations of the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels in 1724. Bringing back a hallmark of ABS’ cantata performances over the years, the audience will be invited to sing along on the final chorale.

The American Bach Choir will be featured on three of the program’s four selections. Directed by Thomas, this group of singers will demonstrate their mastery in Bach’s exuberant and joyous music. Further augmenting the vocal forces will be four vocal soloists: soprano Clara Rottsolk, countertenor Eric Jurenas, tenor Guy Cutting (in his ABS debut), and baritone William Sharp, who was featured as a soloist in the American Bach Soloists’ 2004 recording of Handel’s “Messiah.”

Clara Rottsolk’s has thrilled ABS audiences since her 2012 debut with the ensemble in the early version of Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion.” Countertenor Eric Jurenas, a participant in the 2011 ABS Academy, was heard in December’s performances of Handel’s “Messiah” in Grace Cathedral and the Mondavi Center.

Tenor Guy Cutting makes his ABS debut in Bach’s “Magnificat” as the inaugural recipient of the Jeffrey Thomas Award, established in 2013 to honor and encourage emerging early music professionals of remarkable merit. Rounding out the quartet of soloists is baritone William Sharp, who has performed with American Bach Soloists for two decades, most recently appearing as Christus in Bach’s “St. John Passion”; he is also a member of the ABS Academy faculty.

A pre-concert talk by Steven Lehning, discussing Bach and the pieces on the program, will be presented at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $25-$64 general and 20-$58 for students. They are available online at www.americanbach.org or by calling 415-621-7900, and may be available at the door.

Enterprise staff

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