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SF Symphony, Chorus present Bach Mass at Mondavi

Ragnar Bohlin will direct the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus' performance of Bach’s B Minor Mass at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 17, at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis. Courtesy photo

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March 8, 2011 |

Director Ragnar Bohlin will lead the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in performances of Bach’s B Minor Mass at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 17, at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis. The concert will mark the second time the San Francisco Symphony has visited Davis this season, and the first time that the San Francisco Symphony Chorus has performed at the Mondavi Center.

The performance will feature soprano Ingela Bohlin, mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims, bass-baritone Shenyang, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor and tenor Nicholas Phan.

Ragnar Bohlin began his tenure as chorus director of the San Francisco Symphony in March 2007. In 2010, the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus (under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas and Bohlin, respectively) garnered three Grammy Awards for their recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, including Best Choral Performance and Best Classical Album.

Bohlin teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, has taught at the Royal Academy in Stockholm, and in February 2008 was a visiting professor at Indiana University. In June 2010, Bohlin made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem.

One of only a handful of dedicated orchestra choruses, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus is recognized internationally as one of America’s finest. Established in 1972 at the request of then-Music Director Seiji Ozawa, the 142-member chorus, consisting of 30 paid and 112 volunteer singers, gives a minimum of 26 performances each season and has sung under the many of the world’s major conductors, including Tilson Thomas, SFS Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, Kurt Masur, Neville Marriner, Roger Norrington, Yuri Temirkanov, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Robert Shaw.

The San Francisco Symphony and Chorus won Grammys for recordings of Orff’s Carmina burana and for Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem. The 2003 SFS Media recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, featuring the women of the chorus, won the Grammy for Best Classical Album.

The Mass in B Minor was one of Bach’s last works. Bach assembled the Mass in 1749, just before his death in 1750. But sections of the work were written as far back as 1724. In addition to borrowing from his earlier works, Bach also composed new sections of the Mass in B Minor, which were his last major compositions.

Scholars believe the Mass in B Minor probably was never performed in totality during Bach’s lifetime, and the work largely disappeared in the 18th century. Renewed interest was sparked by several performances in the early 19th century, fueling a rediscovery of much of Bach’s other music as well. Today, the Mass in B Minor is widely regarded as one of the greatest choral works in the Western musical tradition.

Tickets for Thursday’s performance are $50 to $89 general and $25 to $44.50 for students, available at http://www.mondaviarts.org or (530) 754-2787. There will be a pre-performance talk by Susan Key of the San Francisco Symphony’s staff at 7 p.m., with the concert starting at 8 p.m.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

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