Once again the San Francisco Conservatory of Music will serve as the venue for a month’s worth of concerts offered by the annual American Bach Soloists Festival. These performances will again be held in conjunction with the American Bach Soloists Academy training program in the field of Historically Informed Performance Practice. Both faculty and students will participate in the concerts. This summer the faculty will consist of the following specialist teachers (in alphabetical order):
- Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin and viola
- Ian Howell, countertenor
- Corey Jamason, harpsichord
- Steven Lehning, violone
- Judith Malafronte, alto
- Michael McCraw, bassoon
- Robert Mealy, violin and viola
- Sandra Miller, flute
- Debra Nagy, oboe/recorder
- Elisabeth Reed, viola da gamba/violoncello
- William Sharp, baritone
- Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
- John Thiessen, trumpet
- Tanya Tomkins, violoncello
Events open to the public begin on July 12 and will continue through July 22. As in the past, they are grouped into the Masterworks Series, the Chamber Series, and the Academy-in-Action Series, the last serving to feature Academy students.
The Masterworks Series will, itself, continue a Festival tradition with two performances of the B minor mass setting by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 232) and an evening of Baroque opera. The Bach performances will take place on Sunday afternoons at 2 PM on July 15 and July 22 (the final concert) and will bring together American Bach Soloists musicians with both faculty and students of the Academy. This summer the opera evening, which will take place at 8 PM on Friday, July 20, will feature two one-act offerings, Jean-Philippe Rameau’s “Pigmalion” and Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” both of which will be cast from members of the Academy. There will also be a fourth concert on Saturday, July 14, at 8 PM entitled The Leipzig Masters. Bach will be represented by the BWV 1068 orchestral suite in D major, which will conclude the program. It will be preceded by context-setting works by Johann Kuhnau (the cantata “Ihr Himmel jubilirt von Oben” for soloists, chorus, and instruments), Christoph Graupner (his C major setting of the Magnificat canticle, which he composed to “audition” for the position of Cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig, the position that would then be given to Bach), and Georg Philipp Telemann (his TWV 55:B11 six-movement overture “La Bourse” for oboe, strings, and continuo in B-flat major, intended to depict the Paris stock exchange, which he visited in 1737 while on leave from his position in Hamburg).
This summer the first of the two Chamber Series recitals will focus entirely on Bach, while the second will deal with Baroque music from Paris. The Bach program will take place on Thursday, July 12, at 8 PM and offer the following compositions:
- Sonata in A major for violin and harpsichord (BWV 1015)
- Ich habe genug, cantata for solo voice and chamber ensemble (BWV 82)
- Sonata in D major for viola da gamba and harpsichord (BWV 1028)
- “Brandenburg” concerto No. 6 in B-flat major (BWV 1051)
This will be the first performance of the Festival and will be preceded by an Opening Night Gala Dinner at Dobbs Ferry. The French program will take place the following night, Friday, July 13, again at 8 PM, with the following program:
- François Couperin, instrumental sonatas, “La Sultanne” and “La Paix du Parnasse”
- Jean-Marie Leclair, Sonata in E minor for flute, Opus 9, Number 2
- Louis-Nicolas Clérambault, Chaconne in D major from the fifth Simphonia
- Jean-Philippe Rameau, the third of the Pièces de Clavecin en Concert
There will be three Academy-in-Action concerts, all at 8 PM on Monday, July 16, Tuesday, July 17, and Wednesday, July 18. These will feature selections from the Baroque repertoire including cantatas and instrumental selections. These recitals are the principal platform for the Academy students.
Finally, on Saturday, July 21, Howell will be featured in a Distinguish Artist recital for voice (countertenor) and viols. The program will feature a solo-voice cantata by Bach (his BWV 169 Gott soll allein mein Herze haben), the lament “Ach, daß ich Wassers gnug hätte” by Bach’s uncle, Johann Christoph Bach, and the single-movement cantata “Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde” by Georg Melchior Hoffmann, formerly attributed to Bach as BWV 53. The program will also include selections of songs and consort music by Purcell and William Byrd.
In addition to the Opening Night Gala, there will be other non-concert events. These include a Public Colloquium on dance during the Baroque period, a Master Class Series, and a Lecture Series. Further details of these events, as well as the full calendar, may be found through hyperlinks on the home page for the Festival. Hyperlinks are also provided for both prices and ordering support for a variety of subscription options, including the full nine-concert Festival Pass, which allows a choice for the performance of the B minor mass, as well as tickets for all single events. The Opening Night Gala Dinner at Dobbs Ferry (at 409 Gough Street) will be $75 and reservations may be placed through the same hyperlinks provided for the purchase of single tickets.