Next month, before the 24th season of American Bach Soloists (ABS) gets under way, the ensemble and their Artistic Director Jeffrey Thomas will partner with the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) for a concert of music from the Venice of the time of Antonio Vivaldi. Vivaldi spend about 30 years of his adult life as maestro di violin (master of the violin) at the Venetian Pio Ospedale della Pietà (devout hospital of mercy) orphanage. While the Ospedale required all boys to learn a trade and fend for themselves by the age of fifteen, the girls received a musical education. The most talented could remain to perform in the Ospedale’s orchestra and choir, which became a renowned institution. Vivaldi composed over 60 sacred works for this ensemble, and the program that has been prepared by SFGC will draw upon this repertoire. The program will be preceded by a talk by Barbara Quick, author of the novel Vivaldi’s Virgins; and the concert will be followed by a reception on the theme A Venetian Masquerade.
This concert will take place on Friday, November 2, at 8 p.m. in Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Avenue at the southwest corner of McAllister Street). Quick’s pre-concert talk will also take place in Herbst, beginning at 7 p.m. A Venetian Masquerade will be held upstairs in the Green Room, beginning at 10 p.m. Tickets are being sold through a City Box Office event page. Reserved seating in the boxes and orchestra section is $42, while general admission seating is in the balcony for $30. City Box Office can also be reached by phone at 415-392-440 or in person at 180 Redwood Street, Suite 100. Business hours are 9:30 a.m. through 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets for the post-concert reception (which includes reserved seating for the concert) are $125 and are sold through the SFGC office, which may be reached by telephone at 415-863-1752.
As usual the ABS season in San Francisco will begin “officially” with three performances of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah on Thursday, December 20, Friday, December, 21, and Saturday, December 22, all at 7:30 p.m. The American Bach Choir will join the American Bach Soloists, all under Thomas’ direction. This year the soloists will be Mary Wilson, soprano, Ian Howell, countertenor, Wesley Rogers, tenor, and Jesse Blumberg, baritone.
This will then be followed by three concerts in 2013. In San Francisco these will again be held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street). All three concerts will take place on Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m. This season all concerts will feature vocal music as follows:
- January 27: Following last season’s opening with the BWV 244 setting of the Passion text in the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, 2013 will begin with the BWV 245 setting of St. John’s version of the Passion. Tenor Aaron Sheehan will sing the part of the Evangelist, joining baritone William Sharp, who will sing the role of Christus. The aria soloists will be soprano Clara Rottsolk, countertenor Brennan Hall (making his debut), tenor Derek Chester, and baritone Joshua Copeland.
- March 3: This concert will feature both sacred and instrumental music by Vivaldi, along with Handel’s psalm setting in nine movements, Dixit Dominus, and Bach’s A major oboe d’amore concerto, BWV 1055R. Handel’s psalm setting will be complemented by Vivaldi’s Beatus vir, and the Vivaldi concerto will be for viola d’amore. Elizabeth Blumenstock will be the Vivaldi soloist, and Debra Nagy will perform the Bach concerto. The vocal soloists will be Kathryn Mueller, soprano, Danielle Reutter-Harrah, mezzo, Eric Jurenas, countertenor (another debut), and Robert Stafford, baritone.
- May 5: This will be the one concert that will not involve the American Bach Choir. Soprano Wilson will return, this time singing with baritone Mischa Bouvier. Bouvier will perform a selection of Bach arias, while Wilson will be the soloist for Handel’s coloratura motet Silete venti. Both singers will then join forces to perform Handel’s secular cantata Apollo & Dafne.
Subscription packages for the three concerts at St. Mark’s range from $54 to $150, and single tickets are on sale at prices between $18 and $50. Messiah tickets range from $18 to $64. Discounted single tickets are available for seniors and students with ID. Further information may be found in the season brochure, which is available for download. There is also a Web page for ordering both subscriptions and single tickets. Further information may be found at the ABS Web site or by calling 415-621-7900.