American Bach Soloists
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|American Bach Soloists (ABS)|
|Chamber orchestra on period instruments|
Official American Bach Soloists logo
|Principal conductor||Jeffrey Thomas|
The American Bach Soloists ("ABS") is an American baroque orchestra dedicated to preserving the heritage of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries through historically informed performances on period instruments. Founded in Belvedere, California in 1989 with the mission of introducing contemporary audiences to Bach's cantatas, co-founder and artistic director Jeffrey Thomas has since expanded the artistic direction of the ensemble to include Bach’s purely instrumental and larger choral masterpieces, as well as music of his contemporaries and that of the early Classical era. The ensemble's acclaimed chorus was renamed the American Bach Choir in 2006.
ABS presents an annual subscription series of concerts with performances in Belvedere, Berkeley, Davis, and San Francisco. Their annual holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah—presented in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral each December before capacity audiences since 1992—have become a Bay Area tradition. Since 2010, the ABS season has culminated with the annual American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy, a two-week summer Bach Festival held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Concurrent with the Festival is the American Bach Soloists Academy, an advanced training program for emerging professionals and accomplished students of historically informed performance practice. In 2013, Jeffrey Thomas conducted the ABS Festival Orchestra in the first North American performance of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s 53-part Missa Salisburgensis—the largest-scaled surviving work from the Baroque—with the composer's full forces and instrumentation. At the 2015 Festival, Thomas conducted the first performances outside of Europe of Marin Marais' 1709 opera Sémélé.
In 2013, to commemorate ABS music director Jeffrey Thomas’s 25-year tenure of inspired leadership, ABS created The Jeffrey Thomas Award to honor, recognize, and encourage exceptionally gifted emerging professionals in the field of early music. Past recipients of the award include tenor Guy Cutting (2013), violoncellist Gretchen Claassen (2014), violinist Tatiana Chulochnikova (2015).
ABS has been presented at some of the world’s leading early music and chamber music festivals, and have appeared across the continent, in Europe, and in Asia. They have made nineteen recordings on Koch International Classics, Delos International, and their own American Bach Soloists label, including six volumes of Bach Cantata recordings (many performed one on a part), Bach’s Mass in B Minor, St. Matthew Passion, Brandenburg Concertos and his transcriptions of Italian music, Haydn Masses, vocal works by Schütz, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and other works. In 2013 ABS released their recording featuring soprano Mary Wilson singing a collection of virtuoso vocal works by Handel, including his setting of the psalm, Laudate pueri Dominum, and the motet, Silete venti.
- Performances at the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition
- Henry Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas with the San Francisco Opera Center and The Crucible in Oakland, CA
- Works by Claudio Monteverdi, George Frideric Handel's Dixit Dominus, and Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts with the Mark Morris Dance Group
- George Frideric Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks with laser lighting display by Lighting Systems Design, Inc. (Orlando, FL) in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
- "A Boost to the Country's Early-Music Capital" by David Littlejohn, The Wall Street Journal July 13, 2013.
- American Bach Soloists: About Us
- "Do You Hear What I hear? Holiday Music Concerts" by Michael Zwiebach. San Francisco Classical Voice November 21, 2012
- American Bach Soloists: Academy
- "Missa Salisburgensis in Rehearsal with the American Bach Soloists" by Michael Zwiebach. San Francisco Classical Voice July 16, 2013.
- "American Bach Soloists unearth a French Gem" Joshua Kosman. San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 2015