Get Your Bach On!
San Francisco is finally getting its very own Bach Festival, thanks to American Bach Soloists and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas. The annual Bach Festival & Academy takes its place alongside the other great Bach festivals held in Carmel, CA, Eugene, OR, and Bethlehem, PA, and summer music festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, to name a few.
Kicking off this two-week celebration of the much-beloved J.S. Bach is an Opening Night Gala Dinner at Restaurant Paul K, followed by a Chamber Music Concert at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The Festival will close on Saturday, July 23rd with a performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. These two events bookend a stimulating program of concerts, public colloquia, lectures and the Academy Series concerts, in which students attending the Academy perform. Concerts and master classes featuring renowned professional musicians such as Elizabeth Blumenstock, Corey Jamason, Yulia Van Doren and Thomas himself make up the rest of the program.
Jeffrey Thomas arrived in San Francisco in 1981, as an Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera. He co-founded American Bach Soloists with Jonathan Dimmock in 1989 and has been at its helm ever since. He has seen virtually every change Hayes Valley has experienced over the past 30 years, and was delighted to relocate ABS’ offices to 44 Page Street about a year ago.
Why a Festival now, 22 years after the founding? According to Thomas, “our annual summer program, called “Summerfest,” needed reinvention and needed an education program, so the Academy was born in 2010, and the Festival component was added this year to support the performance portion of the Academy.” Thomas felt strongly that San Francisco needed a Bach festival, and says that “young artists provide excitement for Bach fans.” ABS draws its students by sending notices to 500 or so teachers of baroque music, and to conservatories. They had 135 applicants for 50 spots this year, demonstrating clearly that there is demand on the part of serious students of baroque music. These students are all at an advanced conservatory level and emerging artists in their own right. ABS’ next challenge will be to raise money to offer scholarships to students of limited financial means.
What distinguishes the American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy from its peers is that it is a true urban experience, offering total immersion or single concert experiences. The public colloquia offer the opportunity for open dialogue among presenters, performers and audience members. All events will take place at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music at 50 Oak Street, and are very reasonably priced. For ticket and more information, please visit www.americanbach.org.