Calendar: February 11–17, 2019

Friday, February 15

American Bach Soloists, Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
“Bach to the Beginning” Nola Richardson, soprano; Jay Carter, countertenor; Zachary Wilder, tenor; Tyler Duncan, baritone; and the American Bach Choir perform 4 of Bach’s masterpieces, Meine Seel erhebt den Herren, BWV 10; Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78; Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80; and Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140.

“Bach to the Beginning” presents a renewed focus on the invaluable gems found in Bach’s cantatas. When ABS was founded in 1989, its mission included a primary emphasis on that repertoire of more than 200 works, each containing exquisite and dramatic music that often calls upon the virtuosity of individual members of an ensemble — singers and instrumentalists alike — to display their talents in the expression of each mini-drama that is at the heart and soul of the cantatas by Bach. For both cantata devotees and those new to this music, the passion and the soul-searching impetus found in these beautiful works are both compelling and exciting.

8 PM
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
3 Bay View Avenue, Belvedere
Tickets online $35–$89
800-595-4TIX (-4849)

Barefoot Chamber Concerts
“Quartets for Karl Freiderich Abel” Katherine Heater, harpsichord; Anthony Martin, violin; David Morris, viol; Marc Schachman, oboe; and Stephen Schultz, flute, perform the West Coast premiere of Johann Christian Bach’s Opus 8. Since 1764, J.C. Bach and his friend the great viol player Carl Friedrich Abel had been living in London, among a society of very collegial English (and German expatriate) musicians working for Queen Charlotte (Mrs. King George III), the grand patroness of the arts. Bach and Abel, stalwarts of the new, preclassical (although it’s safe to say they didn’t know this) style, also founded the first public concert series in London. Barefoot salutes these musicians, pioneers who liberated music from the chains of private patronage!

J.C. Bach, of course, famously taught composition to Mozart, but was no slouch himself; among the music Bach published were an unusual set of quartets for violin, flute or oboe, viola, and continuo (many editions, starting in 1772). Recent research has revealed that the original (manuscript) scoring was for viola da gamba rather than viola, and the later, published version featured a viola part only because of the scarcity of competent viola da gamba players at the time.

The viola da gamba (viol) player who played the part originally for the queen’s musicians was, of course, Bach’s great friend Carl Friedrich Abel, who was (together with Ludwig Christian Hesse) the last of the great virtuosi of that instrument. One can safely assume the part was written for him. The manuscript viol parts are idiosyncratic and demanding (the published viola parts were “dumbed down” for publication).  Tonight’s performance features the irreplaceable David Morris playing the part of C.F. Abel, and Katherine Heater as Queen Charlotte (who often sat in as the harpsichordist of the group).  The original violin, flute, and oboe players are unknown, but our present-day substitutes are local stars you know and love, moonlighting from their regular appearances in the hallowed halls of the local baroque orchestral scene.

As far as we can find out, these quartets have never been performed before on the West Coast in this original form. We’re not sure what the cosmic significance of this is, but it’s very exciting! Stars have definitely aligned for this concert, in more ways than one. Lovely flyer for your fridge, gun safe, or china cabinet available here, and there will, of course, be fabulous snax.

6.30 PM
Hillside Urban Sanctuary (Swedenborgian Church)
1422 Navellier Street, El Cerrito
All tickets $20 18 and under admitted free and welcome.
Tickets at the door or purchase online (recommended)
510-220-1195 info@barefootchamberconcerts.com


Saturday, February 16

American Bach Soloists, Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
“Bach to the Beginning” Nola Richardson, soprano; Jay Carter, countertenor; Zachary Wilder, tenor; Tyler Duncan, baritone; and the American Bach Choir perform 4 of Bach’s masterpieces, Meine Seel erhebt den Herren, BWV 10; Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78; Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80; and Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140.

“Bach to the Beginning” presents a renewed focus on the invaluable gems found in Bach’s cantatas. When ABS was founded in 1989, its mission included a primary emphasis on that repertoire of more than 200 works, each containing exquisite and dramatic music that often calls upon the virtuosity of individual members of an ensemble — singers and instrumentalists alike — to display their talents in the expression of each mini-drama that is at the heart and soul of the cantatas by Bach. For both cantata devotees and those new to this music, the passion and the soul-searching impetus found in these beautiful works are both compelling and exciting.

8 PM
First Congregational Church
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley
Tickets online $35–$89
800-595-4TIX (-4849)

Sonoma Bach presents Clerestory
“The Bright Field” The a cappella ensemble Clerestory takes its name from the high windows through which light pours into a church. We are delighted to present this wonderful Bay Area group in a concert featuring early and modern works inspired, through a process known as ekphrasis, by works of art. Clerestory’s “distinctive voices blending in a gorgeous sound” (San Francisco Classical Voice) perform compositions—by such composers as John Sheppard, Arvo Pärt and Eric Whitacre—which respond through poetry and music to artworks by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Gerhard Richter and many others. These ancient and modern ‘commentaries’ shine a special light upon art both familiar and brand-new.

3 PM, Bachgrounder pre-concert talk, 2:25 PM
Schroeder Hall
1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park
Tickets $25/$15
http://www.sonomabach.org/


Sunday, February 17

American Bach Soloists, Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
“Bach to the Beginning” Nola Richardson, soprano; Jay Carter, countertenor; Zachary Wilder, tenor; Tyler Duncan, baritone; and the American Bach Choir perform 4 of Bach’s masterpieces, Meine Seel erhebt den Herren, BWV 10; Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78; Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80; and Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140.

“Bach to the Beginning” presents a renewed focus on the invaluable gems found in Bach’s cantatas. When ABS was founded in 1989, its mission included a primary emphasis on that repertoire of more than 200 works, each containing exquisite and dramatic music that often calls upon the virtuosity of individual members of an ensemble — singers and instrumentalists alike — to display their talents in the expression of each mini-drama that is at the heart and soul of the cantatas by Bach. For both cantata devotees and those new to this music, the passion and the soul-searching impetus found in these beautiful works are both compelling and exciting.

4 PM
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
1111 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco
Tickets online $35–$89
800-595-4TIX (-4849)

Ensemble Bizarria
“I virtuosi di Modena” Lindsey Strand-Polyak, violin; and Alexa Haynes-Pilon, cello, perform music from the court of Modena. While most tourists and foodies today think of Modena in Northern Italy as the home of balsamic vinegar and Lamborghinis, 17th-century Italians knew Modena not only as the court of the once-legendary Este family, but also as a hotbed of instrumental virtuosity. Dukes Alfonso IV and Francesco II kept in their royal employ some of Italy’s finest string players. Yet rather than publish the music of these spectacular musicians, the Este nobles preferred to keep their court composers’ talents to themselves. Many of the fantastical works written by these composers lay buried in the archives for years. With “I virtuosi di Modena,” Ensemble Bizarria brings the music of the Este court to life, featuring rare gems for violin and cello by 17th-century composers Cima, Colombi, Uccellini and others.

4:30 PM
California Jazz Conservatory
2087 Addison Street, Berkeley
Tickets online $20

Continue reading next week’s calendar . . .