California Bach Society is a 30-voice chamber choir specializing in Renaissance and Baroque music, presenting four concerts each year in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Berkeley. The 2015-2016 season will include Zelenka's "Missa Votiva," Christmas music from France, early oratorios by Carissimi, Charpentier, and Schütz, and J.S. Bach's beloved "Singet dem Herrn."
Our 2015 - 2016 Season
Doors open 30 minutes before each performance.
Tickets may be purchased online, by phone, or at the door.
* Please note that some venues may be different from previous concerts. *
French Christmas, medieval to the present
Fri, Dec 4, 2015, 8pm at *First Unitarian Church* in San Francisco
Sat, Dec 5, 2015, 8pm at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Palo Alto
Sun, Dec 6, 2015, 4pm St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Berkeley
We celebrate the holidays with a journey to France and a program of Christmas music from the medieval and Renaissance periods to the twentieth century. The program features Gregorian chants, dance tunes, Marian hymns, and traditional French carols by composers ranging from Jean Mouton, Henri Dumont, and Marc-Antoine Charpentier to Hector Berlioz, and Christmas motets by twentieth-century masters Francis Poulenc and Pierre Villette. Join us for a concert of adventurous holiday repertoire with a characteristic Gallic flair.
Oratorios & Dialogues
A Genre Emerges
Fri, Feb 26, 2016, 8pm at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco
Sat, Feb 27, 2016, 8pm at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Palo Alto
Sun, Feb 28, 2016, 4pm St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Berkeley
We present three splendid examples of mid-seventeenth century music-drama. Giacomo Carissimi's Jonah and the Whale is a miniature sacred opera whose solo arias and choral commentaries are full of vivid drama. La Reniement de Saint Pierre, by Carissimi's pupil Marc-Antoine Charpentier, brings to life the story of Peter's denial of Jesus. Heinrich Schütz's Weib, was weinest du? is a work of wringing pathos as the men and women of the chorus assume character roles to enact Jesus' appearance at the tomb to comfort Mary Magdalene. These are unsung gems of the period. As John Eliot Gardiner put it: "To dig these out of the archives is one of the most rewarding activities of the twenty-first century musician."
Singet dem Herrn
Bach motets and chorales
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 8pm at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco
Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 8pm at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Palo Alto
Sun, Apr 24, 2016, 4pm St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Berkeley
Bach's motets are virtuoso works of extraordinary expression and complexity. We present two double-choir motets, Singet dem Herrn and Der Geist hilft unsere Schwachheit auf, and the challenging motet, Jesu meine Freude. Interspersed between the motets will be some of the composer's most elaborate and serene chorales. Beloved for their expressive rhetoric and word-painting, chorale tunes, and glorious rhythmic freedom and joy, these works reveal Bach's deep sense of faith. Together, these works are the embodiment of the eloquent statement that Bach wrote in the margins of his Lutheran Bible: "Where there is devotional music, God, with his grace, is always present."
A Bohemian Masterpiece
Zelenka "Missa Votiva"
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 8pm at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco
Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 8pm at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Palo Alto
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 4pm at *First Congregational Church* in Berkeley
We open our 45th anniversary season with a rediscovered masterpiece by Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745). A violone player in the Dresden court orchestra, Zelenka began composing sacred music for the Catholic Elector of Saxony around 1710, and he was appointed Church Composer in 1735. Zelenka's Missa Votiva (1739) for chorus, orchestra, and soloists, is a powerful mixture of operatic bravura and stunningly expressive counterpoint, rivaling works by contemporaries Bach, Handel, and Telemann. Zelenka's mass is one of the most dramatic, formally innovative, and gripping sacred works of the eighteenth century. This triumphant tour de force will delight our Bay Area audiences. The 30-voice chorus is joined by a Baroque orchestra of strings, oboes, bassoon, and continuo; with vocal soloists Rita Lilly and Elizabeth Kimble, soprano; Gabriela Estephanie Solis, alto; Chris McCrum, tenor; and Sepp Hammer, baritone.
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