Johannes Voorhout painting
Domestic Music Scene by Johannes Voorhout, 1674. The violist (left) in the painting is thought to be Dietrich Buxtehude, who composed one of the works featured in American Bach Soloists' upcoming concerts.

Easter themes are at the fore as the American Bach Soloists launch their spring season with four performances of “Passion & Joy.” On the program are Baroque masterworks including Johann Sebastian Bach’s Der Herr denket an uns (The Lord is mindful of us) Cantata 196, Johann Pachelbel’s Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ lay in the bonds of death), and Dieterich Buxtehude’s Jesu, meine Freude (Jesus, my friend).

The main attraction will be Johann Theile’s rarely performed Saint Matthew Passion. According to Artistic Director and Conductor Jeffrey Thomas:

We performed the title work, the Saint Matthew Passion by Johann Theile, about 25 years ago, and I think that to this day there has not been another West Coast performance since. Those who heard it back then remember to this day that, from its first bars to the last, Theile’s music spellbinds the listener and grippingly captivates that attention until the final note.

Two violas da gamba and two violins establish a raga-like undercurrent that relentlessly propels the otherwise contemplative aspects of a sung passion text to its inevitable conclusion. Listeners give themselves up to a mesmeric experience like no other to be found in Baroque music. To me, the music generates a meditative state that opens the ears, mind, and heart in a way that I have never encountered in any other Passion setting. We have been looking forward to this moment, to this opportunity to bring a most remarkable work of art to our audiences again.

Jeffrey Thomas
American Bach Soloists Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas

Featured soloists include tenor Mark Bonney, soprano Nola Richardson, male soprano Elijah McCormack, countertenor Jay Carter, and bass Curtis Streetman.

There are four opportunities to hear the program:

Friday, March 25, 2022, at 8 p.m. in Saint Stephen’s Church, Belvedere
Saturday, March 26, 2022, at 7 p.m. in First Church, Berkeley
Sunday, March 27, 2022, 4 p.m. in Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Monday, March 28, 2022, 7 p.m. in Davis Community Church, Davis

Tickets and more information are available here.