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. Welcome to our 47th season. Travel with us to Leipzig to hear Bach’s Missa Brevis in G; then off to the Baltics for Christmas. In the winter, we revel in the lush harmonies of the German Romantics and finish the year with Handel in Rome. It’s a season full of treasures! 

View our 5 minute video of our experience with the 2016 St. Matthew Passion Concert.

Voted “Best Early/Baroque Performance” for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion,
SFCV Best of the Bay 2016-17

 

Our 2017-2018 Season

Oct 20-22

JS Bach Missa Brevis & Cantata 21

Dec 1-3

Christmas in Poland & the Baltics

Mar 2-4

German Romantics

Apr 20-22

Handel in Rome

Subscribe to all four concerts and save!  Season subscribers receive discounted prices and reserved seating at the front of the house, where available.


Third Concert

Mar 2–4

German Romantics

Fri, Mar 2, 2018, 8pm in San Francisco
     St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell St
Sat, Mar 3, 2018, 8pm in Palo Alto
     All Saints' Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St
Sun, Mar 4, 2018, 4pm in Berkeley
     St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Ave

Austria/Germany was an increasingly prosperous region in the 19th century.  The middle classes had more leisure time, and there was a great increase in amateur music-making, especially choral singing.  Composers such as Schumann, Brahms, and Mendelssohn responded to the demand for new pieces, composing large-scale sacred works, motets, and secular partsongs.  Lesser-known composers also created works for the new Singvereine (choral societies).  You will hear music by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Gustav Jenner, and Joseph Rheinberger, in addition to works by the best-loved German Romantic composers.


Fourth Concert

Apr 20–22

Handel in Rome

Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 8pm in San Francisco
     St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell St
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 8pm in Palo Alto
     All Saints' Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 4pm in Berkeley
     First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way

In 1706, young German composer Georg Friedrich Händel made his way from Hamburg to Rome.  Eager to make his mark there, he was soon enjoying the patronage of three of Rome’s most powerful cardinals. The music he composed for them is technically brilliant and self-assured, no doubt intended to show off his skills to the fullest. His 1707 service of Vespers at the Carmelite church of Santa Maria in Montesanto is particularly astonishing, and we feature the three large-scale Vesper psalm settings, Nisi Dominus, Laudate Pueri Dominum, and, of course, the justly famous Dixit Dominus.  Our chorus will be joined by a Baroque ensemble and fine soloists.

 

 

Previous Concerts

Oct 20–22

J.S. Bach Missa Brevis & Cantata 21

Fri, Oct 20, 2017, 8pm in San Francisco
     St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell St
Sat, Oct 21, 2017, 8pm in Palo Alto
     All Saints' Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St
Sun, Oct 22, 2017, 4pm in Berkeley
     First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way

Initially written for a funeral in Weimar in 1713, Bach’s magnificent Cantata 21, Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, was performed often during his lifetime and remained well-known among his colleagues and students throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Later in his life, Bach elegantly reworked some of the best choral and solo writing from his Leipzig cantatas into the Missa Brevis in G Major (BWV 236). With no less than three different choral fugues, two graceful arias, and a wonderfully expressive soprano-alto duet, the Missa Brevis is a worthy companion to Cantata 21. The program also includes Kuhnau's poignant motet Tristis est anima meam.

Artistic Director Paul Flight leads the 30-voice chorus and a Baroque orchestra of trumpets, tympani, oboe, and strings.  Vocal soloists are Caroline Jou Armitage, soprano; Paul Flight, countertenor; Jonathan Thomas, tenor; and Sepp Hammer, bass.

 

Dec 1–3

Christmas in Poland and the Baltic Countries

Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 8pm in San Francisco
     St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell St
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 8pm in Palo Alto
     All Saints' Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St
Sun, Dec 3, 2017, 4pm in Berkeley
     St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Ave

Our tradition of exploring the holiday music of other regions continues with a visit to Poland and the Baltics. Musical activity in Poland began to increase in earnest during the 17th century, when the polychoral style was introduced to the courts of Warsaw and Krakow. We present the Magnificat by Mikolaj Zielenski for three choirs, a fine example of this technique. From the Baltic region, we present music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, including his lively Bogoroditse Devo from the Orthodox vesper liturgy, and two works by his compatriot Veljo Tormis: Winter Patterns for women’s voices and Joulud Tulevad (Christmas is Coming) for men’s voices.

 
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View our 5 minute video of our experience with the 2016 St. Matthew Passion Concert.