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Bach's Mass in B Minor: Anatomy of a Masterwork

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Published on May 1, 2015

American Bach Soloists present Bach’s Mass in B Minor: Anatomy of a Masterwork. Using footage from the 2014 ABS Festival & Academy—San Francisco's Summer Bach Festival—this 30-minute film explores the work from the perspectives of ABS musicians who perform it each summer. Interviews with ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas, violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, bassist Steven Lehning, flutist Sandra Miller, oboist Debra Nagy, trumpeter John Thiessen, and others, illuminate the work’s history, musical structure, and artistic challenges as well as the rewards of revisiting it annually in performance.

Admired for its colossal dimensions and encyclopedic stylistic variety, the Mass in B Minor is in many ways the pinnacle musical work of the Baroque Era. During the last years of his life, Bach handpicked pieces from more than 35 years of his compositions for inclusion in the Mass in B Minor compilation, a work left for posterity as the epitome of his ideals and inspiration. ABS Music Director Jeffrey Thomas stated, “Bach accepted his world, and found no need to dismiss or look beyond the methodologies for the creation of art, or the answers to life’s most difficult questions, that were provided by his culture, by his religion, and by his ancestry. Rather, he sought to perfect all of those ideals and solutions in a way that further glorified what he saw as the ideal expression of life’s meaning and purpose.”

Drawing instrumental and vocal soloists from its annual Academy—the educational component of the Festival—the performances in Bach’s Mass in B Minor: Anatomy of a Masterwork feature the ABS Academy Festival Orchestra and the American Bach Choir directed by Jeffrey Thomas. http://AmericanBach.org

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