For several seasons, the San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) has honored Christmas by inviting Warren Stewart’s Magnificat to reconstruct the celebration of a Christmas Mass based on pre-Classical musical sources. Sadly, Stewart is now based in Berlin; and the Magnificat ensemble of Bay Area performers and guest artists has been disbanded. As a result, the title of next month’s SFEMS program will be Concerti per il Santissimo Natale: Baroque Christmas Music for Soprano, Trumpet and Strings. The performers will be the members of the Archetti Baroque String Ensemble, co-directed by violinist Carla Moore and John Dornenburg on violone. The ensemble will be joined by guest artists Clara Rottsolk (soprano) and Kathryn Adduci (trumpet).
While the vocal selections were not explicitly composed for performance at Christmas, they definitely are celebratory in nature. The program will begin with the selections by George Frideric Handel, “Eternal Source of Light Divine,” from HWV 74, composed for an ode written to celebrate the birthday of Queen Anne, and “Let the Bright Seraphim,” from the HWV 57 Samson oratorio. The conclusion will be a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s BWV 51 cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen (praise God in all lands). These vocal offerings will frame four concertos from the Baroque period, three of which, by Francesco Manfredini, Alessandro Scarlatti, and Giuseppe Torelli, respectively, were explicitly written to honor the Nativity. The remaining concerto is the TWV 53:D5 D major concerto for trumpet, violin, cello, and strings by Georg Philipp Telemann.
The San Francisco performance of this program will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 11. The venue will be St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. General admission is $40 with a $36 rate for seniors and $34 for SFEMS members. A single Web page has been created for online purchases of single tickets for all six concerts in the season. In addition, subscriptions are still available for a selection of three concerts during the remainder of the season. This three-concert option costs $108 with a $96 rate for SFEMS members. A separate Web page has been created for handling such subscriptions.