April 16, 2018
the Sebastians
the Sebastians

The Sebastians, leading lights of the new generation of New York City’s early music scene, bring their 2017-18 season to a stylish close by paying tribute to their namesake, Johann Sebastian Bach. The large-scale program, with no fewer than 14 soloists, takes place at the Upper West Side’s Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church on May 24, 2018.

The Sebastians’ season finale pairs the Italianate virtuosity of J. S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1 and 5, with the French elegance of his first two Orchestral Suites, or “Ouvertures” as the composer referred to them. The rare juxtaposition of these works highlights an exceptional variety of instrumental color, from strings to winds and brass. Of special note are the Sebastians’ founding director Daniel S. Lee playing the violino piccolo – a higher pitched, smaller version of its larger sibling – in the first Brandenburg Concerto, and artistic director Jeffrey Grossman displaying his virtuosity in the fifth Brandenburg’s infamous harpsichord improvisation.

German baroque composer J. S. Bach easily assimilated the concerto form championed by his Italian contemporaries as well as the dance suite popularized by the French. He also cleverly blurred nationalistic styles to create his wholly original works. The first Orchestral Suite weaves two oboes and bassoon in and out of the string texture that surrounds them, while the Suite No. 2 – performed by the Sebastians in its manuscript version – casts the spotlight on the transverse flute. The first Brandenburg Concerto is boldly scored for three oboes, bassoon, two hunting horns and the violino piccolo alongside a complement of strings and continuo. The fifth Brandenburg famously pits the harpsichord against solo violin and flute with accompanying strings.

This significant concert caps the Sebastians’ memorable season which has included performances of baroque trio sonatas in Michigan, Austrian classical music in the Catskills, and collaborations with harpist Bridget Kibbey and preëminent early music vocal ensemble TENET.

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For further information about the Sebastians please visit https://www.sebastians.org

For further information, image or interview requests please contact Melanne Mueller, MusicCo International, +1 917 907 2785, melanne@musiccointernational.com  

Bach to Bach: Brandenburg Concerti and Orchestral Suites
Thursday, May 24, 2018 – 7:30 pm
Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church
152 West 66th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)
New York, NY 10023

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046
Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050
Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067

Daniel S. Lee, Nicholas DiEugenio, Cynthia Roberts violins
Jessica Troy viola
Ezra Seltzer cello
Nathaniel Chase violone
Jeffrey Grossman harpsichord
David Ross flute
Priscilla Herreid, David Dickey, Caroline Ross oboes
Ben Matus bassoon
R. J. Kelley, Alexandra Cook horns

The Sebastians (www.sebastians.org) are a dynamic and vital musical ensemble specializing in music of the baroque and classical eras. Lauded as “everywhere sharp-edged and engaging” (The New York Times), the Sebastians have also been praised for their “well-thought-out articulation and phrasing” (Early Music Review) and “elegant string playing … immaculate in tuning and balance” (Early Music Today). I Care If You Listen praised the ensemble’s “beautifully-nuanced playing and thoughtful expressivity” in their début album, calling the recording a “technical and timbral tour-de-force.”

Winners of the Audience Prize at the 2012 Early Music America Baroque Performance Competition, the Sebastians were also finalists in the 2011 York International Early Music Competition and the 2011 Early Music America/Naxos Recording Competition. They have participated in the Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshop with L’Arpeggiata, and have performed at Music Matters (LaGrua Center in Stonington, Connecticut), Friends of Music at Pequot Library (Southport, CT), St. John’s Episcopal Church (Tulsa, OK), Juilliard in Aiken (SC), in the Twelfth Night Festival and Concerts@One at Trinity Wall Street (New York City), Early Music in Columbus (Ohio), the Renaissance and Baroque Society of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), and Houston Early Music (Texas). The Sebastians frequently collaborate with the vocal ensemble TENET, including recent, critically acclaimed performances of Bach‘s St. John Passion.

The Sebastians début recording, Night Scenes from the Ospedale (January 2015), pairs Vivaldi concerti from L’Estro Armonico with newly composed interludes by Robert Honstein. I Care If You Listen praised the “beautifully-nuanced playing and thoughtful expressivity” in the recording, calling the album a “technical and timbral tour-de-force.” The group’s second recording, the Sebastians a 2: Virtuoso Music of the Holy Roman Empire (September 2015), explores the rich baroque repertoire of music for violin and harpsichord written by composers from modern-day Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Scheduled for release in the autumn of 2018 is a new release of trio sonatas and vocal works by Corelli, Colista, Handel, and Vivaldi, with soprano Awet Andemicael.

The Sebastians 2017–18 season celebrates music that crosses boundaries: music published in Amsterdam by Italian composers; music by German, French, and Italian composers exploring a question of their individual “national” styles; vocal cantatas by Buxtehude that transcend the mortal world for the spiritual, in collaboration with TENET; and works by Bach in contrasting Italian and French styles. They are currently in residence at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments.

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