As was announced this past summer, the California Bach Society will begin its 45th anniversary season with the performance of a single composition, a Mass setting composed by Jan Dismas Zelenka in 1739, known as Missa votiva. Over the course of his career, Zelenka composed 23 Mass settings and almost as many individual movements while in service to the Catholic Elector of Saxony. That service began in 1710. His application for the position of Kapellmeister in 1733 was rejected, but in 1735 he was appointed to the subordinate position of Church Composer. This may have been a factor in the lack of public appreciation for his work. However, his failure to attain the more prestigious position may have been due to a lack of “people skills,” since he was reported to have been stubborn, reserved, and fervently religious.
Zelenka’s religious zeal may have surfaced in his Missa votiva through a rhetoric that could easily have been taken for operatic were the text not liturgical. He could be highly expressive through his use of counterpoint, while his homophonic writing for the chorus is notable for its chromatic progressions. The music is scored for chorus and five soloists, whose parts will be sung by sopranos Rita Lilly and Elizabeth Kimble, alto Gabriela Estephanie Solis, tenor Chris McCrum, and baritone Sepp Hammer. These soloists and the 30-voice California Bach Society choir will be joined by an ensemble of early music specialists, including Lisa Weiss (violin), Rachel Hurwitz (violin), Amy Haltom (viola), Katie Hagen (viola), Aki Nishiguchi (oboe), Glenda Bates (oboe), Georgeanne Banker (bassoon), Farley Pearce (cello), Lynn Tetenbaum (violone), and Yuko Tanaka (organ).
The San Francisco performance of Zelenka’s Missa votiva will take place on Friday, October 16, beginning at 8 p.m. The venue will be St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the southwest corner of Franklin Street. Tickets are $33 at the door with a $24 rate for seniors and $10 for students and patrons under 30. However, tickets for general admission and seniors may also be purchased at a reduced rate in advance through the Tickets & Subscriptions Web page on the California Bach Society Web site. Advance purchase for this concert will be possible until 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 15. In addition, because this is the beginning of the season, discounts are available for purchases of two concerts, three concerts, or the entire season of four concerts, all from the same Tickets & Subscriptions Web page.