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Bach Collegium San Diego Presents: Café Zimmerman • Brandenburg Concertos

  • Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre, Cuyamaca College 900 Rancho San Diego Pkwy El Cajon, CA, 92019 (map)


Brandenburg Concertos

No. 2 in F major BWV 1047
No. 4 in G major BWV 1049
No. 5 in D major BWV 1050
No. 6 in Bb major BWV 1051

Cantata: Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten BWV 202

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Clara Rottsolk, Soprano

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The Leipzig coffee house Café Zimmerman was known in its day as a hot spot and backdrop for performances by Bach's Collegium Musicum. The café saw the premiere of many of Bach's well-known works, as well as the music of other composers. In tribute to the café's spirit, BCSD opens the season with four of Bach's dazzling Brandenburg Concertos, as well as the ravishing wedding cantata Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten sung by the inimitable soprano Clara Rottsolk. 

Clara Rottsolk

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“Pure and shining” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) soprano Clara Rottsolk engages audiences in repertoire extending from the Renaissance to the contemporary, and has been lauded by The New York Times for her “clear, appealing voice and expressive conviction.” Her solo appearances have taken her around the world with ensembles including American Bach Soloists, Tempesta di Mare, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Les Délices, Pacific MusicWorks, Opera Grand Rapids, the Carmel Bach Festival, Pacific Symphony, American Classical Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, Piffaro, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Boston Cecilia, Colorado Bach Ensemble, and Bach Society of Winter Park, under the direction of conductors including Joshua Rifkin, Bruno Weil, Paul Goodwin, Jeffrey Thomas, John Scott, David Effron, Andrew Megill, and Timothy Nelson. Among her stage roles are Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Ilia (Idomeneo), Eurydice (Ophée et Eurydice and Orpheus in the Underworld), Micaëla (Carmen), and Semele (Semele). A native of Seattle, Ms. Rottsolk earned her music degrees at Rice University and Westminster Choir College. Currently she is based in Philadelphia and teaches voice at Swarthmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges.

“Purcell's Evening Hymn gave Clara Rottsolk the opportunity to apply her radiant voice to the composer’s felicitous melodic turns and ravishing melismas, shading every phrase with eloquent phrasing that dared the listener to contemplate anything but her ecstatic utterance of the moment.” (SanDiegoStory, Ken Herman)

Ruben Valenzuela

As a conductor, keyboardist, and musicologist, Ruben Valenzuela has led Bach Collegium San Diego in local premieres of historically informed performances of the Renaissance, early and high Baroque, and Classical periods. Under Valenzuela’s leadership, Bach Collegium San Diego has achieved local, national, and international acclaim, collaborating with many of this country’s outstanding musicians specializing in early music. Highlights include a collaboration with TENET in Los Angeles and New York, and performances at the Festival Internacional del Órgano Barroco in Mexico City and the IX Festival Internacional de Música Renacentista y Barroca Misiones de Chiquitos in Bolivia. Valenzuela’s performances have been described as “dramatic and vibrant” and “able to unlock the true power of Baroque music” (San Diego Story). In 2012, he was chosen by San Diego Metro Magazine as one of Twenty Men Who Impact San Diego for his longstanding contributions to the greater arts community, including his outstanding work with Bach Collegium San Diego. Valenzuela frequently appears as a guest director, most recently directing Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (NYC) which included a performance of Charpentier’s Le Reniement de Saint Pierre. In 2018 he directed the Marsh Chapel Choir in a performance of Bach’s St. John Passion at Marsh Chapel (Boston University).

 As a musicologist, Valenzuela has undertaken research at Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical, Carlos Chavez (CENEDIM), and most recently at Colegio de San Ignacio de Loyola Vizcaínas and the Archivo del Cabildo of Mexico City Cathedral focusing on the basso continuo in Novo-Hispanic music. In June 2016 Valenzuela presented a paper titled Mexican Religious Iconography (Angel musicians and the Basso Continuo in Mexico City Cathedral) for the Historical Performance Institute of the Jacobs School of Music (Indiana University, Bloomington). Valenzuela holds a PhD in Musicology from Claremont Graduate University, and is Director of Music & Organist at All Souls’ Episcopal Church, San Diego (CA). 

Michael Sponseller

Michael Sponseller is recognized as one of the outstanding American harpsichordists of his generation. A highly diversified career brings him to festivals and concert venues all around in recital, concerto soloist, and active continuo performer on both harpsichord and organ. He studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Lisa Goode Crawford with additional studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music, The Hague. He has garnered prizes at the International Harpsichord Competitions of Montréal (1999), the International Harpsichord Competition at Bruges (1998, 2001) as well as First Prizes at both the American Bach Soloists and Jurow International Harpsichord Competitions. Mr. Sponseller appears regularly as harpsichordist and continuo organist with several of American’s finest baroque orchestras and ensembles, such as Bach Collegium San Diego, Les Délices, Aston Magna, Tragicomedia, Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, and can be heard on over twenty recordings from Delos, Centaur, Eclectra, and Naxos et al. At home, he is a regular presence at Boston’s Emmanuel Music, having performed over 125 sacred cantatas of J.S. Bach.

 His various recordings include a diverse list of composers, including Bach, Handel, Rameau, Praetorius and Laurenti received excellent reviews throughout the world. Early Music America Magazine has said of his performance of the J.S. Bach Concertos: “His well-proportioned elegance carries the day quite stylishly.” Sponseller has been on faculty at Longy School of Music and Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute, and is Associate Music Director of Bach Collegium San Diego.