Joanna Bramel Young is a professional performer on early wind instruments, including recorders and renaissanace double reeds (shawms, curtal, and crumhorns). She taught at SRJC for 22 years, and now teaches privately. Her renaissance ensemble The Festival Consort has toured the US with Community Concerts, and has performed Christmas concerts for the past thirty years.
Her baroque ensemble Nota Bene performs chamber music with baroque recorder, baroque oboe, harpsichord and cello.
Joanna studied early music at Stanford, and at the Hochschule fur Musik in Freiburg, Germany. She has been on the faculty of early music workshops in New York and in the Bay Area.
American Bach Soloists (ABS) once again enchanted a full house in Belvedere’s St. Stephen’s Church February 26 with an exciting, varied, virtuosic performance, this concert offering works solely by Handel.
Germany-born Handel made his way to England after an extended stay in Italy, where he was supreme in the writing of Italian opera. After being wooed to England, however, he turned from opera to the more popular English tradition of the oratorio. Comfortably working in this genre,... more
Weill Hall resonated April 11 with an agreeable group of Baroque works not often heard, though the composers are in fact well known. This assured, skilled plumbing of quiet corners of the repertoire is the specialty of Concerto Köln, based in Cologne, Germany, but received with pleasure throughout the world. The number of musicians forming the ensemble apparently varies from time to time, and Weill’s small yet ardent audience welcomed twenty-one, all gifted and polished performers.
The American Bach Soloists performed Bach’s timeless St. Matthew Passion Feb. 27 to a sold-out audience at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere. In the account of Christ’s last hours as set forth by evangelist Matthew, the Passion stands supreme, beside the Mass in B Minor, as Bach’s finest creation.
It is interesting that the “chorus,” composed of 16 singers, 10 soloists, a boy’s choir, and the orchestra, was all one-to-a-part. In his program comments conductor Jeffrey Thomas noted th... more
American Bach Soloists’ opening concert of their 26th season, with performances of Bach’s beloved Fourth Brandenburg Concerto and Handel’s touchingly pastoral Acis and Galatea. The Fourth Brandenburg is one of six that Bach sent as a gift to the Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg in 1721, possibly as a “thinly veiled job application,” according to Steven Lehning, who gave a fascinating pre-concert lecture. Surprisingly, he said, this amazing gift was never acknowledged, and the man... more
The American Bach Soloists (ABS) made their Sonoma County debut at Weill Hall December 19, performing the three-hour-long oratorio “Messiah” to a full house. In the 25 years since its founding in Marin the ABS has achieved world renown, and has long performed regularly in Belvedere, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Davis. For Sonoma County devotees, it was especially exciting to hear them display their remarkable skills so close to home with Weill’s splendid acoustics.
On October 19 the Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, directed by baroque violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, appeared in the first of several concerts it is to present at Schroeder Hall in Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. The new 250-seat recital space is the perfect venue for chamber music, which requires a certain intimacy between performers and audience.
In an informal half-hour pre-concert presentation the performers discussed the 17th and 18th century “duels” among various ba... more
One might wonder why the highly esteemed American Bach Soloists perform at a rather out-of-the-way venue at St. Stephen's Church in Belvedere; but that is where it all began 25 years ago, when conductor Jeffrey Thomas and former St. Stephen's organist Jonathan Dimmock fulfilled their dream of founding a world-class Baroque orchestra and chorus. This reviewer has had the pleasure of watching a finely tuned organization develop into what it is today--one of the most accomplished exponents of histo... more
A Weill Hall audience January 25 was treated to a superb performance of Handel’s oratorio Theodora. For that we can thank the English Concert (not Consort), a highly polished baroque orchestra consisting of strings, oboes, bassoons, flute, horns, trumpets, harpsichord, organ and theorbo, along with five celebrated vocal soloists. Conductor Harry Bicket, artistic director of the Concert since 2007, expertly guided the orchestra in flawless support of both the soloists and the Choir of Tr... more
A small but appreciative June 2 audience heard in Santa Rosa's Resurrection Parish a delightful buffet of baroque vocal and instrumental works performed by the five-year old Vinaccesi Ensemble of Berkeley.
Nanette McGuinness soprano; Kindra Scharich, mezzo soprano; Jonathan Smucker, tenor; and bass Kirk Eichelberger bass joined lutinist/guitarist Adam Cockerham, cellist Hallie Pridham and harpsichordist Susie Fong in the concert of works by Venetian composers. The group is named after... more
The American Bach Soloists (ABS) presented March 1 an intriguing and uncommon set of works by the three most celebrated composers of the Baroque period -- Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi. Anticipating another taste of the best, ABS fans filled every seat in acoustically faithful St. Stephen’s church in Belvedere, and they were not disappointed. Not only were the evening’s works exciting and unique, but the performers were of the highest caliber. Music Director Jeffrey Thomas employed two instrument... more
Bach's B Minor Mass is one of the towering masterpieces of Western music, and on Dec. 15 the Sonoma Bach Choir and the Santa Rosa Symphony performed the Mass to a nearly full Weill Hall, with only a few empty seats behind the stage.
From the sweet, imploring opening notes of the “Kyrie eleison,” the audience knew it was in for an afternoon of glorious music. The choir has never sounded better and conductor Robert Worth rehearsed them well. His conducting was sure and precise as he drew... more
Early music specialists Musica Pacifica played a concert Jan. 13 in the Petaluma Historical Museum that featured virtuoso Italian music from the 17th Century. The Museum is the stately columned old Carnegie Library and has a high ceiling, providing fine acoustics. The small audience was gathered closely around the performers, allowing for a special intimacy.
Members of the group were recorder player Judith Linsenberg, violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, cellist Shirley Hunt and Katherin... more
A top quality baroque concert was presented at Santa Rosa’s Waldorf School Jan. 7 featuring the Ensemble Vermillian. Among the five performers at least nine instruments were used, and the variety of this instrumentation brought 17th and 18th Century musical gems to life.
The Vermillian in the Sophia Hall event, hosted by Waldorf teacher and musician Isabel Wundsam, included Frances Blaker (soprano, alto and tenor recorders); David Wilson, baroque violin; Barbara Blaker Krumdieck (baroq... more
Impresario Beth Zucchino’s Creative Arts Series presented a recital by harpsichordist Janine Johnson October 16 at the Resurrection Parish in Santa Rosa. A small but appreciative audience heard Ms. Johnson perform works from the Baroque and Classical periods. The artist is well known to East Bay audiences as a performer and a builder and decorator of the instruments, working for 25 years with the renowned Berkeley harpsichord builder and restorer John Phillips.
The Ensemble Vermillian performed an exquisite concert Jan. 8 of both early and high Baroque delights at Summerfield Waldorf School in Santa Rosa. The ensemble likes to explore less-familiar works of the early Baroque (about 1600 – 1700), but in this concert they also included works by the great High Baroque composers Bach and Telemann.
The ensemble has expanded their repertoire to include transcriptions of works written for other instruments, a common custom during this period. Compo... more
A small but appreciative audience enjoyed a concert of vocal works by the great early Baroque master Heinrich Schütz Nov. 13 at the Holy Family Episcopal Church in Rohnert Park. Accompanying the fourteen singers, skillfully directed by Robert Worth, were John Dornenburg on the G violone and Susan Harvey on the positiv organ.
Robert Worth is well known to Sonoma County audiences as a Music Department Professor at Sonoma State and director of several of the area’s finest choral ensemble... more
The American Bach Soloists performed their final concert in the current series April 16 at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, and the large audience was treated to glorious works by Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. Each piece showcased a soloist who performed with members of the ABS orchestra. Rather than having a full orchestra, with many players on a each part, conductor Jeffrey Thomas chose to have two instrumentalists on each of the string parts. There were twelve strings, harpsichord, oboe and rec... more
The little white Community Church in Occidental was bursting at the seams with recorder enthusiasts and their friends February 27 when the Flanders Recorder Quartet came on stage in the fifth concert in the Redwood Arts Council’s series. The quartet, from Belgium, includes Bart Spanhove, Tom Beets, Joris Van Goethem and Paul Loey. Together for twenty years, the group is now considered the finest recorder quartet in the world, displacing the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet that enjoyed that hon... more
The American Bach Soloists celebrated Jan. 29 the four-hundredth anniversary of Monteverdi’s towering Vespero della Beata Vergine (1610) at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere. It was a stunning performance. Conductor Jeffrey Thomas presided over a stellar collection of singers and instrumentalists brought from all over the United States, including soloists tenor Derek Chester, and sopranos Jennifer Ellis and Abigail Haynes Lennox. They were supported by a superb group of soloists and a ch... more
On Jan. 23, the Redwood Arts Council showcased École Royale, a period instrument ensemble, in a chamber concert in Occidental’s charming and acoustically fine Community Church. This year is the Council’s 30th anniversary, and an enthusiastic and animated audience filled the room.
École Royale includes Sonoma County’s own Kathleen Kraft on classical flute, along with Kati Kyme, violin, David Wilson, viola, and David Morris, cello. The concert featured a delightful collection of works by ... more
Summerfield Waldorf School in Santa Rosa hosted a concert January 2 in their handsome West Santa Rosa Sophia Hall, featuring the Vermillian Ensemble.
Frances Blaker, well-known to Bay Area recorder players as both a teacher and performer, brought a handful of fine baroque recorders to perform works for recorder, violin, cello and harpsichord. She and baroque violinist David Wilson treated an appreciative audience that filled the hall to a variety of trio sonatas, accompanied by baroque ... more
What better time than Halloween to experience a “fantastical” performance of baroque music? On Oct. 25, the touring group Red Priest transformed the formal Wells Center stage into an area of demons, ghosts, strange dreams and wild dances. Produced by the Santa Rosa Concert Association, the event had colorful stage lighting that added to the drama, the 800-person house giving excited applause throughout.
The performers included Piers Adams, recorders, David Greenburg, violin, Angela East... more
San Francisco’s Early Music Society Baroque Workshop at Sonoma State was treated to a June 16 concert by the performing Workshop faculty, playing a variety of 18th Century works, featuring various combinations of strings, recorders, baroque flutes and oboes, harpsichord, chamber organ and voice.
The Ives Hall event opened with a charming sonata by Domenico Scarlatti, who is best known for his virtuoso harpsichord compositions. This sonata was performed on two violins, viola, cello a... more
St. Stephens Church in Belvedere was again the location April 3 for a superb American Bach Soloists concert of masterpieces in the Italian manner, featuring soprano Mary Wilson and countertenor Ian Howell. Wilson and Howell, singing soprano and alto parts, were perfectly matched, the arias soaring, and were among the finest singers this reviewer has heard. The evening opened with Pergolesi’s incomparable “Stabat Mater”, its twelve short solo and duet arias giving both singers the opportunity t... more
The American Bach Soloists (ABS) are celebrating their 20th anniversary season with the performance of four of Bach’s most beloved cantatas: “Wachet auf,” “Ich habe genug,” “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” and “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,” all masterpieces and all voted by ABS audiences to be their favorites. From their founding in 1989 at acoustically first-rate St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, ABS has extended its geographic range for regular performances as far as San Francisco, Berkeley, and... more
Mostly Motets, a North Bay a capella vocal ensemble, presented a Vespers concert January 25 in Petaluma’s First Presbyterian Church. Director Steve Moore conducted the well-rehearsed ensemble, consisting of twelve singers, in sacred works by Byrd, Dufay, Josquin, Tallis and Victoria – all leading composers of the fourteenth through early seventeenth centuries. Polyphonic works written primarily for unaccompanied voices, motets were often sung in Latin, and were liturgical in character.
American Bach Soloists, based in Belvedere, performed J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor January 16 to a full house in St. Stephen’s Church. Known for its colossal dimensions and encyclopedic stylistic variety, the great Mass intersperses compelling choral sections with vocal solos highlighted by beautiful and engaging instrumental accompaniment. The use of period instruments, including strings, oboes, natural horn (corno da caccia), natural trumpets, flutes, bassoons, tympani and chamber organ ensur... more
On Sept. 5, the Sonoma Classical Music Society presented the baroque chamber ensemble Musica Pacifica in a delightful concert. Recorder virtuoso Judith Linsenberg (a Bay Area resident and graduate of Stanford’s early music program), brilliant baroque violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock (of American Bach Soloists and Philharmonia Baroque fame), baroque cellist and viola da gambist David Morris (one of the Bay Area’s finest baroque specialists), and harpsichordist Yuko Tanaka (replacing Charles Sherma... more
The American Bach Soloists rounded out their 19th season on May 16 with 'Sound the Trumpet,' a concert of baroque music featuring the natural trumpet. The natural trumpet is a horrendously difficult instrument to play, and it took a generation of modern players to tame its idiosyncrasies. I remember attending concerts of early music years ago where the trumpet player was never quite able to play perfectly in tune, or command the required technique. Today this has changed, with the emergence in t... more
I thought it was one of the most enjoyable concerts the ABS has done in awhile, mostly because of the choice of music and the variety. Jeffrey Thomas always mixes things up and you never know how he is going to approach a given piece. He is after the surprises in the music and nothing taken for granted.
One of my favorite things to focus on is the instruments that are played so well. The natural trumpets have a few holes and played by the right hand only. For them to be able to pl... more