Carmel Bach Festival announces 86th Season | July 15-29, 2023

Carmel Bach Festival Announces 86th Season, July 15-29, 2023

Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. — The Carmel Bach Festival is thrilled to present its 86th season titled, “beginnings,” July 15-29, 2023. General ticket sales open April 1. 

Enjoy more than 50 events including Main Concerts, Chamber Concerts, pre-concert talks, open masterclasses by the Virginia Best Adams Masterclass and Baroque & Classical Academy, the Family Concert, and more.  


“The Festival's theme, ‘beginnings,’ will reveal how composers and performers are innovative, creative, and affirming,” said Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Grete Pedersen. “They can show us paths, familiar and unknown, outwards to the world and inwards to ourselves.  

I am delighted and humbled to become a part of Carmel Bach Festival's rich and fascinating tradition. Together with our highly skilled musicians, staff, and volunteers, I very much look forward to meeting you this summer in a soundscape of old and new ‘beginnings.’” 


Clara Rottsolk



Meg Bragle



Thomas Cooley



Jesse Blumberg



Enrico Lagasca



Five gifted vocal soloists will be featured throughout the Festival: Soprano Clara Rottsolk, Mezzo-Soprano Meg Bragle, Tenor Thomas Cooley, Baritone Jesse Blumberg, and Bass-Baritone Enrico Lagasca.


THE CREATION | Saturdays, July 15 & 22

“This is not just another production of Haydn’s Creation,” says Artistic Director Grete Pedersen. In this inspired rendition of Haydn’s Creation featuring the Festival Orchestra, Chorale, Chorus, and Vocal Soloists, Pedersen highlights Haydn’s brilliant work with elements of modern-day technology and scientific discovery.  

FATHER AND SON | Sundays, July 16 & 23

Artistic Advisor and Director of Choral Activities Andrew Megill leads a program titled “Father and Son” in special Sunday afternoon performances inspired by C.P.E. Bach’s 1786 concert in Hamburg honoring his father, J.S. Bach. The concert celebrates the Bach family’s legacy and the musical bond between father and son. 

CONCERTOS AND COFFEE | Mondays, July 17 & 24

Concertmaster Peter Hanson presents Bach’s miniature comic opera “Coffee Cantata” featuring Soprano Clara Rottsolk, Tenor Thomas Cooley, and Bass-Baritone Enrico Lagasca. Also featured are an organ concerto performed by Andrew Arthur, a double trumpet concerto, and the delightful Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. 

BACH DIALOGUES | Tuesdays, July 18 & 25

Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Grete Pedersen will direct Bach Dialogues on Tuesday nights at the Sunset Center. This concert pairs J.S. Bach’s masterpiece Magnificat with stunning music by Helmet Friedrich Lachenmann, Franz Schubert, Mahler, and others 


Andrew Megill directs “In the Beginning: Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs,” a program featuring the Festival Chorale on Wednesday evenings at the historic Carmel Mission Basilica. 

“This year, the theme is exploring the history of sacred music by American composers,” says Andrew Megill. “The centerpiece of the program is Aaron Copland’s In The Beginning, which is an American masterpiece that sets the creation story. It’s a wonderful counterpoint to opening night’s Haydn Creation. It will feature Mezzo-Soprano Meg Bragle, and the fantastic artistry of the Festival Chorale.” 

THE HUMAN VOICE | Thursdays, July 20 & 27

Edwin Huizinga, violin, and William Coulter, guitar, (Fire & Grace) return with another in their series of wildly popular, sold-out concerts with a program entitled The Human Voice featuring the famous San Francisco Girls Chorus (Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Artistic Director).

The concerts will be joyous and transcendent experiences for the musicians and patrons!” says Fire & Grace violinist, Edwin Huizinga. “The stellar San Francisco Girls Chorus, my dear colleague Guitarist William Coulter, and talented CBF Musicians will take center stage for a program of unforgettable songs celebrating music throughout the ages, from the 13th century to the present, through the lens of the human voice.”  


In this orchestra-focused program, Maestra Pedersen and the Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra present “Mozart, Rehnqvist, Mahler: Breaking the Ice” featuring Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, Breaking the Ice by groundbreaking Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist, and two charming works by Gustav Mahler: Blumine (Flower) from Symphony No. 1 and his tuneful and engaging Symphony No. 4.  

BEST OF THE FEST | Saturday, July 29

Grete Pedersen presents favorite selections from the 2023 Festival in this traditional closing night concert that celebrates music, Carmel, the musicians of the Bach Festival, and the Festival’s loyal patrons. The program is a sampler of favorites from throughout the two-week Festival. The concert is followed by a celebratory reception on the Sunset Center Terrace toasting the conclusion of the 86th Festival. 


The Festival is excited to offer a full schedule of Chamber Concert programming this season including three special Pre-Fest performances. Pre-Fest Chamber performances will be presented at Wave Street Studios on July 7th and 14th. At the Church in the Forest on July 12th, concertmaster Peter Hanson and Principal Keyboardist Andrew Arthur present an exclusive concert “Duos in the Forest” featuring works for violin and fortepiano.  

Several Chamber Concerts will be presented by Festival musicians and Vocal Soloists every day during the Festival at a variety of venues including the Sunset Center Foyer, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Sunset Theater, Church in the Forest, Carmel Mission Basilica, and San Carlos Cathedral. 

Pre-Fest Chamber Concerts

  • Friday July 7, Wave Street Studios, 7:30pm | FreshTraditions: Hope to Hope - Ginger Kroft, clarinet, with violin, viola, cello, and soprano  
  • Wednesday July 12, Church in the Forest, 5pm |Duos in the Forest – Concertmaster Peter Hanson, violin, Andrew Arthur, fortepiano 
  • Friday July 14, Wave Street Studios, 7:30pm | Brahms Horn Trio - Gabrielle Wunsch, violin, with violin, horn, trombone, and piano  

Sunset Center Foyer Concerts, 1:30 PM

  • Mondays July 17 & 24 | Mozart and the Bachs Fortepiano Recital – Dongsok Shin, fortepiano  
  • Tuesdays July 18 & 25 | First to Print – Daniel Swenberg, archlute, with soprano  
  • Wednesdays July 19 & 26 | String Duos: Cello and Company – Timothy Roberts, cello with string quartet   
  • Thursdays July 20 & 27 | Pleasures of Pan – Dawn Loree Walker, flute, Dan Levitan, harp  
  • Fridays July 21 & 28 | All in the Family – Stephen Schultz, baroque flute with violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord  

All Saints’ Chamber Concerts, 3:00 PM, except Sundays, 8:00 PM

  • Sundays July 16 & 23 | Hymn Fugue and Fancy – Adriane R. Post and Johanna Novom, violin, Kyle Miller, viola, Paul Dwyer, cello 
  • Monday July 17 | FreshTraditions: Hope to Hope - Ginger Kroft, clarinet, with violin, viola, cello, and soprano  
  • Monday July 24 | Brahms Horn Trio - Gabrielle Wunsch, violin, with violin, horn, trombone, and piano  
  • Tuesdays July 18 & 25 | Allen Whear Memorial Recital - Cynthia Roberts violin, with violin, viola, and cello 
  • Wednesdays July 19 & 26 | Bach Cantatas – Andrew Arthur, director and keyboard, with four Vocal Soloists and chamber orchestra   
  • Thursdays July 20 & 27 | Hindemith in Love - Sarah Darling, viola, with 2 violins, cello, oboe, and soprano 
  • Fridays July 21 & 28 | Into the Light: Songs of Beginnings – Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano, violins, viola, harpsichord, and piano 

Sunset Center Theater, 3:00 PM

Saturdays July 22 & 29 | Harmoniemusik: Mozart’s Gran Partita – Ginger Kroft, clarinet, with wind octet and contrabass  

Carmel Mission Basilica, 11:00 AM

Mondays July 17 & 24 | All Bach Organ Recital – Andrew Arthur, organ 

Church in the Forest, 5:00 PM

Wednesdays July 19 & 26 | Quintets in the Forest – Concertmaster Peter Hanson and string quintet  

San Carlos Cathedral, 5:00 PM

Thursdays July 20 & 27 | Twilight in the Cathedral – Andrew Arthur, director and keyboards, with Festival Orchestra Musicians   


Family Concert | July 22, 11 AM

The Family Concert returns to the Sunset Center on Saturday, July 22 at 11 AM featuring The Epic Adventures of Leonard and Rasmus: The Hidden Forest.

Young Artists' Showcase | July 23, 12 PM

The Young Artists’ Showcase takes place on Sunday, July 23 at 12 PM in the Sunset Theater presenting outstanding student musicians from the Central Coast Section of the California Music Education Association. Young Artists chosen to perform during the Festival will be selected by audition and one distinguished performer will earn a cash prize. Barbara Priest, instrumental music teacher at Pacific Grove Middle School, directs the competition.

Youth Chorale Showcase | July 27, 5 PM

The Youth Chorale will present a free showcase performance Thursday, July 27 at 5 PM at the Church of the Wayfarer. This is an intensive choir program designed for young singers from 6th to 12th grade. These budding vocalists will have the opportunity to work with award-winning director Tom Lehmkuhl and world-class vocalists from the Festival’s professional Chorale in masterclass sessions all while immersing themselves in the Festival atmosphere and concert-going experience.

Baroque & Classical Academy Showcase | July 28, 1 PM

Edwin Huizinga directs the second annual Baroque & Classical Academy Showcase Concert at Carmel Presbyterian Church Friday, July 28 at 1 PM. Four outstanding string musicians (2 violins, viola, cello) will participate in a series of free public masterclasses, receive private lessons and chamber music coaching, and be featured in a Showcase concert.

Virginia Best Adams Masterclass Showcase | July 29, 12PM

Michael Beattie returns as director of the Virginia Best Adams Masterclass, a Festival training program for young vocalists. The VBA program selects four vocal musicians from hundreds of applications. There are six free and open working sessions and a special Showcase Concert Saturday, July 29 at 12 PM. This year's VBA participants are Soprano Emily Donato, Countertenor Nicholas Burns, Tenor Matthew Newhouse, and Bass-Baritone Christopher Talbot.


  • Discounted ticket prices are available for students, active and retired military, and children.
  • Health and safety continue to be our priority. COVID-19 safety protocols are subject to change at any time, and we will keep all patrons informed of these changes.
  • Tickets go on sale to the general public on April 1, 2023. Concert tickets range from $10 – $140.
  • Most Main Concerts will be presented without intermission and run about 75 minutes.


The Carmel Bach Festival (CBF) began in 1935 as a four-day series of concerts at the Sunset School Auditorium and the Carmel Mission Basilica. Over the years, it grew to a two-week celebration of concerts, recitals, master classes, lectures, and open rehearsals in July. The Festival’s mission is to celebrate the works, inspiration, and ongoing influence of Johann Sebastian Bach worldwide by immersing audiences in a festival experience integrating music, education, and ideas.

The Festival is the longest-running summer music festival in California.


For more information, visit The 86th season takes place July 15—29, 2023.