I've been attending Cal Bach concerts for the last six or seven years, starting when Warren Stewart was still the group's artistic director. Cal Bach is an excellent chorus that has had a series of terrific artistic directors, and those directors' programming has always been varied and interesting.
The all-Bach concert of about ten days ago, at St. Mark's in Berkeley, was sung with such astonishing purity and beauty of tone, such unanimity of intonation and phrasing, and such rhythmic spring and responsiveness that it's clear Cal Bach has made the jump from excellence to greatness. Artistic director Paul Flight led with both vigor and passion. And I have never heard a chorus make a more beautiful sound, both unified and transparent.
It was a great program all around, with Rita Lilly, Adam Coles, and Brian Staufenbiel as the soloists, consisting of Cantata 71, Gott ist mein Koenig, the motet Komm, Jesu, Komm, and Cantata 21, Ich hatte viel Berkuemmernis. They are all marvelous, with magnificent (and plentiful) choral writing - and get that soprano/tenor duet in Cantata 21, a duet between the soul and Jesus.
Cal Bach is holding auditions on Saturday, Nov. 1, in Palo Alto. If you'd like to sing with a great group and you have strong sight-singing skills, it might be the group for you.
(Full disclosure: I sing in Chora Nova, another of Paul's choruses. I can tell you that our sound is headed in the same direction as Cal Bach's, thanks to Paul's direction.)