Like the current month, the month of May will get off to a busy start with a very full three-day weekend. Once again, several of those events are already “on record” thanks to the monthly summaries that have already appeared. Thus, the Red Poppy Art House will be hosting events on both Friday and Saturday; and performances at the Center for New Music will be held on Saturday and Sunday. However, these amount to the tip of a far more imposing iceberg, the rest of which will now be summarized as follows:
Friday, May 4, 8 p.m., Grace Cathedral: American Bach Soloists (ABS) will host a special one-of-a-kind benefit performance by baritone William Sharp. Sharp has been a longtime member of the faculty of the ABS Academy held every summer and has appeared frequently as soloist at the ABS Summer Festival and the subscription concerts. Sharp is preparing a program in which he will perform arias by Johann Sebastian Bach that are personal favorites. In addition the solo BWV 82 cantata Ich habe genug (I have enough) will be performed in its entirety. This cantata also includes an obbligato oboe solo, which will be played by Stephen Hammer. The remainder of the accompaniment will include one-to-a-part performances by two violins (Tatiana Chulochnikova and Noah Strick) and viola (Katherine Kyme). Continuo will be provided by William Skeen on cello, Steven Lehning on violone, and Corey Jamason on organ. Proceeds from this event will be used to support the ABS Academy.
As of this writing, all Premium tickets, which offer a variety of benefits both before and after the performance, have been sold. However, tickets for those who wish to attend only the performance are still available for $50. They may be purchased through an event page on the ABS Web site. Those holding these tickets will be admitted only after 7:30 p.m., because there is an event for the Premium ticket holders that begins at 7 p.m. Those who wish to inquire whether any last-minute Premium tickets are available are invited to call 800-595-4849 (4TIX). Grace Cathedral is located at 1100 California Street, at the top of Nob Hill; and the performance will take place in the Chapel of Grace.
Friday, May 4, 8 p.m., McKenna Theatre: The final concert in the 2017–2018 season of the Morrison Artists Series, presented by the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University (SFSU), will be a visit from New York by the New Millennium Ensemble. This group is a sextet consisting of two winds (flute and clarinet), two strings (violin and cello), piano, and percussion. The clarinet will be featured in Johannes Brahms’ Opus 114, his A minor trio for clarinet, cello, and piano. Flute and violin will share solo work in the trio sonata included in Bach’s BWV 1079, known as The Musical Offering. The entire sextet will play Pierre Boulez’ “Dérive” and Richard Festinger’s “A Serenade for Six.” The program will also include Festinger’s “Tapestries,” scored for violin, cello, and piano.
The McKenna Theatre is in the Creative Arts Building at SFSU, a short walk from the SFSU Muni stop at the corner of 19th Avenue and Holloway Avenue. Tickets are free but advance registration is highly desirable. Reservations may be made through the event page for this concert. As usual, Festinger, who is Artistic Director of the Morrison Artists Series, will give a pre-concert lecture, which will begin at 7:30 p.m.. Also as usual, all of the Ensemble members will give a collective Master Class, which will be held at 2 p.m. on the day of the performance. This two-hour session will also take place in the Creative Arts Building, and will be open to the general public at no charge and with no requirements for tickets.
Friday, May 4, 8 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church: The San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) will conclude its concert season with a special event entitled Breathtaking: A Cornetto and a Voice Entwined. The cornetto will be played by Bruce Dickey, and the vocalist will be soprano Hana Blažíková. They have prepared a program that will include early seventeenth-century motets and madrigals for voice and cornetto, as well as some rare, late seventeenth-century arias from operas and oratorios with obbligato parts written explicitly for the cornetto. Composers include Biagio Marini, Nicolò Corradini, Giovanni Battista Bassani, Giacomo Carissimi, Tarquinio Merula, Alessandro Scarlatti, and Maurizio Cazzati. Instrumental accompaniment will be provided by violinists Ingrid Matthews and Tekla Cunningham, Joanna Blendulf on gamba, Michael Sponseller on organ and harpsichord, and Stephen Stubbs on theorbo and guitar.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. General admission will be $45 with discounted rates of $40.50 for seniors, $38.25 for SFEMS members, and $15 for students. A Web page has been created for online purchases.
Friday, May 4, 8 p.m., St. Cyprian’s Church: SF Live Arts at Cyprian’s (formerly the Noe Valley Music Series) will present a concert that will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, as well as the release of the group’s latest CD, In Transverse Time. Quartet members Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, Steve Adams, and Bruce Ackley have consistently maintained the group’s reputation as one of the world’s leaders in improvised music. Their performance will feature tracks from the new CD but also reprise vintage Rova material from the vaults.
The concert will take place in Cyprian’s Center, which is located downstairs at 2097 Turk Street (the address of the church itself) at the corner of Lyon Street in NOPA (NOrth of the PAnhandle). Admission will be $20 at the door but $16 if purchased in advance. Advance purchase may be made online through a Brown Paper Tickets event page. Students, seniors, and children under the age of twelve will be admitted for $14.
Friday, May 4, 8 p.m., Noe Valley Ministry: The Volti a cappella choir will conclude its 39th season with a program entitled Bay and Beyond. The six pieces on the program were all written by composers with strong ties to be Bay Area. Two of the selections will be world premieres of pieces written under Volti commissions. The first of these will be Danny Clay’s “Playbook Choruses,” which will be followed by “Chant des Voyelles” (chant of vowels) by Žibuoklé Martinaityté. The program will also include Robin Estrada’s “Caeli enarrant,” which was composed on a 2017 Volti commission. The final selections will be “Mexico City Blues,” composed by Terry Riley in 1993, which will be followed by the two Henry Cowell songs that were sung by Volti at Bard Music West at the beginning of this month, “Psalm 121” and “The Morning Cometh.”
The Noe Valley Ministry is located in Noe Valley at 1021 Sanchez Street, near the corner of 23rd Street. General admission will be $30 with discounted rates of $25 for seniors aged 65 or older, $15 for those under the age of 35, and $10 for children and currently enrolled high school and college students up to the age of 21. Tickets at all prices may be purchased in advance through a Brown Paper Tickets event page.
Saturday, May 5, 7 p.m., Calvary Presbyterian Church: The San Francisco Bach Choir will conclude its 2017–2018 season with a performance of Bach’s BWV 245 setting of the Passion text from the Gospel of John. Dramatic soloists will be tenor Kyle Stegall as the Evangelist, bass Christòpheren Nomura as Jesus, and bass Caleb Lewis as Pilate. Aria soloists will be soprano Rita Lilly, mezzo Heidi Waterman, tenor John St. Marie, and baritone Nikolas Nackley. Instrumental accompaniment will be provided by the Jubilate Orchestra.
Calvary Presbyterian Church is located at 2515 Fillmore Street, on the northwest corner of Jackson Street. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $30 with a $25 rate for seniors aged 62 or older. Both of these prices save $5 from the amount payable at the door. There is also a $10 rate for patrons under the age of 30 and students. In addition, youths under the age of 19 will be admitted for free, but only for tickets purchased in advance. Brown Paper Tickets has created an event page for all of these options. This page also allows for an Older Adult Choir Donation of $25 to cover the price of admission for a singing senior, as well as an Additional Donation of any amount specified. Tickets may also be purchased by calling SFBC at 855-473-2224 (855-4SF-BACH).
Saturday, May 5, 7:30 p.m., Grace Cathedral: Friction Quartet has prepared a special program to be performed in the Cathedral’s vast (if not intimidating) sanctuary. The featured work will be George Crumb’s “Black Angels,” which was explicitly composed for amplified string quartet. All members of the quartet are also required to play gongs and reverberating crystal glasses. Crumb’s title page notes explicitly that this music was composed during the Vietnam War; and he gave the piece the subtitle “Thirteen Images from the Dark Land.” The program will also include Max Stoffregen’s “California Crest,” inspired by the Pacific Coast Trail, and Ursula Kwong Brown’s “Emerald Meditations,” inspired by the Emerald Buddha statue in Thailand. There will be no admission charge for this concert, but a $20 donation from each attendee is suggested.
Saturday, May 5, 8 p.m., Herbst Theatre: Chamber Music San Francisco will present the debut of Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son. Son has prepared a diverse program that spans from the eighteenth century of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (the nine K. 264 variations on “Lison dormait”) to the bold modernist gestures of Arvo Pärt (“Variations for the Healing of Arinushka”) and Friedrich Gulda (selections from his collection of ten studies entitled Play Piano Play). The entrance to Herbst Theatre is on the ground floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Ticket prices are $48 (Orchestra and Boxes), $39 (Dress Circle), and $30 (Balcony). Tickets may be purchased online through a City Box Office event page, which includes a floor plan that shows whether each of the different sections has tickets available.
Sunday, May 6, 2 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall: This will be the next (but not the last) concert of chamber music performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). The program offers a stimulating blend of the traditional and the modern. It will include the percussion quartet “Ku-Ka Ilimoku” by Christopher Rouse, performed by Jacob Nissly, James Lee Wyatt III, Tom Hemphill, and Raymond Froelich. John Harbison’s second string quartet will be played by violinists Mariko Smiley and Sarn Oliver, violist Nancy Ellis, and cellist Margaret Tait. A more traditional string quartet, Antonín Dvořák’s Opus 51 (tenth) quartet in E-flat major, will be played by violinists Nadya Tichman and Amy Hiraga, violist Ellis, and cellist Peter Wyrick. The program will begin with Gabriel Fauré’s Opus 120 piano trio in D minor with pianist Mark Shapiro joining violinist Kelly Leon-Pearce and cellist Tait.
All tickets for this concert will be $40. They may be purchased online through the event page for this program on the SFS Web site, by calling 415-864-6000, or by visiting the Davies Box Office, whose entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. (This is also the main entrance to the hall itself.) The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Box Office will also be open two hours prior to the beginning of the concert.
Sunday, May 6, 7:30 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall: The following evening SFS will host a Great Performers Series recital by pianist Yuja Wang. She will open with her most traditional selection, Frédéric Chopin’s Opus 22 coupling of an Andante spianato with a Grande Polonaise. She will then move into more modernist territory, beginning with Alexander Scriabin’s Opus 70 (tenth) piano sonata. She will then perform three of György Ligeti’s finger-busting études, two from his first book and one from the second. She will conclude with the last of Sergei Prokofiev’s three “war” sonatas, Opus 84 in B-flat major. Ticket prices for this concert will be between $30 and $210 and may be purchased through a separate event page.