This morning the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (SFCO) used electronic mail to announce its plans for the 2016–2017 season. Under Music Director Benjamin Simon SFCO is dedicated to making classical music accessible to audiences of all ages and background across the Bay Area by providing fully professional, admission-free concerts and educational programming. One of the major contributions to San Francisco comes from the four performances in the Main Stage Concerts series. Content involves an imaginative combination of classical masterpieces, unusual gems, and recent compositions, all introduced by imaginative and engaging onstage talks delivered by Simon at each performance.
For the coming season all San Francisco performances will take place in Herbst Theatre. They will all begin at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday evening. Specifics, in chronological order, are as follows:
October 28: The concerto soloist for this program will be jazz violinist Evan Price. He will perform his own concerto, commissioned by SFCO and receiving its world premiere, written explicitly for the technical capabilities of a violinist accustomed to playing jazz. The second half of the program will be devoted to the orchestral suite that Igor Stravinsky compiled from the score he composed for the ballet “Pulcinella.”
December 30: The annual holiday concert, presented in memory of SFCO Founder Edgar Braun, will consist entirely of music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It will begin with the K. 504 (“Prague”) symphony in D major. Bass Brad Walker will then sing the K. 612 concert aria “Per questa bella mano” (this beautiful hand). Instrumentation for this aria includes solo work for double bass, which will be played by Michel Taddei. For the second half of the program, pianist Robert Schwartz will be the soloist in a performance of the K. 466 concerto in D minor.
February 24: The title of this concert will be Wordsmiths; and both soloists will be vocalists, mezzo Lara Nie and tenor Brian Thorsett. Both of them will perform the world premiere of The Dream Mechanic, Four Poems by Carol Vanderveer Hamilton, another piece commissioned by SFCO, composed this time by Peter Josheff. For this particular composition, however, the only singing will be by Thorsett, with Nie serving as narrator. However, she will open the program by singing a selection of arrangements of French folk songs from the Auvergne prepared by Joseph Canteloube. The second half of the program will be devoted entirely to Franz Schubert’s D. 810 string quartet in D minor, arranged for the entire SFCO string section by Simon. The “verbal connection” for this piece is that it was inspired by Schubert’s K. 531 song “Der Tod und das Mädchen,” using the passage sung by Death as the basis for a set of variations in the second movement.
April 28: The final concert of the season is entitled The Lighter Side, taking its lead from the 1949 musical comedy Always Leave Them Laughing. The featured composer on the program will be P. D. Q. Bach, Peter Schickele’s invention of the “only forgotten son” of the Bach family. The program will begin with the “Howdy” symphony in D major (S. 6⅞) and conclude with the sportscaster’s account of the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 67 (fifth) symphony in C minor. The program will also include Mozart’s K. 522 divertimento in F major best known as “A Musical Joke;” and Joseph Haydn’s Hoboken III/38 in B-flat major, nicknamed “The Joke.” Between the Mozart and Haydn selections, Simon has programmed the set of variations on “Happy Birthday” that Peter Heidrich composed in the styles of some of the best-known composers in the repertoire.
Once again, admission for these concerts is free to all. Supporting members receive priority seating and priority entrance 60 minutes before concert time. They are admitted upon presentation of their membership cards. General seating begins 45 minutes before concert time. The one exception will be for the December holiday concert, at which the doors will open for everyone at 6:30 p.m.; and seating will be handled on a first-come first-served basis until all places have been occupied. In this case those with membership cards will be admitted at 6:15 p.m. Herbst Theatre is located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the northwest corner of McAllister Street.