The Elevate Ensemble, founded by its Artistic Director Chad Goodman, is about to begin its third concert season. That’s not bad for what, in many respects, is a pickup ensemble with a passionate interest in repertoire, much of which gets almost no attention from any of the other groups in this town. Furthermore, from its inception, the group has supported a Composer-in-Residence to add to that repertoire. Thus, while there tends to be a play-it-as-it-goes approach to planning, there seems to be a consistent reliability in the design of each program the group prepares.
The title of the first concert of the third season is Stravinsky: Reconstructed. The entire program is organized around both the letter and the spirit behind the octet that Igor Stravinsky completed in 1923 for an unconventional assembly of woodwind and brass instruments. The eight parts of the piece are for flute, clarinet (alternating between B-flat and A), two bassoons, two trumpets (one in C and the other in A), and two trombones (one tenor and one bass). The first of the three movements is a pre-classical Sinfonia modeled on the overtures of George Frideric Handel and consisting of a Lento introduction followed by a contrapuntal Allegro moderato. The second movement is a set of variations of a theme, which leads to a Tempo giusto Finale movement.
The Elevate Ensemble program will begin with an assortment of virtuosic solo and duo compositions that will showcase the talents of the eight participating performers. The first half of the program will conclude with their all coming together to perform the world premiere of Aaron Gervais’ “Don’t Look At.” The second half of the program will then begin with Stravinsky’s octet. This will be followed by the world premiere of “ATUM: Everything and Nothing.” This is a concerto for piano-four-hands accompanied by that same octet, written by Composer-in-Residence Nick Vasallo. Vasallo’s title comes from the name of the Ancient Egyptian God of Creation. The concerto soloists will be the ZOFO Duet of Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi. Those familiar with ZOFO probably know that the duo made its debut with a performance of the four-hand version of Stravinsky’s score for the ballet “The Rite of Spring,” which was also featured on their debut album, Mind Meld: Works for One Piano, Four Hands.
This program will be given only one performance at 7 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. General admission will be $35, but there will be a special Early Bird rate of $25 for tickets purchased on or before September 18. Tickets may be purchased online through an Eventbrite event page. This page also has an option for a Season Subscription for $144.50, suggesting that there will be a total of five concerts in the 2016–2017 season. Unfortunately, neither the dates nor the programming for the remaining four concerts have yet been announced; and there is a good chance that the programming is still being planned. Subscribing will thus be a bit like placing a bet; but, on the basis of what the Elevate Ensemble has achieved thus far, there is no question that the bet will be a good one.