This past March San Francisco Performances (SFP) launched a new concert series called PIVOT: New Adventures in the Performing Arts. Four programs were produced to present distinctive performances with young artists who are experimenting with new programming ideas, repertoire, and ways of interacting with audiences in intimate new art spaces throughout San Francisco. All four of those programs were given during that month of March, three in the recently opened Strand Theater, using both the Rembe Mainstage and the more intimate Rueff Room, and one in the Miner Auditorium of the SFJAZZ Center.
The 2016–17 PIVOT series will begin next month. There will again be four concerts, two in October, one in March, and one planned for April. Venues will again be provided by both the Strand Theater and the SFJAZZ Center. Details for the April program, including the specific date, have not yet been announced. However, information about the first three events is as follows:
Saturday, October 8, 8:30 p.m., Strand Theatre Rembe Stage: SFP will present the San Francisco debut of Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. The title of the program will be the same as that of his Archiv Produktion album that was released in May of 2015, Time Present and Time Past. However, while the recording included concerto performances with Concerto Köln and solo performances, he will perform only solo for SFP. However, the pièce de résistance of the album will be included in the recital. This is the version for harpsichord that he made of Steve Reich’s 1967 composition “Piano Phase.” Most likely his performance will follow the same strategy he used on his recording, which will involve him performing against two recorded tracks that create the phase-shifting patterns of the repeated motif that Reich composed for this piece. Reich’s “phase” pieces may be described as “minimalism at its most minimal” and continue to be both controversial and provocative. Esfahani’s performance of “Piano Phase” in Berlin nearly caused a riot! The other “time present” composers on the program will be Lou Harrison (time recent?), Toru Takemitsu, and Kaija Saariaho. The “time past” composers will be William Byrd, Domenico Scarlatti, and two members of the Bach family, Johann Sebastian and his son Wilhelm Friedemann. The program will be played without an intermission and should last between 60 and 75 minutes, after which Esfahani will hold a post-performance demonstration and entertain questions from the audience.
Sunday, October 9, 2 p.m., Strand Theatre Rembe Stage: Meng Su, best known as half of the Beijing Guitar Duo (formerly SFP Artists-in-Residence), will give a solo recital following the evolution of the guitar repertoire. She will begin with arrangements of selected movements from Sebastian Bach’s BWV 1006a lute suite in E major; and her journey will move forward in time, culminating in the world premiere of “Sun Wukong’s Toccata,” composed by the Brazilian guitar master Sérgio Assad. This program will also be played without an intermission and last between 60 and 75 minutes, followed by post-performance engagement with the audience.
Sunday, March 5, 7 p.m., SFJAZZ Center Miner Auditorium: This will be a solo recital by pianist and vocalist Gabriel Kahane. He will begin by performing both parts of Robert Schumann’s best-known song cycle, his Opus 48 Dichterliebe (poet’s love). Following an intermission, he will then perform his own song cycle, Craigslistlieder, seven settings of texts taken from classified ads on Craigslist. He will also include several additional songs of his own composition. This program is expected to be 75 minutes long including the intermission.
Tickets for all PIVOT performances are $25 for general admission. The event page for the PIVOT series has hyperlinks for purchasing tickets for each of the three announced concerts. The Strand Theater is located at 1127 Market Street, between 7th Street and 8th Street. The SFJAZZ Center is at 201 Franklin Street on the northwest corner of Fell Street. Further information is available by calling 415-392-2545.