Those who used to follow my articles on Examiner.com know that, at a certain point, the season starts to get so busy that specific days, particularly those on the weekend, require making hard choices. I can remember when such “density” of events usually did not arise until late winter or early spring; but I recall writing at least one “hard choices” article about a year ago. This season the first Sunday in November is the one that will require choices. As reported yesterday, this will be the date of the first revival performance of the 2014 production of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly by the San Francisco Opera. However, given that this will be the first of ten opportunities, there are three other alternatives worth considering, all of which happen to begin at 3 p.m. The options are as follows:
- Old First Concerts will celebrate its 46th year with a special benefit event. This is being called a Piano Party & Champagne Reception. Both the acoustics of Old First Church and the Old First Concerts series have served pianists well and offered them a fine Steinway instrument. The Piano Party will thus feature eight well-known Bay Area musicians who have played this instrument for Old First Concerts. The performers will include Sarah Cahill, Luciano Chessa, William Wellborn, Daniel Glover, Peter Grunberg, Heidi Hau, Mack McCray and Robert Schwartz. Chessa will play his own solo piano arrangement of the “Siciliana” movement from his partita. The program will also include selected preludes by Claude Debussy, excerpts from George Lewis’ Endless Shout, and some of Mikhail Pletnev’s transcriptions of music from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s score for the ballet The Nutcracker, as well as selected pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, Adolf Schulz-Evler, and others. This concert will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 6. The Old First Church is located at 1751 Sacramento Street on the southeast corner of Van Ness Boulevard. General admission will be $35 (including seniors) with a $10 charge for full-time students showing valid identification. Children aged twelve and under will still be admitted for free. Tickets may be purchased online from the event page for this concert on the Old First Concerts Web site. There is also a discount available for those parking at the Old First Parking Garage at 1725 Sacramento Street, just up the street for the church.
- At the same time Symphony Parnassus will be giving the first concert of its 2016–17 season. The featured soloist will be mezzo Silvie Jensen, who will perform in two compositions by Gustav Mahler. In the first half of the program she will sing the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (songs of a wayfarer) a cycle of four songs that Mahler composer for his own texts. The second half of the program will be devoted to Mahler’s fourth symphony with Jensen taking the vocal part in the last of the four movements. The program will begin with the rollicking overture that Leonard Bernstein composed for the musical Candide. This 3 p.m. concert on Sunday, November 6 will take place at Herbst Theatre, located at 401 Van Ness Avenue, on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Tickets are $25 with a $20 rate for seniors aged 65 and older and a $10 rate for those under the age of 26. Tickets may be purchased from a City Box Office event page. In addition, because this is the first concert of the season, subscriptions are also on sale for $75. These may be purchased from a separate Web page, which has hyperlinks providing information about the remaining concerts in the season.
- Finally, the Morrison Chamber Music Center will be presenting the second concert in this season’s annual Morrison Artists Series. This will be a visit from Washington, DC of four members of the Inscape ensemble, a quartet of clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. They will perform the composition best associated with this instrumentation, Olivier Messiaen’s “Quatuor pour le fin du temps” (quartet for the end of time). They will also play a more recent work requiring the same instruments, Paul Moravec’s “Tempest Fantasy,” which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Music. This concert will begin at 3 p.m. in the Creative Arts Building at San Francisco State University 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. An event page has been created showing which seats in the McKenna Theatre are currently available. As usual, there will be a pre-concert talk at 2 p.m.; and the Inscape musicians will give a Master Class at noon in Knuth Recital Hall, also in the Creative Arts Building and open to the general public at no charge.