The 2016–2017 home season of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) will begin at the end of this month. Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and Music Director and Principal Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe have prepared four programs, each organized around an integrating theme and all bringing an impressive and diverse lineup of gust artists to San Francisco. As in the past the season will be a “moveable feast,” performing at three different venues in the city of San Francisco.
The season will begin at the end of this month with a program entitled Love’s Journey. That journey will survey the efforts of both poets and composers to address such diverse aspects as unrequited love, yearning love, betrayed love, difficult love, and waning love. The featured guest artist will be blind mezzo Laurie Rubin, who has established a significant career in both opera and art song. The international scope of her efforts includes serving as co-Artistic Director (and co-founder) of the Musique a la Mode Chamber Music Ensemble in New York and as Associated Artistic Director (and, again, co-founder) of Ohana Arts in Honolulu.
The program for this concert will include one of Rubin’s original compositions. Other selections will include Gustav Holst’s Seven Part Songs, Leoš Janáček’s “The Wolf’s Trail,” a comic tale of cuckoldry, John Zorn’s “Colombina,” a reflection on the amorous commedia dell’arte character (who also makes a “guest appearance” in Arnold Schoenberg’s Opus 21 Pierrot Lunaire), and Darius Milhaud’s “Devant sa Main Nue” (before his bare hand), as well as works by Claude Debussy and Ernest Chausson. Instrumental accompaniment will be provided by the Magik*Magik Orchestra.
This concert will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 29. The venue will be Herbst Theatre in the Veterans Building on the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. (This corner is convenient to Muni lines running both north-south and east-west.) General admission will be $26 with $36 for premium reserved seating and $18 for students. Student tickets will be sold only at the door, but other tickets may be purchased in advance online from a City Box Office event page. The remaining programs for the season are as follows:
A Highlands Holiday: This will be the annual seasonal visit by SFGC to Davies Symphony Hall. Consistent with the program’s title, the guest artist will be bagpiper Matthew Welch. He has composed a new work for bagpipers and chorus, which will be given its world premiere. Welch himself will perform along with local pipers. The program will also include Benjamin Britten’s Opus 63 Missa Brevis, originally scored for boys’ voices and organ. There will also be other holiday offerings, primarily from the United Kingdom. This concert will take place in Davies at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, December 19. Davies is located on the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street. It is also convenient to north-south and east-west Muni lines, as well as the Civic Center station for both Muni and BART.
Out of Darkness: The annual Christmas program will be followed by one for the Lenten period. The program will feature Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 78 settings of three Psalms for mixed chorus with organ accompaniment. Poulenc’s Litanies à la vierge noire (litanies for the black Virgin) were also composed for organ with female or children’s voices. The program will include additional Psalm settings by Arvo Pärt, Johannes Brahms, and Edvard Grieg. The organist for this program will be Paul Vasile. The San Francisco performance of this program will take place at Mission Dolores (Misión San Francisco de Asís), in the Mission on the southwest corner of Dolores Street and 16th Street, beginning at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 25.
Mystics and Ecstatics: This program will feature the United States premiere of Seal Songs by Glasgow-based composer Emily Doolittle, scored for youth chorus and instruments. This will also involve the West Coast debut of the Trinity Youth Chorus from Trinity Wall Street in Manhattan, whose Director is Melissa Attebury. The Trinity Wall Street choruses have undertaken some impressive exercises in improvisation; and soprano Mellissa Hughes will lead the joint choruses in several such improvisations. The program will also include John Tavener’s Hymns of Paradise and Antonio Vivaldi’s familiar setting of the Gloria section of the Mass. The other vocal soloist will be bass Jonathan Woody. For this final concert SFGC will return to Herbst Theatre for a 4 p.m. performance on Sunday, June 4.
Because the first concert has not yet taken place, subscriptions are still on sale. A full-season subscription costs $150. These subscriptions may be purchased online through a separate City Box Office Bundle page.