Sunday, January 8, 2017

February will Bring the First Busy Weekend of 2017

Readers may recall that the first “weekend of choices” of the 2016–17 season took place around the middle of last November. The first such weekend of the new year will be the second weekend of next month. The good news is that many of those events will be giving multiple performances throughout the weekend; and, for the record, the number of options is the same as it was in November. [added 1/11, 7:45 a.m.: Another event for Sunday just came to my attention, so the number of options now exceeds the November level!] [added 1/19, 7:30 a.m.: Word has just been received of another event for Sunday.] [added 2/8, 8:40 a.m.: Yet another Sunday events has been added to the list.] The result is that hard choices are likely to be involved; and, in one case, those interested are likely to have to be quick on the mouse button. In roughly chronological order, the options are as follows:

Friday, November 10, 8 p.m., San Francisco State University (SFSU): The Morrison Chamber Music Center will present the fourth concert in this season’s annual Morrison Artists Series. This will be the latest visit of the Juilliard String Quartet to San Francisco and the first opportunity to hear the ensemble’s new cellist, Astrid Schween. She will join violinists Joseph Lin and Ronald Copes and violist Roger Tapping in the Bay Area premiere of “Fragments,” Mario Davidovsky’s sixth quartet written on a Juilliard commission. This premiere will be framed by two familiar string quartets by Ludwig van Beethoven, Opus 95 (“Serioso”) in F minor and Opus 130 in B-flat major coupled with the Opus 133 “Große Fuge,” originally planned as the final movement of Opus 130.

This concert will take place in the McKenna Theatre 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. Beginning on January 20, reservations may be made through the event page for this concert. As usual, there will be a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. given by Richard Festinger, Artistic Director of the Morrison Artists Series; and the four musicians will give a collective Master Class at 10 a.m. on the morning of the concert. This two-hour session will also take place in Knuth Hall, also in the Creative Arts Building, and will be open to the general public at no charge and with no requirements for tickets.

Friday–Sunday, February 10–12, ODC Theater: While this site does not usually cover dance concerts, this particular event involves major collaborations with both composers and performers. The event will be the world premiere of “MEMORY/PLACE” performed by Nancy Karp + Dancers. Karp has created a one-hour work in three parts inspired by the current era of mass migrations. Karp commissioned composers Kui Dong and Robert Honstein to provide music for the first two parts, respectively. The final part has been choreographed to Lou Harrison’s “Grand Duo” for violin and piano. (Many readers probably already know that this is the centennial of Harrison’s birth on May 14, 1917.) The musicians that will accompany the six dancers performing Karp’s choreography will be pianist Sarah Cahill, violinist Kate Stenberg, and cellist Gianna Abondolo.

Performances will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 7 p.m. on Sunday. The ODC Theater is located in the Mission at 3153 17th Street on the southwest corner of Shotwell Street. Tickets for priority seating are $45. General admission will be $35 at the door or $30 if purchased in advance. The $30 rate also applies to seniors and students. The event page for “MEMORY/PLACE” has hyperlinks for advance purchase online for each of the three dates.

Friday–Sunday, February 10–12, YBCA Theater: This will also be the weekend of the first Opera Parallèle production in 2017. It will be a new staging of Jonathan Dove’s three-act opera Flight, first performed by the Glyndebourne Touring Opera on September 24, 1998. The libretto by April De Angelis was inspired by the plight of Mehran Karimi Nasseri. Trying to flee his home country Iran, Nasseri got as far as Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris but lacked the documents to leave the terminal. He lived in the airport for several years, always eluding arrest by immigration officials (all distilled into a single character in the libretto). (Those who recognize this story probably know it from The Terminal, a film made by Steven Spielberg with Tom Hanks as the protagonist.) The production team for this new staging will be Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel, and the conductor will be Artistic Director Nicole Paiement. Dove scored the protagonist’s role for a countertenor, and that part will be sung by Tai Oney.

Performances will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The YBCA Theater is located in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) at 700 Howard Street, on the northwest corner of Third Street. Tickets are priced between $35 and $140 based on the different sections of the theater. Tickets may be purchased online in advance through a single YBCA event page with hyperlinks for each date. Each of those three pages will display a seating plan, and mousing over the different areas of that plan will pop up the respective prices. Seniors and students will benefit from a 10% discount, and YBCA Members will enjoy a 20% discount.

Friday–Saturday, February 10–11, 9 p.m., SoundBox: This weekend will also see the beginning of a celebration by the San Francisco Symphony of the 70th birthday of composer John Adams on February 15. Adams himself will curate the February SoundBox event, which will feature his “Hallelujah Junction” for two pianos, selections from John’s Book of Alleged Dances for string quartet and pre-recorded audio, and “Ragamarole” for solo piano, to be performed by Robin Sutherland. The program will also include Andrew Norman’s chamber work “Try,” whose premiere was conducted by Adams in 2011. Two other composers will also be featured, Jacob Cooper (“Ripple the Sky”) and Ashley Fure (“Shiver Lung”). The conductor for these concert will be Christopher Rountree, and specifics about other performers have not yet been announced.

The SoundBox performing area is located in the rehearsal area of Davies Symphony Hall. The entrance is at 300 Franklin Street on the northeast corner of Hayes Street. All tickets are $45 for general admission. They will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday, January 23, at which time online purchase will be enabled on the SoundBox Web page. Tickets will also be sold at the Davies Box Office, whose entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue. The Box Office can also be reached by telephone at 415-503-5299. Those interested in attending should be advised that SoundBox tickets typically sell out within several hours.

Saturday, February 11, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theater: San Francisco Performances will present the second concert in its Piano Series, which will also be the third concert in Jonathan Biss’ four-part series, Late Style. This will be Biss’ solo recital, which will be framed by some of the last compositions by Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. The program will also include one of Frédéric Chopin’s last pieces, as well as selections from the most recent volume of short solo piano pieces by György Kurtág collected under the title Játékok (games). How “late” these are has yet to be determined, since Kurtág is still alive!

Herbst Theatre is located on the ground floor of the Veterans Building, which is located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Single tickets are being sold for $70, $55, and $40. They may be purchased in advance through a City Box Office event page. As is the case with the YBCA Theater, this Web page shows a seating plan with information about prices and availability in the different sections.

Sunday, February 12, 2 p.m., Legion of Honor: The Avedis Chamber Music Series will begin its 32nd season with its annual concert consisting entirely of music by Johann Sebastian Bach. The performers will be flutist Alexandra Hawley, soprano Désirée Goyette, pianist Paul Hersh, and the members of the Thalea String Quartet (violinists Christopher Whitley and Kumiko Sakamoto, violist Luis Bellorin, and cellist Bridget Pasker). The instrumental selections will be the trio sonata from the BWV 1079 collection The Musical Offering, the BWV 1067 orchestral suite in B minor, which features solo flute work, and the BWV 1050 “Brandenburg” concerto (the fifth) in D major with solo parts for flute, violin, and keyboard. Goyette will sing an aria from each of Bach’s two settings of the Passion text, BWV 244 (Matthew) and BWV 245 (John).

The Legion of Honor is located in Lincoln Park. It is approached by following 34th Street north of Clement Street (which is the southern boundary of the park). General admission is $27 with a discounted rate of $17 for seniors and students. These may be purchased in advance online through a City Box Office event page. In addition if tickets are purchased together for a group of ten or more, the group leader’s ticket is free; but this option is only available by calling 415-452-8777.

There will be three more concerts in the Avedis season, all taking place at the Legion of Honor at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The dates are as follows:
  1. March 19: Hersh will move from piano to viola, and he and Hawley will be joined by guitarist David Tanenbaum and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur in a concert of chamber music for different combinations of their respective instruments.
  2. May 14: Sutherland will bring his keyboard skills to a recital with the members of the Stanford Woodwind Quartet.
  3. June 4: Hawley, Goyette, and Hersh (again on viola) will be joined by Emily Laurence on harp, violinists Roy Malan and Susan Freier, and cellist Stephen Harrison in an all-French program.
Single tickets for all of these concerts are all the same price. In addition there are two subscription options. The full series is $94 for general admission and $61 for seniors and students. There is also a three-concert subscription for $72 for general admission and $46 for seniors and students. City Box Office has created a single Web page with hyperlinks for both subscription options and single-ticket orders for all concerts.

Sunday, February 12, 4 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church: Finally, the annual series of three concerts given by American Bach Soloists (ABS) will begin on this date in San Francisco. The title of the program will be A Weekend in Paris and will feature five masters of the French Baroque (thus leaving the “Bach field” to the Avedis players). These are all composers who were active following the death of Jean-Baptiste Lully: Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jean-Féry Rebel, Jean-Joseph Mondonville, Marin Marais, and Michel Corrette. Corrette’s Laudate Dominum (praise the Lord) is likely to be the most familiar work on the program, since he appropriate his thematic material from the “Spring” concerto from Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons cycle of violin concertos. The ABS ensemble will be joined by the American Bach Choir and three vocal soloists, soprano Nola Richardson, tenor Steven Brennfleck, and baritone William Sharp. Artistic Director Jeffrey Thomas will conduct.

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. Tickets are available for $85, $64, and $33. In addition, subscriptions to all three concerts are still being sold for $217, $164, and $84. Both single tickets and subscriptions may be purchased through hyperlinks on the same Tickets Web page on the ABS Web site.

[added 1/19, 7:30 a.m.:

Sunday, February 12, 4 p.m., Noe Valley Ministry: At exactly the same time, Noe Valley Chamber Music will be presenting the next concert in its 24th season. The title of the program will be Christine Brandes and Friends. Soprano Brandes will be accompanied by pianist Laura Dahl, and she will share the afternoon with cellist Marcy Rosen. The program will feature two new works for cello and voice composed by Eric Moe and Richard Festinger, respectively. All three musicians will perform the three songs in Maurice Ravel's Chansons madécasses and Brahms' two Opus 91 songs, with Rosen taking the part that Brahms originally composed for viola. In addition Dahl will accompany Brandes in Joseph Haydn’s Hoboken XXVIb/2 cantata Arianna a Naxos, and she will accompany Rosen in a performance of Robert Schumann’s Opus 73 set of three “fantasy pieces,” originally composed for clarinet. (Schumann himself said that the clarinet could be replaced by a violin or a cello. Readers may recall that violinist Itzhak Perlman included this on this program this past Monday evening.)

As usual, this concert will take place at the Noe Valley Ministry, located at 1021 Sanchez Street, just south of 23rd Street. Tickets will be sold for $30 if paid at the door. However, if paid in advance, the charge is $25 for general admission and seniors and $15 for students. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a Brown Paper Tickets event page. Further information is available by calling 415-648-5236.]

[added 2/8, 8:45 a.m.:

Sunday, February 12, 5:30 p.m., Concerts by the Square: This is also the date for the third of the four house concerts that Robert Howard has prepared for the 2016/17 season of a series he calls Concerts by the Square. The title of this program will be Jean Cocteau's Paris, and cellist Howard will be joined by violinist Owen Dalby and violist Meena Bhasin. The discussion presented along with the music will discuss Cocteau and his relationships with artistic figures such as Pablo Picasso, Erik Satie, Coco Chanel, and Vaslav Nijinsky. The musical selections will be by Jean Françaix and Maurice Ravel.

Because seating is very limited, reservations must be made prior to the performance date. All reservations require a donation, which is tax-deductible as allowed by law. (Concerts by the Square is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.) A Reservation Web page has been created with hyperlinks for $60 donations. The venue is a Victorian flat near Alamo Square (hence the title of the series), which is 42 stairs above street level. Unfortunately, no elevator is available. Specific details regarding the address of the venue are provided once a reservation has been confirmed.]

[added 1/11, 7:45 a.m.:

Sunday, February 12 7:30 p.m., Center for New Music (C4NM): This year the Guerrilla Composers Guild (GCG) will be joining forces with the Hot Air Music Festival, the annual student-run new music marathon held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, to present a Festival Preview Concert. The C4NM program will include new works by GCG composers for soprano (Winnie Nieh) and cello (Matt Schwede). The program will also include performances by the Ignition Duo and the Lazuli String Quartet.

C4NM is located at 55 Taylor Street, half a block north of where Golden Gate Avenue meets Market Street. General admission will be $15 with a $10 rate for C4NM members. Tickets may be purchased in advance through a Vendini Web page.]

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