Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Last Friday in February of 2017 will be Busy in Many Ways

Next month has kept me busy when it comes to keeping track of the need to make hard choices among overlapping events. It should not surprise anyone, then, that the last Friday of the month (February 24) will be another busy one. In addition, however, two of those events will mark the beginnings of concert series for the winter/spring portion of the season. Thus, it is worth just “getting down to business” by accounting for the options with some sense of chronological order.

6 p.m., Community Music Center (CMC): The next Concert with Conversation event will present Scottish-born classical guitarist David Russell (who currently resides in Spain). As is frequently the case, this event will be held in partnership with San Francisco Performances (SFP), which will be presenting Russell’s recital the following evening (Saturday, February 25) at St. Mark’s Lutheran church. This will be a return visit by Russell, during which he will probably preview some of the music he has prepared for recital and (of course) entertain questions from the audience. The venue will be the CMC Concert Hall, which is located at 544 Capp Street, between Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue and between 20th Street and 21st Street. These events are free and tend to be very popular, so early arrival is encouraged.

7:30 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM): In addition SFP will be launching its Young Masters Series shortly after Russell concludes his visit to CMC. Violinist Benjamin Beilman will be the first of the series’ rising talents to be introduced during this series of three recitals. Beilman has prepared an ambitious program that will present compositions by Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartók, Kaija Saariaho, and Johannes Brahms. His accompanist will be pianist Yekwon Sunwoo. The artists to be featured in the remaining two recitals of this series will be cellist Harriet Krijgh (March 16) and pianist Beatrice Rana (April 7).

The performance will take place in the SFCM Concert Hall, which is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. All tickets are $40, and subscriptions are still on sale for the entire series at $105. City Box Office event pages are available for online purchase of both single tickets and subscriptions.

7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre: The title of the next performance in the Main Stage Concerts series of performances by the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (SFCO) and its Music Director Benjamin Simon will be Wordsmiths. The first half of the program will be devoted to setting of text, while the second half will consist of music inspired by a poem. The highlight of the first half will be the world premiere of Peter Josheff’s The Dream Mechanic, composed on an SFCO commission. This is a cycle of settings of four poems by Carol Vanderveer Hamilton that requires both a tenor (Brian Thorsett) and a narrator (Lara Nie). Nie is also a mezzo, and she will open the program with several of the arrangements of the folk songs that Joseph Canteloube composed based on folk songs he collected from the Auvergne region of France, all of which are sung in Occitan, the language of that region. The “inspiring poem” for the second half of the program will be Matthias Claudius’ “Der Tod und das Mädchen” (death and the maiden). SFCO will perform Simon’s arrangement of Franz Schubert’s D. 810 string quartet in D minor, whose second movement is a set of variations on Schubert’s D. 531 setting of this poem.

Herbst Theatre is located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. As is always the case, there is no admission charge for all SFCO Main Stage Concerts. The doors will open at 6:45 p.m. for general admission on a first-come-first-served basis.

8 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco: The title of the 2016 Winter concert to be presented by Wild Rumpus will be MUSCLE/MEMORY. This always ambitious ensemble will be taking on recent works by emerging composers devoted to matters of mind and body. The program will feature the world premiere of “The New Normal.” Composed by William Dougherty, this is one of the seven winners of the 2015 Commission Project competition that Wild Rumpus has been holding annually. The other world premiere on the program will be Carolyn Chen’s “The Mussels.” The remaining composers whose music will be performed will be Alex Temple (“Willingly”), Richard Reed Parry (“Duo for Heart and Breath”), Ted Hearne (“Furtive Movements”), and William Gardiner (“Hebbian Theory”). The church is located at 1187 Franklin Street, on the southwest corner of Geary Boulevard. All tickets will be sold at the door for $15.

8 p.m., Taube Atrium Theater: A composition by Hearne will also be the first production in the second season of SF Opera Lab, the exploratory side of programming presented by the San Francisco Opera. “The Source” is a 75-minute oratorio (performed without an intermission) about Chelsea Manning and the consequences of her revelations to WikiLeaks. Hearne based this oratorio on a libretto by Mark Doten, who created a collage text based on both Manning’s words and primary-source documents. The score is for four singers and seven musicians. The oratorio will be staged by Daniel Fish, based on a production design by Jim Findlay. Fish and Findlay also collaborated on the creation of video projections. The Music Director will be Nathan Koci.

The venue is part of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, located on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building. The street address is 401 Van Ness Avenue, on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. General admission will be $35. There will also be another five performances taking place at 8 p.m. on February 25, March 1, March 2, and March 3, and at 2 p.m. on March 26. Tickets for all dates may be purchased through hyperlinks on the event page for this production.

There will be three more productions in the second season of SF Opera Lab. These will be as follows:
  • March 11, 14, 17: Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci will perform Francis Poulenc’s one-act monodrama “La Voix humaine” (the human voice). Poulenc’s opera is based on a play of the same title by Jean Cocteau, which consists entirely of one side of a telephone conversation. Pianist Donald Sulzen will provide the musical accompaniment. All tickets are $95 for general admission.
  • April 23: The vocal octet Roomful of Teeth will make its San Francisco debut with a one-night-only performance. This event is being co-produced with SFP’s PIVOT series. As of this writing, all tickets have been sold.
  • April 27: Once again, members of the SFO Orchestra will curate and perform the next installment in the ChamberWORKS series, presenting an intimate and eclectic evening of music and song; general admission will be $25.
[added 1/30, 10:50 a.m.:
8 p.m., St. Mark's Lutheran Church: The California Bach Society, led by Artistic Director Paul Flight, will give the next concert in its current season. The title of the program will be North German Masters before JS Bach; and the master's whose works will be presented will be Franz Tunder, Dietrich Buxtehude, Johann Schop, Martin Weckmann, and Georg Philipp Telemann. St. Mark's is located at 1111 O'Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. Tickets are $35 with discounts for advance purchase, seniors, students, and those under the age of thirty. Tickets may be purchased online through a Web page on the California Bach Society Web site.]

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