Saturday, February 11, 2017

March Begins with Three Different Kinds of Vocal Offerings on the Same Sunday

It remains to be seen whether next month will be as busy as this month has turned out to be, but the first Sunday of March will be distinguished by offering three approaches to vocal music, each distinctly different from the other two.

The earliest of these will take place when violinist Randall Weiss presents his first Music in the Mishkan concert for 2017. This event will celebrate the series’ eighteenth year. In Judaism eighteen is a very lucky number, since its representation by letters of the Hebrew alphabet spells out the Hebrew word for “life.”

Music in the Mishkan offerings feature chamber music performed by Weiss’ ensemble, which he calls The Bridge Players. However, recent programs in the series have featured guest appearances by Cantor Sharon Bernstein, who has cultivated an interest in the extensive repertoire of Yiddish song. Each of her performances for Music in the Mishkan has been a journey of discovery as she accompanies herself at the piano while singing the latest additions to her repertoire. The vocal side of the program will also include the narration of E. E. Cummings’ poem “in Just-.” Mendocino-based composer Jay Sydeman composed a solo violin accompaniment for the reading of this poem; and he titled the resulting piece “The Little Balloon Man.”

The more traditional works on the program will frame these two offerings. The program will begin with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 515 string quintet in C major and conclude with Johannes Brahms’ Opus 25 piano quartet in G minor. Weiss’ Bridge Players colleagues for these selections will be violinist Jeremy Preston, violists Natalia Vershilova and Patricia Whaley, cellist Victoria Ehrlich, and pianist Marilyn Thompson.

This concert will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 5. Music in the Mishkan performances take place at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav. This is located at 290 Dolores Street at the northwest corner of 16th Street. Tickets for the general public are $25, but members of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav will be admitted for $20. Tickets may be purchased in advance through a special Congregation Sha’ar Zahav Web page. A wine and cheese reception will follow the performance.

Half an hour later the Bay Choral Guild (BCG) will give its next performance in San Francisco. The featured work on the program will be the world premiere of “Songs of Isaiah,” composed by BCG Artistic Director Sanford Dole. The piece is in three movements, each setting a different passage from the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. BCG vocalists will be joined by a string orchestra and harp. The harpist will be Jessica Schaeffer. The strings will also provide accompaniment for Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s setting of the Magnificat canticle. The Baroque portion of the program will also include Johann Sebastian Bach’s BWV 225 a cappella motet “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” (sing unto the Lord a new song). Two modern English composers will also be included with two hymn settings, Paul Mealor’s “Stabat Mater” and Cecilia McDowell’s “Ave Maris Stella.”

This concert will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5. The venue will be a new one for BCG but a familiar one one for most readers, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, located at 1111 O’Farrell Street just west of the corner of Franklin Street. General admission will be $25 with a $20 rate for seniors and $5 for students. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a Web page on the BCG Web site.

Early in the evening will see yet another approach to vocal performance with the next concert in the series called PIVOT: New Adventures in the Performing Arts presented by San Francisco Performances. Composer Gabriel Kahane will accompany himself at the piano in a program entitled Craigslistlieder, Dichterliebe and Other Arguments. The program will begin with Kahane performing both parts of Robert Schumann’s Opus 48 song cycle Dichterliebe (poet’s love). The intermission will be followed by Kahane’s own compositions. Craigslistlieder is a cycle of seven songs each based on classified ads found on Craigslist. The remainder of the program will be devoted to tracks from two of Kahane’s recent albums, Where are the Arms (2011) and The Ambassador (2014).

This concert will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 5. Unlike the first two PIVOT offerings of this season, the performance will take place in the Miner Auditorium of the SFJAZZ Center, which is located at 201 Franklin Street on the northwest corner of Fell Street. All tickets are $25 for general admission. Tickets may be purchased in advance online from a City Box Office event page. Further information is available by calling 415-392-2545.

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