April may have been the cruelest month for T. S. Eliot, but this year it will get off to a promising start for those who take their listening seriously. Thus far, three concerts have already been announced for the evening of Saturday, April 8, each with a unique and diverse approach to repertoire. Because these events overlap, the only way to facilitate making choices will be to weigh the specifics of each against the others. The alternatives are as follows:
7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre: This will be the final concert in the 2016–2017 Guitar Series presented by San Francisco Performances in partnership with the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts. The recitalist will be the Chinese classical guitar virtuoso Xuefei Yang. Her program will begin in the eighteenth century with Johann Sebastian Bach’s BWV 995 lute suite in G minor. This will be followed by Niccolò Paganini’s “grand” solo guitar sonata in A major. She will then conclude the first half playing her own arrangements of Xu Changjun’s “Sword Dance.” Xu wrote this piece of liuqin, a four-stringed Chinese mandolin, in the Seventies, when he was still a student at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The second half of the program will be devoted entirely to music from Brazil with selections by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Dilermando Reis, and Anibal Garoto.
Herbst Theatre is located on the ground floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Single tickets are being sold for $55, $45, and $35. They may be purchased in advance through a City Box Office event page.
7:30 p.m., Noe Valley Ministry: Pablo Picasso completed his monumental Guernica painting in June of 1937. He created it in response to the bombing of the Basque village of the same name by Nazi German and Fascist Italian warplanes to provide support for Francisco Franco’s Nationalists. Ensemble for These Times (E4TT) will recognize the 80th anniversary of the completion of this major work of modern art with the world premiere of a work by Jeffrey Hoover commissioned to honor the occasion.
Hoover’s “Guernica” is in four movements scored for soprano, violin, cello, and piano, with the soprano singing in six languages: Basque, Spanish, German, Latin, Italian, and English. The program will also include Hoover’s “Burning Giraffe,” Derek Bermel’s “Death With Interruptions,” and songs by Spanish composers Mario Carro and Mercedes Zavala, written in response to the E4TT 2016 Call for Scores. The E4TT performers are soprano Nanette McGuinness, pianist Dale Tsang, season guest cellist Anne Lerner-Wright, and guest violinist Dawn Harms. The event will also include an introductory talk by Hoover, traditional Basque dance performed by the Zazpiak Bat Dance Group, and projection of historical images provided by the Museo de la Paz.
The Noe Valley Ministry is located in Noe Valley at 1021 Sanchez Street. General admission will be $30 with a $20 charge for students. However, there is an Early Bird rate for tickets purchased up to and including April 5. The Early Bird rate for general admission is $25, and the student rate is $15. Tickets at both rates may be purchased in advance online from an Eventbrite event page.
8 p.m., Center for New Music (C4NM): In Sea will be a chamber music recital that explores the mysteries of the ocean through musical interpretations of tides, waves, and the voices of marine mammals. The performing ensemble consists of pianists Rachel Kim and Anne Rainwater, flutist Sasha Launer, violinist Agnieszka Peszko, and cellist Natalie Raney. The “tidal” composition will be Toru Takemitsu’s 1993 piano trio, which he titled “Between Tides.” Waves are captured in Kaija Saariaho’s “Prés,” which is the French preposition that translates as “near” or “beside.” Saariaho was apparently inspired by Paul Gaugin’s two paintings of the sea viewed from the edge of the land. (He did not use the prés preposition, however, calling both painting’s Bord de mer.) This entails an experience of the play of waves from a distance. Saariaho scored this piece for cello and electronics, with the cellist also controlling the electronic gear. The remaining work on the program will be George Crumb’s “Vox Balaenae” (voice of the whale), scored for piano, flute, and cello with amplification.