Choosing between two string quartet recitals on March 15 will seem like a mild challenge when compared with the breadth of choices that will face serious listeners the following weekend. The good news is that one of the alternatives will have performances in San Francisco on both Friday and Saturday. However, that one program constitute only a fraction of the alternatives that will be taking place between Friday and Sunday. As usual, the options will be presented in roughly chronological order:
Friday, March 17, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre: San Francisco Performances will present the fourth and final concert in pianist Jonathan Biss’ Late Style series. For this recital Biss will be joined by tenor Mark Padmore, which means that this offering will also be the second concert in the Vocal Series. Each half of the program will consist of a single selection by Franz Schubert. Biss will accompany Padmore in a performance of the D. 957 Schwanengesang (swan song). This is a collection of fourteen songs that Schubert composed in the last months of his life. The music was only published by Tobias Haslinger about half a year after Schubert’s death; and the title was assigned by the publisher (much to the consternation of those who know Schubert’s work well and knew that, unlike the fabled swan, he had been singing all of his life). In addition Biss will perform the D. 959 sonata in A major, the second of the three prodigiously ambitious works for solo piano that Schubert wrote in the same time frame. (All three of them were composed in September of 1828.)
Herbst Theatre occupies 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 $65, $55, and $40. They may be purchased in advance through a City Box Office event page. This Web page shows a seating plan with information about prices and availability in the different sections.
Friday–Saturday, March 17–18, 7:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 8 p.m., Noe Valley Ministry: The weekend will also launch the inauguration of Bard Music West. As one might guess from the name, this is a West Coast spinoff of the Bard Music Festival, which takes place every summer in New York’s Hudson Valley on the campus of Bard College. Every summer the Festival selects a composer around whom all the programming is organized. However, while the Bard Music Festival makes these selections from the full scope of music history, the organizers of Bard Music West, Artistic Director and Executive Director Allegra Chapman and Associate Director Laura Gaynon, have decided to focus on the music and influences of twentieth-century and contemporary composers. With that objective in mind, the title of the inaugural festival will be The World of György Ligeti.
As is the case with the Bard Music Festival, the objective is not only to survey Ligeti’s achievements but also to provide programming that takes in both music that influenced Ligeti and music that Ligeti subsequently influenced. In that latter category programming will include the world premiere of a composition written on commission by Luna Pearl Woolf that serves as a setting for “Act Without Words I,” a mimed play by Samuel Beckett. In addition there will be music by the composer’s son Lukas and his student Roberto Sierra. The former category will include Transylvanian folk tunes, fifteenth-century choral music, and the second string quartet by Béla Bartók.
The full scope of the festival will be three concerts. These will take place on Friday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, March 18, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. There will also be a talk preceding the Saturday afternoon concert beginning at 3 p.m. The festival Web site has a Web page giving the full programs for all three concerts, along with a separate Web page with information about all of the performers.
All events will take place at the Noe Valley Ministry, located in Noe Valley at 1021 Sanchez Street. Tickets for the full festival art $70. Marathon Saturday tickets are also available for $50, providing admission for both concerts and the pre-concert talk. Tickets for individual concerts will be $30 for general admission at $20 for students. There is a $5 discount for tickets purchased in advance. Those only interested in the talk may attend for $5. There is a single Web page with hyperlinks for all options for buying tickets in advance online. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 415-857-1632.
Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18, 8 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist: The Lacuna Arts Chorale will join forces with the Lacuna Arts Ensemble to present a “Bachanalia” concert in celebration of the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach. The highlight of the program will be Bach’s BWV 227 motet Jesu, meine Freude, an a cappella composition that is as sophisticated in its structure as it is rhetorically devotional. The program will also include the setting of Psalm 116 by Heinrich Herzogenberg, along with canticles in English by Felix Mendelssohn and a selection of contrapuntal motets by Johannes Brahms.
This program will be given two performances at two different venues. St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, the site of the first performance, is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist is located in the Mission at 1661 Fifteenth Street, between Mission Street and Valencia Street. All tickets are $20. Lacuna Arts has a single Web page for all concert purchases. There is a pull-down menu for selecting the date for which the tickets will apply.
Saturday, March 18, 7:30 p.m., Green Room: The next concert in the 36th season of the Dynamite Guitars series presented by the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts will present the California debut of the European Guitar Quartet. The four guitarists are Zoltan Dukic, Pavel Steidel, Thomas Fellow, and Reentko. Each is already established as a soloist, and they have recently joined forces to perform as a quartet. The program will reflect the diversity of backgrounds of the different members.
The Green Room is located on the second floor of the Veterans Building in the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. The entrance is at 401 Van Ness Avenue, the same as the entrance for Herbst Theatre. All tickets are being sold for $45. City Box Office has created an event page for online purchase. Tickets may also be purchased by calling the Omni Foundation at 415-242-4500 or by calling City Box Office at 415-392-4400. In addition Create-Your-Own subscriptions for four or more concerts are still on sale. Subscription purchases can only be made through the Omni Foundation telephone number.
Saturday, March 18, 8 p.m., Herbst Theatre: At the same time Herbst will be hosting the next concert in the 25th season of the New Century Chamber Orchestra (NCCO). The title of the program is Americans in Paris, and it will feature the return of the vocalists of Chanticleer as guest artists. They will sing a selection of cabaret songs arranged by Evan Price, as well as a cappella works by Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saëns. NCCO will perform a special arrangement of music from George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” arranged by Clarice Assad. They will also play Gerard Schwarz’ arrangement of the first of Erik Satie’s three “Gymnopédie” compositions for piano. The ensemble works to be performed with be Igor Stravinsky’s “Apollon Musagète” (Apollo, leader of the Muses) and the Allegro movement from Albert Roussel’s sinfonietta for strings. Assad has also prepared arrangements of both French songs and show tunes by Gershwin and Cole Porter for Chanticleer to sing with NCCO accompaniment. The two groups will also join forces for the choral version of Gabriel Fauré’s “Pavane.” Ticket prices will be $29, $49, and $61; and they can be purchased in advance through a City Box Office event page.
As is usually the case, there will be an Open Rehearsal held in the Kanbar Performing Arts Center at 44 Page Street, a short walk from the Muni Van Ness station. This will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15. All tickets are $15. City Box Office has set up a Web page for this event.
Saturday, March 18, 8 p.m., Center for New Music (C4NM): This will be the next installment in Mark Alburger’s Opus Project. The count is now up to 51, so the program will offer a rich diversity of Opus 51 compositions. The historical breadth will reach back to Ludwig van Beethoven, whose Opus 51 is actually an early work composed in 1797, and forward to Steve Reich’s “WTC 9/11,” which he composed in 2010. (As usual, Alburger has included his own music in the program.)
C4NM is located at 55 Taylor Street, about half a block north of where Golden Gate Avenue meets Market Street. General admission will be $15 with a $10 rate for C4NM members, students, and seniors. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a Vendini event page.
Saturday, March 18, 8 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church: The last (but definitely not least) option for Saturday will be the next concert to be presented by Voices of Music, this time in conjunction with the San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS). This will be a “reprise” performance of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s setting of the “Stabat Mater” hymn. The vocalists will be soprano Stefanie True and mezzo Meg Bragle. In addition, Cynthia Miller Freivogel will be returning from Amsterdam to join the instrumental ensemble.
General admission will be $40. There is a $35 rate for members of SFEMS, EMA, and ARS, as well as seniors. Students will be admitted for $5. Arts People has created a Web page for advance purchase of tickets online.
Sunday, March 19, noon and 2 p.m., Asian Art Museum: To supplement the current special exhibition Tomb Treasures, C4NM will present two performances of a program entitled Music for the Afterlife. This will involved a partnership of Bart Hopkin’s ensemble of custom-built instruments called Gamelan Encinal with local instrument inventor group Pet the Tiger. The program will include “Yantra Meditation,” the performance of a graphic score by David Samas, as well as rearrangements of traditional gamelan melodies for the instruments at hand and new compositions by special guest artists. The Asian Art Museum is located in the Civic Center at 200 Larkin Street. The two performances will be free for those admitted to the museum.
Sunday, March 19, 4 p.m., Noe Valley Ministry: The title of the next concert in the 24th season of Noe Valley Chamber Music will be Steven Dibner & Friends. Dibner is Associate Principal Bassoon with the San Francisco Symphony (SFS); and his friends will be SFS colleagues Carey Bell (Principal Clarinet) and keyboardist Robin Sutherland. The three of them will perform in groups of different combinations to present music by Claude Debussy, Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, Nino Rota, Johannes Brahms, Francis Poulenc, and arrangements of works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig Thuille.
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.
Sunday, March 19, 4 p.m., Old First Church: Old First Concerts will host a return visit by the Jupiter Chamber Players. This is a string quartet is led by SFS violinist Victor Romasevich. The other members are violinist Michael Jones, violist Stephen Levintow, and cellist Paul Rhodes. This particular program will feature two guest artists. First they will be joined by San Francisco Opera harpist Olga Rakitchenkov to perform Evgeny Golubev’s Opus 39 quintet. This will be followed by Anton Bruckner’s F major string quintet with Sergey Rakitchenkov visiting to play second viola.
The Old First Church is located at 1751 Sacramento Street on the southeast corner of Van Ness Boulevard. General admission will be $20 with discounted rates of $17 for seniors and $5 or full-time students showing valid identification. Children aged twelve and under will still be admitted for free. In addition there is a $2 discount for tickets purchased online in advance from the event page for this concert on the Old First Concerts Web site. There is also a discount available for those parking at the Old First Parking Garage at 1725 Sacramento Street, just up the street for the church.