Thursday, March 9, 2017

SFP’s Vocal Series will Continue with British Mezzo Sarah Connolly

The third of the four recitals in the 2016–2017 Vocal Series presented by San Francisco Performance (SFP) will feature the San Francisco recital debut of British mezzo Sarah Connolly. Her accompanist will be pianist Joseph Middleton. The two of them have prepared a program that is diverse with respect to both geography and music history. With respect to the latter, they have arranged their program in chronological order.

This means that the program will begin with Robert Schumann’s Opus 42 cycle Frauenliebe und -leben (a woman’s love and life), which probably holds the honor of being the earliest integrated collection of art songs for the low female voice, if not for any range of the female voice. The program will then advance to the very beginning of the twentieth century with Gustav Mahler’s settings of five poems by Friedrich Rückert. These are generally known collectively as the Rückert-Lieder; but they were originally published in a collection entitled Sieben Lieder aus letzter Zeit (seven songs of latter days). Readers may recall that the complete set of these seven songs were performed at the first Vocal Series recital of the season, when the vocalist was baritone Christian Gerhaher.

The geographical setting will then shift to France with the performance of a collection of songs by Francis Poulenc that he published under the title Banalités. This will be followed by what may be the best known vocal music by the Brooklyn-born composer who went to Paris to learn how to write American music from Nadia Boulanger. That composer is, of course, Aaron Copland; and Connolly will sing selections from his settings of poems by Emily Dickinson. The program will then conclude with Richard Rodney Bennett’s A History of the Thé Dansant, a setting of poems by his sister M. R. Peacocke, which she published in the volume Selves. The poems themselves were inspired by photographs of their parents on holiday, presumably enjoying the charms of tea dancing.

This recital will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23. Like all other Vocal Series concerts, it will take place in Herbst Theatre, located on the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. Ticket prices are $65, $55, and $40. Tickets may be purchased in advance online from a City Box Office event page, which includes a seating plan with information about availability in the different sections of Herbst.

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