Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Last Sunday in March will Require Choices

The final weekend in March will not be quite as hectic as some of its predecessors. However, the last Sunday will require making some choices. Fortunately, the options tend to appeal to different tastes. Here are the specifics for Sunday, March 26:

3 p.m., Fort Mason: The title of this year’s fundraising Gala for the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (SFCO) will be SFCO Goes to the Movies! The entertainment for the occasion involves silent movies screened at the Cowell Theater. The “feature film” will be Charlie Chaplin’s 1916 The Pawnshop, preceded by an early animated short. That short will be Walt Disney’s 1928 “Plane Crazy,” which was Mickey Mouse’s very first appearance. Donald Sosin has composed scores for both of these films, and his music will be performed live by SFCO. The screening will be preceded by a reception at which “bites and bubbly” will be served. There will also be a raffle. The screening will be followed by a three-course seated dinner at Greens Restaurant, followed by a live auction.

Fort Mason is located in the Marina District with an entrance at 2 Marina Boulevard. Movie tickets are on sale for $50, $20 of which is tax-deductible. There is also a youth rate for those aged twelve and under. Admission is only $35; and, again, $20 is tax-deductible. Tickets may be purchased online at the Registration Web page for the Gala. As of this writing, all Red Carpet Tickets for both the screening and the dinner have been sold. However, those interested in the dinner are invited to call 415-463-6718 for any last-minute availability.

3 p.m., Herbst Theatre: The Prague-based Pavel Haas Quartet will return to San Francisco, where their visits have been welcome for many years. The group consists of violinists Veronika Jarůšková and Marek Zwiebel, violist Pavel Nikl, and cellist Peter Jarůšek; and this season’s visit has been arranged by Chamber Music San Francisco (CMSF). Over the course of its visits, the ensemble has offered a broad account of its diverse repertoire; but, unless I am mistaken, this will be their first San Francisco recital devoted entirely to Czech composers.

They will present these composers in reverse chronological order. They will begin with the third of the seven string quartets of Bohuslav Martinů, which he composed in Paris in 1929. This will be followed by what will probably be the most familiar work on the program, Antonín Dvořák’s Opus 96 (“American”) quartet in F major. This was written during the composer’s tenure as Director of the National Conservatory in New York City. However, he worked on it during the summer vacation he spent in 1893 with the Czech immigrant community living in Spillville, Iowa. The program will then conclude with Bedřich Smetana’s retrospective string quartet (his first) in E minor. He composed this piece in 1876 after having been consumed by total deafness; and the final movement is haunted (through harmonic bowing of a high E) by the attack of tinnitus that preceded the onset of that deafness.

The entrance to Herbst Theatre is on the ground floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Ticket prices are $55 (Orchestra and Boxes), $46 (Dress Circle), and $37 (Balcony). Tickets may be purchased online through a City Box Office event page, which includes a floor plan that shows the number of seats available in the different sections. In addition, it is still possible to save $4 on each ticket with the purchase of a mini-series of four or more concerts. The best way to do this will be to contact CMSF by phone at 415-392-4400.

4 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church: This will be the next San Francisco performance that Artistic Director Magen Solomon has prepared for San Francisco Choral Artists. The full title of the program is Witches, Saints, and Mothers: Music By and About Women. The program will feature settings of poems by H.D. (the pen name for Hilda Doolittle) by the winners of the New Voices Project competition, James May and Ben Zucker. There will also be premieres of new works by both Composer-in-Residence Elinor Armer and Composer-Not-in-Residence Paul Chihara. Other composers to be included will be Tina Harrington and Linda Mankin (both from the Bay Area), Leanne D. Veitch (New Zealand, born in Australia), Chen Yi (Missouri, born in China), Patricia Julien (Vermont), and Alice Parker (Massachusetts).

St. Mark’s is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the intersection with Franklin Street. Tickets will be sold at the door for $33 with a $29 charge for seniors and $15 for individuals under 30 with identification. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a Brown Paper Tickets event page. The reduced rates for advance purchase are, respectively, $28, $25, and $12.50.

[added 3/8, 7:50 a.m.:

4 p.m., St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church: Another choral offering, on a slightly smaller scale, will be taking place at exactly the same time. The next program that has been prepared by the eight male vocalists of Clerestory is entitled Gemini: Music for Double Choirs. This will be an extensive survey of music for pairs of four-voice choirs, all sung one-to-a-part to provide the clearest possible account of the intricate development of both counterpoint and harmony. The program will include a setting of the “Stabat Mater” hymn by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, as well as motets based on the Song of Songs by Tomás Luis de Victoria, Sebastián de Vivanco, and Francisco Guerrero. The major work from the twentieth century will be Ralph Vaughan Williams’ G minor setting of the Mass text. Other composers on the program will be Benjamin Britten, Paul Crabtree, Herbert Howells, and James MacMillan.

St. Gregory's is located at 500 De Haro Street, at the foot of Potrero Hill. General admission will be $25 with a $15 rate for students. Tickets are available in advance online through an Eventbrite event page.]

5:30 p.m., Taube Atrium Theater: This day will also present the first of the four concerts being offered in the 34th season of the Schwabacher Debut Recitals. This series is presented jointly by the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program, both of which are committed to the cultivation of emerging talents. The season will begin with a program entitled Expressionism, Icons and the Exotic. Pianist Mark Morash, San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies, will accompany two Merola alumni from this past summer, mezzo Taylor Raven and bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum. The composers to be presented on this program will be (in order of performance) Antón García Abril, Xavier Montsalvatge, Claude Debussy, Jacques Ibert, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Alban Berg.

The Taube Atrium Theater is part of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, which is also located in the Veterans Building (on the fourth floor) at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. General admission will be $30. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through an event page on the San Francisco Opera Web site. Note that, because much of the seating is raked, it is possible to select the option of Wheelchair Accessible seats. In addition, subject to availability, student rush tickets will go on sale at 5 p.m. at the reduced rate of $15. There is a limit of two tickets per person, and valid identification must be shown.

The remaining three programs will also take place on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. at the same venue. Dates and artists are as follows:
  • April 2: Baritone Sol Jin will give a solo recital accompanied by pianist Kirill Kuzmin.
  • April 9: An American Pastiche, a compilation of songs by American composers, will be presented by mezzo Renée Rapier and bass Anthony Reed, accompanied by John Churchwell at the piano.
  • April 30: Pianist Warren Jones will accompany 2017 Adler Fellows Amina Edris (soprano), Amitai Pati (tenor) and Andrew Manea (baritone).
Subscriptions for the entire four-recital series are available for $100. However, these are not available online. They may be purchased in person at the San Francisco Opera Box Office, located in the outer lobby of the War Memorial Opera House at 301 Van Ness Avenue, on the northwest corner of Grove Street. They may also be purchased by calling 415-864-3330.

[added 3/21, 9:30 a.m.

5:30 p.m., Concerts by the Square: The last of the four house concerts that Robert Howard has prepared for the 2016/17 season of a series he calls Concerts by the Square will take a decidedly innovative turn. He will team up with pipa virtuoso Shenshen Zhang for a program that will explore traditional Chines music, its 2000 year history, and recent Western collaborations. Composers on the program will include Bright Sheng and Zhou Long, both of whom now live in the United States.

Because seating is very limited, reservations must be made prior to the performance date. All reservations require a donation, which is tax-deductible as allowed by law. (Concerts by the Square is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.) A Reservation Web page has been created with a hyperlink for $60 donations. The venue is a Victorian flat near Alamo Square (hence the title of the series), which is 42 stairs above street level. Unfortunately, no elevator is available. Specific details regarding the address of the venue are provided once a reservation has been confirmed.]

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