When the Fête Concert Series announced the plan for its 2016–17 season, it was determined that the birthday celebrant for the final performance would be William Shakespeare; but, at the time of the announcement, a venue had not been finalized. Now that all details are in place, they may be provided. The title of the program will be To Sing or Not to Sing: Modern Composers Celebrate Shakespeare. Three composers will contribute, one with a guitar solo and the other two setting Shakespeare texts.
The guitar solo is by Hans Werner Henze, who composed two sonatas based on characters from Shakespeare’s plays. Patrick Smith will play “Royal Winter Music,” which was inspired by the opening monologue of the play Richard III, delivered by the Duke of Gloucester (not yet crowned king) with the ironic (and punning) opening lines:
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York
This will be complemented by settings of Shakespeare texts intended as songs by Henze’s English contemporary, Madeline Dring, and a Shakespeare-inspired sonnet by Ted Zoldan.
The most recent work on the program involves an innovative approach to Hamlet. Christian Jost composed an opera in 2008 in which the words of the title character were divided between a soprano soloist and a choir. “Hamlet Echoes” is a distillation of this treatment composed as chamber music for viola, soprano, and piano. The performers for the two vocal selections will be sopranos Chelsea Hollow and Anne Hepburn Smith. The instrumentalists will be pianist Paul Dab and violist Erica Zappia.
The original plan had been to present this program tomorrow, since Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564. However, that date was changed to May 6, a week from this Saturday. The venue will be the Center for New Music (C4NM), located at 55 Taylor Street, half a block north of where Golden Gate Avenue meets Market Street. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. with a pre-concert reception at 7:30 p.m. General admission will be $20 with a $10 rate for students, seniors, and C4NM members. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a Vendini event page. The reception will offer wine, cheese, and dessert; and, because this is a birthday event, as is always the case at Fête Concerts events, a party hat will be included!