Sunday, June 4, 2017

New Piano Collective to Launch San Francisco International Piano Festival

Last year Bay Area pianist Jeffrey LaDeur founded the New Piano Collective, bringing together six of his fellow alumni from the Eastman School of Music. The group presented its very first recital on August 12, 2016 at the Old First Presbyterian Church as part of the Old First Concerts series. Almost exactly one year later, the Collective will present the inaugural San Francisco International Piano Festival. The repertoire will involve a mix of solo piano music (continuing the spirit of last year’s concerts) with both instrumental and vocal chamber music. The full scope of the festival will involve nine concerts in seven different venues with ten pianists participating. In spite of the Festival’s name, those venues will take in much of the Bay Area, meaning that only three of the concerts will take place within the San Francisco city limits. Specifics for those concerts are as follows:

Sunday, August 20, 2 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), Voice of the Piano: Johnandrew Slominski will be soloist in a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 414 piano concerto in A major. The instrumental accompaniment will be provided by the members of the Thalea String Quartet: violinists Christopher Whitley and Kumiko Sakamoto, violist Luis Bellorin, and cellist Bridget Pasker. Pianist Paul Sanchez will then accompany his wife Kayleen (who will be making her San Francisco debut) in a performance of his own composition, “Horizon: for Harlan.” For the second half of the concert Daria Rabotkina will play a collection of humoresques by three different composers: Max Reger, Antonín Dvořák, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. This will be the official opening of the Festival, and it will be followed by a reception.

Thursday, August 24, 9:30 p.m., PianoFight, PianoFight Back: This will be a “club scene gig,” which will probably take advantage of the venue’s cabaret setting. LaDeur will open with a performance of Stephen Hartke’s piano sonata. Bobby Mitchell will then play Frederick Rzewski’s “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!,” 36 variations on Sergio Ortega’s anthem for the followers of Chilean president Salvador Allende. Many have approached this as a latter-day take on the variations that Ludwig van Beethoven wrote on Anton Diabelli’s waltz theme; but my own bias is towards the uncanny virtuosity of Johannes Brahms’ variations on the 24th caprice from Niccolò Paganini’s Opus 1.

Sunday, August 27, 3 p.m., SFCM, Looking Back, Looking Forward: The closing concert will return to the SFCM Concert Hall. The first half of the program will feature two pianists both making San Francisco debut performances. Albert Kim will play one of Joseph Haydn’s E major sonatas (probably Hoboken XVI/22 but possibly Hoboken XVI/31), followed by selections from the two sets of études that Rachmaninoff collected under the title Études-Tableaux. Eunmi Ko will then play Isang Yun’s “Interludium A.” This will be followed by a series of six tributes that Ko commissioned as a memorial tribute to Yun. The composers of these tribute pieces will be Ingrid Stölzel, John Liberatore, Alejandro Roman, Eduardo Costa Roldan, Christos Samaras, and Fabio Massimo Capogrosso. Mitchell will then play during the second half of the program. His performance of Frédéric Chopin’s Opus 58 sonata in B minor will be preceded by “Ruins,” one of the pieces collected in Rzewski’s Dreams. This final concert will also be followed by a reception.

PianoFight is located at 144 Taylor Street, which puts it right on the boundary between Union Square and the Tenderloin. (It is also almost exactly one block north of the Center for New Music and on the other side of the street.) Tickets are usually not required for cabaret events, since one of their functions is to encourage purchases of drink and food from the bar. At past cabaret performances I have attended, donations were collected for the performers. Specific information about how the August 24 concert will be handled is not yet available.

SFCM is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Muni Van Ness Station. Tickets for the opening and closing concerts will be sold separately. Adult admission will be $25 with a $15 rate for students and seniors. Tickets may also be purchased online through the hyperlinks attached to the dates in the above descriptions.

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