Having written a week ago about the annual gala that San Francisco Performances (SFP) will hold to launch its 38th season, it is now time to begin reviewing the specifics of the performances themselves that will be offered in each of the nine series for which subscriptions are being offered. Readers may recall that the final recital in the 2016–2017 season took place almost exactly a month ago, featuring soprano Carolyn Sampson accompanied by pianist Joseph Middleton. Last season’s subscribers to the Vocal Series, which included that recital, had to wait until December for their first concert.
This coming fall the Vocal Series will lead off the entire 38th season, even preceding the annual gala by four days. Once again all of the concerts will take place in Herbst Theatre, whose entrance is on the ground floor of the Veterans Building, located on the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. The venue is excellent for public transportation, since that corner has Muni bus stops for both north-south and east-west travel. The specific dates and their related performers are as follows:
Sunday, October 1, 7 p.m.: Mezzo Isabel Leonard will present a program consisting entirely of music by Leonard Bernstein, anticipating the fact that 2018 will be the centennial year of that composer’s birth, which took place on August 25, 1918. The program was prepared with support from an award given by the National Endowment for the Arts. (Those who follow the San Francisco Symphony probably know that the title of the first subscription concert of the new season will be Celebrating Bernstein with MTT.) Specific details of this program have not yet been announced.
Thursday, October 26, 7:30 p.m.: Soprano Dawn Upshaw will present a program of adventurous modernism. She will perform the Bay Area premiere of a new work by Caroline Shaw, who is, herself, a vocalist (a member of Roomful of Teeth), as well as a composer. The program will also include George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny, the fourth volume in his six-volume American Songbook series. In each of these volumes, instrumental accompaniment is provided by both piano and percussion quartet. For this recital Upshaw will be joined by pianist Gilbert Kalish and the four members of So Percussion, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting, and Eric Cha-Beach.
Saturday, March 31, 7:30 p.m.: Tenor Lawrence Brownlee was last seen here this past fall when he sang the role of Ernesto in San Francisco Opera’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. For SFP he will also bring a new composition to Herbst with the West Coast premiere of a piece not yet given a title by Tyshawn Sorey. He will also sing Robert Schumann’s Opus 48 song cycle Dichterliebe (a poet’s love), based on poems that Heinrich Heine collected in his 1827 Buch der Lieder (book of songs). Brownlee will be accompanied by pianist Myra Huang.
Thursday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.: Huang will then return for the final program in the Vocal Series to accompany Nicholas Phan. Phan has an impressive reputation for bringing a unifying theme to both his recitals and his recordings. SFP audiences were able to appreciate his skill last season, when he brought his Gods & Monsters program to the 2017 Spring Salons series at the Hotel Rex. The theme of his Herbst recital will be more upbeat, surveying that era of optimism, peace, and prosperity in early twentieth-century Europe that was known as the belle époque. Details have not yet been announced; but the program will include art songs by Ernest Chausson, Reynaldo Hahn, and Claude Debussy.
Subscriptions are now on sale for $240 for premium seating in the Orchestra and the front and center of the Dress Circle, $200 for the Side Boxes, the center rear of the Dress Circle, and the remainder of the Orchestra, and $140 for the remainder of the Dress Circle and the Balcony. Subscriptions may be purchased online in advance through a City Box Office event page. Orders may also be placed by calling the SFP subscriber hotline at 415-677-0325, which is open for receiving calls between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Corresponding prices for single tickets are $65, $55, and $40. Single tickets will go on sale on July 31.