2017–2018 will mark the 62nd season of the Morrison Artists Series, whose Artistic Director is Richard Festinger. This is one of the most valuable sources of free chamber music within the San Francisco city limits, provided under the auspices of the Morrison Chamber Music Center, which is affiliated with the College of Liberal & Creative Arts at San Francisco State University (SFSU). The 2017–2018 Season will consist of seven concerts held in the McKenna Theatre of the Creative Arts Building. One hour prior to each performance, Festinger arranges a pre-concert talk. In addition each performing group holds a master class for students in the SFSU School of Music to which the general public is invited to observe.
The schedule for artists participating in the 2017–2018 season is as follows:
- Sunday, September 17, 3 p.m., Alexander String Quartet (ASQ): ASQ is the resident string quartet at SFSU. They have recorded a complete cycle of the string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich; and their program will conclude with the ninth of those fifteen quartets, Opus 117 in E-flat major. They will also give the Bay Area premiere of “Gradual,” composed by Tarik O’Regan in 2016. The opening selection will be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 589 quartet in B-flat major.
- Friday, October 27, 8 p.m., Telegraph Quartet: This string quartet is also based in the Bay Area, formed in 2013 and winners of the 2016 Naumburg Chamber Music Competition, which enabled their San Francisco Performances debut this past February. They will also present a Bay Area premiere, beginning their program with John Harbison’s sixth quartet, also composed in 2016. Their program will also include Hugo Wolf’s “Italian Serenade” and Arnold Schoenberg’s Opus 7, his first published string quartet.
- Sunday, December 3, 3 p.m., Verona Quartet: This group is the Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School. Their Bay Area premiere will consist of two of the twelve independent pieces that Sebastian Currier collected under the title Etudes and Lullabies, published in 2016. They will play the second of the etudes and the first of the lullabies. They will begin the program with Joseph Haydn’s Hoboken III/72 quartet in C major, the first of the set of three published as Opus 74 in 1793. The program will conclude with the second (in A minor) of the two quartets that Johannes Brahms published as his Opus 51 in 1873.
- Friday, February 9, 8 p.m., Zéphyros Winds: This wind quintet was formed in 1994. The following year it won both the First and Grand Prizes at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, making it the first wind quintet to do so in the competition’s 22-year history. Their program will include Irving Fine’s 1948 partita, which was given a live recording for release on Bridge Records. They will also perform two pieces by György Ligeti, his six bagatelles, which are the composer’s own arrangements of six of the movements from his piano collection Musica ricercata, and a set of ten pieces composed for wind quintet in 1968. The program will conclude with Mozart’s K. 388 serenade in C minor.
- Sunday, March 4, 3 p.m., Horszowski Trio: This piano trio takes its name from Mieczysław Horszowski, one of the most important pianists of the twentieth century, known for both his solo work and his contributions to chamber music performances. (He recorded four of Ludwig van Beethoven’s five cello sonatas with Pablo Casals for EMI in the Thirties.) The trio’s pianist, Reiko Aizawa, was Horszowski’s last pupil at the Curtis Institute of Music. The first half of their program will be devoted to the twentieth century, covering two decidedly different periods with Arthur Foote’s Opus 65 (second) trio in B-flat major and Charles Wuroninen’s 1983 trio. The second half of the program will present Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 66 (second) trio in C minor.
- Sunday, April 15, 3 p.m., Quatuor Van Kuijk: This string quartet was founded in Paris in 2012 and named after its first violinist, Nicolas Van Kuijk. They currently have a residence at Proquartet in Paris. They will present the Bay Area premiere of “Pulse of the Lights,” the title that Akira Nishimura gave to his second string quartet. They will acknowledge their French origins with a performance of Claude Debussy’s Opus 10, his only string quartet, written in the key of G minor. The program will conclude with the third of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 18 quartets, written in the key of D major.
- Friday, May 4, 8 p.m., New Millennium Ensemble: This is a diverse gathering of six musicians that came together in the Nineties in anticipation of the “new millennium.” Since their founding they have lived up to their name by performing over 50 new works. However, the most “advanced” works on the program they have prepared both come from the twentieth century, Festinger’s “A Serenade for Six” and Pierre Boulez’ “Derive,” which is also performed by the entire group. They will also play the trio sonata included in the collection of pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach based on a single theme provided by Frederick the Great, which was given the title The Musical Offering. The remaining work on the program will be Brahms’ trio in A minor for clarinet, cello, and piano.
The home page for the Morrison Chamber Music Center provides the full summary of these performances. The name of each group has a hyperlink, which provides additional information about the pre-concert talk and master class. The Creative Arts Building is a short walk from the SFSU Muni stop at the corner of 19th Avenue and Holloway Avenue. Three weeks prior to each concert date, each of these Web pages will have a hyperlink through which tickets may be reserved. Tickets are not required for the master classes.