Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Choices for November 4 and 5, 2017

Having written about choices for every weekend of this month except the first, I realize that I had better settle into the same generic format I have been using for busy weekdays. The only distinction will be over whether Friday is or is not part of the weekend. While each of my “choices” articles for October included options on Friday, the choices for the first weekend in November will involve only Saturday and Sunday. Thus, I plan to use the headline to indicate the “span” of each weekend for which one of these pieces will be written. Here are the options for the first Saturday and Sunday of next month:

Saturday, November 4, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall: The month will begin with the tenth annual celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) by the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). Traditionally, this has been an afternoon affair with both a concert and other amusements for the entire family. This year, however, there will be a second concert in the evening with programing for a more adult audience.

The conductor for the afternoon will be Alondra de la Parra, and she will lead SFS in Mexican orchestral works, including “Huapango” by José Pablo Moncayo, “Sensemayá” by Silvestre Revueltas, and the second of a series of dance pieces composed by Arturo Márquez. Prior to these selections, the concert will begin with a neon Quetzalcoatl serpent dance performed by the Casa Círculo Cultural theater group to music played by the Canción de Obsidiana ensemble. For the remainder of the program SFS will accompany Mexican cultural icon Eugenia León, who will sing pieces specific to the holidays and selections from her own catalogue of hits. For the evening concert León will return for a more intimate song concert with accompaniment provided by her own musicians, Rosino Serrano on piano and Flavio Meneses alternating among guitar, vihuela, and requinto.

Both of these concerts will be preceded by lobby festivities that will begin 75 minutes before the performance in the Davies auditorium. Guests will be welcomed by Aztec dancers and performers from Casa Círculo Cultural. The lobbies on the different levels will offer an assortment of activities involving both food and artifacts.

There will also be a fundraising lunch, which will be held in the Wattis Room, located just to the right of the Box Office. This is being organized by the San Francisco League to support education and community programs. The VIP Package for this event will include a seated lunch with mimosas, sangria, and other culinary surprises. The Package will also include tickets for premium seating at the afternoon concert. The luncheon will conclude by 1 p.m., providing ample opportunity for the guests to enjoy the many lobby activities.

Davies Symphony Hall is located at 201 Van Ness Avenue and fills an entire city block. The other boundaries are Grove Street (north), Hayes Street (south), and Franklin Street (west). The main entrance (which is also the entrance to the Box Office) is on Grove Street, roughly halfway down the block. Concert tickets for both the afternoon and the evening are priced between $25 and $95. VIP Packages begin at $250. A single event page on the SFS Web site has hyperlinks for purchasing both concert tickets and VIP Packages. VIP Packages may also be purchased by calling the Volunteer Council at 415-503-5500. Those interested only in concert tickets can visit the Box Office or call 415-864-6000.

Saturday, November 4, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, November 5, 2 p.m., Z Space: The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble will continue its 25th anniversary season with a program of two chamber operas, both composed by LCCE violist Kurt Rohde. One of the selections will be a revival of Rohde’s first opera, “Death with Interruptions,” which was premiered in 2015 with a libretto by Thomas Laqueur based on a novel by José Saramago. The original cast of baritone Daniel Cilli, soprano Nikki Einfeld, and baritone Joe Dan Harper will return for a new staging of the opera. The other Rohde opera will be a singspiel inspired by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s novel Don Quixote. “Never was a knight…” was written for solo tenor (Harper) and a chamber ensemble of seven instruments; and the text amounts of a monologue by Don Quixote as he lies on his deathbed.

Z Space is located in NEMIZ (the NorthEast Mission Industrial Zone) at 450 Florida Street. Ticket prices are between $15 and $55. Z Space has set up separate event pages for purchasing tickets to the Saturday and Sunday performances. Each page has a seating chart showing which seats are available at which prices.

Saturday, November 4, 7:30 p.m., War Memorial Opera House: This will be the opening night for the fourth opera in the 2017–18 season of the San Francisco Opera (SFO). This will be a new production of Jules Massenet’s Manon in a production shared with the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Israeli Opera. Staging will be by French director Vincent Boussard. The conductor will be Patrick Fournillier, who is also French and specializes in Massenet’s music. Almost all of the vocal soloists will be making their respective role debuts. These will include soprano Ellie Dehn in the title role and tenor Michael Fabiano as the Chevalier des Grieux. Ian Robertson will prepare the SFO Chorus.

Following the opening night, this opera will be given another five performances, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on November 7, 10, 16, and 22 and at 2 p.m. on November 19. The libretto will be sung in French with English supertitles. The approximate running time will be three hours and 25 minutes with two intermissions.

The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, on the northwest corner of Grove Street. Single tickets are priced from $26 to $370. Tickets may be purchased online through an event page on the SFO Web site. Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office in the outer lobby of the Opera House. The Box Office may also be reached by telephoning 415-864-3330. Standing room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance. They are sold for $10, cash only.

This opera will also be given the next Insight Panel of the season. This provides members of both the cast and the creative team to share their thoughts on preparing this production. Participants have not yet been announced. Time is left at the end of the discussion for a Q&A with the audience. The entire event is one hour, and it will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1. The venue will be the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theatre, located on the top floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue, on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Admission is free for SFO members, subscribers, and students with valid identification. The charge for all others is $5. Pre-registration (including for those who do not have to pay) can be arranged through an Eventbrite event page.

Saturday, November 4, 8 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church: At a time when most seasons are just beginning, the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra (SFCCO) will be giving the final concert in its 2016–2017 season. The title of the program will be A Free and Frank Exchange of Ideas, and it will amount to a world tour of musical thought. The program will include a suite of five sections from Erling Wold’s currently work-in-progress opera, The Sinking of the Szent István. The title refers to an Austro-Hungarian battleship that sank on its maiden voyage, probably due to a perfect storm of foolishness and mishaps. The event thus emerged as an omen of the future of the Austro-Hungarian empire itself. Another excerpt will be the fourth scene from John Beeman’s Ishi. Set in Northern California, the title of that scene is “The Demon Train.” Other works on the program will be “Turkish Impressions” by Nancie Kester, “True of Voice Finale,” a reflection on ancient Egypt by Stardust, Harry Bernstein’s “Stringtet,” and ripped-from-the-headlines “2017” by SFCCO Music Director Mark Alburger.

St. Mark’s is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. Tickets will be sold only at the door. General admission is $25 with a sliding scale available for students and seniors. Further information is available by calling 628-400-2144.

Sunday, November 5, 4 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM): Following up on this Sunday’s concert, the Historical Performance program will present a program entitled San Francisco Songs. Jamason has compiled a roughly chronological account of songs from and/or about San Francisco, beginning at the time of the Gold Rush (when, for the most part, new words were put to familiar tunes), proceeding through the 1906 earthquake and the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, up to original songs written in the Twenties and Thirties. Once again student vocalists will be accompanied at the piano by Corey Jamason, Chair of Historical Keyboards and Co-Director of the Baroque Ensemble.

The performance will take place in the Sol Joseph Recital Hall. SFCM is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. There will be no charge for admission, and reservations will not be required.

[added 11/30, 9:25 a.m.:

Sunday, November 5, 4 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church: Old First Concerts (O1C) will present the duo of violinist Nato and pianist Monica Chew. They have been performing as the Minsky Duo since the spring of 2016. Their goal is to prepare chamber music recital programs that combine both popular and obscure composers. Their O1C program is entitled Minsky Duo Raises the Barn, and it will consist entirely of American composers. They will perform sonatas by Ned Rorem, Aaron Copland, and Charles Ives, the last of which was given the title “Children's Day at the Camp Meeting.” They will also perform John Adams' “Road Movies,” as well as the world premiere of a set of preludes and fugues for piano by Aaron Andrew Hunt.

The Old First Presbyterian Church is located at 1751 Sacramento Street on the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue. If purchased in advance online from an O1C event page, general admission will be $23 with a discounted rate of $18 for seniors aged 65 or older. Tickets for full-time students showing valid identification will be $5; and children aged twelve and under will still be admitted for free. There is also a discount available for those parking at the Old First Parking Garage at 1725 Sacramento Street, just up the street from the church.]

[added 11/29, 8:35 a.m.:

Sunday, November 5, 7:30 p.m., Musicians Union Hall: The next concert to be offered by Outsound Presents in the Static Illusion Methodical Madness (SIMM) Series will be a release party for the latest Noertker's Moxie album. Bill Noertker is a bass player who composes much of the music that he plays. He formed Noertker's Moxie in 2001 as a vehicle for compositions inspired by art, poetry, sculpture, architecture, and film. (Several of the earlier releases collectively accounted for what Noertker called the Blue Rider Suite as a way of acknowledging past multidisciplinary influences.) The title of the new album is druidh fenestrae:

The second of those words the the plural for "windows" in Latin. Noertker sees the tracks on this new album as bringing light to a prodigious number of thematic influences, including childhood chants, poetry, math puzzles, word play, syllabic abbreviations, chicanery, critiques of religion, James Joyce, and Greek mythology. Performances at this release party will be the members of the Noertker's Moxie Chamber Trio, consisting of Noerkter (on bass) and two wind players, Annelise Zamula (alto saxophone and flute) and Masaru Koga (tenor saxophone and flute). The Musicians Union Hall is located at 116 9th Street, near the corner of Mission Street in SoMa. Admission will be on a sliding scale between $10 and $15.]

Sunday, November 5, 8 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall: The China National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra will give the penultimate concert of its six-city United States tour here in San Francisco. This will be a special concert arranged by SFS but not associated with any of its subscription series. Of particular interest to our own audience, the ensemble will play Lou Harrison’s pipa concerto. The soloist will be Wu Man, known to many for her frequent performances with the Kronos Quartet; and she will be accompanied only by the string section, led by Music Director Lü Jia. This will be the center of an overture-concerto-symphony program with the symphony selection being Johannes Brahms Opus 98 (fourth) in E minor. The opening selection will be “Luan Tan” by Chinese composer Chen Qigang.

Concert tickets are priced between $20 and $50. Tickets may be purchased through the event page for this concert on the SFS Web site. That page also includes both sound clips from and a podcast about the Brahms symphony. Both of these may be played through hyperlinks on the event page, but Flash must be installed and activated.

Sunday, November 5, 8:30 p.m., The Lab: Drummer John Colpitts will give a solo concert performing as Man Forever. Colpitts’ tastes are broadly eclectic, encompassing rock and jazz improvisation along with contemporary classical. The title of his program is Play What They Want, and it is the culmination of 25 years of his own characteristic approaches to musical engagement.

The Lab is located in the Mission at 2948 16th Street. This is a short walk from the corner of Mission Street. This is particularly good for those using public transportation, since that corner provides bus stops for both north-south and east-west travel as well as a BART station.

Admission will be $15, and members of The Lab will be admitted for free. Advance registration is strongly advised. Separate Web pages have been created for members and the general public. Doors will open at 8 p.m., half an hour before the performance is scheduled to begin. Events at The Lab tend to attract a large turnout, so early arrival is almost always highly recommended.

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