Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Choices for October 26, 2017

As we brace ourselves for the next upcoming busy weekend, it is necessary to note it will be preceded by the next busy weekday of choices on October 26. One of the alternatives has already been discussed, which is the return of Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä to the podium of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and the SFS debut of violinist Baiba Skride, who will be performing Jean Sibelius’ Opus 47 violin concerto. The good news, for those worrying about conflicts, is that this performance will be at 2 p.m. in Davies Symphony Hall, while the other alternatives for the day will be in the evening. In addition the SFS program will also be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 27, and Saturday, 28 (thus contributing to that forthcoming busy weekend). So those who have now braced themselves for the many choices arising this coming weekend can also start to prepare for choosing between two evening events the following Thursday, October 26, both of which will begin at 7:30 p.m.:

Herbst Theatre: The second program in the San Francisco Performances (SFP) Vocal Series will feature soprano Dawn Upshaw, accompanied at the piano by Gilbert Kalish. She will perform two relatively recent song cycles, both based on American songs of war, peace, hope, death, night, and the sea and one receiving its Bay Area premiere. The latter is Caroline Shaw’s Narrow Sea, which draws upon sources from colonial America, African-American spirituals, and others. Those who had an opportunity to listen to excepts from Shaw’s earlier collection By and By, performed at last week’s installment of PBO SESSIONS, will have had a taste of how she has approached such material in the past.

However, Narrow Sea was actually written as a response to Upshaw’s other selection, George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny, which is the fourth volume in his six-volume American Songbook series. Crumb scored all of the pieces in this collection for accompaniment by both piano and percussion quartet. Thus, for this performance, Upshaw and Kalish will be join by the four members of So Percussion, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting, and Eric Cha-Beach. This group will be making its SFP debut. The program will begin with Bryce Dessner’s 2013 “Music for Wood and Strings,” which was given its world premiere in Carnegie Hall by So Percussion.

The entrance to Herbst is the main entrance to the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue, located on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. The venue is excellent for public transportation, since that corner has Muni bus stops for both north-south and east-west travel. Tickets prices are $65 for premium seating in the Orchestra and the front and center of the Dress Circle, $55 for the Side Boxes, the center rear of the Dress Circle, and the remainder of the Orchestra, and $40 for the remainder of the Dress Circle and the Balcony. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a City Box Office event page.

Red Poppy Art House: As fate would have it, a “completely different” approach to American songs will be taking place at exactly the same time in another part of town. The vocalist will be Iranian-American Adrienne Shamszad, who was born in Oakland. Shamszad accompanies herself on guitar and has a solid command of American sources in both folk and soul. She has also traveled extensively throughout Asia, India, and the Middle East; and her approach to traditional Persian songs, particularly those inspired by the mystic poets of Iran, is equally well-grounded. For this performance she will be accompanied by Schuyler Karr on bass and a percussionist, who has not yet been announced.

The Red Poppy is located in the Mission at 2698 Folsom Street. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Because the Poppy is a small space, it is almost always a good idea to be there when the doors open. Admission will be on a sliding scale between $15 and $20, and tickets will be sold only at the door.

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