While I first wrote about the options for tomorrow at the end of last month, it was only over the course of this week that I realized that choices would have to be made for Sunday as well. One of those alternatives has already been taken into account in the article about the 2017–18 Concert Season to be presented by San Francisco Choral Artists, since Sunday is the date for the first of those concerts, A Rebel’s Christmas: Martin Luther’s Musical Reformation. However, there are several other events also taking place on December 17, both secular and honoring several different religious traditions. Specifics are as follows:
4 p.m., Church of the Advent of Christ the King: For this month’s installment of the Third Sunday Concerts series, Director of Music Paul Ellison is presenting a visit by the Montserrat Ensemble. This group consists of three vocalists, soprano Doris Williams, alto Lauren Carley, and bass Dustin Hart, and two instrumentalists, guitarist Steve Stein and Kit Robberson playing both vielle and gamba. The group may have chosen its name by virtue of its interest in the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (red book of Montserrat), a collection of devotional texts and medieval songs from the fourteenth century, so named because the pages were bound with a red cover from the nineteenth century. The group will also perform a selection of Christmas music from both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, grouped collectively under the title Mary the Rose.
The Church of the Advent of Christ the King is located at 261 Fell Street, between Franklin Street and Gough Street. The entry is diagonally across the street from the SFJAZZ Center. For those planning on driving, parking will be available in a lot adjacent to the church. A festive reception will follow the performance in Lathrop Hall. The concert is free, but there is a suggested donation of $20.
4 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church: The Christmas theme at the Church of the Advent will be complemented by a Hanukkah celebration in the Old First Concerts (O1C) series featuring a wild performance by the Kugelplex klezmer ensemble. This group was formed in 2001; and they put a contemporary swing on the ecstatic approach to music-making found among klezmorim. They are also eclectic, as well as ecstatic, having performed with both the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and the Oakland Symphony (not to mention Joan Baez).
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 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.
7:30 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall: This will be the next event in the Great Performers series presented by the San Francisco Symphony. It will be a solo performance by violinist Christian Tetzlaff, whose program will consist entirely of music by Johann Sebastian Bach. He will play four consecutive entries in the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis: BWV 1003 (sonata in A minor), BWV 1004 (partita in D minor), BWV 1005 (sonata in C major), and BWV 1006 (partita in E major). This is an ambitious undertaking. Each of the sonatas has a fugue movement, and the fugue for BWV 1005 is the longest and most involved of the three sonata fugues (including BWV 1001, which will not be played). Similarly, BWV 1004 is best known for the lengthy concluding chaconne, while BWV 1006 is known for its challenging prelude and its familiar gavotte en rondeau.
Ticket prices are between $25 and $79. They may be purchased online through the event page for this program on the SFS Web site, by calling 415-864-6000, or by visiting the Box Office in Davies Symphony Hall, whose entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. Flash is required for interactive seat selection by those purchasing tickets online. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday. It will open two hours prior to the performance on Sunday.
8:30 p.m., St. John the Evangelist: Following the same schedule as the Church of the Advent, the a cappella vocal ensemble Endersnight leads a Compline service at this Episcopal church on the third Sunday of every month. This month’s service will be held during Advent and will include music for the season by Bob Chilcott, Daniel Pickens-Jones, and Bach, as well as traditional chants and carols. A traditional wassail reception will be held after the service has concluded. The church is located in the Mission at 1661 16th Street at the corner of Julian Street, between Mission Street and Valencia Street. No admission will be charged, but a collection will be taken.