Monday, July 30, 2018

SFP to Celebrate Anniversaries with Special Events

September is the month during which many of the major concert series in San Francisco launch their new seasons. This year both the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera will hold their opening gala events during the first full week of September. San Francisco Performances (SFP), on the other hand, will wait until the end of that month; but this season that opening gala will be one of two celebrations of highly significant anniversaries.

Traditionally, SFP has devoted its annual gala to raise funds for its educational and outreach program. To encourage participation, the event includes a concert program that features a celebrated guest artist. This year, however, the concert given by the gala will celebrate a major milestone in twentieth-century music, the first performance of Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat (the soldier’s tale) on September 28, 1918. Composed at a time when resources were sparse due to World War I, the score was written for only seven instrumentalists playing, respectively violin, bass, clarinet, bassoon, cornet, trombone, and percussion. A libretto was provided by Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz that required only three actors and one dancer.

Stravinsky wrote his score at a time when he had been influenced by the migration of jazz into Europe from the United States. This is particularly evident in music written for the dancer. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the work’s first performance, SFP will “reverse the flow” with a “jazz-inflected” approach to Stravinsky’s score drawing upon SFP’s commitment to providing a platform for highly innovative jazz performers. Trumpeter Sean Jones, currently Artist-in-Residence, will join forces with a previous Artist-in-Residence, violinist Regina Carter, to interpret the most prominent solo parts that Stravinsky composed. They will be joined by another leading jazz musician, trombonist Robin Eubanks. The program will also include an all-star set of jazz favorites.

[added 8/28, 3:35 p.m.:

The remaining performers have now been announced. The other instrumentalists are as follows: Aneesa Strings (bass), Jeannie Psomas (clarinet), Patrick Johnson-Whitty (bassoon), and Justin Sun (percussion). Nicholas Phan will narrate the texts from the libretto. Finally, the entire ensemble will be conducted by Valérie Sainte-Agathe.

The concert will be preceded by cocktails, a full-course dinner, and a fund-a-need drive. (Black tie will be optional.) Participation in the full gala may be through the purchase of either individual tickets or sponsor packages that fill a table for ten. Entry level is $500 for an Individual Ticket, $350 of which is tax-deductible. However, there is also a Benefactor Ticket for $750, $600 of which is tax-deductible. Table Sponsors may choose among three alternatives. The Silver Sponsor level is $5000, $3500 of which is tax-deductible, the Gold Sponsor is $7500, $6000 of which is tax-deductible, and the Platinum Sponsor is $10,000, $8500 of which is tax-deductible. Tickets for all of the gala events, including the concert, are not being sold online. Those interested in attending can call 415-677-0326 or send electronic mail.

For those wishing to attend only the concert, a limited number of tickets will be available in the side and rear orchestra, the side boxes, the dress circle, and the balcony. Ticket prices will be $55 and $45. Concert-only tickets will go on sale on August 6. As of that date, they may be purchased through an event page on the SFP Web site. The entire event will take place on Friday, September 28, in the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Cocktails and dinner will take place in the Green Room on the second floor, beginning at 6 p.m.; and the concert will be held at 7 p.m. in Herbst Theatre.

The second major anniversary to be celebrated will be the 90th birthday of pianist Leon Fleisher, who was born in San Francisco on July 23, 1928. Fleisher will be honored with a solo piano recital that will be presented by Jonathan Biss, a particular favorite with SFP audiences. Program details have not yet been announced. However, the composers to be included on the program will all be those that were part of Fleisher’s repertoire: Johann Sebastian Bach, Leon Kirchner, Franz Schubert, Antonín Dvořák, and Maurice Ravel.

This recital will also be held in Herbst Theatre, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 12. Ticket prices will be $75, $60, and $45. Again, these tickets will go on sale on August 6, after which they may be purchased through the SFP event page.

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