Friday, August 31, 2018

Old First Concerts: October, 2018

With Labor Day Weekend upon us, we have come to the threshold of the new concert season. This site has done its best to prepare readers for the month of September and has even begun to provide heads-up announcements for the month of October. As a result, it is not to soon (at least for those big on advance planning) to review the October performances that will be presented by Old First Concerts (O1C). These plans seem to be finalized. However, if it is necessary, this Web page will be updated; and notification will be provided through this site’s Facebook shadow page.

All O1C events take place at the Old First Presbyterian Church, 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. Hyperlinks for online purchase through specific event pages will be attached to the date-and-time information given below. 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. Here are the specifics for the month of October:

Friday, October 5, 8 p.m.: Club Glee was formed fourteen years ago by older alumni of the Glee Club at Waseda University, a leading Japanese private research university. Among the roughly two dozen vocalists, the average age is 74, and the group practices three hours every Sunday. The repertoire consists primarily of popular songs arranged by conductor Haruo Maruyama. Four years ago the group came to California to perform at a Waseda Alumni event in Los Angeles, and this will be their first visit to San Francisco. While the repertoire is not usually associated with attentive listening, the uniqueness of this group’s approach to music making definitely deserves more than casual attention!

Sunday, October 7, 4 p.m.: Dyad is the innovative duo of violinists Niv Ashkenazi and bassoonist Leah Kohn. As might be guessed, much of the repertoire is by contemporary composers; and the program will include works by Reena Esmail, Rachel Epperly, and Gernot Wolfgang. However, Niccolò Paganini composed a set of three duos for this particular combination of instruments, and Dyad will perform the first from that set. They will also perform “Prayer,” the first movement from Ernest Bloch’s suite From Jewish Life, originally scored for cello and piano.

Friday, October 12, 8 p.m.: The Stenberg | Cahill Duo consists of violinist Kate Stenberg and pianist Sarah Cahill. They got together as a duo in 2016, and I first encountered them in September of that year when they gave a Sunset Music | Arts recital at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation. That recital covered repertoire from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Henry Cowell, but since then the duo has dedicated itself to promoting the American experimental tradition and expanding it through the commissioning of new works. The O1C program will present the world premiere of “Talking in Circles” by local composer Aaron Gervais. They will also perform “Sueños de Chambi” by another local composer, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Linda Catlin Smith’s “With Their Shadows Long.” Two European composers, both women, will also be included on the program, Kaija Saariaho (“Tocar”) and a composition yet to be announced by Grażyna Bacewicz. Also yet to be announced will be a selection by Cowell.

Sunday, October 14, 4 p.m.: The Ives Quartet, which used to make regular appearances at O1C, has now expanded into the Ives Collective. Co-directed by violinist Susan Freier and cellist Stephen Harrison, the other members of the group are violinist Roy Malan, violist Melissa Matson, pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi, and clarinetist Carlos Ortega. The title of their program will be Schickele Mix, featuring a 1982 quartet for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano by Peter Schickele in a departure from his P. D. Q. Bach persona. This piece will be framed by two Russian compositions, Sergei Prokofiev’s Opus 34, which he called “Overture on Hebrew Themes,” and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Opus 57 piano quintet.

Friday, October 26, 8 p.m.: The Vinifera Trio, the partnership of pianist Ian Scarfe with violinist Rachel Patrick and Matthew Boyles playing both clarinet and bass clarinet, formed in 2014; but I only became aware of them when I learned that a concert they had planned for November 18, 2016 in the Concerts at 405 Shrader series sold out very quickly, leading to 405 Shrader agreeing to host a second performance the following evening. Their O1C debut will be a bold one, featuring the music of Olivier Messiaen. They will be joined by cellist James Jaffe in a performance of the “Quatuor pour la fin du temps;” and Scarfe will perform movements selected from Messiaen’s twenty-movement “meditation” on the infancy of Jesus, “Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jésus” (twenty contemplations on the infant Jesus).

Sunday, October 28, 4 p.m.: Pianists Inara Morgenstern and Victoria Neve, both on the Music Faculty at San Francisco State University, will present a Halloween-appropriate program. Neve will give a solo performance of George Crumb’s “Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik” (at little midnight music); and the rest of the program will be devoted primarily to “seasonal” four-hand compositions by Charles Gounod, Steven Reineke, Paul Dukas, Robert Schumann, Alfredo Casella, and Toby Twining. The program will also include toy piano music and spooky vocal selections by Ariela Morgenstern.

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