Monday, August 13, 2018

The SFP 2018–2019 Shenson Chamber Series

[For those expecting a Bleeding Edge column today, all of the San Francisco events listed in the BayImproviser Calendar for this week have already been accounted for in the monthly summaries of the relevant organizations, Adobe Books, Center for New Music, Outsound Presents, Old First Concerts, and the Red Poppy Art House; as a result, I felt that time would be better spent with another article about what to expect during the coming season.]

As was the case last season, the San Francisco Performances (SFP) Shenson Chamber Series for the 2018–2019 season will focus on string quartets. For that matter, it will again be the case that one of those ensembles will appear with a “guest artist.” Two of the programs will focus on new or recent compositions, but each will include at least one work on the program that reflects on the past. All of the quartet groups have performed previously for SFP, although one of them did so in a non-standard capacity.

As usual, all of the concerts will take place in Herbst Theatre. The entrance to Herbst is the 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. The specific dates and their related performers are as follows:

Sunday, October 7, 7 p.m.: The Dover Quartet, consisting of violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee, violist Milena Pajaro-Van de Stadt, and cellist Camden Shaw, made its SFP debut at the end of October of 2016. For their return visit they have prepared a program entitled Made in America, which will present works by composers born in Europe, who were influenced by life in the United States. The most familiar of those composers is Antonín Dvořák; and, at their SFP debut recital, the Dover played the most familiar of his string quartets, Opus 96 in F major, generally known as the “American” quartet. For their return visit they will play his Opus 105 quartet in A-flat major. The program will begin with Benjamin Britten’s Opus 25 (first) string quartet in D major, composed in New York in 1941. Britten had left England in 1939, due to the difficult position of pacifists during the turbulent times leading up to the Second World War. The remaining work on the program does not quite live up to the overall title. Béla Bartók emigrated to the United States in October of 1940; but his third string quartet, which Dover has prepared for their program, was composed in 1927 and was definitely “made in Hungary!”

Friday, November 16, 7:30 p.m.: The Brooklyn Rider quartet of violinists Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen, violist Nicholas Cords, and cellist Michael Nicolas made its debut at the end of last November; but their performance was not part of the Shenson Chamber Series. Instead, they provided “live” music for Some of a Thousand Words, which was the first offering is last season’s Dance Series. For their first SFP chamber music recital, they have prepared a program entitled Healing Modes. They will set the tone for the program with a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 132 quartet in A minor, whose extended middle movement was given the title “Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart” (holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian mode). The remainder of the program has been conceived as a series of “responses” to the “call” of Opus 132 by contemporary composers. Two of those composers, Caroline Shaw and Du Yun, are Pulitzer Prize winners. The other contributing composers are Reena Esmail, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Matana Roberts.

Thursday, February 14, 7:30 p.m.: Pianist Joyce Yang made her SFP debut in November of 2015 performing with the members of the SFP Ensemble-in-Residence, the Alexander String Quartet (ASQ), violinists Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz, violist Paul Yarbrough, and cellist Sandy Wilson. As was the case in 2015, the entire program will consist of chamber music for piano and strings. The featured work will be the West Coast premiere of a piano quintet by Samuel Carl Adams. The first part of the program will be devoted to the two piano quartets of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, K. 478 in G minor and K. 493 in E-flat major.

Monday, April 1, 7:30 p.m.: According to my records, this will be the third appearance of the Elias String Quartet (violinists Sara Bitlloch and Donald Grant, violist Martin Saving, and cellist Marie Bitlloch) under SFP auspices, the last having been in March of 2015. Based in London, the ensemble will devote the first half of its program to two British composers with quartets by Sally Beamish and Britten (his second, Opus 36 in C major). The second half of the program will present the first (in A minor) of the three quartets that Robert Schumann published as his Opus 41. This performance will be followed by a Sponsor Reception for donors that have made a contribution of at least $500. Those interested in becoming donors may do so online through a special Web page on the SFP Web site.

Subscriptions are now on sale for $260 for premium seating in the Orchestra and the front and center of the Dress Circle, $200 for the Side Boxes, the center rear of the Dress Circle, and the remainder of the Orchestra, and $160 for the remainder of the Dress Circle and the Balcony. Subscriptions may be purchased online in advance through a City Box Office event page. Orders may also be placed by calling the SFP subscriber hotline at 415-677-0325, which is open for receiving calls between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Single tickets are also on sale for $70, $55, and $45, accordingly. Each concert has its own City Box Office event page, and these may be accessed through the hyperlinks attached to the above dates.

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