Members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (photograph by Ben La, courtesy of SFGC)
2018–2019 will mark the 40th anniversary season of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC). It will also mark the promotion of Valérie Sainte-Agathe from Music Director and Principal Conductor to Artistic Director, succeeding Lisa Bielawa in that capacity. As was observed last month, members of the SFGC School will be participating in Opera Parallèle’s revival production of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince in December; but, as they say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This month they are already singing in the San Francisco Opera production of Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci;” and, later in the season, they will contribute to the production of Georges Bizet’s Carmen. On the other side of Grove Street, they will be joining the San Francisco Symphony’s performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “Perséphone” next week at Davies Symphony Hall. The coming season in San Francisco itself will serve up a diverse repertoire, performed, once again, at a variety of different venues. Specifics are as follows:
Thursday, October 18, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre, Mademoiselle: An American Inspiration: The “mademoiselle” of the title is Nadia Boulanger, one of the foremost composition teachers of the twentieth century. Through the French Music School for Americans, which opened in Fontainebleau in the summer of 1921, Boulanger educated multiple generations of America’s most well-known composers. The program will survey works by six of her students: David Conte, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Samuel Barber, Louise Talma, and Leonard Bernstein. The program will open with Boulanger’s own music, excerpts from Les Heures Claires, followed by the music of her sister Lili, the prodigious pianist who died at the age of 25 in March of 1918, making this the centennial year of her death. Guest soloist for the program will be tenor Nicholas Phan. Herbst Theatre is located in the Veterans Building on the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. (This corner is convenient to Muni lines running both north-south and east-west.)
Monday, December 17, 7 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall, Holidays at Davies: This year the Kronos Quartet will join SFGC for their annual seasonal visit to Davies. They will also be joined by the women’s choral group Musae, which includes many SFGC alumnae, one of whom is Principal Conductor Laney McClain. In addition to the usual holiday offerings, the program will feature the West Coast premiere of Michael Gordon’s “Exalted.” Other contemporary composers whose music will be presented include Vladimir Martynov, Reena Esmail, Stacy Garrop, and Aleksandra Vrebalov. Davies is located on the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street. It is also convenient to north-south and east-west Muni lines, as well as the Civic Center station for both Muni and BART.
Sunday, March 3, 4 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), Modern Masters: True to its title, this program will feature the first of three world premiere performances of works commissioned for this season. Composed by Fred Frith for chorus, synthesizer, and percussion, the piece has not yet been given a title. Other contemporary composers to be included on the program will be David Lang, Steve Reich, John Zorn, and Kaija Saariaho. The Reich selection will be “Clapping Music,” usually performed by only two players; so a larger-scale treatment of the score is likely to yield an entirely different impression. The program will begin with Ralph Vaughan William’s setting of the Magnificat canticle. The SFCM building is located at 50 Oak Street, between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni Station.
Friday, March 22, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre: Next year Denmark’s leading girls chorus, the Copenhagen Girls Choir, will be making a tour of California. That tour will include a performance at Herbst, which will be presented jointly with SFGC. The program for this concert has not yet been announced.
Saturday, June 8, 7:30 p.m., Mission Dolores Basilica, From East to West: The final program of the season will present the other two world premiere performances. The first of these will be Richard Danielpour’s Three Parables. The title of the second, by Aviya Koppelman, has not yet been given. The guest artist for the program will be Persian vocalist Mahsa Vahdat, who will present her own songs. Other composers included on the program will be Eric Banks, Tord Gustavsen, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Hildegard of Bingen. Mission Dolores Basilica is located in the Mission at 3321 16th Street, just west of Dolores Street.