Last year marked the transformation of the San Francisco Performances (SFP) Vocal Series into The Art of Song Series. The objective behind the change was to include more than traditional “art song” in the repertoire. Last year that resulted in both jazz performed by vocalist Luciana Souza and the decision by English baritone Christopher Maltman to conclude his recital with a “comic relief” selection of the “bestiary” songs composed by Donald Swann setting the witty English texts of Michael Flanders. Nevertheless, all four of the coming season’s recitals in this series will follow the art song tradition; but there will still be several imaginative twists in approaches to repertoire.
As usual, all of the concerts will take place in Herbst Theatre. The entrance to Herbst is 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. All performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. The specific dates and their related performers are as follows:
Tuesday, October 22: Two of the recitals in this series will be devoted to a single composer. The first of these will be the program that baritone Christian Gerhaher has prepared drawing entirely on the works of Gustav Mahler. Accompanied at the piano by Gerold Huber, he will sing the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (songs of a wayfarer) cycle of four songs in its entirety. He will also perform selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (the boy’s miraculous horn), Mahler’s settings of folk poetry from the anthology compiled by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano, as well as some of the settings of poems by Friedrich Rückert selected for the Kindertotenlieder (songs on the death of children) cycle.
Wednesday, December 11: Mezzo Jamie Barton will be the recitalist, and her program will take place almost exactly four years after she made her San Francisco recital debut performing in an SFP Young Masters Series concert. For her return to SFP, she has prepared a program with a feminist perspective in which she will situate women composers in contexts alongside their male peers. All five of the females are associated with the twentieth century: Elinor Remick Warren, Amy Beach, Lili and Nadia Boulanger, and Libby Larsen. (Beach began composing at the end of the nineteenth century, but most of her work took place in the twentieth.) The “context providing males” will be Joseph Haydn, Maurice Ravel, and Richard Strauss. Barton will be accompanied at the piano by Kathleen Kelly.
Monday, April 27: The second single-composer recital will be devoted to Franz Schubert. Tenor Mark Padmore will be accompanied by pianist Marc-André Hamelin in a performance of the D. 911 Winterreise cycle. Schubert composed this collection of settings of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller between February and October of 1827, and it is his most extensive effort in vocal composition.
Wednesday, May 6: The series will conclude with the debut recital to be given by baritone Benjamin Appl. His accompanist will be pianist James Baillieu. Program details have not yet been announced, but the scope of the plan for the program will run from Schubert at one end to Arnold Schoenberg at the other.
Subscriptions are now on sale for $235 for premium seating, $190, and $160. Subscriptions may be purchased online in advance through a City Box Office event page, which includes information about the locations associated with each of the price levels. 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 will go on sale on Monday, August 19 and will also be sold by City Box Office. Once available, they may be purchased through the hyperlinks attached to each of the above dates.