The Morrison Artists Series is one of the most valuable sources of free chamber music within the San Francisco city limits, provided under the auspices of the Morrison Chamber Music Center, which is affiliated with the College of Liberal & Creative Arts at San Francisco State University (SFSU). While the 63rd season consisted of seven concerts, there will be only six offerings in the 2019–2020 season. All of these will be held in the McKenna Theatre of the Creative Arts Building, and during the coming season all performances will take place on a Sunday beginning at 3 p.m. Each concert will be preceded by an informative lecture in the same building in the Knuth Recital Hall. Each performing group will also hold a master class for students in the SFSU School of Music to which the general public is invited to observe, and these will probably also take place in Knuth Hall.
The schedule for artists participating in the new season is as follows:
- October 6, Alexander String Quartet (ASQ): As was the case last season, ASQ will lead off the concert series. As SFSU Ensemble in Residence since 1989, this group has contributed regularly to the Morrison Artists Series. Violinists Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz, violist Paul Yarbrough, and cellist Sandy Wilson have prepared a program of quartets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Dmitri Shostakovich, all of whom figure significantly in the quartet’s repertoire. The program will begin with Mozart’s K. 465 (“Dissonant”) quartet in C major, followed by Shostakovich’s Opus 110 (eighth) quartet in C minor. While the latter was composed in 1960, it can easily be taken as a dark reflection on conditions during World War II. The second half of the program will be devoted to the last (in the key of C major) of the three Opus 59 Beethoven quartets commissioned by the Russian ambassador in Vienna, Count Andreas Razumovsky.
- November 3, ensemble PHASE: This is an ensemble taking an experimental approach to performing traditional Korean instruments. Their repertoire includes traditional Korean music, both classical and folk; but they also perform new works composed for their instruments. Their program will present the world premiere of Benjamin Sabey’s “Rare Bird” and the United States premiere of Sunghyun Lee’s “Isle of Ecstasy.” They will also play Christine Lee’s “Deep Ocean.”
- February 9, InterMusic SF Showcase: Regular readers are probably already familiar with InterMusic SF, the institution that curates SF Music Day, an annual all-day music festival in the Veterans Building. Their Morrison program will limit itself to presenting three local ensembles. Two of them, Brass Over Bridges and The Alaya Project, will be performing at the 2019 SF Music Day, which will be taking place almost exactly a month from today. The third group is the Curium trio of violinist Agnieszka Peszko, cellist Carlyn Kessler, and pianist Rachel Kim, whose mission is to present the works of female composers.
- February 23, Septura: This is a brass septet, all of whose members are leading players based in London, where the group is Ensemble in Residence at the Royal Academy of Music. They will be traveling halfway around the world to participate in the SFSU Brass Festival. Their Morrison recital will take place the day after their Festival performance. They will present a program entitled Borrowed Baroque with arrangements of music by Jean-Philippe Rameau and George Frideric Handel. They will also play music by two twentieth-century composers that also “borrowed” from Baroque sources, Sergei Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky.
- March 15, The Core Ensemble: This group has been developing its own genre of chamber music theater works. They will perform a full-length program entitled Ain’t I A Woman! with actress Shinnerrie Jackson. Music will be performed by cellist Ju Young Lee, pianist Hugh Hinton, and percussionist Michael Parola, who is also the ensemble’s Executive Director. The text by Kim Hines celebrates the lives of four significant African-American women, Sojourner Truth, Zora Neale Hurston, Clementine Hunter, and Fannie Lou Hamer.
- April 26, Juilliard String Quartet: As it began, the season will conclude with a string quartet recital. The current members of the Juilliard are violinists Areta Zhulla and Ronald Copes, violist Roger Tapping, and cellist Astrid Schween. As might be guessed, Beethoven will again figure in the program. In fact the program will begin with the first of the Opus 18 quartets in F major and conclude with Opus 131 in C-sharp minor. Between these milestones in Beethoven’s career, they will play György Kurtág’s Opus 44, his collection of six pieces called “Moments musicaux.”
The home page for the Morrison Chamber Music Center provides the full summary of these performances. On that Web page the name of each group has a hyperlink, which provides additional information about the pre-concert talk and master class. (This will also be where further program details will be added.) The Creative Arts Building is a short walk from the SFSU Muni stop at the corner of 19th Avenue and Holloway Avenue. Three weeks prior to each concert date, each of these Web pages will have a hyperlink through which tickets may be reserved. Tickets are not required for the master classes.