Thursday, November 14, 2019

Choices for December 6–8, 2019

As readers brace themselves for the busy weekend that is about to get underway, they should be prepared for the fact that the first weekend in December will also offer a diversity of choices. As shopping for gifts begins to take precedence over going to concerts, the December schedule tends to get quieter. So the prospect for the first weekend of the month suggests an abundance of “last gasp” opportunities. This year there seems to be a fair amount of diversity among those opportunities. Specifics, listed in order of start time, are as follows:

[added 11/22, 10:25 a.m.:

Friday, December 6, 12:30 p.m., Cadillac Hotel: Jazz pianist Jeffrey Chin will return for another holiday concert. As I previously put it, he “always seems to be leading a trio;” and, on this occasion he will be joined by Marc Levine on bass and Mark Lee on drums. Once again the repertoire will consist of seasonal favorites and standards. Chin will, of course, be playing the Patricia Walkup Memorial Piano, a fully-restored 1884 Steinway Model D Concert Grand. The Cadillac Hotel is located at 380 Eddy Street, on the northeast corner of Leavenworth Street.  The purpose of the Concerts at the Cadillac series is to provide high-quality music to the residents of the hotel and the Tenderloin District; but all are invited to visit the venue that calls itself “The House of Welcome Since 1907.”]

[added 11/16, 9:25 a.m.:

Friday, December 6, 7 p.m., Red Poppy Art House: Makrú will be playing its program of “rumba ska with global beats,” as described in the account of December activities at this venue.]

Friday, December 6, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre: San Francisco Opera will present the final performance by the 2019 Adler Fellows, entitled The Future is Now. The vocalists will be sopranos Mary Evelyn Hangley and Natalie Image, mezzos Ashley Dixon and Simone McIntosh, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, tenors SeokJong Baek, Zhengyi Bai, Christopher Colmenero, and Christopher Oglesby, and bass-baritone Christian Pursell. Eun Sun Kim will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra; and, when necessary, harpsichord continuo will be provided by both of the Adler Apprentice Coaches, Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad and César Cañón.

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. Ticket prices will be $65 for premium Orchestra seating, $55 for Orchestra Rear and Side Boxes, $45 for the Dress Circle, and $30 for the Balcony. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a San Francisco Opera event page.

Friday, December 6, and Saturday, December 7, 8 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM): Michael Mohammed, Director of the Musical Theatre Workshop, will present the end-of-term production, entitled She Turns the Tide: Musical Theatre About Women, By Women. The Musical Director will be Lauren Mayer. The selections to be presented have not yet been finalized.

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. Both performances are free, but reservations are highly recommended. Reservations may be placed through hyperlinks on the separate event pages for the Friday and Saturday performances.

Friday, December 6, 8 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church: Old First Concerts (O1C) will begin a month of primarily seasonal programming with a performance by Musae, a women’s vocal ensemble based in San Francisco led by Artistic Director Laney McClain Armstrong. The title of the program will be The Bleak Midwinter, inspired by Christina Rossetti’s poem “In the Bleak Midwinter” and subsequently set to music for The English Hymnal of 1906 by Gustav Holst. The program will feature more recent works by contemporary American composers Eric Barnum and Carson Cooman, as well as traditional carols.

The Old First Presbyterian Church is located at 1751 Sacramento Street on the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue. If purchased in advance online from the O1C event page, general admission will be $23 with a discounted rate of $18 for seniors aged 65 or older. 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.

Friday, December 6, and Saturday, December 7, 8 p.m., Saint Ignatius Church: The San Francisco Choral Society, led by its Artistic Director Robert Geary, will conclude its historic 30th anniversary season with timely music by Johann Sebastian Bach. The best-known of the offerings will be the BWV 243 setting of the Magnificat canticle. This will be preceded by the last three of the six cantatas collected in the BWV 248 Christmas Oratorio. Those cantatas were composed for services on New Year’s Day, the first Sunday of the New Year, and the Epiphany feast day. These will be historically-informed performances including the Jubilate Orchestra playing period instruments. Vocal soloists will be sopranos Michele Kennedy and Jessica House Steward, mezzo Leandra Ramm, tenor Michael Jankosky, and baritone Nikolas Nackley.

Saint Ignatius Church is located on the campus of the University of San Francisco at 650 Parker Avenue on the northeast corner of Fulton Street. Ticket prices will be $50 for Premiere seating, $40 for reserved seating at the back of the Orchestra, and $35 for general admission seating in the side sections of the sanctuary. All tickets are being sold online by City Box Office with separate event pages for Friday and Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased by calling City Box Office at 415-392-4400, which is open on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Junior high school and high school students can receive free tickets, but only by calling City Box Office.

Friday, December 6, and Saturday, December 7, 9 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall: The SoundBox concert series presented by the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) will begin its sixth season. The program will be curated jointly by three SFS musicians, violinist David Chernyavsky, Assistant Principal Viola Katie Kadarauch, and Principal Bass Scott Pingel. The conductor will be Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser. Like all of this season’s offerings, the program will be organized into three “acts.” The first act will be framed by concertante compositions by Antonio Vivaldi and György Ligeti separated by a set of klezmer music performed by Chernyavsky along with Ben Goldberg on clarinet and Rob Reich on accordion. The second act will present different approaches by composers that have chosen chance-based techniques. It will be framed by “Event: Synergy II,” composed by Earle Brown in 1967, and Frederic Rzewski’s “Les Moutons de Panurge.” Between these two pieces Kadarauch will play selections from Viola Spaces, a set of eight concert studies by Garth Knox. The final act will bring SFS musicians together for a jazz set.

SoundBox has a special entrance to Davies, located on Franklin Street at the northeast corner of Hayes Street. As of this writing, the only remaining tickets are those covered by the $400 Producer Pass. This enables early entrance 30 minutes prior to when the doors open for the general audience, two complimentary drinks at the Producer’s Bar, credits projected before the show begins, early access to the remaining two Soundbox programs, and a tax deduction of $250. Hyperlinks for purchasing Producer Passes for all three of the SoundBox programs are on a single SFS event page. Flash is required for processing online purchases. Programming for the remaining two programs has not yet been finalized. However, a brief summary is as follows:
  • Friday, February 7, and Saturday, February 8, 9 p.m.: Edwin Outwater will conduct a program curated by composer Missy Mazzoli. Mazzoli will also play synthesizer, joined by two other synthesizer performers, Mario Diaz De Leon and Lorna Dune. The other soloist will be soprano Marnie Breckenridge.
  • Friday, April 24, and Saturday, April 25, 9 p.m.: The curator will be SFS Artist-in-Residence soprano Julia Bullock. Christian Reif will conduct. This will probably be the most eclectic of the three programs with selections ranging from chants by Hildegard of Bingen at one end and the eclectic jazz inventions of Nina Simone at the other.
At the present time only Producer Passes are being sold for these two programs.

Saturday, December 7, 7:30 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church: The next guitar recital to be shared by the Guitar Series presented by San Francisco Performances and the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts Dynamite Guitars series will be given by Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang. Her program will include arrangements of not only the music of Chinese composers but also piano compositions by both Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados. She will also complement an arrangement of Claude Debussy’s piano prelude “La fille aux cheveux de lin” (the girl with the flaxen hair) with the “Homenaje” (homage) that Manuel de Falla wrote following Debussy’s death.

St. Mark’s is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. Ticket prices will be $60 for the Orchestra level and $50 for the Balcony. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a City Box Office event page.

Saturday, December 7, 7:30 p.m., War Memorial Opera House: San Francisco Opera will conclude its Fall season with the final performance of Engelbert Humperdinck’s  Hansel and Gretel, specifics of which have already been provided.

Saturday, December 7, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, December 8, 4 p.m., Calvary Presbyterian Church: Journeys by Candlelight: Christmas Near and Far will be the annual Christmas concert presented by the San Francisco Bach Choir. Director Magen Solomon has prepared a program of music from Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The program will cover periods from the fifteenth century to the immediate present with a world premiere. Instrumental support will be provided by the Renaissance wind band The Whole Noyse and pianist Steven Bailey.

Calvary Presbyterian Church is located at 2515 Fillmore Street on the northwest corner of Jackson Street. Ticket prices will be $35 for general admission and $30 for seniors. In addition there is a $10 rate for patrons under 30 and students with valid identification. All those under nineteen will be admitted without charge through will-call or tickets printed at home. Finally, as in the past, ticket orders may include $25 that will cover the cost of free admission to a member of one of the senior community choirs from neighborhoods in San Francisco. All levels of tickets for all performances can be purchased through a single Web page.

Saturday, December 7, 8 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church: O1C will present a Holiday Guitar Concert, which will feature two guitarists, Lawrence Ferrara and Matthew Grasso. They will be joined by vocalist Tatyana Hall in performances of both traditional and contemporary holiday music. There will also be lute music by John Dowland and selections by Antonio Vivaldi and George Frideric Handel. Pricing information is the same as on Friday night, and the concert has its own event page.

Sunday, December 8, 3 p.m., The Women’s Building: Once again, the only in the COMMUNITY event presented by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) will be hosted by The Women’s Building. Celebration of the Elements will be a free event at which only two compositions will be performed. The first of these will be Vivian Fung’s “The Ice is Talking,” which she scored for solo percussion and electronics. She created the piece as a celebration of the elements, taking in the beauty of gliding through ice as taps and swishes shape into virtuosic rhythmic patterns and ending with dramatic flair, in the hope of raising awareness to the world around us. It will be followed by a “community-made” composition designed by Jason Treuting, a member of the So Percussion Quartet. The title of his piece is “How to (Blank);” and audience participation will involve filling in blanks provided by Treuting’s score.

The Women’s Building is located at 3543 18th Street in Unite #8. There is no charge for admission, but it is advisable to secure a seat by making a reservation as an RSVP. SFCMP has created an event page for this purpose.

Sunday, December 8, 4 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church: The final O1C performance of the weekend will present the Ragazzi Boys Chorus in a program entitled Celebrations of the Season: Stories of Our Immigrant Heritage. The diversity of offerings planned for this program will be, to say the least, prodigious. Both the tender lilt of the Irish “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” and the gently rhythmic Mexican villancico “Xicochi, Xicochi” are meant to coax a baby to sleep, while the call-and-response of African gospel piece “Hlohonolofatsa” and the Kituba dialect carol “Noel” will enliven the performance with added percussion. The “Gloucestershire Wassail” and “Noel Nouvelet” bring the seasonal traditions of England and France. More familiar selections will include “Ding Dong, Merrily on High,” and “O Christmas Tree,” both accompanied by brass, and the bright Hanukkah tune “S’vivon.” From Chinese composer Xixan Qu, “Pastoral” paints a beautiful homeland scene in its lyrics, as Ola Gjello’s haunting “Northern Lights” uses text from the Song of Solomon to describe the “terrible, powerful beauty” seen from the attic window in his native Norway. Finally, there will be a double-choir arrangement of “O Magnum Mysterium” by Giovanni Gabrieli will will include a brass choir, filling the space with the mystery of the Holy Child, born among the animals. Pricing information is the same as on Friday night, and the concert has its own event page.

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