SFP Vocal Artist-in-Residence Nicholas Phan (courtesy of SFP)
Next month the San Francisco Performances (SFP) 2017–2018 Vocal Series will conclude with a recital by the current Vocal Artist-in-Residence, tenor Nicholas Phan. This will be Phan’s first Vocal Series concert, having already appeared twice in past Salon Series offerings, the most recent of which was almost exactly a year ago. His accompanist will be pianist Myra Huang, who will be making her SFP debut this coming Saturday, when she accompanies Lawrence Brownlee’s Vocal Series recital.
The title of Phan’s program will be La Bonne Chanson—Songs of the Parisian Belle Époque. The period of the Belle Époque (beautiful era) is usually set between the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the beginning of World War I in 1914. This was a time when Paris saw the emergence and flourishing of several significant composers, including Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy, and Erik Satie. This was also the time of the short-lived Lili Boulanger and one of the more innovative composers of art song, Reynaldo Hahn.
All of these composers will be included in Phan’s program. Indeed, the Fauré selection will be La Bonne Chanson, his Opus 61 cycle of nine poems from a volume with the same title by Paul Verlaine. Fauré composed this collection between 1892 and 1894, followed by a version for voice, piano, and string quartet, which he created in 1898. The Debussy selection will also present Verlaine poems, six of which he collected for his Ariettes oubliées (forgotten songs), which he completed in 1887. The Satie cycle will be Ludions (probably best rendered in English as “let us play”), a setting of five texts by Léon-Paul Fargue with provocative titles such as “The American Frog” and “Rat’s Tune.” The program will also include selections from the two volumes that Boulanger published under the title Clairières dans le ciel (clearings in the sky). The program will begin with Hahn’s setting of Théophile de Viau’s poem “À Chloris.”
This recital will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12. The venue will be Herbst Theatre, whose entrance 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. Tickets prices are $65 for premium seating in the Orchestra and the front and center of the Dress Circle, $55 for the Side Boxes, the center rear of the Dress Circle, and the remainder of the Orchestra, and $40 for the remainder of the Dress Circle and the Balcony. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a City Box Office event page.
In addition, SFP will present a “prequel” to Phan’s recital, a lecture/performance entitled French Song and the Belle Époque. The lecture will be delivered by SFP Music Historian-in-Residence Robert Greenberg. On the performance side Phan will share the stage with vocalist colleagues Rhoslyn Jones (soprano) and Renée Rapier (mezzo). In addition, pianist Robert Mollicone will be joined by the members of the Alexander String Quartet, violinists Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz, violist Paul Yarbrough, and cellist Sandy Wilson. Presumably, this will provide an opportunity to listen to how Fauré reworked some of his Opus 61 songs for voice, piano, and string quartet. The other composer whose music will be performed will be Debussy.
This event will also take place in Herbst Theater at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 7. Regular readers probably know that the entire weekend will be a busy one, but this afternoon event will conflict with only a few of the alternatives previously summarized. Ticket prices will be the same as those for the April 12 recital. Tickets may again be purchased in advance online through a City Box Office event page.