Group portrait of the SFCMP performers (courtesy of SFCMP)
The 49th season of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) will contain eighteen works, thirteen composers, seven premieres, and two commissions. The repertoire will spotlight both large-ensemble pieces and California artists. As in the past, concerts have been classified according to different series. The coming season will be organized around four of those series: on STAGE, in the COMMUNITY, in the LABORATORY, and at the CROSSROADS. Each of those series will provide the framework for a single concert; and each concert will be given one performance in San Francisco. Specifics of programming are as follows:
Saturday, September 14, 8 p.m., Fort Mason: The on STAGE series will launch the season with a program called Oceanic Migrations. It will consist entirely of an evening-length, site-responsive piece by Michael Gordon, one of the three American composers that founded Bang on a Can, all of whom still share artistic directorship. As of this writing, the composition has not yet been given a title; but it was motivated by a desire to serve as a remembrance and reflection on the experiences of those detained and processed at San Francisco’s Angel Island Immigration Station. (Those who know their history, if any are left, may recall that Sergei Rachmaninoff entered the United States by way of Angel Island; but he did not enter as an immigrant.)
Gordon has scored his composition for 21 players. These will include eight members of SFCMP, the local reed quintet Splinter Reeds, and the vocal octet Roomful of Teeth, one of whose members is SFCMP Artistic Director Eric Dudley. The performance will be preceded at 7 p.m. with a pre-concert discussion in the Cowell Theater that will bring Gordon together with historians, archivists, musicians, and Bay Area residents having personal experiences connected to the history of Angel Island. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and complementary beverages will be served in the atrium.
Sunday, December 8, 3 p.m., The Women’s Building: Once again, The Women’s Building will host the in the COMMUNITY event of the season, which will be entitled Celebration of the Elements. As was the case last season, this 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.
Friday, January 17, 8 p.m., San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM): The in the LABORATORY series concert will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of choreographer Merce Cunningham, much of whose repertoire grew out of his long and prolific partnership with California composer John Cage. The major work on the program will be the piece that Cage called “Concert for Piano and Orchestra;” and, unless I am mistaken, Cunningham served as the conductor for the first performance of this piece. He subsequently used it as the score for his own choreographic creation “Antic Meet.” On the musical side, the only instrument required for performance is the piano, which will be played by Kate Campbell. The remainder of the instrumentation (the “orchestra”) involves any solo or combination of flute, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, tuba, piano, 3 violins, 2 violas, cello, bass. All players are performing from graphic scores. This particular performance will also include solo choreography by Antoine Hunter, founder and director of the Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival.
The program will also present the West Coast premiere of David Coll’s “Caldera,” scored for prepared bass clarinet and marimba. Cellist Hannah Addario-Berry will give a solo performance of Gloria Justen’s “Sonaquifer.” The program will also include the third string quartet by Cage’s colleague Henry Cowell and Anna Clyne’s “Steelworks,” scored for flute doubling on piccolo, bass clarinet, percussion, and tape (with optional video).
Friday, March 27, 8 p.m., SFCM: This program will honor the 80th birthday of Dutch composer Louis Andriessen with the performance of two of his pieces, “Zilver,” composed in 1994, and the more recent “Life,” composed in 2009. There will also be the world premiere performance of David Chisholm’s “From the Power of Ten,” scored for bass flute, bass clarinet alternating with contrabass clarinet, contrabassoon, piano, cello, bass, and four-part electronics. The program will begin with Angelica Negrón’s “Technicolor,” scored for solo harp and electronics. Finally, the program will feature two works from a collaboration with the SFCM Technology and Applied Composition Department, each of which will involve electronic accompaniment of an instrumental solo.
There will also be two free non-concert events:
- Thursday, November 7, 7:30 p.m., SFCM: SFCMP pianist Kate Campbell will lead a master class in particular piano techniques required for performances of recent compositions.
- Saturday, April 25, 2:30 p.m., Bluxome Street Winery: This will be a special in the COMMUNITY event to celebrate the launch of the 50th season. Sound & Wine will be a special party dedicated to the biggest fans of SFCMP: donors, subscribers, and members. Only those fans will be able to request tickets, which will be free; but they are invited to bring music-loving friends. The event will include live music and the first official announcement of plans for the 50th season.
SFCMP has created a single Web page with hyperlinks for each of the events being presented. Each event page provides the specifics regarding venue and purchase of individual tickets. Season Subscribers will receive tickets for all events in the season, waiver of all ticket fees, a 20% discount on the purchase of additional single tickets, and two music downloads per season. The price of a full subscription is $175 with a special rate of $99 for arts employees, teachers, and students. A special Web page has been created for purchasing subscriptions. Finally, there is a Web page about the benefits of membership, including hyperlinks for paying for membership either annually or monthly.