October is shaping up to be a busy month for concert activities. Because there may be some overlaps, it is probably a good idea to begin to account of the alternatives sooner, rather than later. Old First Concerts (O1C) has planned five concerts for that month, all of which will be live-streamed. However, as was the case for September, the concerts themselves will continue to be “hybrid,” allowing seating in Old First Presbyterian Church limited to 100 tickets, all being sold for $25 (no reduced rate for seniors or students). Following the usual O1C practices, performances will alternate between Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Hyperlinks to the event pages (which include hyperlinks for streaming) will be attached to the date and time of the performances as follows:
Friday, October 1, 8 p.m.: Ninth Planet is a chamber orchestra that was created in 2019 through the merger of Wild Rumpus and Composers, Inc. The conductor is Nathaniel Berman, and the repertoire draws heavily on commissioning new works and performing existing innovative pieces that stretch the limits of the chamber orchestra repertoire. For its return to O1C, the ensemble will perform the world premiere of “Everyone Became a Trail,” written by Assaf Shatil under a Ninth Planet commission. Further specifics have not yet been provided; but the program will include works by Shelley Washington, Yaz Lancaster, and Amy Beth Kirsten. [deleted 8/19, 1:40 p.m.: [added 8/5, 3:45 p.m.:
Saturday, October 2, 8 p.m.: The Janáček Quartet was founded in 1947 by students of the Brno Conservatory. The members are violinists Miloš Vacek and Richard Kružík, violist Jan Řezníček, and cellist Břetislav Vybíral. Their performance is co-produced with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic, BayCzech, Czech School of California, and SF Sokol. They have prepared a program of three string quartets, concluding with Janáček's second, given the title “Intimate Letters.” The preceding selections will be the third quartet by Evžen Zámečník and the first quartet by Erwín Schulhoff.]]
Sunday, October 3, 4 p.m.: Fusion Soul is a program that will “fuse” the music of jazz composer Karlton Hester together with works by Korean composers Miseon Jeong and Byungki Hwang, resulting in a single “soul.” Playing both flute and saxophone, Hester will lead his Hesterian Musicism quartet, whose other members are David Smith on bass, Motoko Honda on piano, and Yunxiang Griswold on pipa. The Korean compositions will be performed by Ensemble NMK (Neue Musik aus Korea), which was founded in Berlin (Germany) in 2015 to provide a platform for contemporary Korean composers. There will also be a “guest appearance” by Hwayoung Shon playing her own composition, “Ritual,” on gayageum.
Friday, October 15, 8 p.m.: O1C will provide the platform for the launch of the fourteenth season of Ensemble for These Times. This group is a trio led by soprano Nanette McGuinness, joined by Margaret Halbig on piano and Abigail Monroe on cello. The title of the program will be Alchemy, presenting works that focus on identity and transformation. The program will feature the results of two commissions. The first of these, The Unseen, is a song cycle by Bay Area composer Brennan Stokes, setting poems by Sara Teasdale. The vocalist will be coloratura soprano Chelsea Hollow. Monroe will perform the result of the second commission, a solo cello composition by California composer Mary Bianco, which has not yet been given a title. The remaining eight works on the program will present transformations through the “voices” of underrepresented composers. This performance will be preceded by a composer talk, which will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, October 22, 8 p.m.: Violinist Dorisiya Yosifova will perform the world premiere of a composition by Jillian Honorof based entirely on Bulgarian folklore tradition. The remainder of the program has not yet been finalized. However, Yosifova plans to perform works by Dora Pejacevid and Amy Beach.
Sunday, October 24, 4 p.m.: The Ives Collective, which is led by cellist Stephen Harrison and Susan Freier, who doubles on violin and viola, will return to O1C with a program that spans from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth. The other performers will be violinist Roy Malan and pianist Gwendolyn Mok. The program has been organized as a duo for violin and cello sandwiched between a piano trio and a piano quartet. Composed by Erwin Schulhoff in 1925, the duo is the latest work on the program. The piano trio is the Five Negro Melodies suite composed by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor in 1906. The earliest work on the program is the last of the three piano quartets, in the key of C minor, by Johannes Brahms, his Opus 60 completed in 1875.