15 October 2018

Museum Monday 2018/42


Many years ago, when I lived in Boston, this twelfth-century statue of Mary and the infant Jesus from Lombardy, by an unidentified artist, was one of my favorite objects in the Museum of Fine Arts, and I'll admit that it's partly because when I first saw it my immediate thought was that Mary looked a little homelier than usual – and then I saw the look of love between the two, the trusting love on the child's face and the sorrowing love on the mother's, and it just pierced my heart (especially as I contrasted my initial shallow reaction with the emotional depths of these limestone figures), and after that I always went to visit this statue when I went to the Museum, which was pretty often. When I went back to Boston for a visit in June of 2017, after a very long absence, I headed straight to the MFA and was very disappointed not to find my statue in the medieval galleries, where it had always been. Eventually I found it again in an unexpected gallery, in a special exhibit dedicated to a particular curator, whose name I unfortunately did not write down. The theme of the small show was objects he had acquired and his interest in the body, which is why the background here is Oskar Kokoschka's Two Nudes (Lovers), a portrait of himself with Alma Mahler. I liked the juxtaposition of my statue with the different kind of love (one that also has sorrow in it) passing between Oskar and Alma.

08 October 2018

Museum Monday 2018/41


Frank Duveneck, Study for "Guard of the Harem" at the de Young Museum in San Francisco (although, weirdly, I cannot find it on their website)

28 September 2018

25 September 2018

fun stuff I may or may not get to: October 2018

Theatrical
There's certainly plenty of fresh stuff to choose from this month, but keep in mind that many of the plays listed last month are running into October.

The annual SF Olympians Festival runs from 3 to 20 October at the Exit Stage Left; Roman Holiday is this year's theme, with readings of 27 all-new full-length or one-act plays by 28 writers exploring the gods and legends of ancient Rome.

42nd Street Moon revive's 1979's Best Little Whorehouse in Texas by Carol Hall, Larry King, and Peter Masterson, directed and choreographed by Christina Lazo and with music direction by Dave Dubrusky; it runs from 3 to 21 October at the Gateway Theater on Jackson Street in San Francisco.

Theatre of Yugen and Five on a Match present Seen / By Everyone, directed by Nick Ishimaru and written by Matt Cohen, Amir Darvish, Meg MacCary, Enormvs Munoz, and Jen Taher; the text explores death and grieving in a relentlessly digitizing world and is entirely made up of social media "found texts" – I find grieving on Facebook a bit bizarre so this an intriguing concept. The show runs 5 - 21 October at Noh Space in San Francisco.

Cal Performances presents the Schaubühne Berlin production of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, as adapted by Florian Borchmeyer and directed by Thomas Ostermeier, in Zellerbach Hall from 12 to 13 October. The Cal Performances's website mentions the production's "controversial handling of the play's climactic scene" and then adds "(no spoilers here!)" – OK, there will be spoilers here, so stop reading this paragraph if that's important to you. I suspected what this meant was some kind of audience participation shenanigans, and according to this article in the Guardian I was correct. Proceed at your own risk. I  think this is a difficult play to bring off, not because the characters are one-dimensional, as Ostermeier claims in the article, but because the polluted-water controversy isn't really what the play is about: it's a psychological portrait, penetrating and often very unflattering, of the type of person who will stand up to his money-driven, short-sighted society. (This is why Shotgun Player's updated adaptation of a few years ago, the title of which I can't remember, didn't work – it was rewritten with a woman as the lead, and I think the playwright just didn't want to be as critical of a woman as Ibsen was of his protagonist.) Ibsen does also tend to write "well-made" plays of a sort that can seem a little too tightly calculated for our theatrical tastes. I suspect I will take a pass on this one, though I am curious about it.

Shotgun Players presents Women Laughing Alone With Salad by Sheila Callaghan, directed by Susannah Martin, at the Ashby Stage from 12 October to 11 November.

Cal Performances presents the Bay Area premiere of Barber Shop Chronicles by Inua Ellams, directed by Bijan Sheibani and designed by Rae Smith, in Zellerbach Hall from 26 to 28 October. The play looks at the barbershop as a social space for black men, giving us conversations in various barbershops in London and Africa over one day (and not to be confused with the American films that have the same subject).

New Conservatory Theatre Center in partnership with the Museum of the African Diaspora presents the regional premiere of Cardboard Piano by Hansol Jung, directed by Tom Bruett, exploring the relationship between two girls in war-torn Uganda. The show runs from 26 October to 2 December.

For the fourth year in a row, Ray of Light Theater puts on a Halloween-week revival (25 October to 3 November, to be precise) of Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show at the Victoria Theater in San Francisco.

Operatic
The San Francisco Opera presents nine performances of Puccini's Tosca, and I'm sure we're all grateful to have this rare opportunity to hear a live performance of this little-known gem of verismo. They are also presenting five performances of Strauss's Arabella, which I saw once before and (to my great surprise, as I generally like Strauss) I hated the opera so much I feel compelled to give it another chance. Besides, Heidi Stober is in it and I like her.

The Wagner Society of Northern California presents Judith Cabaud discussing Isolde's Dream, her biography of Mathilde Wesendonck, on 13 October at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco.

Vocalists
Cal Performances presents Aida Cuevas with Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán in A Tribute to Juan Gabriel at the Paramount Theater in Oakland on 6 October.

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents ragtime songs from early Broadway on 7 October; the concert is free but reservations are recommended.

On 10 October soprano Christine Brandes and pianist Eric Moe present Sappho's Garden – Debussy's Trois Chansons de Bilitis, Schoenberg's Das Buch der hängenden Gärten, and selections from Moe's Tough Songs – as part of the UC-Berkeley Music Department's noon concert series at Herz Hall.

San Francisco Opera presents Plácido Domingo, with guests Ana María Martínez, Arturo Chacón-Cruz, and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Jordi Bernàcer, on 21 October (matinee). They will be performing "popular arias and duets" – it sounds pretty lightweight to me, but Domingo is one of the great singers of our time and at this point in his career he can do lightweight if he wants to, as far as I'm concerned. It looks as if tickets are only available by calling 415/864-3330; the Opera website also notes that they reserve "the right to cancel or not accept an order for any prudent reason" so be warned if you are among the imprudent.

Choral
Cal Performances presents the Soweto Gospel Choir at the Paramount in Oakland on 13 October.

Tenor Nicholas Phan joins Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe and the San Francisco Girls Chorus in a celebration of Nadia Boulanger and her pupils, with music by Boulanger and her sister Lili, David Conte, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Samuel Barber, Louise Talma, and Leonard Bernstein, and that's 18 October at Herbst Theater.

Orchestral
Ming Luke leads the Berkeley Symphony in Shostakovich's Festive Overture, Jennifer Higdon's Violin Concerto (with soloist Benjamin Beilman), Anna Clyne's Night Ferry (with an accompanying video from the Fisher Family Art Lab at BAM / PFA), and Ravel's La Valse, on 4 October at Zellerbach Hall. As this is the season opener, and presumably there's some sort of celebration afterwards, the start time is 7:00 PM, a sensible measure (the start time, not the celebration) the Symphony might consider implementing for all their upcoming performances.

Nicolas McGegan leads Philharmonia Baroque in an all-Mozart program, featuring the Litaniae Lauretanae, Exsultate, jubilate, and the Mass No 15 in C major, the "Coronation", with soloists Camille Ortiz (soprano), Meg Bragle (mezzo-soprano), James Reese (tenor), and Dashon Burton (bass-baritone) and with the Philharmonia Chorale led by Bruce Lamott. That's 3 October at Bing Concert Hall in Palo Alto, 4 October at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, 5 October at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and 6 - 7 October at First Congregational in Berkeley.

Michael Morgan leads the Oakland Symphony in the Shostakovich 5, the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 with soloist Stewart Goodyear, and some Bernstein dances from On the Town on 12 October at the Paramount Theater, and sweet Jesus on Sunday morning will the Bernstein Centennial Year ever end? It feels as if it's been going on for its own century. I realize my failure to love Bernstein outside of Candide says more about me than about his artistry, but . . . could we please just stop? Please?

James Ross leads the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra in Lutosławski's Symphonic Variations, the Barber Second Essay for Orchestra, and the Brahms 1 on 19 and 20 October.

The San Francisco Symphony presents Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra (with Denis Matsuey as solo pianist) in two programs at Davies Hall: on 21 October you can hear an all-Stravinsky program and on 22 October you can hear Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and the Mahler 5.

It looks as if the San Francisco Symphony is not repeating Christian Reif's Octoberfest concert of last year, which is too bad as it was a lot of fun. Here's what they are doing, instead of giving us tasty beer and songs from The Student Prince: Manfred Honeck conducts Prokofiev's Sinfonia concertante (with cello soloist Truls Mørk) and the Dvořák 8 on 11 - 13 October. Pablo Heras-Casado conducts Ravel's Alborado del gracioso, the Bartók Piano Concerto 3 with soloist Javier Perianes, Debussy's Ibéria from Images pour orchestre, and Ravel's Boléro on 18 - 20 October. The Symphony continues its silly website habit of referring to a concert by the most widely known (and usually least interesting) piece on the program, so for them this is Pablo Heras-Casado Conducts Boléro, I guess in the hope that the vague memory of Bo Derek shaking her white-girl cornrows will fill those seats, which is what they get for cultivating an audience that thinks Bartók is way too much to handle (they hasten to assure us that the Piano Concerto 3 is "melodious" lest terror of the non-melodic modern causes us to strangle ourselves in our frenzied pearl-clutching). Later in the month there's an even more misleading heading, when we're told that the SF Symphony Plays Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, when what they're playing is the Suite from Der Rosenkavalier; that concert also features the world premiere of the Symphony co-commission Suite from Silent Night by Kevin Puts, along with Anna Clyne's Masquerade and Lalo's Symphonie espagnole with solo violinist Ray Chen. This is probably as close as the SF Symphony is going to get to a new-music concert and Chen is always worth hearing. Cristian Măcelaru conducts and that's 25 - 27 October.

Early / Baroque Music
San Francisco Performances presents singers from TENET Vocal Artists along with instrumental group Quicksilver, led by violinist Robert Mealy, at St Mark's Lutheran on 12 October in a program featuring Monteverdi and other 17th century Italian Baroque music.

The San Francisco Early Music Society presents El Mundo, directed by guitarist and lutenist Richard Savino, in an exploration of early music from Castile and Castilian-influenced areas from Naples to Peru; that's 12 October at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 13 October at St Mark's Episcopal in Berkeley, and 14 October at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

Jeffrey Thomas leads the American Bach Soloists in Brandenburg Concertos 1 and 3 as well as Bach's Hunting Cantata BWV 208 on 19 October at St Stephen's in Belvedere, 20 October at First Congregational in Berkeley, 21 October at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, and 22 October at Davis Community Church in Davis.

Paul Flight leads the California Bach Society in Cantata 198 and the Missa Brevis in A Major on 19 October at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, 20 October at All Saints' Episcopal in Palo Alto, and 21 October at First Congregational in Berkeley.

San Francisco Performances presents violinist Daniel Hope "and friends" (the friends are Simos Papanas on violin, Nicola Mosca on violoncello, Emanuele Forni on luthe, Naoki Kitaya on cembalo, and Michael Metzler on percussion) in a program exploring the sound world of the violin and the baroque concept of the "air"; that's 27 October at Herbst Theater.

San Francisco Performances presents cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras at Herbst Theater in an epic one-day (that day would be 28 October), two-concert traversal of all the Bach solo suites for cello.

Modern / Contemporary Music
Cal Performances presents Max Richter and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble performing music from Richter's The Blue Notebooks, composed in response to the invasion of Iraq, and Infra, inspired by Eliot's The Waste Land; that's 5 October at Zellerbach Hall.

The Stenberg / Cahill Duo, featuring Kate Stenberg on violin and Sarah Cahill on piano and primarily dedicated to the American experimental music tradition, plays Old First Concerts on 12 October, with works by Aaron Gervais, Gabriela Lena Frank, Kaija Saariaho, Linda Catlin Smith, Henry Cowell, and Grażyna Bacewicz.

Ensemble for These Times (soprano Nanette McGuinness and cellist Anne Lerner-Wright, with guest pianist Xin Zhao) play music by Emigres & Exiles – composers who fled fascist Europe and went to Hollywood to compose for the movies – including Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Arnold Schoenberg, André Previn, Ernst Toch, Erich Korngold, Miklos Rozsa, Eric Zeisl, Franz Waxman, Kurt Weill, and David Garner. You can hear them on 19 October at 405 Shrader; I have not been to this venue but it is apparently tiny and you need to RSVP first, so check 405shrader.com for instructions on how to do that – or you could go to the performance on 20 October at the Berkeley Piano Club.

Eric Dudley, the new Artistic Director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, gets their season off to a great start with a celebration of the late Elliott Carter on 20 October at the Taube Atrium Theater, featuring three works by Carter (A 6 Letter Letter from 1996, Changes from 1983, and Penthode from 1985), along with new works from Sabrina Schroeder and Tobin Chodos inspired by Carter. As is usual with SFCMP, the festivities start early with an open rehearsal and a composer talk hosted by Dudley before the actual concert starts at 7:30. I cannot emphasize strongly enough that more groups need to program Carter's music. Think of how much better off we would be if all the Berstein pieces from the past year had been Carter pieces instead!

The Vinifera Trio plays Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time (with a video presentation on the background and composition of the piece, famously written in a prison camp during WWII), along with selections from his Vingt Regards sur l’enfant-Jésus, at Old First Concerts on 26 October.

The International Contemporary Ensemble performs works by Seth Cluett and Anna Thorvaldsdottir on 26 October at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; the concert is free but reservations are recommended. This performance is in conjunction with the Rubin Institute of Music Criticism, and if you're interested in their programs you can check out their schedule here or you can read Lisa Hirsch's entry here.

And as always check the Center for New Music's calendar, as it gets updated frequently. Some things coming up this month: the final concert of Animals & Giraffes' year-long residency on 4 October; Curium playing music by Jennifer Higdon, Kaija Saariaho, and Clara Schumann on 6 October; pianist Thomas Schultz playing Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated as well as music by Hyo-Shin Na on 7 October; Keepsakes for Contraforte and Contrabass Flute on 13 October; Hidejiro Honjoh playing shamisen music old and new on 14 October; Pamela Z, Donald Swearingen, and Eric Lyon improvising on 15 October; guitarist Nicolas Deuson and singer Jonathan Pilkington on 18 October; early music group the Liaison Ensemble with new music group Helia Music Collective performing works by Barbara Strozzi, Francesca Caccini, Emily Koh, Lily Chen, Julie Barwick, and Emma Logan on 27 October; and pianist Mari Kawamura playing works by François Couperin, Joey Bourdeau, Anthony Vine, and Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh on 28 October.

Jazz
There is as usual a lot going on at the SF Jazz Center: the Chick Corea Trio plays from 4 to 7 October; the Sons of Kemet play on 10 October; there's a Thelonious Monk birthday concert, also on 10 October; from 11 to 14 October there's a "new trumpet" festival featuring concerts by Adam O'Farrill, the Erik Jekabson Sextet, Keyon Harrold, and the Marquis Hill Blacktet; the Pérez, Cohen, Potter Quintet (with Larry Grenadier and Nate Smith) plays on 14 October; the "Keyed Up" festival from 18 to 21 October features performances from Kev Choice, Cameron Graves, Christian Sands, and Tigran Hamasyan; and the 6th Annual San Francisco International Boogie-Woogie Festival is on 28 October.

Chamber Music
The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble opens its season with an eclectic concert featuring music from Charles Peck (their 2018 Composition Contest winner), Jon Deak, Mario Davidovsky, Jonathan Favero (world premiere), Sheila Silver, Olly Wilson, Alfred Bachelet, Benjamin Britten, and Vincenzo Bellini, and that's on 6 October at the Berkeley Hillside Club and 8 October at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

San Francisco Performances presents the Dover Quartet in a program of works by non-American composers (Britten, Bartók, and Dvořák) begun in or inspired by America; you can hear the results on 7 October at Herbst Theater.

Old First Concerts presents the San Francisco debut of Dyad, a violin (Niv Ashkenazi) and bassoon (Leah Kohn) duo, performing works by Ernest Bloch, Reena Esmail, Niccolò Paganini, Rachel Epperly, and Gernot Wolfgang, on 7 October.

Cal Performances presents the Jerusalem Quartet, joined by violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth, in a program of sextets by Strauss, Schoenberg, and Tchaikovsky, at First Congregational Church on 13 October.

The Ives Collective performs works by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Peter Schikele on 14 October at Old First Concerts.

Musicians from the San Francisco Symphony have two chamber music recitals this month: oddly both are 2:00 matinees on 28 October, though in different locations (which I guess is obvious, but an Ivesian mash-up might be an interesting experiment!). Violinist Alexander Barantschik, cellist Peter Wyrick, and pianist Anton Nel perform an all-Beethoven program at the Gunn Theater at the Legion of Honor, and at Davies Hall you can hear Penderecki, Colgrass, and Franck.

There isn't a lot of Halloween-themed stuff on this list, but here's something: pianists Inara Morgenstern and Victoria Neve, joined by vocalist Ariela Morgenstern, perform George Crumb Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik along with seasonally spooky four-hand piano works by Gounod, Reineke, Dukas, Schumann, Alfredo Casella, and Toby Twining at Old First Concerts on 28 October.

Strings & Keyboards & Percussion
Cal Performances presents tabla virtuoso Sandeep Das and the HUM Ensemble (Syrian oud master Issam Rafea, Indian vocalist and sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan, and sitar player Rajib Karmakar) on 7 October in Hertz Hall in an exploration of the ancient music of India and Syria.

Pianist Leon Fleisher gives a Master Class at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 7 October; the event is free but reservations are recommended.

Under the auspices of San Francisco Performances, guitarists Sharon Isbin and Romero Lubambo perform works by Isaias Savio, Manuel de Falla, Enrique Granados, Isaac Albéniz, Antonio Lauro, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Augstin Barrios Mangoré, Andrew York, Gentil Montaña, and Joaquin Rodrigo on 13 October at Herbst Theater.

The San Francisco Symphony presents Evgeny Kissin in a solo piano recital, featuring Beethoven (the Hammerklavier, no less) and Rachmaninoff, on 14 October at Davies Hall.

Flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo plays the SF Jazz Center from 11 to 14 October.

Fuzjko Hemming plays Chopin, Debussy, and Liszt on 19 October at Herbst Theater.

The San Francisco Symphony presents Olivier Latry in a solo recital on the Davies Hall organ, featuring music by Couperin, Lully, Bach, Franck, Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, and Latry himself, on 21 October.

San Francisco Performances presents pianist Seong-Jin Cho playing Bach, Schubert, Chopin, and Mussorgsky on 22 October at Herbst Theater.

Dance
Alonzo King LINES Ballet and the Kronos Quartet collaborate on a celebration of the Ballet's 35th Anniversary, including a world premiere along with favorite revivals; that's 5 - 7 and 11 - 14 October at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Cal Performances presents Sasha Waltz's Körper (Bodies) in Zellerbach Hall on 20 and 21 October.

Visual Arts
Boundless: Contemporary Tibetan Artists at Home and Abroad runs from 3 October to 26 May 2019 at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive.

You can explore The World of Charles & Ray Eames at the Oakland Museum of California from 13 October through 17 February 2019.

You have until 28 October to see René Magritte: The Fifth Season at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Also at SFMOMA, Wayne Thiebaud will appear in conversation with curator Janet Bishop on 11 October in conjunction with a new exhibit of works by Thiebaud or chosen by him from the museum's collections.

Cinematic
SFMOMA is running a Satyajit Ray festival from 4 to 21 October.

There are, as always, some interesting film series at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive: Chinese Cinema Classics runs from 5 to 14 October and Afterimage: Agnieszka Holland runs from 25 to 28 October.

The SF Jazz Center presents the Lon Chaney silent Hunchback of Notre Dame at architecturally appropriate Grace Cathedral on 27 October, accompanied by Dorothy Papadakos on the organ.

24 September 2018

Museum Monday 2018/39


detail of Idealized Portrait of a Lady (Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as a Nymph) by Botticelli; this painting normally hangs at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, but I saw it as part of Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco