The shortest month has a lot going on, particularly in new music: go listen to something where the ink is as wet as the winter sidewalks!
ACT presents Annie Baker's John, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll, at the Strand Theater from 22 February to 23 April.
Shotgun Players is filling the time between its two main seasons with the Blast Theater Festival, which they describe as "a month-long festival of new ideas, visions, and possibilities" – but I think that's what they try to do regularly, so who knows what that means. As with all performances, you have to go to find out; if you'd like to do so, check out the listings here.
Custom Made Theater presents Isaac's Eye by Lucas Hnath, directed by Oren Stevens. Isaac is Isaac Newton. The play runs from 16 February to 11 March, though it's difficult to find the dates on Custom Made's irritating new site. (Maybe I should point out that their new site is not more irritating than the other irritating new sites? And yes, I realize they are being designed for mobile devices that I do not use.)
You can see another play by Lucas Hnath at San Francisco Playhouse, which is presenting The Christians, directed by Bill English, from 24 January to 11 March.
West Edge Opera presents the second concert in its new series, Snapshot, featuring excerpts from new operas-in-progress. As withe the January concert, this one features four excerpts: from One O'Clock, music and libretto by Carla Lucero; Howards End, America, music by Allen Shearer and libretto by Claudia Stevens; The House of Words, music by Linda Bouchard to a libretto she has compiled from Galeano's The Book of Embraces; and The Stranger the Better, music by Liam Wade and libretto by Vynnie Meli. There are two performances, 25 February at the David Brower Center in Berkeley and 26 February at the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco. Once again, the instrumentalists will be drawn from Earplay, the awesome local new-music ensemble, and led by Earplay Principal Conductor Mary Chun and West Edge Music Director Jonathan Khuner. The January performance was a lot of fun.
The Lamplighters present Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience; or, Bunthorne's Bride, directed by Barbara Heroux, on 3 - 5 February at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, 10 - 12 February at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, and 18 - 19 February at the Mountain View Performing Arts Center in Mountain View.
Opera Parallèle presents Jonathan Dove's Flight from 10 to 12 February at the Yerba Buena Center.
There's a lot going on at the San Francisco Symphony this month:
Herbert Blomstedt conducts the Beethoven 9 with soloists Kiera Duffy (soprano), Sara Couden (mezzo-soprano), Nicholas Phan (tenor), and Andrew Foster-Williams (bass-baritone) and of course the fabulous Symphony Chorus, led by Ragnar Bohlin; that's 1 - 3 and 5 (matinee) February;
Blomstedt returns 9 - 12 February to lead the Brahms 3 and the Beethoven Piano Concerto 4 with soloist Yefim Bronfman;
and John Adams's 70th birthday will be celebrated by the Symphony over two weeks, with two major concerts: first is The Gospel According to the Other Mary (that would be Mary Magdalene) on 16 - 18 February, with Grant Gershon leading soloists Kelley O'Connor (mezzo-soprano), Tamara Mumford (mezzo-soprano), Jay Hunter Morris (tenor), and Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Nathan Medley (countertenors), along with the Symphony Chorus; then on 22 - 25 February Michael Tilson Thomas leads Scheherazade 2 with violin soloist Leila Josefowicz, for whom it was written, along with selections from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.
Michael Morgan leads the Oakland Symphony at the Paramount Theater on 24 February in the Shostakovich 9, along with music and traditional dance from Native American peoples, featuring works by Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate and John Christopher Wineglass.
Conductorless chamber orchestra One Found Sound plays Ravel, Resphighi, and Debussy on 3 February at the Heron Arts building in San Francisco.
Modern / Contemporary Music
Cal Performances presents Cappella SF and the Bang on a Can All-Stars in Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields on 26 February in Zellerbach Hall.
San Francisco Opera's Opera Lab presents The Source by Ted Hearne, to a libretto by Mark Doten arranged from testimony, tweets, news reports, and other sources related to Chelsea Manning, the currently incarcerated Cassandra of the surveillance state. Performances are in the Taube Atrium Theater on 24 - 26 February and 1 - 3 March. (I am glad to report that President Obama commuted Mannings's sentence, though I wonder why he didn't do that earlier, since it was under his administration that she was imprisoned.)
The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat along with improvised interpolations by trumpeter Peter Evans; that's 17 February at Herbst Theater in San Francisco.
Wild Rumpus New Music Collective presents the world premieres of their Commissioning Project winners, Carolyn Chen and William Dougherty, along with works by Alex Temple, Richard Reed Parry, Ted Hearne, and William Gardiner; that's 24 February at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco. (I don't see this concert on their website yet, but assume it will be there shortly; the information here comes from an e-mail they sent out.)
Other Minds presents a centennial tribute concert to the great Lou Harrison on 18 February at the Mission Dolores Basilica in San Francisco; Dennis Russell Davies will conduct music by Harrison and Isang Yun.
Old First Concerts presents the Wooden Fish Ensemble with special guests the Gyeonggi Kayageum Ensemble in a concert featuring several world or US premieres by Korean composer Hyo-shin Na, along with some arrangements of traditional Korean folk music; that's 12 February at Old First on Van Ness Avenue.
The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble presents House of the Beehives by Melody Eötvös, along with the world premiere of Ghost Dances by David Coll, Canticles for Two Guitars by Dusan Bogdanovic, Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Cello, and Sebastian Currier's Broken Consorts; that's 4 February at the Hillside Club in Berkeley and 6 February at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
The Kronos Quartet presents its annual festival of new music, this time featuring festival artist-in-residence Sahba Aminikia, along with many others, in six concerts in three days (2 - 4 February); you can experience them all at the lovely SF Jazz Center.
And as always, check out the calendar at the Center for New Music: some things that jump out at me this month are the Del Sol Quartet on 2 February, playing Ben Johnston quartets 3 and 4 (and they're doing what more new music groups should do, which is playing the pieces again after a pause) in collaboration with photographs by Elmore DeMott made in response to her mother's Alzheimer's; the welcome return on 3 February of I Sing Words: The Poetry Project, in which soprano Jill Morgan Brenner and pianist Paul Dab present settings of Janet Lewis, David Thomas Lloyd, David Hinton, and Cole Swenson by (respectively) Julie Barwick, Nicholas Lell Benavides, Mario Godoy, and Emily Shisko; an evening of new music by Kyle Hovatter on 10 February, featuring Danielle Sampson, Jessie Nucho, and Sophie Huet; but as mentioned earlier there's lots more that looks intriguing.
Some things that look enticing on the SF Jazz calendar: Vijay Iyer is in residence from 8 to 12 February, with a variety of programs; the Paris Combo on 14 and 15 February; and Dianne Reeves sings love songs from 16 to 19 February.
Early / Baroque Music
American Bach Soloists presents a concert of French baroque music by Rameau, Corrette, Rebel, Mondonville, and Marais, on 10 February at St Stephens in Belvedere, 11 February at First Presbyterian in Berkeley, 12 February at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, and 13 February at Davis Community Church in Davis.
The San Francisco Early Music Society presents Artek performing Monteverdi's Book 7 Madrigals on 17 February at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 18 February at St John's Presbyterian in Berkeley, and 19 February at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.
The California Bach Society led by Paul Flight presents pre-Bach masters from North German (Buxtehude, Bruhns, Schop, Tunder, and Telemann) on 24 February at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, 25 February at All Saints' Episcopal in Palo Alto, and 26 February at St Mark's Episcopal in Berkeley.
Piano / Organ / Violin
San Francisco Performances presents Alexander Melnikov in a program of Rachmaninoff and Debussy at Herbst Theater on 2 February.
San Francisco Performances presents Jonathan Biss in a program of Schuman, Kurtág, Chopin, and Brahms at Herbst Theater on 11 February.
Cal Performances presents the California debut of Lucas Debargue, in a program of Domenico Scarlatti, Chopin, Ravel, and Medtner, on 12 February at Hertz Hall.
San Francisco Performances presents Benjamin Beilman (violin) and Yekwon Sunwoo (piano) in a program of Ravel, Bartók, Saariaho, and Brahms at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 24 February.
The San Francisco Symphony presents Lang Lang at Davies Hall on 7 February, in a program featuring Liszt's Piano Sonata in B Minor along with works by Debussy, Albéniz, Granados, and Falla.
The San Francisco Symphony presents an organ recital by James O'Donnell of Westminster Abbey on 26 February, playing works by Bach, Franck, Messiaen, and Widor.
Chamber Music San Francisco presents pianist Olga Kern playing Scarlatti, Beethoven, Schumann, and Liszt on 12 February and violinist Pinchas Zukerman with pianist Angela Cheng playing Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms on 25 February; both concerts are at Herbst Theater.
Cal Peformances presents the Lucinda Childs Dance Company in a revival of the 1983 Available Light, with music by John Adams, choreography by Lucinda Childs, and a stage design by Frank Gehry; that's 3 - 4 February at Zellerbach Hall.
San Francisco Performances presents the Batsheva Dance Company in Last Work, choreographed by Ohad Naharin, from 15 to 17 February at the Yerba Buena Center.
San Francisco Ballet presents Frankenstein, a new evening-length work based on Mary Shelley's famous novel, with music by Lowell Liebermann and choreography by Liam Scarlett, from 17 to 26 February.
Monet: The Early Years opens at the Legion of Honor on 25 February and runs through 29 May.
At the Asian Art Museum, Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China's Han Dynasty opens on 17 February and runs through 28 May.