O December: are you proud of yourself? You've already made Lisa cry. And I'm still trying to get out from under November. And yet you're already here, so here is this year's final round-up of arbitrary and personal cultural possibilities as 2011 winds down:
Volti performs new choral music that explores "the aspects of the divine and the timeless in even the most mundane moments of our lives"; tonight in San Francisco and tomorrow in Berkeley. Further info here.
Shotgun Players present God's Plot, written and directed by Mark Jackson, whose work is always interesting.
The San Francisco Symphony has an outstanding program on 8-10 December: Leila Josefowicz and Christine Brewer join Esa-Pekka Salonen to perform Sibelius's Pohjola's Daughter, excerpts from Wagner's Ring, and Salonen's Violin Concerto, the recent winner of the Grawemeyer Award.
And the great Boston Symphony Orchestra is appearing at Davies Hall (a sad falling off from Boston's Symphony Hall, where I first started attending symphony concerts, but there it is) 6-7 December, with two separate programs, both enticing. Tuesday's concert includes the BSO-commissioned Flute Concerto by Elliott Carter, which is a rare opportunity to hear music by this great American master performed at Davies. (Carter turns 103 on 11 December and is still composing.)
On 8 December the guest conductor Jayce Ogren leads the Berkeley Symphony in the Sibelius 5, Verge by Lei Liang, and Lou Harrison's wonderful Piano Concerto, with Sarah Cahill as the soloist. The Piano Concerto was my introduction to Lou Harrison's music, when I heard it years ago with Ursula Oppens at the Boston Symphony, and it just bowled me over.
Berkeley Rep presents Kneehigh Theater's The Wild Bride, 2 December to 1 January. I missed Kneehigh's Brief Encounter at ACT a couple of years ago, but I heard good things about it. Berkeley Rep sadly for me has a fairly inconvenient performance schedule, and doesn't seem to do rush tickets. And may I just say that I wish performing groups would give you clear information up front about their prices? I don't care that tickets start as low as $3.50 or whatever, since the small print is always that for that price you have to sit in an adjoining building behind a column and watch the show through an open window. I want to know how much a ticket costs in each section without having to click through six screens, and I want to see all seats available. Could we get on that please? Thanks!
Philharmonia Baroque presents the Mass in B Minor 2, 3, 4, and 6 December, in various locations; and Messiah at Zellerbach in Berkeley (in conjunction with Cal Performances) on 10 December.
Magnificat (in conjunction with the San Francisco Early Music Society) presents Schutz's Christmas Story, 16-18 December, in various locations.
Cal Performances presents the Takacs Quartet in works by Janacek, Britten, and Ravel on 4 December.
San Francisco Performances presents the Brentano String Quartet in a program called Fragments, in which living composers complete unfinished works by past composers (4 December); the great Karita Mattila in a song recital with Martin Katz (6 December); and pianist Christian Zacharias playing CPE Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, and Schubert (9 December).
And of course there are plenty of Nutcrackers, Christmas Carols, and Messiahs out there. Enjoy the season!