OK, yes: Einstein on the Beach. But wait, there's more! In fact that's not even all that Cal Performances is presenting this month, though it does seem as if it might be enough: but there's also the Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra in Swan Lake, 10 - 14 October; Sweet Thunder, a re-orchestration by Delfeayo Marsalis of the Ellington/Strayhorn Shakespeare tribute Such Sweet Thunder, 16 October; and Ensemble Basiani, a men's chorus from Georgia (not the state in the American south, the other one), 20 October.
There's quite a pile-up on Thursday 4 October:
The Berkeley Symphony opens its season in Zellerbach Hall with Joana Carneiro conducting Charles Ives's The Unanswered Question and the Beethoven 7, along with the world premiere of Paul Dresher's Concerto for Quadrachord and Orchestra. (The Quadrachord is an instrument invented by Dresher.) The concert starts at 7:00, but unfortunately this appears to be a one-off for the season opener, as the rest of the season, which looks quite enticing, reverts to the standard-issue worker-unfriendly 8:00 start time. We office drones like to go to concerts too. . . .
The next 4 October event is Nonsemble 6 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music celebrating the centennial of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire in a performance staged by Brian Staufenbiel, resident director of the awesome and endlessly inventive Ensemble Parallele. The program also includes Dan Becker's S.T.I.C. ("Sensitivity to Initial Conditions") and Hanns Eisler's 14 Ways of Describing Rain, shown with Joris Iven's silent film Regen (Rain), which depicts 1920s Amsterdam before, during, and after a rainstorm (the score was dedicated by Eisler to his teacher Schoenberg on his 70th birthday); and honestly, you guys, you really need to check with me before scheduling something like this, because it's killing me that I have a conflict. That reminds me of attending an excellent Purcell-based performance by a group whose maiden voyage was also an inventive Purcell staging, and during the reception afterwards I remarked to some woman that I was surprised I hadn't been notified of the group earlier since the audience for artsy daring stagings of Purcell is basically me, and she looked at me with indignation and said, "Well, there are all of these people," gesturing towards the gathered dozens, and I thought, um, wow, OK . . . actually, I thought a few other things (the word "clueless" prominently and effortlessly floating along in that particular stream of consciousness). . . . It was far from the first time that I realized my brand of humor is perhaps more specialized than I like to think, the jocular equivalent of grass-fed free-range artisanal bread, but I also think that this woman had something to do with the (obviously ineffective) publicity, so she might have felt rebuked, which was completely unintentional on my part; I honestly don't remember who she was, and I have no idea if she's still in the field at all, so . . . please I'm already sunk in too far to back out - no offense (no further offense) is intended to any person, place, or thing. . . .
Let's go back to 4 October, since no doubt you're wondering what (and even at this stage I'm still weighing the pros and cons) could keep me from Pierrot Lunaire: it's the start of "Schumann: Under the Influence," a four-concert exploration of Schumann's music and influence organized by pianist Jonathan Biss, presented by San Francisco Performances. The first concert features Carey Bell on clarinet, Scott St. John on viola, and tenor Mark Padmore as well as Biss, in a program featuring Marchnerzahlungen and Fantasy by Schumann, Homage a Schumann by Kurtag, and An die ferne Geliebte by Beethoven. The second concert in the series is Saturday, 6 October; Padmore and Biss perform Schumann's Gesange der Fruhe and Dichterliebe, Berg's Sieben Fruhe Lieder, and Schubert's Heine Songs. The other two concerts are next March; you can get more information about the series here. SFP has other offerings this month as well, including the first two concerts (7 and 21 October) in another four-part series, this one featuring Andras Schiff playing Bach (co-presented with the SF Symphony and held at Davies); The Bad Plus (12 October) playing their arrangement of and tribute to The Rite of Spring, the centennial of whose celebrated Paris premiere is coming up next May; the Bay Area premiere (13 - 14 October) of the Russell Maliphant Company, presenting After Light, an exploration of the style and influence of Nijinsky and the Ballet Russes; and the Takacs Quartet playing Haydn, Britten, and Dvorak (14 October).
The other thing I'm missing because the Schumann series is the 6 October BluePrint concert at the Conservatory of Music; BluePrint, led by the awesome Nicole Paiement of Ensemble Parallele, is the new music ensemble at the Conservatory. This year's focus is Latin America and this concert features music by Carlos Sanchez Gutierrez, Osvaldo Golijov, Clarice Assad, and Roberto Sierra.
Philharmonia Baroque presents Purcell's Dioclesian, 3, 5 - 7 October, in their usual locations, which you can remind yourself of here.
Speaking of the baroque, the California Bach Society performs the Mass in B Minor, 12 - 14 October, in a different location each day. As always, click the link for details!
Terry Riley performs with Tracy Silverman at BAM/PFA in the L@TE series, organized by Sarah Cahill; 12 October.
San Francisco Opera has a busy and promising month, with three operas in rotation: Moby Dick, I Capuleti e I Montecchi, and Lohengrin. More info here.
The San Francisco Symphony also has, you know, bunches of stuff, but nothing really jumps out at me except Yuja Wang at the end of the month, and given the lengthy list of other stuff happening this month . . . well, check it out for yourself here and make up your own mind.
The SF Playhouse presents Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson in their new venue at 450 Post Street, 9 October - 24 November. Their flyer claims that Jackson's presidency "doubled the size" of the USA - uh, I'm sure Jackson was devoted to Manifest Destiny, but I think they're thinking of Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase, which really did double (at least) the size of this country. But there is more than enough that actually happened in Jackson's term in office to fill out a musical.
Speaking of musicals, and American Presidents, I think I mentioned this last month, but Shotgun Players has Sondheim's Assassins, 26 September - 28 October.
ACT presents Sophocles' Elektra, translated and adapted by Timberlake Wertenbaker, with original music by David Lang, featuring Rene Augensen in the title role and Olympia Dukakis as the Chorus Leader, directed by Carey Perloff; 25 October - 18 November, and I really want to see this despite ACT's worker-unfriendly start times (I think they're the only major local theater that doesn't have at least one 7:00 start time during the work week) and user-unfriendly on-line ticketing ("best seat" available? sorry, I will only use systems that show me all available seats). Oh, they're also expensive. But I still really want to see this.
Berkeley Rep also goes Greek with An Iliad, adapted by Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare from the Robert Fagles translation. I have the impression this is a one-man show, in the style of Benjamin Bagby doing Beowulf, but I might be wrong about that. 12 October - 18 November.
Cutting Ball Theater marks the centennial of Strindberg's death (lots of stuff happened a hundred years ago. . . ) with a presentation (drumroll, please!) for the first time in any language or locale (crescendo and cymbal crash!) of all five of his Chamber Plays presented in repertory (with a few marathon, all-in-one-day sessions thrown in there). 12 October to 18 November, and check out the schedule and other details here.
And if the world (or even just the contemplation of this list) is too much with you, head over to the Asian Art Museum starting 5 October for Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy, which runs until 13 January 2013, which is sooner than you think.