Fresh from their awesome performances of Strindberg's Chamber Plays, Cutting Ball's annual Risk Is This. . . reading series of new/experimental plays starts 11 January and runs through 9 February. There's a different play each week (two new translations and three completely new plays), and each is presented twice. Check here for the complete schedule; based on their reading last year I can definitely recommend The Insect Play. And the Hidden Classics Reading Series presents the Electra of Sophocles on Sunday, 27 January, at 1:00.
High points from the Cal Performances January schedule include the new-music Eco Ensemble on 26 January, playing Harrison Birtwistle's Secret Theatre and Ivan Fedele's La Chute de la Maison Usher (a soundtrack to the 1928 silent film, which will be screened); Nicolas Hodges in recital on 27 January, playing Debussy, Busoni, Stravinsky, and more Birtwistle - and not just any Birtwistle, but the premiere of Gigue Machine, a Cal Performances co-commission; and the Joffrey Ballet on 26-27 January, in recent works choreographed by Liang, Wheeldon, and Jooss.
At the San Francisco Symphony, Renee Fleming joins Michael Tilson Thomas to perform works by Debussy and Canteloube, 10-13 January; then she teams up with Susan Graham on 16 January for a French program. Charles Dutoit returns 30-31 January and 1 February in a program of two Spanish-themed works by Ravel and Lalo and Elgar's magnificent Enigma Variations (please note that the Thursday 31 January concert is taking place up in Sonoma, in Weill Hall, which means that, depending on your relative location to Davies Hall, it is either very convenient or completely out of the question). The Symphony program that looks most exciting to me is Tilson Thomas leading Grieg's music to Peer Gynt, with additional music by Schnittke and Holloway, and actors and video and all manner of appropriate spectacle; that's 17-19 January.
New Century Chamber Orchestra kicks off a national tour with two local concerts on 13 January (in San Francisco) and 15 January (in Menlo-Atherton), featuring some works that have been highlights of recent seasons: the Mendelssohn String Symphony No. 10, Bolcom's Romanza for Solo Violin and String Orchestra (which, if my memory is correct, was written for NCCO and premiered by them a few years ago), an aria from Bachianas Brazilieras No. 5 by Villa-Lobos, arranged by Clarice Assad, and Strauss's profoundly beautiful Metamorphosen for 23 Solo Strings.
American Bach Soloists presents Bach's St John Passion, 25-28 January, in a variety of locations (details here).
The Oakland/East Bay Symphony has a program on 25 January featuring Beethoven's Leonore No 3, Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, and a recent song cycle by Richard Danielpour called A Woman's Life, based on poetry by Maya Angelou and featuring Angela Brown as soloist.
At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Marnie Breckenridge (with Kristin Pankonin on piano) performs in the Alumni Recital series; the program features Strauss, Barber, and a plethora of Bay Area composers; that's 19 January.
The Beethoven Project
2 weeks ago