29 April 2015

fun stuff I may or may not get to: May 2015

a reminder about BART

First a reminder before you buy any tickets for upcoming events: BART is shutting off part of its tracks on certain weekends through August; since this will affect traffic as well as the rest of the BART system, you may want to check your plans against the latest shut-down dates, which are currently:

* Saturday 2 May starting at 7:00 PM and all day Sunday 3 May;

* Saturday 9 May starting at 7:00 PM and all day Sunday 10 May; and

* Saturday 23 May starting at 6:00 AM and continuing to 8:00 AM Monday 25 May

But be sure to check here for the latest information, since they've been switching the dates around. Yes, those dates include Mother's Day and Memorial Day weekend. See here for what I wrote earlier about this whole situation.

And . . . already an update. Just today BART "announced" (that is, slipped a little note into a screen buried in their website) that in fact the trains will be running 2 - 3 May, but will be down all day 9 May as well as 10 May. No reason for the change is given. This is . . . aggravating. I had already made plans (or missed buying tickets) based on the previous schedule. And now that's all screwed up for me. Seriously: if you're going to mess up transportation for the entire Bay Area, stick to the dates you've already announced so people can make plans. I've said it before and no doubt will have to say it again: BART, when it comes to letting me down, you never let me down.

Visual Arts
The rebuilding of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art means it's closed for another year or so, but they've been lending out parts of their collection and more than fifty artworks (paintings, sculptures, photographs, and videos) will be at the handsome Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) in a show called Portraits and Other Likenesses, starting 8 May and running through 11 October. Check here for more information.

You have until 10 May to catch the Asian Art Museum's exhibits on the Yoshiwara pleasure district and of ukiyo-e (woodblock prints). And you have until 31 May to see Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland at the DeYoung Museum.

Early Music / Baroque Music
American Bach Soloists present music by Bach (the Concerto for Two Violins, the Orchestral Suite No 4, and Cantata 169, Gott soll allein, mein Herze haben), Vivaldi (Nisi Dominus), and Leonardo Leo (Concerto for Violoncello in A major), conducted by Jeffrey Thomas and featuring countertenor Ian Howell, Gretchen Claassen on violoncello, and Elizabeth Blumenstock and Cynthia Black on violin. That's 1 - 4 May in a different location on each day so check here for more information.

Opera Parallèle presents the American premiere of Heart of Darkness, based on Conrad's story, with libretto by Tom Phillips and music by Tarik O'Regan, directed by Brian Staufenbiel and conducted by Nicole Paiement. The enticing cast includes Isaiah Bell, Philip Skinner, Thomas Glenn, Jonathan Smucker, Daniel Cilli, Michael Belle, Igor Vieira, Heidi Moss, and Shawnette Sulker; that's 1 - 3 May at Z Space.

At the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Michael Morgan conducts Bernstein's Candide with an excellent cast including Thomas Glenn, Shawnette Sulker, Robert Sims, Tami Dahbura, Hadleigh Adams, and Katy Stephan; that's 15 May at the Paramount.

West Edge Opera presents a semi-concert version of Verdi's I due Foscari on 3 May at Rossmoor in Walnut Creek and 4 May at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents Britten's Albert Herring, with a student cast and orchestra conducted by Curt Pajer and directed by Heather Mathews, on 6 and 8 May

Cutting Ball presents the world premiere of Mount Misery by Resident Playwright Andrew Saito, directed by Rob Melrose. It's about the strange intersections in time and space of Donald Rumsfeld and Frederick Douglass. I've really liked what I've seen so far of Saito's work, so this is an exciting prospect. It plays 8 May to 7 June.

Also at Cutting Ball: the Hidden Classics Reading Series closes out its season with Heiner Mueller's Hamletmachine, directed by Rem Myers. That's on 17 May. And the annual Risk Is This. . . . series of new-play readings begins this month, with Mark Jackson's Who Is Heiner Mueller or the End of History (17 - 18 May), Christopher Chen's Caught (24 - 25 May), Katharine Sherman's nightcap (31 May - 1 June); Andrew Saito's Whisper Fish (7 - 8 June); and Andrew Saito's Beauty Secrets (14 - 15 June). More information on all of those plays may be found here.

Cal Performances presents the Handspring Puppet Company in Ubu and the Truth Commission, conceived and directed by South African artist William Kentridge and written by Jane Taylor, with puppets by Adrian Kohler. That's 1 - 3 May at Zellerbach Playhouse (not Zellerbach Hall, but the smaller theater beside it).

Custom Made Theater presents Grey Gardens, with book by Doug Wright, lyrics by Michael Korie, and music by Scott Frankel, directed by Stuart Bousel. It's based on the famous documentary, which some people find fabulous campy fun and I found extremely disturbing. Either one of those reactions might be a recommendation. That's 22 May to 21 June.

Shotgun Players presents Heart Shaped Nebula by Marisela Treviño Orta, directed by Desdemona Chiang, from 21 May to 14 June.

Berkeley Rep presents One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, directed by David Ivers. It's an updated version of Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters, and plays from 8 May to 21 June.

ACT presents Sondheim's A Little Night Music from 20 May to 14 June.

Modern/New Music
At the San Francisco Symphony, for one night only (16 May), Michael Tilson Thomas leads the band in two works by John Cage: The Seasons and Renga. Tim Robbins is the speaker, and baritones Patrick Dupré Quigley and Christopher Dylan Herbert also take part. Clyde Scott is the video designer for Renga.

At the San Francisco Symphony, Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Stravinsky's Firebird, Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, and his own Nyx on 30 April and 1 - 3 May.

Even if you can't make it to these concerts, check out this interesting interview with Salonen at A Beast in a Jungle.

Also at the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas leads the orchestra in the Bartók Concerto for Orchestra, Mozart's Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola (featuring violinist Alexander Barantschik and violist Jonathan Vinocour), and a new work by Samuel Adams – so new that if it has a name, it has not yet been revealed. That's on 20 - 23 May, though the 20th is a morning open rehearsal and the 21st is up at Green Music Center in Sonoma. Then Charles Dutoit leads them in the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Stravinsky's Jeu de cartes, and the Elgar Cello Concerto with soloist Gautier Capuçon on 27 - 31 May.

New Century Chamber Orchestra plays Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet (arranged for chamber orchestra by Mahler), and Murmurations, a new work by Derek Bermel. That's 28 - 31 May, in different locations each day, so check here for more information.

Chamber Music
San Francisco Performances presents the Brentano Quartet in works by Haydn and Debussy; they will also be joined by composer Vijay Iyer on piano for the west coast premiere of his Time, Place, Action. That's 10 May at the SF Jazz Center.

Cal Performances presents violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt in a program of Brahms and Webern on 10 May.

Earplay closes out its season on 18 May with music by Dohee Lee, Bruce Bennett, Peter Josheff, Wayne Peterson, Carla Lucero, Nicholas Tzortzis, and Lou Harrison, at the ODC Theater.

San Francisco Performances presents Stephen Hough in music by Debussy and Chopin on 12 May at the SF Jazz Center.

San Francisco Ballet closes out its season with Helgi Tomasson's Romeo and Juliet, set to Prokofiev's score, from 1 to 10 May.

Volti presents Pandora's Gift, a short vocal/movement work with music by Mark Winges and libretto by Denise Newman. Robert Geary conducts and Erika Chong Schuch stages the work. That's 16 - 17 May at Z Space.

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus presents its annual concert on 17 May; Ragnar Bohlin leads them in Stravinsky's Mass, Poulenc's Figure humaine, and the Killmayer arrangement of Orff's Carmina Burana. The concert also features members of the Symphony, the Pacific Boychoir, soprano Joanna Taber, tenor Jonathan Thomas, and baritone Michael Taylor. I expressed some skepticism to a friend of mine in the chorus about Carmina Burana (I enjoy it, but don't feel much need to hear it again). He informed me that the Poulenc and Stravinsky would be well worth hearing. I dutifully bought a ticket.

Sven Edward Olbash leads the Lacuna Arts Chorale in works by C Hubert Parry and C V Stanford on 15 May at St Mark's Lutheran and 17 May at St Luke's Episcopal (both churches are in San Francisco).

at the Jazz Center
Quite a few interesting vocalists at the SF Jazz Center in May: Esperanza Spalding is doing a run early in the month, but it's sold out, though you could check with the box office for returns; the Carolina Chocolate Drops are playing 14 - 17 May; Lavay Smith & Her Red-Hot Skillet Lickers are playing 21 - 24 May; and Laurie Anderson is playing 28 - 31 May.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival holds its twentieth anniversary festival from 28 May to 1 June at the Castro Theater. It opens Thursday evening with the silent version of All Quiet on the Western Front, with live musical accompaniment by the Monte Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (the festival has really wonderful live music for almost all its presentations) and closes the next Monday with Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, and you can keep your Chuck Heston, for me the only Judah Ben-Hur is Ramon Novarro. In between those two films are a wide-ranging display of the joyful variety of silent films, from classics such as Murnau's The Last Laugh (one of my all-time favorite films) and Flesh and the Devil (if you want to know why many consider Greta Garbo the most beautiful woman ever to step in front of the motion-picture camera, see this film) to rarities such as the Chinese Cave of the Spider Women and the newly discovered Sherlock Holmes with William Gillette. You can find a full schedule here and you can buy either tickets for individual shows or a festival pass that gets you into everything.

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