05 January 2016

fun stuff I may or may not get to: January 2016

January has rolled around again; it's the start of a new year but also the halfway point in most theater seasons. A sort of odd new tradition seems to have sprung up in recent years in which the year end brings not only Nutcrackers and Messiahs but also pleas to donate as part of "your year-end giving". I understand the tax reasons for donating before the end of the year, but I'm also keenly aware that the end of the year is when I'm particularly conscious of having failed (again) at controlling expenses, and my "year-end giving" tends to be to credit card companies. When I do donate to arts groups, I tend to do so when I renew a subscription, which is usually toward the end of the theater season, which puts it mid-way through the calendar year. And I do wonder why I would donate to a group when I don't know what they're doing next season – as a general sign of faith, I guess. Well, enough of this little digression; I hope all of us can contribute support to the arts in some way in the coming year. You might start by buying tickets to one of the shows listed below! (And if you buy tickets to certain Cal Performances events before 26 January you could take advantage of their Winter Sale: buy at least one ticket to two performances and the tickets are only $25 each.)

ACT presents Satchmo at the Waldorf by Terry Teachout, directed by Gordon Edelstein, a one-man show in which John Douglas Thompson portrays both Louie Armstrong and Miles Davis; that's 13 January to 7 February at the Geary Theater.

The Aurora Theater presents Little Erik, a contemporary adaptation of Ibsen's Little Eyolf, written and directed by Mark Jackson; the show runs 29 January to 28 February. The theater's website does not allow you to choose your own seat, so your best bet is to call them at 510-843-4822 between 1:00 and 5:00 Tuesdays through Fridays.

At Shotgun Players, Agatha Christie's Mousetrap, directed by Patrick Dooley, has been extended to 24 January. They also present the latest in their Reading Series, Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, directed by Molly Noble, on 18 - 19 January.

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents the Moss Hart / Irving Berlin revue As Thousands Cheer on 29 and 31 January, with direction and choreography by Michael Mohammed and music direction by Lauren Mayer.

Modern / Contemporary Music
Old First Concerts presents the Ives Collective performing Paul Hindemith's Quartet and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time at 4:00 on 31 January at Old First Church on Van Ness Avenue.

The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present a program on 19 January at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, featuring La forma dello spazio by Zosha Di Castri, Worker's Union by Louis Andriessen, and For Samuel Beckett by Morton Feldman.

And as always the Center for New Music has lots of stuff worth checking out; things that looked particularly interesting this month are the A/B Duo on 9 January premiering works by Ken Ueno, Brendon Randall-Myers, Brooks Frederickson, and Francisco Castillo Trigueros; Ken Ueno and Matt Ingalls and Sinecure improvising on 15 January; and Wild Rumpus and Synchromy playing new pieces by Jason Barabba, Nick Norton, and Jen Wang, and (presumably newish) pieces by Joshua Carro, Ursula Kwong-Brown, Richard Valitutto, Dan Van Hassel, and Scott Worthington, on 26 January; you can check out the whole schedule here and probably find something fun that I've overlooked.

Early / Baroque Music
Jeffrey Thomas leads the American Bach Soloists in an all-Bach program, featuring the cantatas Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben and Herz (Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life; BWV 147) and Wachet! betet! betet! wachet! (Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!, BWV 70) with soloists Mary Wilson (soprano), Jay Carter (countertenor), Derek Chester (tenor), and Mischa Bouvier (bass), along with the Violin Concerto in E Major, with soloist Tatiana Chulochnikova, and Chuluochnikova's own transcription for solo violin of the Toccata & Fugue in D Minor. That's 22 January at St Stephen's Church in Belvedere, 23 January at First Congregational in Berkeley, 24 January (4:00) at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, and 25 January at the Davis Community Church in Davis.

The San Francisco Early Music Society presents the Quicksilver ensemble in rare and unusual works from 17th century Vienna, featuring compositions for the court of the Holy Roman Emperor by Valentini, Bertali, Buonamente, Pandolfi, Kerll, Legrenzi, Fux, Muffat, and Schmelzer. That's 29 January at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 30 January at St John's Presbyterian in Berkeley, and 31 January at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

Ragnar Bohlin leads Cappella SF in an all-Russian program on 17 January at Mission Dolores Basilica.

San Francisco Performances presents tenor Nicholas Phan at one of their intimate Hotel Rex concerts, which start at 6:30. This one is on 28 January, so a Thursday rather than the usual Wednesday for this series. Phan will be singing settings of Whitman and Dickinson by Ives, Rorem, Heggie, and Copland.

San Francisco Performances presents the Luciana Souza Quintet on 31 January in Herbst Theater, in a program called Speaking in Tongues.

The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour plays Zellerbach Hall for Cal Performances on 24 January.

San Francisco Ballet begins its post-Nutcracker season with two mixed programs: Program 1 (24 January to 5 February) features Helgi Tomasson's 7 for Eight, Yuri Possokhov's Magrittomania, and the North American premiere of William Forsythe's Pas/Parts; Program 2 (27 January to 6 February) features Christopher Wheeldon's Continuum (to music by Ligeti), Liam Scarlett's Fearful Symmetries, and Balanchine's Rubies.

San Francisco Performances presents Company Wayne McGregor in Atomos, 14 - 16 January at the Yerba Buena Center.

Cal Performances presents the Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan in Rice, 22 - 23 January in Zellerbach Hall.

Cal Performances presents Yefim Bronfman in the first of a three-concert series in which he will play all of Prokofiev's piano sonatas. You can hear the first four at Hertz Hall on 24 January.

See also appearances by Stephen Hough and Jonathan Biss with (or under the auspices of) the San Francisco Symphony, under Symphonic.

Cal Performances presents the St Louis Symphony, conducted by David Robertson, in two programs: the Mahler 5 and the John Adams Saxophone Concerto with soloist Tim McAllister (29 January) and Messiaen's Des Canyons aux Étoiles with pianist Peter Henderson and visuals by Deborah O'Grady (31 January).

The San Francisco Symphony has an excellent-looking program centered on European explorations of foreign myths, conducted by Edwin Outwater and featuring pianist Stephen Hough in the Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto 5, the Egyptian, along with Weber's Overture to Oberon, excerpts from Busoni's Turandot Suite, and Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Weber. That's 28 - 31 January (the performances on the 28th and 31st are matinees).

Jonathan Biss plays the Mozart Piano Concerto 21 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Pinchas Zukerman, presented by the San Francisco Symphony on 24 January. The program also includes the Overture to The Magic Flute and the Tchaikovsky 4. On 25 January, Zukerman leads the Royal Philharmonic in Beethoven's Egmont Overture, Elgar's Enigma Variations, and is the soloist in the Mozart Violin Concerto 5.

Visual Arts / Cinematic
The Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive re-opens in its new location in downtown Berkeley, a block away from the Berkeley BART station and right outside the UC - Berkeley campus. There are various preview days from 28 to 31 January and then a lot of interesting-looking programs and exhibits.

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