Once again I have to start one of these with a warning about BART: they are planning partial shutdowns over several weekends from April to July, as they need to rebuild the tracks between Fruitvale and Lake Merritt. The Lake Merritt station will be closed on those weekends. A free bus bridge will carry riders between the affected stations. The buses may add up to 40 minutes to your trip, so if you rely on BART keep that in mind when buying expensive tickets or planning an outing (and even if you don't use BART, of course this will affect Bay Area traffic in general).
And once again, in typical BART style, they have underpublicized what they're doing: I was at a station and happened to hear an announcement on their squawky speakers about the upcoming closure, but it wasn't until I checked their site later that I realized that weekend was just the first in a series.
Yes, I know they need to rebuild the tracks. I also know that they should have been doing maintenance all along. I know . . . well, I'll just stop here. After one more thing! Maybe the most frustrating thing to me about BART is not the high price or the poor quality of service, the filthy stations and the long waits for short trains, but that every anti-government-agency, anti-union slur you've ever heard – that they're inefficient, inept, unconcerned with the public benefit and only interested in their fat pensions – is true in the case of BART. That's a humbling thing for a stalwart leftist to admit to himself.
Currently, the closure is scheduled to take place 8 - 9 and 29 - 30 April, but experience has shown that BART may change these dates semi-arbitrarily and with little publicity, so check here for any updates they've snuck in.
San Francisco Playhouse presents Michael Frayn's beloved backstage farce Noises Off, directed by Susi Damilano, from 21 March to 13 May.
Custom Made Theatre presents Wendy McLeod's House of Yes from 30 March to 29 April.
The African-American Shakespeare Company presents August Wilson's Jitney, directed by and starring L. Peter Callender, from 1 to 16 April at the Marines' Memorial Theater.
42nd Street Moon has two shows coming to the Eureka Theater: New Girl in Town, with music and lyrics by Bob Merrill and book by George Abbot based on Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, directed by Daren A. C. Carollo with music direction by Dave Dobrusky, from 29 March to 16 April, and No, No, Nanette, lyrics by Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach with music by Vincent Youmans and book by Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel (revival book by Burt Shevelove), directed by Cindy Goldfield with music direction by Dave Dobrusky, and that's from 26 April to 14 May.
ACT has two shows coming to the Geary Theater: Needles and Opium, an exploration of Miles Davis in Europe and Jean Cocteau in New York, written and directed by Robert Lepage and produced by Ex Machina, running from 30 March to 23 April, and Battlefield, based on the Mahabharata and the play adapted from the epic by Jean-Claude Carrière, further adapted and also directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, running from 26 April to 21 May.
Cutting Ball Theater presents Racine's Phèdre, translated by Rob Melrose and directed by Ariel Craft, from 20 April to 21 May.
Cal Performances and Philharmonia Baroque team up to present Le temple de la Gloire, with music by Rameau to a libretto by Voltaire; these are the first productions of the first version of the score (recently rediscovered in the UC Berkeley libraries) since its premiere at Versailles in 1745. Performances will take place at Zellerbach Hall, which is not exactly Versailles or even Versailles-like but will have to do, on 28 - 30 April (the 30th is a matinee).
There are a couple of operatic double bills at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music: you can hear Puccini's Suor Angelica and Massenet's Le Portrait de Manon on 7 and 9 (matinee) April; later in the month (28 and 30 (matinee) April) you can hear Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Stravinsky's Mavra.
Opera Theater Unlimited is putting on a 48-hour Opera Festival, in which new short (ten to fifteen minute) operas will be put together in, you know, 48 hours. That will take place 28 - 30 April in San Francisco and there will be a public performance at the end. Sounds as if it could be a wild ride. Find out more here.
The San Francisco Symphony is mostly out this month touring the east coast, though they have cancelled their scheduled North Carolina appearances as a result of that state's idiotic new law regarding transgender people using public bathrooms, because that is apparently a very urgent issue, well worth public time and money. Seriously, how exactly are they planning to enforce such a law? Do they really expect people to have birth certificates to hand? Is this really what legislators need to be spending their time on, in a country so far behind comparably wealthy nations when it comes to health insurance, public transportation, supporting public education (not to mention the arts) . . . . Honestly, if your political / religious program consists of targeting people who already have been handed a rough deal by life and figuring out ways to make their lives even rougher, you need to sit down and examine whatever shriveled bit of soul you have left and then go change your life. This is all by way of mentioning a new addition to the Symphony's schedule: Symphony Pride, celebrating "the Bay Area's spirit of inclusion and diversity with a focus on the voices of the LGBTQ community" and including works by such great artists as Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, Meredith Monk, and John Cage. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts and is joined as co-host by the always wonderful Audra McDonald. The concert will be 4 April and proceeds will benefit social service organizations providing support to LGBTQ people in the Bay Area.
Also at Davies Hall this month: Fabio Luisi leads the Danish National Orchestra in two programs: on 2 April you can hear Nielsen's Helios Overture, the Beethoven 3 (Eroica), and Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder with soprano Deborah Voigt as the soloist; and on 3 April, you can hear the Beethoven Violin Concerto with soloist Arabella Steinbacher, along with Richard Strauss's Don Juan and the Nielsen 6 (Sinfonia semplice).
The San Francisco Symphony returns to close out the month with the fabulous pianist Igor Levit in the Schumann concerto, conducted by Fabio Luisi; this program also includes Richard Strauss's Aus Italien and you can hear all that 27 - 29 April.
The Department of Music at UC-Berkeley presents the Fauré Requiem, Berlioz's Grande Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale, along with pieces by Charpentier and de Lalande, performed by the University Chorus and Symphony and the Contra Costa Wind Symphony, on 7 April in Hertz Hall.
The next two Schwabacher Debut Recitals take place this month at the Taube Atrium: on 2 April baritone Sol Jin and pianist Kirill Kuzmin will perform Poulenc, Tosti, and Beethoven, and on 9 April mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier, bass Anthony Reed, and pianist John Churchwell will perform an all-American program including Rorem, Pasatieri, Bolcom, Thomson, Gershwin, Argento, Coleman, Porter, Sondheim, and others.
See also Deborah Voigt's appearance at Davies Hall with the Danish National Orchestra, listed above in Orchestral.
Piano / Violin (& Other Strings)
San Francisco Performances presents pianist Wei Luo performing Shostakovich, Beethoven, Albéniz, and Prokofiev on 2 April at Herbst Theater.
San Francisco Performances presents violinist Alina Ibragimova and pianist Cédric Tiberghien in a program of works by Bach, Berg, Brahms, Ysaÿe, and Schumann on 3 April at Herbst Theater.
San Francisco Performances presents guitarist Xuefei Yang on 8 April at Herbst Theater. The program has not yet been announced.
San Francisco Performances presents trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger and pianist Roland Pöntinen performing works by Antheil, Stenhammar, Gershwin, Newman, Thomson, and others, on 11 April at Herbst Theater. UPDATE: It was announced on 5 April that Hardenberger had to cancel this performance due to family reasons. If you already have tickets, contact SF Performances to arrange exchanging, donating, or receiving a refund for your ticket.
Cal Performances presents pianist Saleem Ashkar playing an all-Beethoven program on 21 April at Hertz Hall.
San Francisco Performances presents Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc-André Hamelin in a joint recital of music for four hands and two pianos by Mozart, Stravinsky, and Debussy; that's 25 April at Herbst Theater.
Also on 25 April is Murray Perahia playing a solo recital (though it's presented by the San Francisco Symphony) of Bach, Schubert, Mozart, and Beethoven at Davies Hall.
San Francisco Performances presents cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Connie Shih performing Debussy, Chopin, Hahn, Fauré, and Adès in Herbst Theater on 27 April.
Cal Performances presents Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Edgar Meyer on double-bass, and Chris Thile on mandolin up at the Greek Theater on 30 April. We are warned that umbrellas are not allowed in this (outdoor) venue so substitute other rain gear if necessary – and if they're worried about heavy rain in late April, I guess the drought is now officially over.
Old First Concerts presents the Friction Quartet, joined by violist Jodi Levitz and cellist Jennifer Culp, on 2 April in a program featuring Brahms, John Halle, and Schoenberg's glorious Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night).
Cal Performances presents the Takács Quartet in the final two concerts of their survey of the complete Beethoven string quartets; that's 8 - 9 April in Hertz Hall.
San Francisco Performances presents the Calder Quartet in an all-Adès program in Herbst Theater on 12 April.
Cal Performances presents Cappella SF, led by Ragnar Bohlin, in a program featuring Bach, Sven-David Sandström, Ola Gjeilo, Z. Randall Stroope, Arvo Pärt, and Frank Martin, on 22 April in Hertz Hall.
Robert Geary leads the San Francisco Choral Society in three Magnificats by three Bachs: JS, CPE, and JC; you can compare and contrast at Calvary Presbyterian in San Francisco on 29 April.
SF Jazz presents the women's chorus Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares in Grace Cathedral on 26 April.
Early / Baroque Music
Jeffrey Thomas leads the American Bach Soloists in Bach's Motets for Double Chorus; that's 31 March at St Stephen's in Belvedere, 1 April at First Presbyterian in Berkeley, 2 April at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, and 3 April at the Davis Community Church in Davis.
Cal Performances presents the Tallis Scholars in works by Praetorius, Gibbons, Pärt, Sheppard, Tavener, Stravinsky, Palestrina, Holst, and others – yes, they are including post-Renaissance music this time – in Zellerbach Hall on 6 April.
San Francisco Performances presents Beatrice Rana playing the Goldberg Variations on 7 April at Herbst Theater.
Paul Flight leads the California Bach Society in an all-Charpentier concert, featuring the Litanie de la Vierge and the Missa Assumpta est Maria; you can hear them on 21 April at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, 22 April at All Saints' Episcopal in Palo Alto, and 23 April at St Mark's Episcopal in Berkeley.
Modern / New Music
San Francisco Contemporary Music Players host a centenary celebration of Lou Harrison on 21 - 22 April at Z Space in San Francisco, where they will perform work by Harrison as well as some current composers; you can buy a pass and go to everything or tickets to individual concerts (see the whole schedule here).
The San Francisco International Film Festival runs from 5 to 19 April. Here are some things that jump out at me: the Kronos Quartet will perform Jacob Garchik's score for a new film by the great Guy Maddin, The Green Fog – A San Francisco Fantasia, and that's 16 April at the Castro Theater, on the closing night of the Festival. A few days earlier (13 April) you can catch that wild ride from the early days of Soviet cinema, Dziga Vertov's The Man with a Movie Camera, with live music by DeVotchKa. The Festival has a calendar on their site, but you have to click it day by day to find out what's playing, and frankly that's just too annoying. I was very glad to see Alex Ross complain recently about something I've also complained about, which is the gradual disappearance of helpful calendars from websites in favor of "smart"phone-friendly lists that go day by day. I fear this is another case of arts groups trying to do what they think is trendy, only to be mostly annoying (pop-ups! secret locations! general seating with drinks!) – I know that that's how many people think they want to live their lives, but that's not how we actually have to live our lives.
SF Jazz presents Max Raabe & Palast Orchester on 6 April in Davies Hall.
Cal Performances presents Bill Charlap and singer Ann Hampton Callaway in a program called Jazz & Sondheim Side by Side, which pretty much sums it up, and you can hear the results on 13 April in Zellerbach Hall.
SF Jazz presents the Wayne Shorter Quartet from 27 to 30 April.
San Francisco Performances presents the Paul Taylor Dance Company in three different programs from 26 to 30 April at the Yerba Buena Center.
The San Francisco Ballet presents the final three programs of its season: Swan Lake, with choreography by Helgi Tomasson (with the Black Swan Pas de Deux and Act 2 by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa) and music by, of course, Tchaikovsky, from 31 March to 12 April; Cinderella, with choreography by Christopher Wheeldon to Prokofiev's score, from 27 April to 7 May; and a mixed program featuring three works made for the company: Trio, with choreography by Helgi Tomasson to music by Tchaikovsky; the world premiere of Ghost in the Machine, choreography by Myles Thatcher to Michael Nyman's score; and Within the Golden Hour, choreography by Christopher Wheeldon to music by Ezio Bosso and Vivaldi, and that's from 5 to 18 April.