Hard to believe that this month marks a quarter of the year gone! And here's something else to make you pause amid the giddy onrush of time: it's that we never know what is going to hit us, or where or when. I have a list of arts groups I check every month in compiling these previews, and sometimes things as described in print just don't sound interesting and I slide right over them. Then, sometimes, as with Way Bay at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, I stumble into those same things and I'm immediately captivated. Having disliked the recent "Summer of Love" commemorative exhibits, I wasn't at all interested in another "we're so special here" show, but to my great surprise, I really enjoyed this exhibit, and I especially loved the way it's set up: objects (paintings, photos, films, textiles) from the times of the Ohlone peoples and the Spanish colonizers to pretty much now are arranged by poetic themes and identified only by small numbers; if you want to discover the themes or who made what, you need to pick up one of the guides at the gallery entrance. Or you can wander and make your own connections. The same thing happened to me at the same museum with the Martin Wong exhibit: I strolled in to kill some time before something else and was blown away by an artist I'd barely heard of and I realized I needed to get back to the show soon, when I could try to absorb it more fully. You just never know what's going to ignite you. It's a good reminder to wander off your personal beaten path once in a while.
Cal Performances presents My Lai, a staged work about the infamous massacre (now nearly half a century past), with music by Jonathan Berger and words by Harriet Scott Chessman, performed by the Kronos Quartet, Rinde Eckert, and Vân-Ành Võ, in Zellerbach Hall on 4 March.
The African-American Shakespeare Company presents the Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by L. Peter Callender, from 4 to 18 March at the Marines' Memorial Theater in San Francisco.
Aurora Theater presents Caryl Churchill's A Number, directed by Barbara Damashek, from 9 March to 6 May.
Pipa player Wu Man and the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band come to Cal Performances with folk tales of rural China on 11 March at Hertz Hall.
Manual Cinema visits Cal Performances with Ada/Ava, a Gothic tale of two New England lighthouse-keeper sisters, at Zellerbach Playhouse from 16 to 18 March.
Shotgun Players opens its season by collaborating with Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble on Iron Shoes, an adaptation of eastern European folk tales created by Janet Kutulas, Michelle Carter, and Erika Chong Shuch, which runs from 15 March to 15 April.
42nd Street Moon presents the Sondheim rarity Saturday Night, with book by Julius J. Epstein and music and lyrics by (as you've probably guessed) Stephen Sondheim, directed by Ryan Weible with music direction by Daniel Thomas, at the Gateway Theater in San Francisco from 28 March to 15 April.
Cutting Ball offers a rare opportunity to see Shakespeare's (OK, some say Shakespeare & Middleton's) Timon of Athens, directed by Rob Melrose, from 30 March to 29 April.
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents a concert performance of Handel's Rodelinda, conducted by Corey Jamason, on 10 and 11 March; you can also see the Conservatory students perform as yet unspecified opera scenes on 15 March.
On 17 March Jeff McMillan will give a talk on Melchior and Flagstad to the Wagner Society of Northern California at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco.
The Bay Area Rainbow Symphony celebrates its tenth anniversary with a concert led by Music Director Dawn Harms at Herbst Theater on 3 March, featuring all-around-awesome soprano Patricia Racette in a program featuring works by Puccini, Kern, Sondheim, songs associated with Edith Piaf, and the Mahler 1. Racette will also be leading a master class at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 2 March; it is free but reservations are required.
At the San Francisco Symphony, the month kicks off with Pablo Heras-Casado conducting Esa-Pekka Salonen's Helix, the Shostakovich Violin Concerto 2 with Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik as soloist, and the Brahms 1 (1 - 3 March); followed by Edward Gardner conducting Tippett's Four Ritual Dances from The Midsummer Marriage, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with Simon Trp eski as soloist, and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances (8 - 10 March); and then Michael Tilson Thomas returns to close out the month with two different programs: the world premiere of the Symphony-commissioned Sudden Changes by Charles Wuorinen, along with Prokofiev's Piano Concerto 3 with soloist Behzod Abduraimov and the Copland 3 (the one that opens with the Fanfare for the Common Man) (15 - 17 March) and then the Berg Violin Concerto with soloist Gil Shaham and the Mahler 5 (22 - 25 March).
The San Francisco Symphony also presents The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, with conductor and violin soloist Joshua Bell, performing the Edgar Meyer Overture for Violin and Orchestra, the Mozart Violin Concerto 4, and the Beethoven 6, the Pastoral, on 11 March at Davies Hall.
The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra is conducted by Christian Reif in an interesting-looking program featuring Gabrieli's Canzoni for Brass, Angels for Muted Brass by Ruggles, the Serenade in E-flat major by Richard Strauss, Michael Burritt's Fandango 13 for Six Percussionists, a new work commissioned by the SFSYO from Anahita Abbasi, and the Beethoven 7; that's on 4 March at Davies Hall.
New Century Chamber Orchestra Artistic Partner Daniel Hope brings his other group, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, over to join with NCCO for a special commuter concert on 16 March at Herbst Theater, playing music by Bartók, Mozart, Richter, and Grieg.
Early / Baroque Music
The San Francisco Early Music Society presents Les Délices playing works by Philidor, Rameau, and other masters of the French rococo, on 2 March at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 3 March at St Mary Magdalen in Berkeley, and 4 March at Church of the Advent in San Francisco.
Organist and guest conductor Richard Egarr leads Philharmonia Baroque in a program celebrating Corelli, along with Handel and Muffat, on 8 March at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, 9 March at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford, and 10 - 11 March at First Congregational in Berkeley.
Modern / Contemporary Music
The Trois Bois trio visits Old First Concerts on 11 March to play music by Kirke Mechem, Donald Waxman, Sean Osborn, and Damian Montano.
The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble presents an Orpheus-themed concert, with excerpts from the famous operas by Monteverdi and Gluck as well as new works by Aida Shirazi, Chiayu Hsu, and Eric Moe; that's 12 March at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and 17 March at the Berkeley Hillside Club.
Earplay, led by Mary Chun, continues its season at the Taube Atrium Theater on 19 March with a program called Magnetic Commentaries, featuring music by James Dashow (a west coast premiere), Richard Festinger (an Earplay commission), Daniel Godsil (an Earplay Aird prize winner), Maija Hynninen (and Earplay commission and world premiere), and Vera Ivanova.
The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players have a four-concert weekend planned for 23 - 24 March at Z Space, dedicated to Pauline Oliveros on what would have been her 85th birthday and to percussionist and departing Artistic Director Steven Schick. The programs include music by Oliveros, Luciano Berio, Morton Feldman, Galina Ustvolskaya, Xavier Beteta, Celest Oram, and Carolyn Chen (a SFCMP commission; Chen will be interviewed about her work as part of the concerts, in their regular How Music Is Made series).
As always, check the schedule at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, as there are frequent additions to the schedule. Some things currently scheduled for March that jump out at me: SFSound with Dan Joseph performing works by Joseph, the SFSound ensemble, Pauline Oliveros, and Michael Pisaro on 3 March; the Elevate Ensemble playing works by Lisa Bielawa, Julie Barwick, Tania León, Edie Hill, and Jocelyn Hagen on 10 March; Ensemble Proton Bern playing contemporary Swiss composers on 15 March; violin duo Miolino in a program called All Good Is Luck on 24 March; and soprano Emily Sternfeld-Dunn's album release concert on 29 March.
On 4 March Trio Foss visits Old First Concerts to play music by Shostakovich, Beethoven, and Martinů.
San Francisco Performances presents the Ébène Quartet playing Haydn, Fauré, and Beethoven on 9 March at Herbst Theater.
On 16 March Old First Concerts presents cello quartet Holes in the Floor playing music by Jeremy Crosmer (a west coast premiere), Alexandre Tansman, another west coast premiere by Bosba Panh, and an arrangement by Laszlo Varge of Bach's Ciaccona from the Violin Partita 2.
Chamber Music San Francisco presents the Israeli Chamber Project on 17 March playing music by Schumann, Stravinsky, Ravel, and Brahms at Herbst Theater (the program is repeated on 18 March in Walnut Creek and 19 March in Palo Alto).
Cal Performances presents cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han playing Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Grieg, and new works written for them by Bruce Adolphe and Lera Auerbach; that's 18 March at Hertz Hall.
Old First Concerts presents violinist Bin Huang and pianist Frank Lévy on 23 March in the complete sonatas for piano and violin by Brahms
San Francisco Opera's Schwabacher Debut Recitals will hold two concerts in March, both at the Taube Atrium Theater: on 7 March soprano Felicia Moore, bass-baritone Christian Pursell, and pianist César Cañón will perform Die schöne Magelone by Brahms and on 21 March soprano Toni Marie Palmertree and pianist Mark Morash will perform songs by Strauss, Mompou, and Griffes.
Even those (like me) who found Girls of the Golden West simplistic and boring loved the cast, and one of its main treasures, soprano Julia Bullock, is joining with pianist John Arida at Cal Performances to sing Schumann, Barber, Fauré, and songs made famous by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone; that's 25 March at Hertz Hall.
Lieder Alive! presents baritone Eugene Villanueva and pianist Peter Grünberg in works by Brahms, Wolf, and Tosti at the Noe Valley Ministry on 25 March.
San Francisco Performances presents tenor Lawrence Brownlee and pianist Myra Huang performing Schumann's Dichterliebe and the west coast premiere of Tyshawn Sorey's Cycles of My Being. That's 31 March in Herbst Theater and this is one not to be missed.
The California Bach Society, led by Paul Flight, moves forward to the German Romantics, performing works by some of the usual suspects as well as such less-usual suspects as Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Gustav Jenner, Joseph Rheinberger; that's 2 March at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, 3 March at All Saints' Episcopal in Palo Alto, and 4 March at St Mark's Episcopal in Berkeley.
Chora Nova, another group led by Paul Flight, presents an evening of opera choruses, including selections from Dido and Aeneas, Prince Igor, Lucia di Lammermoor, and others, on 17 March at First Congregational in Berkeley.
Cappella SF, led by Ragnar Bohlin, sings music by Mason Bates, Elliott Encarnación, Elizabeth Kimble, Clayton Moser, and Ben Jones on 11 March at the Mission Dolores Basilica.
Chanticleer performs Mexican and Bolivian music celebrating Saints Ignatius, Cecilia, Joseph, Peter, and Francis by Araujo, Franco, Sumaya, Padilla, Flores, and the ever-prolific anonymous in a series of concerts on 10 March (at Mission Dolores in San Francisco), 11 March (at Mission San Jose in Fremont), 13 March (at Mission Santa Clara in Santa Clara), and 6 April (at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz).
Clerestory explores music (including works by Augusta Read Thomas and Minna Choi) that explores dream states and other variations on "normal" consciousness, and you can hear the results on 17 March at the David Brower Center in Berkeley and 18 March at St Gregory's Episcopal (that's the church with the celebrated mural of the dancing saints) in San Francisco.
Keyboards & Strings
San Francisco Performances presents pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard in a program of Obukhov, Ligeti, and Beethoven on 2 March in Herbst Theater.
San Francisco Performances presents guitarists Eliot Fisk and Angel Romero playing Vivaldi, Rodrigo, de Falla, Delphin Alard, Ponce, Albéniz, Halffter, Romero, and Garcia Lorca on 10 March at Herbst Theater.
Chamber Music San Francisco presents pianist Seong-Jin Cho on 4 March playing Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin at Herbst Theater and pianist Angela Hewitt on 11 March playing Bach's Goldberg Variations.
San Francisco Performances presents violinist Simone Porter and pianist Hsin-I Huang in a program featuring works by Mozart, Janáček, Salonen, Chausson, and Ravel on 16 March at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Pianist Edward Neeman visits Old First Concerts on 25 March with an intriguing program featuring Jan Ladislav Dussek's sonata, L'invocation, written the year before his death from alcoholism in 1812, the west coast premiere of Australian composer Larry Sitsky's 2009 Piano Sonata No 1, Retirer d'en bas de l'eau, based on the Voodoo Ritual of the Dead, and Paul Schoenfeld's Peccadilloes.
San Francisco Performances presents composer and pianist Lera Auerbach playing Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition as well as the world premiere of 21st Century Pictures, her own response to that work. That's 27 March in Herbst Theater.
Not quite jazz, but Latin music: Las Cafeteras and the all-woman mariachi band Flor de Toloache will visit us on 9 March; they're presented by Cal Performances but at the Paramount Theater as part of the new Cal Performances in Oakland series.
Lavay Smith & Her Red Skillet Lickers do a series of concerts at SF Jazz: featuring music of Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong on 15 March, music inspired by American places on 16 March, songs inspired by high life on 17 March, and songs by Harold Arlen on 18 March.
SF Jazz presents Buddy Guy and his guitar at Oakland's Paramount Theater on 17 March.
SF Jazz presents the South Asian-inflected sounds of Red Baraat, celebrating the Hindu festival Holi, on 17 March at the Jazz Center; Bhi Bhiman opens for them.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra with special guest Chick Corea visits Cal Performances on 22 March in Zellerbach Hall.
The San Francisco Ballet revives last year's Frankenstein, choreographed by Liam Scarlett to Lowell Liebermann's score, from 6 to 11 March.
Cal Performances presents flamenco troupe the Eva Yerbabuena Company in ¡Ay! on 7 March in Zellerbach Hall.
San Francisco Performances presents Company Wayne McGregor in Autobiography, inspired by McGregor's DNA, from 8 to 10 March at the YBCA Theater.
At the Asian Art Museum, Divine Bodies examines the body in relation to the divine and the cosmic, mostly in Hindu and Buddhist traditions; the show opens 9 March and runs to 29 July.
At the Contemporary Jewish Museum, The Art of Rube Goldberg opens on 15 March and runs to 8 July.
You have until 25 March to catch the invigorating exhibition Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
You can examine the works of the American Precisionists – Charles Sheeler, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, and others responding to the "machine age" with a blend of realism and abstraction – at Cult of the Machine, opening 24 March and running until 12 August at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents a newly restored version of Cecil B DeMille's 1927 King of Kings at Grace Cathedral, with accompaniment by organist David Briggs, on 24 March. Usually at the end of March the SFSFF announces the programs for its annual festival, held this year from 30 May to 3 June at the Castro Theater, so stay tuned for more news on that front.