17 September 2011

random previews: Cal Performances

It’s a little difficult to choose highlights from the upcoming season of Cal Performances, especially given the very wide range of what they offer. I should probably just wait until my monthly previews. But, clearly, I’m not waiting. . . . I did keep my subscription to a minimum number of events this year, since I’m in one of my occasional moods of trying to be realistic about time and money. That usually lasts until reality gets too depressing for me, which of course doesn’t take long – if I were really fond of unfiltered reality, I wouldn’t go to the theater as much as I do – and I start overbooking again. One advantage of a subscription (for me, anyway) is that if I have the ticket in advance, I will go. If I wait until the week or day of a performance, I’m usually too busy or too tired for a night out to sound good. I have long acknowledged that I am not exactly Mr Spontaneous Last-Minute Fun. (On the other hand, sometimes I load up on tickets months ahead of time and then wonder what I was thinking when I’m faced with five or six events plus work in a week.)

OK, so I did subscribe to the vocal recital series, which is not its official name, but that’s what it is. (The official name is Koret Recital Series C.) That’s Eric Owens on November 20, Susan Graham on January 14, Wolfgang Holzmair on March 4, and Sandrine Piau on April 29. Holzmair is singing Winterreise. The other programs are still only vaguely suggested in the program book (and of course all programs are always subject to change. . . ). I figure this is a case where most people are going to hear the singer rather than the song, anyway. The website might have more up-to-date information, but my computer is too slow for me to check right now. In fact, I’m just going to link to the general website here (in case you missed it above) rather than link for each individual event. It’s very easy to find tickets by date on their site, and they show you all available seats so it’s easy to buy tickets on-line.

I also bought a ticket for countertenor Phillippe Jaroussky with Apollo’s Fire on October 30.
And there’s the annual visit from the Mark Morris Dance Group, this time with Philharmonia Baroque in a revival of Dido and Aeneas. Usually MMDG has more than one program at Cal; I’m not sure why this year only has Dido, but I’m up for whatever MMDG wants to do, and will be there tonight.

Leafing through the brochure, here’s what else leaps out at me right now:

This year’s resident orchestra is the Mariinsky, with Valery Gergiev conducting all six Tchaikovsky symphonies in three concerts, October 14-16;

The Trey McIntyre Project – that’s dance – is November 18 and the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch is on December 2-3;

Gate Theatre of Dublin presents two works by Samuel Beckett, Endgame and Watt (described as “texts from the novel selected by Barry McGovern”), November 17 for both, November 18, 19, and 20 (matinee) for Endgame and November 19 (matinee) and 20 for Watt;

Peter Serkin performs Schoenberg and Beethoven on May 8;

"The Desdemona Project," put together by Toni Morrison, Peter Sellars, and Rokia Traore, is October 26-29; OK, not sure about this expansion of Desdemona’s passing mention of her African maid (the one who taught her the Willow Song) – I heard “Toni Morrison” and “Shakespeare” and was sold, but then at Cal P’s season announcement last spring, to which they kindly invited me, we heard Sellars talk about the work (via Skype, from Vienna, where he had just finished the first rehearsal of the work), and . . . well, sometimes artists shouldn’t talk about their work. He announced that he hated the play Othello, whose message (according to him) was that interracial marriages don’t work . . . look, no need to belabor it, but even given his role as twinkly provocateur, his discussion of Othello was so simple-minded and condescending that I could feel my interest in “the Desdemona project” draining away with every syllable. So I’m putting this here in honor of my original interest, which might perhaps revive;

Davitt Moroney leads His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts in Polychoral Splendors of Renaissance Florence on February 3 and 4, featuring Striggio’s Missa sopra Ecco si beato giorno, the largest known contrapuntal choral work in the Western tradition;

Dianne Reeves sings jazz on May 4;

The Kronos Quartet presents a Steve Reich evening, including the Bay Area premiere of WTC 9/11, on October 9.

Those are things that jump out at me from the season brochure. There were some concerts added since that went to press, mostly of enticing new music:

The Calder Quartet, joined by Thomas Ades, perform works by Stravinsky, Liszt, and Ades himself;

The Eco Ensemble has three exciting programs of new music, on January 21, February 11, and March 24.

If you want a (crowded but free) sampler of what Cal Performances does, their annual “Free for All” is Sunday September 25 from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. You can find a schedule here.

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