31 October 2016

gods & monsters & a sorceress

Some local artists are raising funds for projects that sound worth supporting:

Locally sourced tenor Nicholas Phan is running an IndiGoGo campaign for his latest solo CD, Gods & Monsters, in which he and pianist Myra Huang perform German lieder (by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Wolf, and Mahler) that center on myths, legends, and fairy tales, involving gods, monsters, witches, and "other fantastical creatures." Phan's other solo albums have been sterling and this looks like a wonderful program. You can find out more, check out the offered premiums, and contribute if you are so minded, here. The campaign ends in a few days.

Curious about what else was being performed at the opera houses in the days of Monteverdi? Ars Minerva, which is led by soprano Céline Ricci, is the place to find out. The youngest company performing the oldest operas, Ars Minerva has announced their third revival of a long-forgotten work from the giddy days of seventeenth-century Venetian opera: La Circe, attributed to Pietro Andrea Ziani with a libretto by Cristoforo Ivanovich, about the enchantress celebrated by Homer and Ovid. I attended the company's first two productions (La Cleopatra by Castrovillari and The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles by Pallavicino), and both were completely entertaining and delightful and extremely well done on a limited budget. If you'd like to help out their work – and reviving seventeenth-century Venetian operas is God's own work, make no mistake – you may find out more and donate here.

25 October 2016

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

UPDATE: A couple of items I forgot:

Christian Reif leads the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra in Henze's Maenad's Dance from The Bassarids, the Sibelius Violin Concerto (with soloist Jason Moon, winner of the 2016 Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition), and the Shostakovich 6; that's on 13 November (matinee).

The Golden Gate Symphony performs Ask the Sky & the Earth, An Oratorio-Cantata for the Sent-Down Youth, with music by Tony Fok and lyrics by Wei Su, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of China's cultural revolution and the relocation of an urban generation to collective farms. The program also includes the Beethoven 6, the world premiere of Remembering for Atonement with music by Michael Kimbell and words by Viktoriya Neverov-Krstic, and the Legend of Matouqin, featuring Master Bo Li. Performances are 5 November at Mission Dolores Basilica in San Francisco and 6 November (matinee) at the UC Theater in Berkeley.

Cal Performances presents Robert Wilson's Letter to a Man, featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov, based on the diaries of Nijinsky; that's 10 - 13 November at Zellerbach.

Aurora Theatre presents Safe House by Keith Josef Adkins, directed by L. Peter Callender, a story of conflict between two brothers in a free family of color in antebellum Kentucky. That's 4 November to 4 December.

San Francisco Playhouse presents She Loves Me, a musical version of the charming 1940 Lubitsch film The Shop Around the Corner, with a book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; the show is directed by Susi Damilano with musical direction by David Aaron Brown. It runs from 23 November to 14 January 2017, so if you're looking for a fun holiday show that doesn't feature three ghosts visiting a miser, this might be it.

If you're a Sherlock Holmes fanatic (there doesn't seem to be any middle ground there), you may want to check out Baker Street at 42nd Street Moon, a revival of the 1965 musical with music and lyrics by Marian Grudeff and Raymond Jessel and a book by Jerome Coopersmith (loosely based on A Scandal in Bohemia). The director / choreographer for this production is Cindy Goldfield and the music director is Dave Dobrusky; the show runs from 2 to 20 November at the Eureka Theater.

Chamber Music
San Francisco Performances presents cellist Sol Gabetta and pianist Alessio Bax in a program of Schumann, Brahms, and Prokofiev, on 15 November.

Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han return to Cal Performances on 20 November in a program featuring works by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff.

Old First Concerts is presenting several string quartets this month: on 4 November the Amaranth Quartet plays Erwin Schulhoff's Five Pieces for String Quartet, Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout, and Béla Bartók's String Quartet No. 4, pieces chosen to illustrate the uses of cultural identity in musical form; on 11 November the Farallon Quintet plays Prokofiev's Overture on Hebrew Themes, Copland's Sextet for Clarinet, Piano, and String Quartet, the world premiere of Durwynne Hsieh's Sextet, and Carl Maria von Weber's Clarinet Quintet in B-flat major, Op 34; and on 18 November the Telegraph Quartet plays pieces chosen to reflect light and dark: Haydn's Bird quartet, Brett Dean's Eclipse for String Quartet, and Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet.

Modern / New Music
Cal Performances presents pianist Myra Melford and her Snowy Egret Ensemble in The Language of Dreams, a program inspired by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano; that's 19 November in Zellerbach.

Other Minds has composer Alvin Curran in conversation with Charles Amirkhanian, along with recordings and films of some of his works in performance, on 20 November at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, in conjunction with the exhibit Art / Act: The Canary Project at the Center.

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents a special pre-election concert on 4 November: Alan Pierson conducts the Conservatory's New Music Ensemble in Ted Hearne's Katrina Ballads and Frederic Rzewski's Coming Together, with narrator Angela Davis. The concert is free but reservations are required.

Early / Baroque Music
Dynamic violinist Rachel Podger returns to Philharmonia Baroque to lead a program centering on Vivaldi and his admirer J S Bach (with some Tartini tossed in as well). Some of the dates are apparently sold out already but tickets are available for 2 November at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, 3 November at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, and 4 November at Herbst Theater in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Early Music Society sponsors Musica Pacifica and countertenor Ryland Angel in a program featuring sacred motets by Alessandro Scarlatti and Alessandro Stradella; that's 11 November at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 12 November at St John's Presbyterian in Berkeley, and 13 November at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

Chora Nova is singing Haydn's Mass in Time of War on 20 November at First Presbyterian in Berkeley.

Robert Geary leads the San Francisco Choral Society in Duruflé's Requiem and his Quatre motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, along with Herbert Howells's Te Deum & Jubilate and Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine; that's on 12 and 13 November at Calvary Presbyterian in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Opera Chorus sings operatic and non-operatic choruses on 19 November in the Taube Atrium Theater (on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House).

Guest concertmaster Ray Chen leads the New Century Chamber Orchestra in works by Mozart (the Divertimento in F major, K 138 and the Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major), Britten (Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge for String Orchestra, op 10), and Elgar (Introduction and Allegro for Strings, op 47); their usual open rehearsal is on 9 November at Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall C in San Francisco, followed by performances on 10 November at the Berkeley City Club, 11 November at First United Methodist in Palo Alto, 12 November at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and 13 November at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.

The Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra and Chorus performs It's in the Stars: Songs of Fate on 12 November at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts. Youth Orchestra Principal Conductor Omid Zoufonoun and Chorus Director Lynne Morrow lead the program, which includes Barber's Sure on this Shining Night, Rafael Inciarte's Rumbamban, Gershwin's Our Love Is Here to Stay (arranged by Darmon Meader), Dukas's fanfare from La Péri, Brahms's Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny), Gershwin's Cuban Overture, and Bizet's Carmen Suites 1 and 2.

The Oakland Symphony performs Lost Romantic Symphonies at the Paramount on 18 November; Omid Zoufonoun leads the Youth Orchestra in Gershwin's Cuban Overture and then Michael Morgan leads the regular orchestra in Joachim Raff's Symphony 3, along with the US premiere of the Violin Concerto: Dream of a Summer Night by Siegfried Matthus, with soloist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, who also performs in the Theme from Schindler's List by John Williams and selections from Fiddler on the Roof (Hall-Tompkins is the fiddler in the recent Broadway revival of that show),

The Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, led by guest conductor Alasdair Neale, performs Jonathan Dove's Figures in the Garden: Dancing in the Dark, Mozart's Overture to the Marriage of Figaro (arranged for Wind Octet), Copland's Clarinet Concerto (with soloist Stephen Zielinski), Barber's Medea's Dance of Vengeance, and Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes on 5 November at Everett Middle School in San Francisco (behind Mission Dolores).

The San Francisco Symphony is mostly gone on tour this month, but from 2 to 4 November you can hear Michael Tilson Thomas conducting his own Agnegram along with the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 (with soloist Yuja Wang) and the Bruckner 7. Several other orchestras will be visiting Davies Hall in the SF Symphony's absence: Gustavo Dudamel leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Andrew Norman's Play and the Tchaikovsky 4 (31 October) and the Mahler 9 (1 November); Jacek Kaspszyk leads the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra in Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Polish Melodies No. 2, Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 (with soloist Seong-Jin Cho), and the Brahms 1 (6 November); and Simon Rattle leads the Berlin Philharmonic in Boulez's Éclat and the Mahler 7 (22 November) and Webern's Six Pieces for Orchestra, Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra, Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra (witty programming!) and the Brahms 2 (23 November). Those are enticing programs, and it is the mighty Berlin Philharmonic, but brace yourself before you check the ticket prices.

Visual Arts
The Asian Art Museum presents The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe, exploring the art around the four main characters of the Indian epic Ramayana. The exhibit runs from 21 October to 15 January 2017.

07 October 2016

update: continuing problems

I have a spiffy new computer, but now my home Internet service is bombing out regularly and I go days without being able to get any kind of connection. I have contacted AT&T and I can already tell this is going to be an ordeal. I hope to resume regular posting soon. In the meantime, deepest thanks to those who keep checking back.

16 October update: So I now have a spiffy new modem from AT&T, and I know I set it up correctly because I am getting occasional connectivity, but . . . I'm still bombing out a lot. Back to the drawing board for me (or for AT&T), and I hope to be back soon.