31 October 2017

Haiku 2017/304

grey and ghostly go
floating down colorless streets
in empty cities

30 October 2017

fun stuff I may or may not get to: November 2017

SHN presents the stage version of Disney's Aladdin at the Orpheum Theater from 1 November to 7 January 2018.

Shotgun Players continues its tradition of closing its season with an offbeat yet oddly appropriate holiday show by presenting Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets, the William S Burroughs / Tom Waits adaptation of Der Freischütz, directed by Mark Jackson, from 9 November to 31 December.

ACT presents Refuse the Hour, a "multimedia chamber opera" by William Kentridge, for three performances only, on 10 - 11 November. The show is in conjunction with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's installation of Kentridge's The Refusal of Time.

Aurora Theater presents the Bay Area premiere of The Royale by Marco Ramirez, directed by Darryl V Jones; the play is a semi-fictional retelling of the story of Jack Johnson, the black man who became World Heavyweight Champion at the height of the Jim Crow era in America. You can see it from 3 November through 3 December.

You can hear a free performance of Jerome Kern's Very Good Eddie at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 18 November.

The San Francisco Opera presents six performances of Massenet's Manon, from 4 to 22 November, with Ellie Dehn and Michael Fabiano in the leads, and six performances of Puccini's Turandot, from 18 November to 9 December, with Nina Stemme and Leah Crocetto replacing September's female leads. But the big news at the opera house is obviously the world premiere of the latest John Adams / Peter Sellars collaboration, Girls of the Golden West, beginning on 21 November and continuing through 10 December. (By the way, I like the title, though my informal poll indicates many do not.)

The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble in collaboration with Volti presents a double-bill of works by Kurt Rohde: Never Was a Knight, based on Don Quixote, and Death with Interruptions, with a libretto by Thomas Laqueur based on the novel by José Saramago. Performances are 4 - 5 November at Z Space in San Francisco.

The Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series presents Thomas Adès's new opera, The Exterminating Angel, based on Luis Buñuel's great film, on 18 November. The composer is also the conductor and the large cast is filled with wonderful artists; I don't usually go to the Met livecasts but I can't get to New York this month so this seems like the next best thing.

If you feel like getting in an early California mood before the premiere of Girls of the Golden West, you can head over to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 5 November, when Corey Jamason will lead student vocalists in a free concert of songs about San Francisco, from the Gold Rush into the 1920s.

Cal Performances presents tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist Wenwen Du in Schubert's Winterreise on 10 November in Zellerbach Hall. On 8 November, you can hear Bostridge in conversation with Mathias Tarnopolsky, the artistic director of Cal Performances, discussing Winterreise and Bostridge's recent book Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession. Those attending are encouraged to read the book beforehand and to come with questions. The conversation is presented in association with the UC Berkeley Department of Music and will be held in 125 Morrison Hall.

The San Francisco Opera Chorus goes out on its own, led by Chorus Director Ian Robertson and pianist Fabrizio Corona, on 30 November in the Traube Atrium Theater (right next to the Opera House).

Cal Performances presents Valery Gergiev leading the Mariinsky Orchestra in Zellerbach Hall in two programs: Program A on 4 November features the Shostakovich 9, the Prokofiev Piano Concerto 2, and the Scriabin 3, The Divine Poem; Program B on 5 November features Strauss's Don Juan, Shchedcrin's Piano Concerto 2, and the Prokofiev 6; Denis Matsuev is the piano soloist for both concerts.

Violinist Benjamin Beilman joins New Century Chamber Orchestra as Guest Concertmaster for a program ranging from Bach and Biber to Stravinsky and Andrew Norman; there's an open rehearsal in San Francisco the morning of 8 November, and then concerts on 9 November at First Congregational in Berkeley, 10 November at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto, 11 November at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and 12 November at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.

Michael Morgan leads the Oakland Symphony in a program examining Love & Loss, featuring the Mozart 40, Vocare by Jonah M Gallagher, and Rossini's Stabat Mater, with soloists Shawnette Sulker (soprano), Betany Coffland (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Glenn (tenor), and Aaron Sorensen (bass) along with the Symphony Chorus led by Lynne Morrow; and that's 17 November at the Paramount Theater.

At the San Francisco Symphony you can hear Michael Tilson Thomas conduct the Ives 4 and the Beethoven Violin Concerto with soloist Pinchas Zuckerman on 16 - 17 November; the same program repeats on 18 November with Viviane Hagner replacing Zuckerman as the soloist in the Beethoven. Tilson Thomas returns to Mahler on 24 - 26 November, with the Mahler 4, which is the Mahler symphony I find the least interesting, but mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard is the soloist, so that's appealing; Mozart's German Dances round out the program.

Early / Baroque Music
Cal Performances presents William Christie and Les Arts Florissants in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Charpentier's Actéon on 9 November in Zellerbach Hall.

Elizabeth Blumenstock and her Guarneri violin lead Philharmonia Baroque in a concert of Venetian instrumental music on 8 November at First United Methodist in Palo Alto, 10 November at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and 11 - 12 November at First Congregational in Berkeley.

The San Francisco Early Music Society presents Ciaramella in a program featuring German music written around the beginning of the Reformation; you can hear the music on 17 November at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 18 November at St John's Presbyterian in Berkeley, and 19 November at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

Modern / Contemporary Music
See under Operatic for new works by John Adams, Kurt Rohde, and Thomas Adès.

Chamber Music
Cal Performances presents the Tetzlaff Quartet on a program of Mozart, Berg, and Schubert on 12 November in Hertz Hall.

The Del Sol String Quartet is celebrating its 25th anniversary season with a three-day festival (the three days being 16 - 18 November) at the Atrium Theater in the Veterans Building next to the Opera House, featuring works by Terry Riley, Gyan Riley, Theresa Wong, Daniel Wohl, and Gabriela Lena Frank.

Strings & Keyboards
Cal Performances presents pianist Anthony de Mare in Liaisons: Reimagining Sondheim from the Piano, based on his recent album, for which he asked contemporary composers to re-imagine various songs by the great Stephen Sondheim for solo piano. You can hear some of the results on 5 November in Hertz Hall.

San Francisco Performances presents violinist Leila Josefowicz and pianist John Novacek playing Sibelius, Prokofiev, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, and John Adams on 7 November in Herbst Theater.

SHN presents An Evening with David Sedaris at the War Memorial Opera House on 13 November.

The Bad Plus are making a farewell tour with their current line-up, and you can hear them at the SF Jazz Center from 2 to 5 November.

San Francisco Performances presents violinist Regina Carter and her eponymous quintet in a program inspired by Ella Fitzgerald and music associated with her, on 17 November in Herbst Theater.

Cal Performances presents Argentina's Tango Buenos Aires on 11 November in Zellerbach Hall.

You can experience some vernacular South African dance on 12 November when Cal Performances presents the Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies in Zellerbach Hall.

Cal Performances presents the Joffrey Ballet in a program of new and recent dances on 17 - 19 November in Zellerbach Hall.

San Francisco Performances presents dancer/choreographers Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks and string quartet Brooklyn Rider in Some of a Thousand Words on 29 - 30 November at Herbst Theater.

Visual Arts
The Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive hosts the exhibit Repentant Monk: Illusion and Disillusion in the Art of Chen Hongshou, a major Chinese painter of the early 17th century. The show opens 25 October and runs through 28 January 2018.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art opens Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules on 18 November; the show will run until 25 March 2018.

The Legion of Honor has a couple of interesting-sounding shows; one is Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter, which opened 14 October and runs through 28 January 2018; the other is Gods in Color: Polychromy in the Ancient World, giving us a view of what all those ancient marble statues looked like with their original colors, and that show opened 28 October and runs through 7 January 2018.

On 3 November, the Ghiberti Center for Culture presents two viewings (7:00 PM and 9:30 PM) of the John Barrymore silent Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde at Grace Cathedral, with organ accompaniment by Dorothy Papadakos.

On November 12 at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive, you can see the 1929 Soviet film My Grandmother. Soviet silent films are always a wild ride, visually at least, and this one sounds like no exception.

Haiku 2017/303

wind among dead leaves
a rustle and a rattle
then again silence

Museum Monday #7

detail of Death & the Miser by Hieronymus Bosch in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC

Happy Halloween!

29 October 2017

Haiku 2017/302

morning fog lingers
softening the world's edges
sorrow is a blur

28 October 2017

Haiku 2017/301

strong light hits the fence:
the curls of peeling white paint,
the brown wood beneath

27 October 2017

26 October 2017

Haiku 2017/299

paling in the heat
waiting for the winter rains
the grass turns under

25 October 2017

Haiku 2017/298

waking before dawn
I hear other birds singing
and see other stars

24 October 2017

Haiku 2017/292-297

2017/297 (24 October 2017)
walking past the zoo:
was that an engine starting
or a lion's roar


2017/296 (23 October 2017)
across the hallway
another room of paintings
each one a lifetime


2017/295 (22 October 2017)
the sun is long gone
the daily noises subside:
cicada chorus


2017/294 (21 October 2017)
caught in their cages
restless tigers pace inside
while we pace outside


2017/293 (20 October 2017)
why does summer stay
after we want it to leave?
where is summer's fall?


2017/292 (19 October 2017)
in faraway skies
there are just as many stars
they burn as coldly

18 October 2017

Haiku 2017/291

a seat on the train
empty except for the dust
and a beam of light

(I may or may not have computer access over the next several days.)

17 October 2017

Haiku 2017/290

what seemed like silence
melted into a medley
of quiet noises

16 October 2017

Haiku 2017/289

Squirrels scamper by.
A rustling, and then silence.
A bird flies far off.

Museum Monday #5

Tucked away in a corner of Saint Luke's studio, his signifying ox peeks out with a gentle look on his face. This is a detail from Rogier van der Weyden's great picture, Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. There is a legend that the accomplished Luke, an artist as well as a doctor and writer, drew a portrait from life of Mary the Mother of Jesus. You can find various icons that claim to be either the original or a faithful copy of the likeness. Luke is the patron saint of artists and his feast day is 18 October.

15 October 2017

Haiku 2017/288

grim shadows gather
lengthening through the long day
then melt into night

14 October 2017

Haiku 2017/287

grey blanket of clouds
pulled by unexpected winds
over chilly stars

12 October 2017

Haiku 2017/285

confused by the clouds
which way can a flower turn
searching for the sun

11 October 2017

Haiku 2017/284

the sun burns orange
brown skies over blackened earth
smoke hangs heavily

10 October 2017

Haiku 2017/283

restless autumn leaves
rustling and changing colors
as they fall groundward

09 October 2017

Haiku 2017/282

The tree had one pear.
High winds rose during the night:
pear and tree, unpaired.

Museum Monday #4

detail of The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine by Barna da Siena, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

08 October 2017

Haiku 2017/281

dancing in a ring
under the silver moonlight
then they melt away

07 October 2017

Haiku 2017/280

the sun slowly sets
over the pretty landscape
where you were happy

06 October 2017

Haiku 2017/279

low light through the leaves:
is it morning, or evening,
or a memory

Friday photo 2017/40

a bench on the Esplanade, Boston, June 2017

Back when I lived in Boston I always liked this bench: the curved seat, the lion's foot, the wing. I guess it was a style from the early twentieth century, as I was a little surprised recently to see an identical curved bench in a garden scene of a French film from 1919 (La Cigarette, directed by Germaine Dulac, in Flicker Alley's Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology). I had never seen another bench like it before.

05 October 2017

Haiku 2017/278

every day pigeons
wait for the slender young man
with his bag of crumbs

04 October 2017

Haiku 2017/277

leaves on the plaza
alone except for one man
sweeping them all up

03 October 2017

Haiku 2017/276

shifting shadows sway
in the afternoon's dull heat:
the night will be cool

02 October 2017

Haiku 2017/275

an abandoned house
brooding in the grey twilight
windows like black eyes

Museum Monday #3

the courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston

01 October 2017

Haiku 2017/274

lined up in neat rows
shiny new condos and the
beggars beneath them