25 February 2020

fun stuff I may or may not get to: March 2020

ACT presents Lydia R Diamond's Toni Stone, directed by Pam MacKinnon and choreographed by Camille A Brown (who also choreographed this season's Porgy and Bess at the Met, if you saw that either live or live cast), at the Geary Theater from 5 to 29 March; this is the true story of the first woman to play professional baseball on a men's team, the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League.

Custom Made Theater along with Those Women Productions offers the world premiere of The Lady Scribblers by Michaela Goldhaber, directed by Tracy Ward, from 6 to 29 March; we are promised a play written in the style of its subjects, the women playwrights of the Restoration.

The New Conservatory Theater presents the world premiere of The Book of Mountains and Seas by Yilong Liu, directed by Becca Wolf, from 6 March to 5 April.

Gil Marsalla directs Anne Carrere in Paris! Le Spectacle, a celebration of French popular songs of the post-WWII era, at Herbst Theater on 19 March, presented by SF Jazz.

Berkeley Rep presents School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh, directed by Awoye Timpo, from 19 March to 3 May.

Over at Shotgun Players, Patrick Dooley directs Henry V; you may go once more unto the breach from 19 March to 19 April at the Ashby Stage.

Austria's Mnozil Brass brings Cirque to Zellerbach Hall on 21 March under the aegis of Cal Performances.

Cal Performances presents actress and activist Laverne Cox at Zellerbach Hall on 12 March.

Benjamin Balint talks about the posthumous history of Franz Kafka's papers, a saga that might best be described as "Kafkaesque", on 31 March at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco; the event is free but you are asked to make advance reservations.

Pocket Opera presents its adaptation of Don Giovanni on 1 March at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, 8 March  at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and 15 March at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto; they follow that with a double-bill of Offenbach's The Cat Who Became a Woman and Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana on 29 March at the Hillside Club and 5 April at the Legion of Honor (except for the Palo Alto show, these are all matinees).

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music Baroque Ensemble, led by Corey Jamason and Elisabeth Reed, will perform Handel's Ottone (in concert rather than staged) on 15 March; the performance is free but reservations are recommended.

Desiree Mays will speak to the Wagner Society of Northern California about The Wagner Dynasty and Changing Philosophies at Bayreuth on 21 March at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco.

One Found Sound presents Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat on 28 March at the 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco.

San Francisco Opera's Schwabacher Debut Recital series continues on 4 March at the Taube Atrium Theater where mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh, tenor Zhengyi Bai, and pianist Robert Mollicone will perform works by Messiaen, Bellini, and Richard Strauss.

The SF Jazz Center presents the west coast premiere of Ogresse, a 90-minute song cycle created by Cécile McLorin Salvant in collaboration with Darcy James Argue, who will lead the chamber ensemble that accompanies Salvant, and that's 11 March at the Paramount Theater in Oakland (not the Jazz Center in San Francisco).

The San Francisco Symphony presents An Evening with Bernadette Peters, and the evening in question is 27 March, at Davies Hall.

Sacred & Profane joins with the Circadian String Quartet to perform works for choir and string in a program they're calling Luminous Resonance, featuring pieces by Beethoven, David Conte, Eric Whitacre, and Karin Rehnqvist, and you can hear them 13 March at St John's Presbyterian in Berkeley and 14 March at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

Cal Performances presents The Summit: The Manhattan Transfer Meets Take 6, a celebration of the Manhattan Transfer's 45th anniversary, on 20 March in Zellerbach Hall.

Paul Flight leads Chora Nova in Marvelous Miniatures: Songs for Chorus (including Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music) on 21 March at First Congregational in Berkeley.

Pianist Jonathan Biss completes his traversal of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas for Cal Performances on 7 and 8 March at Hertz Hall.

Old First Concerts launches BEET250VEN, a series of four festivals celebrating you-know-who's you-know-what, on 15 March, with a three-hour concert meant to evoke those of Beethoven's time, when a fairly miscellaneous set of movements, arias, and short chamber works would provide the entertainment and enlightenment; this concert will be followed by a beer & bratwurst reception.

The Alexander String Quartet and Host / Lecturer Robert Greenberg continue their Saturday morning exploration of the Beethoven String Quartets for San Francisco Performances at Herbst Theater on 21 March with the String Quartet 13 in B-flat Major, Opus 130 and the Fugue for String Quartet in B-flat minor, Opus 133.

Cal Performances presents the Rotterdam Philharmonic, conducted by Lahav Shani, in Zellerbach Hall on 22 March, when they will perform Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra and Beethoven's Piano Concerto 5, the Emperor (with soloist Nelson Freire).

Sir András Schiff will play some of Beethoven's piano sonatas at Herbst Theater on 26 March for San Francisco Performances.

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony in the Mahler 6 on 6 March.

On 8 March in Davies Hall the San Francisco Symphony presents the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble, headed by concertmaster and solo violinist Michael Barenboim, playing works by Schubert, Tartini, Mendelssohn, and a new work by Benjamin Attahir commissioned by the Ensemble.

Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony in his own Street Song for Symphonic Brass, the Shostakovich Cello Concerto 2 (with soloist Gautier Capuçon), and Stravinsky's Firebird, and that's on 12 - 14 March.

Nicholas McGegan leads Philharmonia Baroque in Cherubini's Overture to Démophoon, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto (with soloist Alana Youssefian), and the Schubert 9, the Great; that's 11 March at Bing Concert Hall in Palo Alto, 13 March at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and 14 - 15 March at First Congregational in Berkeley.

Music Director Michael Morgan conducts the Oakland Symphony on 20 March at the Paramount Theater in Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Ballade, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with soloist Rubén Rengel, and the Brahms 4.

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music Chamber Orchestra, led by Steven Schick, will perform Messiaen's Des Canyons aux étoiles on 20 March.

Music Director Joseph Young leads the Berkeley Symphony in a jazz-inflected program on 26 March at Zellerbach Hall, featuring Darius Milhaud's La creation du monde, Gershwin's An American in Paris, and trumpet soloist Sean Jones in Bernd Alois Zimmerman's Trumpet Concerto as well as (with the Berkeley High Jazz Combo) Gunther Schuller's Journey into Jazz.

Chamber Music
Nomad Session will perform works by Grieg, Percy Grainger, Roger Zare, and Marc Mellits on 6 March as part of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music's Alumni Artist Insights Series; the concert is free but reservations are required. You can hear them again on 29 March at Old First Concerts, when they will play works by Holst, Malcolm Arnold, Percy Grainger, and Marc Mellits.

San Francisco Performances presents the superb Pavel Haas Quartet with pianist Boris Giltburg on 10 March at Herbst Theater, where they will play an all-eastern-European program by Bohuslav Martinů, Antonín Dvořák, and Béla Bartók.

Chamber Music SF presents the Quatuor Danel on 14 March at Herbst Theater, where they will play works by Debussy, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky.

San Francisco Performances presents violist Tabea Zimmermann and pianist Javier Perianes performing works by Schubert, Brahms, de Falla, Albéniz, Villa-Lobos, and Piazzolla at Herbst Theater on 27 March.

San Francisco Performances presents the Jerusalem Quartet playing Haydn, Shostakovich, and Brahms on 28 March in Herbst Theater.

Keyboards & Strings
Cal Performances presents pianist Louis Lortie performing Liszt's Années de pèlerinage in Hertz Hall on 1 March.

Old First Concerts presents pianist Enrico Elisi in a Chopin birthday concert on 1 March; the program is mostly Chopin, of course, but also includes pieces by Bach and Liszt; the doors open early for champagne and birthday cake.

Chamber Music SF presents pianist Olga Kern, with special guest pianist Vladislav Kern, on 1 March at Herbst Theater, playing pieces by Beethoven, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, and Balakirev.

Improvisational pianist Hiromi Uehara will perform at the SF Jazz Center from 12 to 15 March.

Guitarist David Russell will play works by de Saint-Luc, Couperin, Regondi, Bach, Assad, and Barrios on 21 March at Herbst Theater for San Francisco Performances.

The San Francisco Symphony presents pianist Hélène Grimaud in a solo recital at Davies Hall on 22 March, when she will play pieces by Valentin Silvestrov, Debussy, Satie, and Chopin,

Pianist Rafal Blechacz will visit Herbst Theater on 29 March under the auspices of Chamber Music SF, and he will be performing works by Bach, Beethoven, Franck, and Chopin.

Garrick Ohlsson returns to San Francisco Performances and Herbst Theater on 31 March for the final concert in his two-year, four-concert survey of the complete music for solo piano by Brahms.

Early / Baroque Music
On 19 March at the Italian Cultural Institute you can help Ars Minerva usher in the first day of Quinquatria (an ancient Roman festival of Etruscan origin dedicated to Minerva and celebrating the spring equinox with women's rebirth rites); Artistic Director Céline Ricci, harpsichordist Kelly Savage, soprano Aura Veruni, mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, artist Entropy, and Professor Lisa Pieraccini from UC-Berkeley will discuss Ars Minerva's future projects and the history of Quinquatria and there will be music by Claudio Monteverdi, Antonia Bembo, and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre; admission is free but an RSVP is required.

The San Francisco Early Music Society presents violinist Rachel Barton Pine and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour in an all-Bach program of sonatas and partitas on 20 March at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 21 March at First Presbyterian in Berkeley, and 22 March at Church of the Advent in San Francisco.

The Cantata Collective offers its next free concert on 22 March at St Mary Magdalen in Berkeley, where Eric Tuan will lead the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir along with adult soloists Michael Jankosky (tenor) and Simon Barrad (bass) in BWV 95 and BWV 139.

Old First Concerts hosts the Junior Bach Festival on 22 March.

Jeffrey Thomas leads the American Bach Soloists in Faire Is the Heaven, a program of works by Bach, Bruhns, Buxtehude, Rosenmuller, Weckmann, and Schütz (the Musikalische Exequien) with soloists Nola Richardson and Clara Rottsolk (sopranos), Nicholas Burns (countertenor), James Reese and Steven Brennfleck (tenors), and Jesse Blumberg and Jared Daniel Jones (baritones), and that's 27 March at St Stephen's in Belvedere, 28 March at First Congregational in Berkeley, 29 March at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, and 30 March at Davis Community Church in Davis.

Modern / Contemporary Music
The 11th Annual Hot Air Music Festival, a student-led, day-long, free exploration of contemporary sounds, is 1 March at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble explores the world of fairy tales on 8 March at the Berkeley Hillside Club and 9 March at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; they will perform Schumann's Fairytale Pieces Opus 113, along with Chris Castro's Coyote Goes to the Sky and Birds of Fortune (these are Left Coast commissions, featuring guest story-teller Susan Strauss), and the world premiere of Carl Schimmel's Ladle Rat Rotten Hut.

Ensemble for These Times presents Mothers & Daughters on 8 March at the Noe Valley Ministry; the program features world premieres of Ensemble-commissioned works by Elinor Armer, David Garner, and Brennan Stokes, along with works by Anna Clyne, William Grant Still, and Chen Yi.

The Del Sol String Quartet hosts the second annual Pacific Pythagorean Music Festival on 21 March at Old First Concerts; the festival is "devoted to music that uses mathematically 'pure ratios'" and this year features the world premiere of the late Ben Johnston's Symphony in A and a new work by Jung Yoon Wie as well as other, as yet unspecified, pieces (the predicted run time of the concert is four hours).

The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players offer a weekend celebrating Louis Andriessen's 80th birthday and his influence on following generations of composers; on 27 March at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music you can hear works by Angelica Negrón, Kamran Adib, Moya Gotham, and David Chisholm as well as Andriessen, and on 28 March at Flight Deck (1540 Broadway in Oakland, easily accessible by BART) you can hear works by Missy Mazzoli, Taylor Joshua Rankin, and David Chisholm, as well as more Andriessen; more information is here.

Ninth Planet New Music (created last year in a merger of Wild Rumpus and Composers Inc) presents the west coast premiere of Jack Frerer's Spiral Sequences as well as other, as yet unspecified, new pieces on 27 March at Old First Concerts.

Earplay offers its second concert of the season, Earthly Luminosities, on 30 March at the Taube Atrium Theater, where they will perform US premieres by Brian R Banks and Haris Kittos and a world premiere (and Earplay commission) by Josiah Catalan, along with works by George Walker and this season's featured composer, Kaija Saariaho.

And here's my monthly review of concerts that caught my eye (and potentially my ears) at the Center for New Music (to confess my bias: I don't much like electronica, electric guitars, or rock, and am likely to omit any events that might rely too heavily on those things; you can always check out the full calendar here): student composers, performers, and poets at San Francisco State University hold their third annual Songfest on 6 March; there's music by Ric Louchard and Michael Rothkopf on 8 March; Desert Magic and Meg Baird premiere a new song cycle based mostly on Ursula Le Guin's version of the Tao Te Ching on 14 March; the Taylor Ho Bynum Quartet pays a visit on 16 March; and Rory Cowal performs solo piano works by George Lewis, Kris Davis,and Anthony Davis on 28 March.

Davina & the Vagabonds and Hot Club of Cowtown play the SF Jazz Center on 8 March.

The San Francisco Ballet presents three programs this month: Program 4, A Midsummer Night's Dream (music by Mendelssohn, choreography by Balanchine) runs from 6 to 15 March; Program 5, featuring 7 for Eight (music by Bach, choreography by Helgi Tomasson), Mrs Robinson (a world premiere, with music by Terry Davies and choreography by Cathy Marston), and Anima Animus (music by Ezio Bosso, choreography by David Dawson) runs from 24 March  to 4 April; and Program 6, featuring Classical Symphony (music by Prokofiev, choreography by Yuri Possokhov), Appassionata (music by Beethoven, choreography by Benjamin Millepied, staged by Janie Taylor and Sebastien Marcovici), and The Seasons (music by Glazunov, choreography by Alexei Ratmansky) runs from 26 March to 5 April.

The Joffrey Ballet returns to Zellerbach Hall under the auspices of Cal Performances on 6 - 8 March, when they will perform works choreographed by Stephanie Martinez (Bliss!, a California premiere, with music by Stravinsky), Nicolas Blanc (Beyond the Shore, a Bay Area premiere and Cal Performances co-commission, with music by Mason Bates), Justin Peck (The Times Are Racing, a west coast premiere with music by Dan Deacon), and Liam Scarlett (Vespertine, a California premiere with music by Bjarte Eike, Dowland, Corelli, and Geminiani.

Cal Performances presents innovative tap ensemble Dorrance Dance on 13 - 15 March at Zellerbach Playhouse.

Beloved ballet parody group Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo returns to Cal Performances and Zellerbach Hall on 14 - 15 March.

Visual Arts
Starting 4 March (and running until 24 May) the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive is hosting When All That Is Solid Melts into Air: Exploring the Intersection of the Folk and the Modern in Postcolonial India.

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, a showing of the late painter's personal effects, opens at the de Young Museum on 21 March and runs until 26 July. It will be interesting to see if this show offers anything more than a chance for the museum to cash in on the lucrative cult of Kahlo.

The San Francisco Symphony presents Buster Keaton in The General, with live accompaniment on the organ by Cameron Carpenter, at Davies Hall on 22 March (I love Keaton and realize this film is from a different time, but it's always been difficult for me to accept that the hero he plays is a Confederate soldier).

The Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive launches a number of interesting film series this month: the African Film Festival 2020 starts 4 March (Malian filmmaker Souleymane Cissé will appear in person from 12 to 15 March, in conversation with Nigerian writer and scholar Akin Adesokan, in conjunction with the three films by Cissé being shown); Francis Ford Coppola and 50 Years of American Zoetrope starts 5 March, and in addition to films by Coppola includes Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Kagemusha, and KoyaanisqatsiEast Meets West: The Films of Ulrike Ottinger starts on 8 March, in conjunction with the exhibit of her photographs opening at the museum on 25 March (she is the cinematographer as well as director of her films); the GLAS Animation Festival at BAMPFA 2020 runs this year from 20 to 22 March; and The Cinema of the Absurd: Eastern European Film 1950–1989 starts 26 March – there's lots this month for the cinematically adventurous.

24 February 2020

Museum Monday 2020/8

a bas-relief plaque showing a Portuguese man, made from a copper alloy about 1530 - 70; the anonymous artist was African but my blurred and partial photograph of the label doesn't tell me where in Africa and I couldn't find this item in the on-line collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

17 February 2020

14 February 2020

Friday Photo 2020/7

lanterns for the lunar new year at the Westfield Mall in San Francisco

10 February 2020

Museum Monday 2020/6

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, in the Art Institute of Chicago (I always have to remind myself this painting isn't titled Sunday in the Park with George)

03 February 2020

Museum Monday 2020/5

a reclining lion and lioness modeled for the Meissen porcelain factory in the mid-eighteenth century by Johann Joachim Kaendler, who perhaps was more used to seeing pug dogs than lions; in the Legion of Honor in San Francisco