30 March 2020

27 March 2020

16 March 2020

Yeah, none of this is happening: fun stuff I may or may not get to: April 2020

This is as far as I got with my April preview last week when events started happening very quickly; first a couple of presenters cancelled, and then there was a flurry that was difficult to keep up with, until it became safest to assume that whatever you were looking forward to was not going to happen, at least not anytime soon. We had galleries for a few days, or maybe it was hours, until most museums went from cancelling events to closing down entirely. Now bars, restaurants, and gyms are being shut, and in my California county we are being told to "shelter in place" as much as possible for several weeks.

So what can you do? First, take care of yourself. Follow recommended and reasonable precautions, particularly if you are in a high-risk category: wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover your mouth (preferably vampire-style) when you cough or sneeze, disinfectant questionable surfaces, avoid crowds.

And I don't need to tell you how to entertain yourselves; we live in a time of unprecedented access to books and movies and recorded music. If you can spare the money, now would be a good time to donate to your favorite arts groups. Donating back the tickets to cancelled events instead of asking for a refund would be a worthwhile supportive gesture. Lisa Hirsch has a list of livestream links and ways to assist artists and performing arts groups.

And, of course, there's a grotesque obscene toad squatting over the Executive Branch, but he's just a symptom: his entire party has been dedicated for years to destroying whatever social safety net actually exists in this country, villainizing the poor, blaming the unlucky for their own misery, and, of course, destroying whatever tiny support for the non-corporate arts exists. Next time you have to vote, remember that, and BURN. THOSE. MOTHERFUCKERS. DOWN.


Aurora Theater has Joe Orton's sardonic farce Loot, directed by Tom Ross, from 3 April to 3 May.

New Conservatory Theater presents the west coast premiere of Donja R Love's Sugar in Our Wounds,  a love story between two male slaves in Civil War-era America, directed by Shawnj West, from 3 April to 10 May.

The Berkeley Playhouse presents In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda's first musical, from 3 April to 3 May.

Cutting Ball Theater offers Cyrano, a new version of Rostand classic by Marissa Skudlarek, directed by Ariel Craft, from 9 April to 10 May. I think very highly of Skudlarek, but I'm not sure that's enough for me to get over my basic dislike of the play (in case you're wondering, and of course you are, I dislike it for the same reason I dislike Auntie Mame and most drag queens: theoretically, they show us all the way to live capital-L Life, but in reality the relentless self-dramatizing of one's own fabulosity just sucks the air and energy out of every room).

The African-American Shakespeare Company closes its current season with Noël Coward's Private Lives, running from 11 to 26 April at the Marines' Memorial Theater; the only other time I saw this play, it starred Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, both about 100 years too old for their parts, and the production left me traumatized for decades; perhaps this version, set in the sophisticated milieu of black society in 1920s Paris, can help me, at long last, to heal.

42nd Street Moon revives the Adler & Ross musical The Pajama Game, directed by Ryan Weible with music direction by Dave Dobrusky, from 15 April to 3 May at the Gateway Theater.

The Shotgun Players Champagne Reading Series hosts Anna Moench's Man of God, directed by Michelle Talgarow, on 20 - 21 April (Henry V is on the mainstage through 19 April),

ACT presents Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show from 23 April to 17 May at the Geary Theater, in case you feel like doing the Time Warp again. I did think this was an odd choice for ACT, as Ray of Light Theater presents this show every year around Halloween; it's a fun show but that's a lot of theatrical real estate it's taking up.

Cal Performances presents John Malkovich in The Music Critic, conceived and written by violinist Aleksey Igudesman, in Zellerbach Hall on 30 April; Malkovich is the eponymous critic, attacking classics of the repertory until the musicians stop playing those pieces and switch to one attacking him.


Philharmonia Baroque is giving us the glorious gift of a fully staged production of Leclair's Scylla et Glaucus, conducted by Nicholas McGegan and starring Chantal Santon Jeffery, Aaron Sheehan, Véronique Gens, Judith van Wanroij, Douglas Williams, and the New York Baroque Dance Company; all performances are in Herbst Theater, 15 and 17 - 19 April.

Pocket Opera presents its version of Wagner's early opera Das Liebesverbot (which is his version of Measure for Measure): No Love Allowed, directed by Nicolas A Garcia with music director Jonathan Khuner, and that's 26 April at the Hillside Club in Berkeley and 3 May at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.


The San Francisco Symphony presents Yefim Bronfman in an all-Beethoven solo piano recital on 5 April at Davies Hall.

On 17 April Old First Concerts and the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco present pianist Gabriele Baldocci playing Liszt's transcription of the Beethoven 5, along with other works by Baldocci himself, including improvisations on Beethoven.

Louis Langrée leads the San Francisco Symphony on 23 - 25 April in the Mozart 31,the Paris, the Mozart Violin Concerto 3 with soloist James Ehnes, and the Beethoven 5.


At the San Francisco Symphony on 16 - 18 April Teddy Abrams conducts Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky 5, and Mason Bates's Philharmonia Fantastique: The Making of the Orchestra (a west coast premiere and SFS co-commission).

The San Francisco Symphony presents Europe's Chineke! Orchestra, conducted by Kevin John Edusei, on 19 April, when they will perform the Brahms 2, Coleridge-Taylor's Ballade for Orchestra in A minor, and Stewart Goodyear's Callaloo – a Caribbean Suite, featuring the composer as solo pianist.

Oakland Symphony Music Director Michael Morgan crosses the bay on 30 April and 1 - 2 May to lead the San Francisco Symphony in the SFS premieres of Carlos Simon's AMEN! and Florence Price's Symphony 3 in C minor, along with the Brahms Alto Rhapsody (with soloist mezzo-soprano Melody Wilson) and Franck's Le Chasseur maudit (The Cursed Hunter).


The San Francisco Symphony Chorus gives its annual concert on 4 April in Davies Hall, when Ragnar Bohlin will lead them in Bach's Magnificat, Handel's Dixit Dominus, and Arvo Pärt's Salve Regina.

Lynne Morrow will lead the Oakland Symphony Chorus in a Passover/Easter concert on 18 April at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, where you can hear selections from Bach's St Matthew Passion and Handel's Messiah and Israel in Egypt as well as seasonal works by modern composers.

Clerestory goes Into the West on 18 April at the David Brower Center in Berkeley and on 19 April at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.

Robert Geary leads the San Francisco Choral Society in Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna, Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, and works by Duruflé and Bruckner at Calvary Presbyterian in San Francisco on 18 and 19 April.


The San Francisco Opera's Schwabacher Recital Series has two concerts this month: on 1 April mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon and pianist Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad will perform works by Gabriel Fauré, Fernando Jaumandreu Obradors, Maurice Ravel, Manuel de Falla, Franz Liszt, Carlos Guastavino, Claude Debussy, and others; and on 22 April soprano Esther Tonea, tenor Victor Starsky. and baritone Timothy Murray with pianist Warren Jones will perform works by Amy Beach, Charles Ives, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Rossini, Verdi, and Liszt.

On 19 April Old First Concerts presents the Chamber Music Society of San Francisco with guest artist Simone McIntosh (a mezzo-soprano and current Adler Fellow) in Respighi's Il tramonto along with Debussy's String Quartet.

Tenor Mark Padmore visits San Francisco Performances (both times at Herbst Theater) this month; on 27 April he and pianist Marc-André Hamelin will perform Schubert's Winterreise, and on 29 April he will perform arias by Bach and Handel accompanied by the San Francisco Conservatory Baroque Ensemble.

Chamber Music

The Spektral Quartet comes to Cal Performances and Hertz Hall on 5 April to perform works by Philip Glass, Franz Schubert, and Samuel Adams (a world premiere and Cal Performances co-commission).

Old First Concerts presents Kiku Day and Cornelius Boots, both masters of natural (jinashi) and bass-size Zen bamboo flutes, along with special guests the Heavy Roots Shakuhachi Ensemble (Kevin Chen, Chris Adkins, and Darrell Hayden) on 5 April.

The San Francisco Symphony presents a chamber music concert in Davies Hall on 26 April, featuring Bryce Dessner's Murder Ballades, Bloch's Concertino for Flute, Viola, and Piano, and Dvořák's Piano Trio in E minor, the Dumky.

San Francisco Performances, that reliably excellent presenter of intimate concerts featuring the celebrated and the soon-to-be-so, is celebrating its 40th anniversary year on 26 April at Herbst Theater with a special concert featuring Marc-André Hamelin playing his new quintet with the Alexander String Quartet, and tenor Nicholas Phan performing a new song cycle by composer Gabriel Kahane; in honor of the 40th anniversary, all seats are $40. It's always tricky calling these things in advance, but this looks special.

Keyboards & Strings

The KDFC Salon Series at San Francisco Performances continues on 15 April at the Education Studio in the War Memorial Veterans Building on Van Ness with pianist Edward Simon and flutist Marcos Granados playing music of South American (both men are from Venezuela), including works by Simón Díaz and Simon's own Venezuelan Suite.

San Francisco Performances presents pianist Marc-André Hamelin performing works by Scriabin, Prokofiev, Feinberg, and Schubert at Herbst Theater on 23 April (Hamelin will be back at Herbst on the 26th as part of SFP's 40th anniversary concert and on the 27th with Mark Padmore to perform Winterreise; see the former under Chamber Music and the latter under Vocalists).

The San Francisco Symphony presents cellist Gautier Capuçon and pianist Yuja Wang in recital at Davies Hall on 28 April, when they will play works by Chopin and Franck.

Modern / Contemporary Music

Other Minds Festival 25, Moment's Notice, will explore improvised music from 2 to 5 April in the Taube Atrium Theater; you may buy a pass for all four days or just tickets to individual concerts.

Slow Wave (clarinetist Kyle Beard, violist Justine Preston, and pianist Naomi Stine), a group dedicated to "exploring the slower end of the sound wave spectrum",  comes to Old First Concerts on 24 April, when they will play selections from Max Bruch's Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano, along with Paraphrase by Brett Austin Eastman and world premieres from Bryan Lin, Emma Logan, and Kyle Hovatter.

Center for New Music

World Music

Yamato: The Drummers of Japan comes to Cal Performances on 7 April.

Cal Performances presents Bollywood Boulevard: A Journey Through Hindi Cinema Live at Zellerbach Hall on 9 April.


Trumpeter and composer Amir ElSaffar brings his Rivers of Sound Orchestra to Cal Performances and Zellerbach Hall on 14 April, when they will continue their exploration of western jazz and traditional middle eastern sounds.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater makes its annual visit to Cal Performances with four different programs in Zellerbach Hall from 31 March to 5 April.

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch returns to Cal Performances and Zellerbach Hall from 24 to 26 April with Palermo Palermo.

Museum Monday 2020/11

the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, June 2019

13 March 2020

09 March 2020

Museum Monday 2020/10

a detail of one of the quilt tops from Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective, on view at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive until 19 July

02 March 2020

Museum Monday 2020/9

detail of a painted door from Tibet, currently on view at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco as part of the special exhibit Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment