28 December 2021

Another Opening, Another Show: January 2022

Here we are again, though like everyone else I'm unsure where exactly here is. Things seem to be reviving, but, just as there were almost two years ago, ominous signs (or portents) appear: shows shutting down on Broadway, infection rates rising, cancellations due to an "abundance of caution". . . . Nonetheless: below are some performances of interest in the Bay Area this month. As in the Before Time, I only list things I would go to (so this is not a comprehensive list of all happenings), and only live events, though some of these have streaming options, if that's your jam. I would suggest checking for cancellations before buying tickets or venturing out; also, assume that all venues require proof of vaccination and masking. I will always wear a mask as required or requested, but let's not pretend that's not an issue (my glasses fog up, and none of the proffered solutions really work well; also, masks make my nose drip, I have trouble breathing, I hold my jaw oddly; and, if I had to wear them more often, I would undoubtedly get mascne). You will know what your own comfort/risk level is. Best wishes to all for health and happiness in the new year, and long lovely lives to the Arts and the artists who create it!


San Francisco Playhouse continues its run of Twelfth Night in the musical adaptation by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, directed by Susi Damilano, through 15 January; then from 26 January to 5 March it's Heroes of the Fourth Turning by Will Arbery, directed by Bill English.

Berkeley Rep presents Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool, a one-man show written and starring, as you probably figured out, Mike Birbiglia; that's 4 - 23 January at the Roda Theater.

The touring company of Broadway's The Band's Visit, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and a book by Itamar Moses, comes to the Golden Gate Theater from 11 January to 6 February.

The Curran Theater presents JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child starting in January 2022, but the website is currently vague on any other details.


January was, even in the Before Times, a slow month for opera, but this month keep an ear out for the San Francisco Opera's season announcement, and since this will be the company's centennial season, expectations are running high (standard opera-fan caviling and quibbling are sure to follow, of course).


Lieder Alive! presents bass Kirk Eichelberger and pianist Simona Snitkovskaya on 16 January at Noe Valley Ministry, performing Rachmaninoff's Romanzen and Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

Soprano Golda Schultz, last seen here as the Angel Clara in San Francisco Opera's 2018 production of Jake Heggie's It's a Wonderful Life, will be joined by pianist Jonathan Ware at Herbst Theater on 21 January to perform works by Clara Schumann, Emilie Mayer, Rebecca Clarke, Nadia Boulanger, and Kathleen Tagg, under the auspices of San Francisco Performances.

Philharmonia Baroque presents soprano Rowan Pierce and pianist Christopher Glynn in a program of English songs from Purcell to our contemporaries (or near contemporaries) on 22 January in the Taube Atrium Theater.

Cal Performances presents tenor Paul Appleby with pianist Conor Hanick on 30 January at Hertz Hall, where they will perform lieder by Beethoven, Berg, Schumann, and Schubert.

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, joined by pianist  Kirill Kuzmin, comes to Davies Hall on 30 January under the auspices of the San Francisco Symphony to perform an entire program of world premieres written during the (on-going) pandemic and dedicated to Cooke, by composers Caroline Shaw, Kamala Sankaram, Matt Boehlerm Missy Mazzoli, John Glover, Rene Orth, Christopher Cerrone, Gabriel Kahane, Andrew Marshall, Huang Ruo, Timo Andres, Nico Muhly, Hilary Purrington, Lembit Beecher, Frances Pollock, Joel Thompson,  and Jimmy López.


Clerestory returns to live performances with Phoenix Rising, featuring "works from the Renaissance to the present day", and you can find out what those works are on 15 January at Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco and on 16 January at Saint Mark's Episcopal in Berkeley.


Pianist Solomon Ge visits Old First Concerts on 7 January, when he will play works by himself as well as Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, Prokofiev.

The San Francisco Symphony presents pianist Hélène Grimaud at Davies Hall on 9 January, playing pieces by Silvestrov, Debussy, Satie, Chopin, and Schumann.

On 16 January the San Francisco Symphony presents violinist Itzhak Perlman with pianist Rohan De Silva; the program has not yet been announced.

The Yamato Drummers of the Nara Prefecture, Japan, visit Cal Performances and Zellerbach Hall on 29 - 30 January to perform a new program titled Tenmei (Destiny).


Ben Simon leads the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra in Fanny Mendelssohn's Overture in C major (a rarity which also appears on the SF Symphony schedule this month), the Beethoven Piano Concerto 4 (with soloist Hilda Huang), and the Beethoven 4; that's 31 December at Hertz Hall in Berkeley, 1 January at First United Methodist in Palo Alto, and 2 January at Herbst Theater in San Francisco.

Here's what's going on at the San Francisco Symphony this month: from 13 - 15 January, Christoph Eschenbach leads Fanny Mendelssohn's Overture in C major, Beethoven's Piano Concerto 4 (with soloist Jan Lisiecki), and the Brahms 1; from 20 - 22 January, former Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leads the Shostakovich Cello Concerto (with soloist Gautier Capuçon) and the Prokofiev 5, and then from 27 - 29 January he leads the Liszt Piano Concerto 1 (with soloist Yuja Wang) and the Mahler 1.

On 21 January at the Paramount Theater Leslie B. Dunner leads the Oakland Symphony in Amy Beach's Symphony in E-minor, the Gaelic, along with the west coast premiere of Sanctuary Road, an oratorio with music by Paul Moravec and words by Mark Campbell (based on the writings of William Still, a conductor for the Underground Railroad), with soloists Hope Briggs (soprano), Melody Wilson (mezzo-soprano), Noah Stewart (tenor), Damien Geter (baritone), and Phillip Harris (baritone), along with the Oakland Symphony Chorus led by Lynne Morrow.

Daniel Hope leads the New Century Chamber Orchestra and soprano Leah Hawkins in a program exploring the Harlem Renaissance and the sound of mid-century America as found in works by David Diamond, William Grant Still, Harry Lawrence Freeman, Florence Price, Duke Ellington, and Aaron Copland; you can hear the program on 20 January at First Congregational in Berkeley, 21 January at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, 22 January at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford, and 23 January at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco.


The San Francisco Jazz Center seems to be back in the swing of things: on the main stage, Monsieur Periné welcomes in the new year from 30 December to 2 January; trumpeter Chris Botti takes over from 4 to 9 January; Bob James, David Sanborn, and Marcus Miller revisit James and Sanborn's 1986 album Double Vision from 13 to 16 January; and then Wynton Marsalis's Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra closes out the month from 27 to 30 January. Meanwhile in the Joe Henderson Lab, there is a series called The Hotplate Festival: on 20 January, tenor saxophonist Jessica Jones plays Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come; on 21 January Amy D sings Sarah Vaughan's After Hours; on 22 January, Caroline Chung plays Nina Simone's Silk & Soul; and on 23 January, Rick Vandivier and Adam Shulman play Jimmy Smith's Back at the Chicken Shack.

Brothers Ilmar Gavilán on violin and Aldo López-Gavilán on piano perform music by the latter on 23 January (at 5:00 PM) in Zellerbach Hall, presented by Cal Performances.

Early / Baroque Music

The Cantata Collective kicks off the new year on 2 January at Saint Mary Magdalen in Berkeley with Bach's Christmas Cantata BWV 64 and his New Year's Cantata BWV 153, featuring soprano Tonia D'Amelio, contralto Sara Couden, tenor David Kurtenbach, and baritone Ben Kazez.

The San Francisco Early Music Society has two interesting programs this month: on 14 January at First Congregational in Berkeley you can hear Quicksilver Baroque performing works by little-known composers (such as Antonio Bertali, Johann Joseph Fux, Johann Caspar Kerll, Giovanni Legrenzi, Johann Rosenmüller, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, and Romanus Weichlein) active in Vienna in the seventeenth century; and on 29 January at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco you can hear Profeti della Quinta exploring the development of the Italian madrigal through works by Cipriano de Rore, Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Carlo Gesualdo, Scipio Lacorcia, and of course the man most of us associate with the words "Italian madrigals", Claudio Monteverdi.

On 20 January San Francisco Performances launches its Salon Series with the first of four programs curated by tenor Nicholas Phan that will explore several centuries of under-performed works by women, beginning with composers of the baroque period including Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre and Maddalena Casaluna. Phan will be joined by soprano Maya Kherani, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, violinist Carla Moore, harpsichordist Katherine Heater, and Elisabeth Reed on viola da gamba at the Education Studio at the War Memorial Veterans Building (please note the start time for the salon series is 6:30 PM).

American Bach Soloists presents Sweet Harmony in the undeniable form of music by Bach and Handel, on 21 January at Saint Stephen's in Belvedere, 22 January at First Church in Berkeley, 23 January at Saint Mark's in San Francisco, and 24 January at Davis Community Church in Davis.

Modern / Contemporary Music

Slow Wave (clarinetist Kyle Beard, violist Justine Preston, and pianist Naomi Stine) visit Old First Concerts on 8 January, when they will play works by JooWan Kim, Julie Barwick, Kalevi Aho, Brett Austin Eastman, Kyle Hovatter, and Emma Logan.

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble starts the new year Living in Color, featuring Sarah Gibson's I Prefer Living In Color, the Left Coast Composition Contest Winner 2019, along with John Luther Adams's Three Canticles of the Birds, Szymanowski's The Fountain of Arethusa. Kenji Bunch's The 3 G’s, Errolyn Wallen's Dervish, and Fauré's Piano Trio in D Minor. You can hear all that on 9 January at the Berkeley Hillside Club or 10 January at the Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco.

Soprano Chelsea Hollow and pianist Taylor Chan perform Cycles of Resistance, a program exploring resilience in and rebellion against an oppressive world, featuring songs by Sophie Xuefei Zhang, Anthony R. Green, Michael Wiener, Myron Silberstein, Özden Gülsün Keskin, Lauren McCall, Molly Joyce, and Jason Cady; that's at Old First Concerts on 28 January.

Ensemble for These Times visits the Center for New Music on 29 January, where they will perform Below the Surface: Music by Women Composers, featuring a world premiere from Emily Doolittle (Below the Surface, a setting of poems by Bay Area writers Rella Lossy and Rachel Richardson), as well as works by Du Yun, Lisa Bielawa, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Gabriela Ortiz, Angélica Negrón, Akshaya Avril Tucker, Jungyoon Wie, Seo Yoon (Soyoona) Kim, and Manjing Zhang.

On 31 January Earplay visits Herbst Theater to perform Andrew Imbrie's Dream Sequence (celebrating Imbrie's centennial), Tyshawn Sorey's For Fred Lerdahl, Fred Lerdahl's Reflection, and Hyo-shin Na's To the Ice Mountains (the latter two Earplay commissions and world premieres).

Chamber Music

The San Francisco Symphony has two chamber music programs this month: on 16 January at Davies Hall you can hear works by Jennifer Higdon, Frank Bridge, and Schubert; and on 30 January at the Gunn Theater at the Legion of Honor you can hear works by Haydn, Hummel, and Brahms.

Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM in Herbst Theater, San Francisco Performances presents lecturer Robert Greenberg and the Alexander String Quartet exploring the chamber music of Dvořák: on 22 January, you can hear (and hear about) the String Quartet in D minor, Op. 34 and the String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat Major, Op. 51, “Slavonic” and on 29 January Cypresses for String Quartet and the Bass Quintet, Op. 77.

Violinist Basma Edrees and pianist Ava Nazar perform at Old First Concerts on 23 January, in a program highlighting the folk-based, Bartók-inspired music of contemporary Iranian composer Reza Vali, along with works by Piazzolla and Brahms.

San Francisco Performances presents cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Connie Shih playing Kabalevsky, Shostakovich, and Rachmaninoff at Herbst Theater on 29 January.

Old First Concerts hosts the Ives Collective on 30 January in a program of Mahler, Schubert, and Max Bruch.


The Pacific Film Archive has lots going on, including several series of exceptional interest: films produced by Francis Ford Coppola and American Zoetrope run through to 27 February; the films of Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty run from 21 January to 20 February; a retrospective of the great Barbara Stanwyck runs from 14 January to 26 February; and a treasure trove of films by the irreplaceable master FW Murnau runs from 8 January to 27 February.

Painting & Suchlike

You have until 17 January to see the Joan Mitchell exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Color into Line: Pastels from the Renaissance to the Present continues at the Legion of Honor until 13 February.

At the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD), Soul of Black Folks, an exhibit of portraits by Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo, runs until 27 February.

Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism runs at the Oakland Museum of California through 27 February.

At the de Young you have until 9 January to see the Judy Chicago retrospective but until 24 April to see that of fashion designer Patrick Kelly.

27 December 2021

Museum Monday 2021/52


the Flight into Egypt: a detail from the Retable and Frontal of the Life of Christ and the Virgin made for Pedro López de Ayala in fourteenth century Spain, now in the Art Institute of Chicago

24 December 2021

20 December 2021

13 December 2021

10 December 2021

06 December 2021

Museum Monday 2021/49


Two views of the complications of love: foreground, a Virgin & Child from twelfth century Lombardy; background, Oskar Kokoschka's Two Nudes (Lovers), a self-portrait of the artist with Alma Mahler. This photo was taken at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on my 2017 trip (I believe the Virgin & Child has been moved someplace else since then).