a tiger at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park in Washington, DC (from 2017)
Tomorrow begins the Lunar New Year: Year of the Tiger
I hesitated before putting this list together, given the snowballing cancellations and postponements due to the Omicron variant, but things appear to be settling down in that regard – nonetheless, I'd suggest checking any events you're interested in to make sure they're still on (I deleted at least two entries while preparing this list, and who knows what will happen after I hit publish). Also be aware that many venues now require proof of a booster shot as well as vaccination, and some have specific guidelines on the type of mask you must wear while indoors.
Cal Performances presents the west coast premiere of Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration at Zellerbach Hall on 17 February; the program, created by jazz pianist Jason Moran and his wife, mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran, explores the Great Migration and their family histories through music and text. The Morans will be joined by conductor Tania León, the Imani Winds, and other artists.
You can see The Apple Tree (music by Jerry Brock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, both better known for Fiddler on the Roof), led by Music Director Michael Horsley and Ensemble and Stage Director Michael Mohammed, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 17 - 18 February.
On 12 February at Zellerbach Hall, Cal Performances presents the west coast premiere of …(Iphigenia), a Cal Performances co-commission from composer Wayne Shorter and librettist/performer esperanza spalding, described as "radical new take" on Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides.
Opera Parallèle presents Sophia's Forest, with music by Lembit Beecher and libretto by Hannah Moscovitch, at Grace Cathedral from 24 to 26 February.
The San Francisco Performances Salon Series, curated by tenor Nicholas Phan, wraps up this month with three further concerts exploring vocal music written by women (all are at the Education Studio at the War Memorial Veterans Building and start at 6:30): on 3 February, along with soprano Esther Tonea, mezzo-soprano Gabrielle Beatag, and pianist Robert Mollicone, Phan will perform songs of the Parisian Belle époque by Cecile Chaminade, Pauline Viardot, and Nadia and Lili Boulanger; on 10 February, Phan will be joined by soprano Mikayla Sager, baritone Edward Nelson, and pianist Carrie-Ann Matheson for works by Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Ethel Smythe, and Alma Mahler; and on 17 February, mezzo-soprano Gabrielle Beatag, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, and pianist Shannon McGinnis will join Phan in performing pieces by Margaret Bonds, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Florence Price, and other modern or contemporary composers.
Bass-baritone Dashon Burton appears with San Francisco Performances twice this month: on 5 February, joined by pianist Robert Mollicone at Saint Mark's Lutheran, he will perform songs by John Jacob Niles, Kurt Weill, Paul Bowles, Samuel Colridge-Taylor, Margaret Bonds, William Grant Still, Marques LA Garrett, and Moses Hogan; and on 11 February he and the Catalyst Quartet will perform works by Joseph Bologne le Chevalier de St Georges, William Grant Still, and Florence Price.
The Passionflower Duo (soprano Gabrielle Lochard and pianist Jonathan Liu) will perform Schubert's great song cycle Winterreise at Old First Concerts on 11 February.
Cécile McLorin Salvant and her quintet, featuring pianist Sullivan Fortner, will play the SF Jazz Center from 10 to 13 February.
Rosanne Cash and guitarist John Leventhal play the SF Jazz Center from 24 to 27 February.
On 6 February at Zellerbach Hall, Music Director Joseph Young leads the Berkeley Symphony in the world premiere of As Water, Freedom by Derrick Skye (formerly Spiva) along with Morton Gould's Protest, Sibelius's Finlandia, John Adams's Lollapalooza, and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite.
Here's what going on at the San Francisco Symphony this month: on 3, 4, and 6 February, former Music Director Herbert Blomstedt conducts the the Nielsen 4 and the Beethoven 5; on 5 February, conductor Yue Bao, joined by violinist Bomsori and cellist Amos Yang, welcome the Lunar New Year (the Year of the Tiger) with a program of Chinese music by Huan-zhi Li, Chen Gang & He Zhanhao, Huang Ruo, Tan Dun, Texu Kim, Tyzen Hsiao, and Liu Yuan; on 11 - 12 February, conductor Perry So, joined by pipa virtuoso Wu Man, perform an entire program of SF Symphony premieres, including Lou Harrison's Concerto for Pipa with String Orchestra along with works by Texu Kim, Younghi Pagh-Paan, Takashi Yoshimatsu, and Zhou Long; from 17 to 19 February, concerts that were originally scheduled to be conducted by the late Michael Morgan are now being performed in his memory: conductors Earl Lee, Akiko Fujimoto, and Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, along with mezzo-soprano Melody Wilson, will perform the Brahms Alto Rhapsody and the Florence Price 3, as well as works by Carlos Simon, César Franck, and traditional spirituals arranged by Jack Perla; and on 24, 26, and 27 February, current Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the SFS premiere of Beethoven's complete ballet music for The Creatures of Prometheus, which will have an animation accompaniment by Hillary Leben.
David Milnes leads the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in the Tchaikovsky 6, the Pathétique, at Hertz Hall on 11 - 12 February.
Philharmonia Baroque explores Mozart the Radical with his Concerto for Fortepiano No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 (Richard Egarr plays fortepiano as well as conducts the program), Ch’io mi scordi di te? … Non temer, amato bene, K. 505 and Bella mia fiamma, addio, K. 528 (with soprano Elizabeth Watts) and the Symphony 38 in D major, K. 504, Prague, on 10 February at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, 11 February at First United Methodist in Palo Alto, and 12 - 13 February at First Congregational in Berkeley.
On 12 February at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Edwin Outwater will lead the SFCM Orchestra in Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso and Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, Gabriela Frank's Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra, and the world premiere of Juan Prieto's Romancero gitano: Preciosa y el aire.
The Golden Gate Symphony, led by Urs Leonhardt Steiner, will perform the Beethoven Piano Concerto 3 with soloist Elektra Schmidt, along with the Beethoven 6, the Pastoral, at Herbst Theater on 22 February.
One Found Sound will perform Viet Cuong by Thu Điếu, with soprano soloist Bích-Vân Nguyễn, Clarice Assad's Impressions, and the Beethoven 8 with "an immersive visual experience designed by Max Savage" at Heron Arts in San Francisco on 26 February.
The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, led by Ben Simon, will perform world premieres by Carlos Simon and Jessica Hunt (both composers associated with Gabriela Lena Frank’s Creative Academy of Music) along with the Beethoven 8 on 25 February at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, 26 February at First United Methodist in Palo Alto, and 27 February at First Congregational in Berkeley.
On 4 February, Old First Concerts presents the Circadian String Quartet playing works by brother-sister duo Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel.
On 6 February Old First Concerts presents the Sierra Ensemble (violinist Matthew Vincent, horn player Janis Lieberman, and pianist Marc Steiner) performing the world premiere of Richard Aldag's Trio for Violin, French horn, and Piano, along with works by Koechlin, Lennox Berkeley, and Brahms.
Chamber Music San Francisco has three concerts at Herbst Theater this month: on 13 February the Notos Piano Quartet will perform works by Brahms, Schumann, and a player to be named later; on 17 February the Tomkins-LaDeur Duo will play works by Chopin, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, and on 26 February the Bennewitz Quartet will play pieces by Haydn, Schumann, and Dvořák.
On 19 February San Francisco Performances continues its Saturday morning lecture series at Herbst Theater with musicologist Robert Greenberg and the Alexander String Quartet exploring the chamber music of Dvořák; joined by pianist Jeffrey LaDeur, they will discuss and perform Bagatelles, Op. 47 for two violins, cello, harmonium or piano, and the Piano Quartet, Op. 87.
On 20 February the San Francisco Symphony presents one of its chamber music concerts at Davies Hall, featuring pieces by David Garner, Bohuslav Martinů, Sibelius, Nielsen, and Brahms.
Pianist Stephen Hough joins the Takács Quartet at Cal Performance's Hertz Hall on 20 February, performing works by Haydn, Dvořák, and the Bay Area premiere of Hough's String Quartet No. 1, Les Six Rencontres.
Lieder Alive! presents violist Paul Yarbrough and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur, with mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, performing works by Schumann, Dowland, Britten, Morton Feldman, and Brahms. at the Noe Valley Ministry on 27 February.
Cal Performances presents pianist Eric Lu at Hertz Hall on 6 February, where he will play pieces by Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, and Schubert.
Guitarist Marc Ribot appears at the SF Jazz Center from 10 to 13 February.
Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau will play the SF Jazz Center on 14 - 15 February.
Trumpeter Giveton Gelin is at the SF Jazz Center on 17 February.
Early / Baroque Music
Philharmonia Baroque presents Bach's mighty Mass in B Minor, conducted by new Music Director Richard Egarr and with outstanding soloists (soprano Mary Bevan, countertenor Iestyn Davies, tenor James Gilchrist, and baritone Roderick Williams), on 2 February at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford, 4 February at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and 5 February at First Congregational in Berkeley.
On 13 February Corey Jamason and Elisabeth Reed lead the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Baroque Ensemble in a concert highlighting their Concerto Competition winners: Rocío López Sánchez on baroque cello will play Boccherini's Cello Concerto in G Major, Annemarie Schubert on baroque violin will play Bach's Violin Concerto in A Minor. and Kyle Stachnik on baroque cello will play Vivaldi's Cello Concerto in D Minor.
The San Francisco Early Music Society presents Agave Baroque playing music of the Bach family on 25 February at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 26 February at St John's Presbyterian in Berkeley, and 27 February at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.
The California Bach Society presents Venetian Vespers – psalm settings by Monteverdi, Rovetta, and Cavalli – on 25 February at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, 26 February at All Saints' Episcopal in Palo Alto, and 27 February at St Mark's Episcopal in Berkeley.
On 26 February at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, San Francisco Renaissance Voices perform choral works by Palestrina, Byrd, Hildegard von Bingen, Orlando Gibbons, and other luminaries.
Modern / Contemporary Music
Cal Performances presents the Spektral Quartet playing the world premiere of Samuel Adams's Current, a Cal Performances co-commission, along with Philip Glass's String Quartet 2, Company (referring to Beckett's short novel, not Sondheim's musical), and Schubert's String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D. 804, Rosamunde, and you can hear it all on 13 February at Hertz Hall.
On 18 February at Saint Mark's Lutheran, San Francisco Performances presents violinist Johnny Gandelsman playing a transcription for violin of Bach's Suite No. 3 For Solo Cello, BWV 1009, along with contemporary American works (commissioned as part of his series This Is America) by Conrad Tao, Ebun Oguntola, Tyshawn Sorey, Clarice Assad (this one is a world premiere, commissioned by SF Performances), Angelica Negron, and Rhiannon Giddens.
And there's a second mostly modern program accompanied by Bach, again presented by San Francisco Performances, and again at Saint Mark's Lutheran, but on 26 February: cellist Matt Haimovitz will play the Bach Prelude from Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008 and Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 along with works by Missy Mazzoli, Gordon Getty, Vijay Iyer, David Balakrishnan, Nico Muhly, Tomeka Reid, and Philip Glass (the last three are world premieres).
Here are the live events this month at the Center for New Music: on 6 February the Symbiotics Quartet (Ben Davis, Chris Brown, Danishto Rivero, Marshall Trammell) will improvise new sounds for you and on 11 February you can hear Duo Improvisations with Evelyn Davis and Phillip Greenlief along with Motoko Honda and Beth Schenck.
On 19 February at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the SFCM New Music Ensemble, led by conductor Ensemble Director Nicole Paiement and conducting student Jaco Wong, will perform works by Tyshawn Sorey, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, Ian Dicke, Linda Buckley, and Tōru Takemitsu.
The SF Jazz Center opens the month with a Jazz & Social Justice series in the Joe Henderson Lab, starting on 3 February with singer and harpist Destiny Muhammad playing works inspired by the late Richmond-based quilter Rosie Lee Tompkins, and continuing on 4 February with Diana Gameros, performing music from the documentary Dear Homeland about her experiences as an undocumented immigrant, 5 February with Jaz Sawyer's Quartet along with spoken-word performer and anti-incarceration activist Tongo Eisen-Martin, and concluding on 6 February with composer and pianist Jon Jang with works reflecting immigration policies and the WWII internment of Japanese-Americans.
Terri Lyne Carrington and her Social Science Ensemble, with Matthew Stevens, Aaron Parks, Morgan Guerin, Kokayi, and Debo Ray, will play socially aware pieces at the SF Jazz Center on 17 February. Carrington returns on 18 February with Kris Davis, Linda May Han Oh, Ambrose Akinmusire, Elena Pinderhughes, and Matthew Stevens for an evening of jazz tunes composed by women. She's back again on 19 February with Nicole Mitchell and Brandon Ross to play music inspired by her "musical father", Wayne Shorter, specifically his album Emanon.
Alto saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins plays the SF Jazz Center on 18 February.
Something called Noise Pop has a series in the Joe Henderson Lab of the SF Jazz Center: Singer Valerie Troutt performs music from her new album, The Oakland Girl, on 25 February, pianist Connie Han performs music from her new album, Iron Starlet, on 26 February, and multi-instrumentalist Damani Rhodes appears on 27 February.
The San Francisco Ballet has three different programs this month: first up, logically enough, is Program 1, from 1 to 12 February, featuring Trio (music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Helgi Tomasson), Symphony in C (music by Bizet, choreography by Balanchine), and the world premiere of Mrs Robinson (music by Terry Davies, choreography by Cathy Marston), which is a retelling of The Graduate from the perspective of the older woman – a change which is inevitable, given that any young male ballet dancer will be, by definition, more graceful and generally more handsome than the youthful Dustin Hoffmann, and also a bit dubious, since without his nebbishy awkwardness, what makes this story striking? It's just a standard story of a young man caught up with an older, more experienced woman, which, despite the Ballet's much-repeated description, doesn't really strike me as a "forbidden passion". Program 2 runs from 3 to 13 February and features Caprice (music by Saint-Saëns, choreography by Helgi Tomasson), In the Night (music by Chopin, choreography by Jerome Robbins), and the west coast premiere of Blake Works (music by James Blake, choreography by William Forsythe). Program 3, from 26 February to 6 March, brings the first evening-length ballet of the season, Don Quixote (music by Ludwig Minkus, choreography by Alexander Gorsky after Marius Petipa, with staging and additional choreography by Helgi Tomasson and Yuri Possokhov).
Beloved drag ballet troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo return to Cal Performances and Zellerbach Hall on 4 - 5 February.
Lil Buck brings the west coast premiere of Memphis Jookin’: The Show to Zellerbach Hall under the auspices of Cal Performances 25 - 26 February.
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents Chaplin's glorious City Lights on 19 February at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, with live accompaniment by the Oakland Symphony Orchestra, conducted for the occasion by Timothy Brock.