Last week I observed that scheduling concert-going time during the first weekend in November would be a bit more manageable than usual, since the events would be taking place at different times of day. Things will not be so conducive during the second weekend of the month; and the alternatives now spread into Friday, as well as Saturday and Sunday. All I can to is try to give a fair enough account of each of those alternatives that each reader may see to his/her preferences as best as possible.
The next San Francisco concert in the 2014–15 season of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will take place on the Friday. The program will feature two notable guest artists. Renowned German countertenor Andreas Scholl will be making his only appearance in the Bay Area this season; and he will be performing under conductor Julian Wachner, currently in San Francisco to conduct the San Francisco Opera (SFO) Orchestra in the stunningly successful SFO production of George Frideric Handel’s HWV 27 opera Partenope. In his performance with Philharmonia Baroque, Scholl will sing three Handel arias, two from the HWV 17 Giulio Cesare (“Va tacito e nascosto” and “Aure, deh, per pietà”) and one from the HWV 19 Rodelinda (“Dove sei”). He will also sing Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo alto cantata “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust” (BWV 170). Wachner will begin the program with two Bach selections featuring instrumental solo work, the opening sinfonia for the BWV 42 cantata (“Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats”) and the BWV 1046 (“Brandenburg”) concerto in F major, the first of his set of six. The program will also conclude with a concerto, the TWV 54:F1 concerto for violin, oboe, and two horns in F major.
The San Francisco performance of this concert will take place at Calvary Presbyterian Church (2515 Fillmore Street on the northwest corner of Jackson Street) at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, November 7. Ticket prices are $25, $45, $67, $87, and $100. There is an event page for this concert on the Philharmonia Baroque Web site, as well as a Web page for purchasing tickets from City Box Office. City Box Office may also be reached by telephone at 415-392-4400. In addition, there will be a pre-concert lecture, beginning at 7:15 p.m., produced in partnership with The Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, hosted by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The talk will be given by Heidi Waleson, opera critic for The Wall Street Journal.
On the other side of town the Morrison Artists Series of the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University (SFSU) will present the second concert in its 2014–2015 season. The performers will be the members of the Windscape wind quintet, currently Artists-in-Residence at the Manhattan School of Music. They will present a program of original compositions and arrangements featuring French and American composers. It will begin with three transcriptions, prepared by horn player David Jolley, of solo piano compositions by Claude Debussy. These will be followed by arrangements by Adam Lesnick and Frank Morelli of Maurice Ravel’s orchestral song “La flute enchantée” (from his Shéhérazade cycle) and the four-hand piano suite Ma mère l’oye. The second half of the program will feature “Windsongs,” three short virtuosic movements for wind quintet by Richard Festinger, SFSU Faculty Member and Artistic Director of the Morrison Artists Series. Windscape will also perform Samuel Barber’s Opus 31 “Summer Music” and conclude the program with transcriptions of three of the piano études that Earl Wild composed based on songs by George Gershwin.
This concert will take place in the McKenna Theatre in the Creative Arts Building. It will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 7. It will be preceded at 7 p.m. by a pre-concert talk arranged by Festinger. Admission is free, and further information may be obtained from 415-338-2467. Because tickets are in high demand, advance reservation is recommended. There is a Vendini event page for online reservation with a seating chart that shows which seats are available for reservation. Finally, earlier in the day, at 2:10 p.m., the performers will lead a master class in Knuth Hall (also in the Creative Arts Building), also a free event.
Down in the Mission the Community Music Center will host its first Concert with Conversation event of the season, held in conjunction with a San Francisco Performances (SFP) concert. The participating artist for this event will be jazz pianist Dan Tepfer. The topic will probably be his ambitious 2011 project Goldberg Variations/Variations, in which Tepfer improvised variations based on each of the 30 variations that Bach composed on the aria theme of his BWV 988.
The Concerts with Conversation events are all one-hour in duration, beginning at 6 p.m. The basic idea is to allow members of the audience to ask questions after listening to the performer. This particular event will also be taking place on Friday November 7. It will be held in the Capp Street Theater of the Community Music Center, located in the Mission at 544 Capp Street. Admission is free and open to the general public. These tend to be very popular, so early arrival is highly recommended.
Tepfer’s Goldberg Variations/Variations will then be performed in its entirety the following evening, the first event in the 2014–2015 season of the SFP Jazz Series. The performance will take place at the SFJAZZ Center (201 Franklin Street, on the northwest corner of Fell Street), beginning at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $25, $30, $40, and $55 and may be purchased online through a City Box Office event page. In addition, because this is the first concert in the Jazz Series, subscriptions for all three performances are still available. These have their own City Box Office event page; and subscription prices are $75, $105, and $150 for premium seating.
The beginning of November also marks the twelfth edition of the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival, presented by 3rd i. Of particular interest will be the screening of “Radhe, Radhe: Rites of Holi,” a short film by Prashant Bhargava for which jazz pianist Vijay Iyer composed the score. This project was inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s score for the ballet “The Rite of Spring;” and both Iyer and Bhargava chose to rethink this project in terms of a Hindu spring festival. Bhargava will be present for a Q&A session with the audience following the screening, and the program will include four additional short films.
This screening will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 9, at The New People Cinema, located at 1746 Post Street, just east of Webster Street. Tickets are $12 when purchased at the door. However, they are only $10 if purchased online through an Eventbrite event page.
Finally, November 9 will mark the opening of the next opera in the current SFO season. This will be Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Jacopo Ferretii’s libretto is based on Charles Perrault’s “Cendrillon” fairy tale; but it differs significantly from the familiar version of the Cinderella story. The wicked stepmother is replaced by Cinderella’s stepfather Don Magnifico, who may not be quite as wicked but manages to anticipate by about a century all of the base characteristics that make Baron Ochs in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier so comical. (Both characters are sung by a bass voice.) Even more interesting is that the Fairy Godmother has been replaced by Alidoro (also a bass), a philosopher and tutor to the handsome prince.
Cinderella also has a “real name,” Angelina. True to Rossini’s preference for low female voices, hers is a contralto part. The only soprano is Clorinda, the older of the ugly stepsisters, whose sister Tisbe is a mezzo. Was Rossini thinking of Fiordiligi and Dorabella here? These two roles are certainly given some delightfully comic attention, running the risk of turning the story into one of two rather droll old maids who happen to have a pretty stepsister who goes to a ball and marries a prince.
This production will feature several SFO debuts. French mezzo Karine Deshayes will sing the title role opposite American tenor René Barbera as Prince Ramiro. Spanish baritone Carlos Chausson will sing Don Magnifico, while two Adler Fellows, soprano Maria Valdes and mezzo Zanda Švēde, will debut as his daughters. Adler Fellow Christian Van Horn will follow up on his recent appearance in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera to sing the role of Alidoro. The staging is by Jean-Pierre Ponnenelle, directed by Gregory Fortner, who will also be making his SFO debut. The conductor will be Jesús López-Cobos, currently in New York conducting Georges Bizet’s Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera.
La Cenerentola will be given six performances. These will take place at 2 p.m. on November 9, and 16, and at 7:30 p.m. p.m. on November 13, 18, 21, and 26. Further information may be found at the event page for this production on the SFO Web site. Tickets are priced from $25 to $370 and may be purchased through that same event page. They may also be purchased at the SFO Box Office in the War Memorial Opera House (301 Van Ness Avenue at the northwest corner of Grove Street) or by calling 415-864-3330. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. It is open for telephone orders only on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Standing Room tickets go on sale for $10 (cash only) at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance.