Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Some Interesting Musical Events in September

There are a whole roster of interesting new musical events this coming month. Following are a few highights. This week brings four performances of Erling Wold’s UKSUS at the Oakland Metro Opera House on 2nd Street near Jack London Square. According to the website, this reprise of Wold’s surrealistic 2015 opera is “an autobiography of Daniil Kharms and the OBERIU in the Soviet Union of the 1930s, a narrative told through their stories and brief lives, as the OBERIU – The Association for Real Art – maintained their love of words and nonsensical art to their deaths in Stalin’s Great Purge.” One of the stars is Laura Bohn, who just knocked everyone out with her performance as the Duchess of Argyll in Powder Her Face with West Edge Opera, and the jazzy chamber orchestra includes the brilliant composers/instrumentalists Beth Custer and Lisa Mezzacappa. To see a YouTube version of an earlier incarnation in Germany, click here, and to buy tickets for this week’s performances, click here.

The following week, the San Francisco Symphony begins their season with a tribute to New York minimalist composer Steve Reich with a Copland/Reich program that will undoubtedly involve Jacob Nissly, above, the symphony’s great young percussionist who played a Reich piece during one of the Symphony’s SoundBox concerts last season. For tickets, click here. There will also be a special all-Reich concert on Sunday, September 11th at 7PM.

The Berkeley pianist Sarah Cahill has started a new duo with violinist Kate Stenberg. The pair will be performing Mozart, Brahms, Henry Cowell, Debussy, Lou Harrison and others in a series of concerts at “Music by The Mountain” at Mount Shasta on Saturday and Sunday, September 10th at 7PM and September 11th at 4PM. On Sunday, September 18th, they will be performing at Point Reyes Dance Palace at Point Reyes Station at 2PM and at San Francisco’s Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 1750 29th Avenue, on Saturday, September 24th at 7:30 PM. On Thursday, September 29th at 7:30 PM, Sarah will be joining pianists Anton Batagov, Jenny Lin, Aaron Diehl, and Philip Glass at the opening of Stanford Live’s season at the Bing Concert Hall. The five performers will be performing the complete piano etudes by Philip Glass.

Speaking of Glass, the New Century Chamber Orchestra begins their season the week of September 15th in Berkeley with the composer’s Third Symphony, which was written for a chamber string orchestra. The program also includes music by Webern, Heidrich, and Mozart’s 13th Piano Concerto, and the concert will be repeated in San Francisco and San Rafael. For more info, click here.

The San Francisco Opera is opening on September 9th with Giordano’s Italian potboiler about the French revolution, Andrea Chenier, and on the following night, Saturday, September 10th, offering the world premiere of Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber based on a classic, extremely long, 18th century Chinese novel.

The San Francisco Symphony is offering a bizarrely interesting program September 22nd through 24th called An Italian Celebration, conducted by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. It starts with an oboe concerto by Marcello, continues with Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia for Eight Solo Voices and Orchestra (with The Swingle Singers!), followed by Italian arias sung by the young American tenor of the moment, Michael Fabiano. And if all that wasn’t enough, the concert concludes with Verdi’s Te Deum. I heard the Berio piece at UC Davis last year with soloists from the Volti chorus and it’s an amazing, wild ride, rarely performed in the United States and not to be missed. For ticket info, click here.

The second "opera-installation" by Bay Area-based, Italian-born composer Luciano Chessa above is having its site-specific world premiere from September 22nd to September 24th in a small castle in Bolzano, Italy. Entitled Cena Oltranzista nel Castelletto al Lago (Extremist Dinner in the Castle by the Lake), it is a three-day event presented as part of the TRANSART 2016 festival. It sounds fascinating, with influences ranging from the Italian Futurist Cookbook by Marinetti, Boccaccio’s Decameron, and Pasolini’s film Salo. From an introductory description of the piece:
"In the capacity of master of ceremonies, Luciano Chessa will lead the ten guests to the castle to meet for a silent lunch and to then begin a symbolic journey. After the lunch, the group will in fact undertake a two-days fasting that will end with a multisensory ‘cena oltranzista’ (extremist dinner): a banquet of aural, olfactory, visual, tactile and finally gustatory sensations. A network of surveillance cameras and microphones will document and stream the whole experience on the web in real time. This opera deliberately merges heterogeneous influences: storytelling, folkloric-ritual art, body art, Medieval mysteries, peep shows, meditation, repurposed Big Brother-esque television references, and the style of ‘manor house mystery’, a classic narrative trope borrowed from the literary genre of mystery tales."
The work will be live-streamed and you can be a viewer/participant by clicking here.

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