Friday, March 22, 2013

Local Music News for the Weekend

With the Berkeley Italian composer Luciano Chessa, I went to SFJAZZ last week for the first of four sold-out shows by the Portuguese superstar Mariza above who specializes in the art of fado, a 19th century song style "characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia."

The impossibly tall, thin and glamorous Mariza was a bit too belting for my taste, but she was a consummate entertainer who engaged the audience at every opportunity. Plus, she insisted we all stand up and dance for her final two tunes which was a liberating treat.

On the same evening in the same building, Erik Jekabson was performing three sets of Quincy Jones music in the Joe Henderson Lab, with its glassed-in space offering a free, mute show to pedestrians and drivers on Franklin Street. I am loving this new institution more each day.

Meanwhile, the bewildering San Francisco Symphony strike continues at Davies Hall, but there is plenty of classical musical activity that doesn't involve the Symphony, who were actually supposed to be in New York and Washington, D.C. this week.

There are three performances this weekend at the Opera House by the San Francisco Ballet of John Cranko's full-length ballet version of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, which my friend Janos Gereben claims is brilliant with a beautifully played Tchaikowsky score that deliberately doesn't use any of the composer's music from his own Onegin opera.

On Saturday afternoon from 4-6 at Duende, which I have been assured is the coolest of downtown Oakland hipster tapas and music joints imaginable, Luciano Chessa and Benjamin Kreith will be performing "original pieces, Erik Satie transcriptions, Futurist noise poetry, Robert Schumann, a Fluxus composition, delicate improvisations, and Albeniz-Kreisler" on a wide variety of instruments. The 19th Street BART station is a block away and admission is only $10, so I will be there.

Saturday evening at LaSalle pianos on Market near Franklin will feature an operatic recital called Les Heroines, with half a dozen sopranos singing various femmes from the 19th century repertory. There will be beautiful young women and free French wine, and at $25 (with $15 student tickets), it's a bargain.

While the adults at the Symphony strike over their heinous working conditions and lack of respect from management, the SF Symphony Student Orchestra will be playing a 2PM matinee in Davies Hall on Sunday afternoon with the West Coast premiere of a percussion quartet by the young Evan Chapman called second thoughts along with Tchaikowsky, Richard Strauss, Respighi, and Schumann's Second Symphony. General admission tickets are $12.

Last but definitely not least, the sixth edition of the Switchboard Music Festival has moved to the Brava Theatre on 24th Street in the Mission Sunday from 2-10 PM. For $15-$20, you can wander in and out all day for a major communion of local composers and performers.