Last weekend actually began on Thursday night and pretty much ran all the way through Sunday evening. I don't recall ever cramming so much into so little time. Besides the Mavericks concerts on Thursday and Sunday, Jeremy Denk and I had cocktails on Friday night. Denk is a charming and funny guy, full of anecdotes, gossip, and questions. More I'll save for another time, but it was serious fun chatting with him. After taking my leave of him at Jardiniere I met up with Isabella and headed over to Herbst to attend the Cypress String Quartet's Call and Response program, which featured the world premiere of Phillipe Hersant's String Quartet No. 3, a piece I'm sure is going to be featured on many future programs. Cypress also performed a Haydn Quartet and Beethoven's Op.127, but Hersant's work was the highlight of the concert.
The next morning I met up with Chip Grant (founder of Urban Opera) and Barnaby Palmer over breakfast to discuss the upcoming SF Lyric Opera production of David Lang's "the little match girl passion" and from there I went with them to observe a rehearsal. The production has a palindrome structure, which the audience will be able to follow by listening to the different voices and noticing the lighting by Matthew Antaky, who recently did exceptional work on Ensemble Parallele's The Great Gatsby. I also had a chance to meet the very intriguing Anastazia Louise of Bad Unkl Sista and watch as she rehearsed her Butoh-style performance with the singers present for the first time. She said she's been absorbed in little but this project lately and it showed. She's an intense performer and I think this is going to be a moving performance. All four singers are excellent- I've heard Eugene Brancoveanu numerous times and every time I do I wonder how much longer Bay Area audiences will get to see him in small, intimate productions like these before he completely succumbs to the temptation of the larger houses for which he seems destined. Ann Moss is an exceptional soprano, and Celeste Winant, a chorale member of Philharmonia Baroque as well as Volti, also possesses a gorgeous voice. But I was particularly curious about Eric Maggay Tuan, who seems to be capable of singing almost anything. There are only three performances at the ODC theater in the Mission this weekend, and though the scale is small (the four singers double on instruments and it will run less than an hour) the return of San Francisco Lyric Opera is a major event on the local arts scene.
Later in the afternoon I attended the American Orchestra Forum at Davies, where a group of panelists including composers John Adams and Mason Bates and San Francisco Symphony's General Director Brent Assink helmed a three-hour chat on creativity in the arts, focusing on classical music, current culture, and especially, delivering content to audiences online. I didn't plan on staying for the whole thing, but it was so interesting that I did just that. They'll have another one on May 13th featuring Alan Gilbert discussing audiences (which should be highly interesting in light of the recent I Phone incident), while the NY Phil is in town for the American Orchestras series. The event is free.
Afterward I went over to the Paramount in Oakland to hear Chrissette Michelle's SFJazz gig, a show that was so poorly mixed I left my seat in the seventh row to go sit in the very back near the sound board, which only helped a little. I left after an hour, dismayed about so many things I don't even want to write about it. Making my way home through the throngs of amateurs celebrating St. Patrick's Day, I was immensely pleased not to be in a bar on this night, or even worse, to be one of those idiots actually lined up outside of a bar waiting to get in- in San Francisco (where there is a bar on practically every corner).
Sunday afternoon was the last concert of the American Mavericks Festival, which ended at 4:20, leaving me just enough time to make it a few blocks down the street to hear "A Celebration of Bay Area Music"- a concert organized by clarinetist Brenden Guy featuring musicians mostly from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (as well as Sarah Cahill, Miles Graber and Barnaby Palmer) performing a diverse program. Cahill performed John Adams' China Gates, a work dedicated to her and she brought along the original score. Also on the program were two delightful works by composer David Conte, including a highly engaging sextet. Although everyone onstage possessed a high level of talent, the show was stolen by the extraordinary violin playing of Kevin Rogers, whose solo in Ernest Bloch's Nigun- No. 2 (from the Baal Shem Suite) was stunning.
You don't really want to know what I did after that, do you? I didn't think so.