The big event this week is the return of SF Music Day, an annual, all-day free concert presented by San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music. That's right: all-day, and free of charge, running from noon until 8 p.m. on Sunday, September 25th at the Veteran's Memorial Building on Van Ness at McAllister. This year's line-up is a big leap forward the event and includes some of the world's leading chamber music ensembles, plus the performers are all Bay Area-based, so go out and support your local musicians. See as much as you can or as little as you like, going back and forth between the four different stages. The 35 acts and 155 performers are comprised of string quartets, classical ensembles, jazz groups, and new music ensembles including the Kronos, Del Sol, St. Lawrence, Thalea, New Esterházy, and Telegraph quartets; then there's the Chamber Music Society of San Francisco, Delphi Trio, Lieder Alive!, Strobe, Sunset Duo, and Vajra Voices; new and experimental music from A/B Duo, Earplay, Friction Quartet martha & monica, Phillip Greenlief's Barbedwire, Quartet San Francisco, Redwood Tango Ensemble, and Rova; jazz from David James's GPS, Ian Carey Quintet + 1, Kasey Knudsen Sextet, Lisa Mezzacappa's AvantNOIR, Montclair Women's Big Band, Myra Melford and Ben Goldberg, Nathan Clevenger Group, Akira Tana & Otonawa, Rent Romus's Life Blood Ensemble, Terrence Brewer, and VNote Ensemble. Tops on my list of who to see would be the Kronos, Friction, Del Sol, and St. Lawrence quartets, Lisa Mezzacappa, Lieder Alive!, Myra Melford & Ben Goldberg, and Terrence Brewer, not necessarily in that order.
The San Francisco Symphony is doing an all-Italian program Thursday - Saturday featuring the music of Verdi, Donizetti, Marcello, plus Berio's Sinfonia for Eight Solo Voices and Orchestra, which should be the highlight of the concert. Special guests include London's The Swingles vocal ensemble and tenor Michael Fabiano.
Bassist Christian McBride hits SFJazz with variety of combos this week including: a sextet on Thursday comprised of R&B vocalist Patrice Rushen ("Send Me Forget-Me-Nots"), two turntablists, vocalist Alyson Williams, and saxophonist Ron Blake; a big band on Saturday; and Dee Dee Bridgwater on Sunday.
The Paul Dresher Ensemble starts up the Schick Machine at ZSpace September 23 - 25. This looks pretty wild: Dresher, a composer and instrument-builder, joins master percussionist Steven Schick on the main ZSpace stage for a theatrical music performance featuring "huge invented instruments and sound sculptures – including the Hurdy Grande, the Tumbler, the Field of Flowers and the Peacock (a deconstructed pipe organ)."
The New Music Ensemble of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents a concert on Wednesday night paying tribute to Hans Werner Henze and Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, led by Nicole Paiement (free admission).
The Soul Rebels bring Talib Kweli along to get down New Orleans style at the Fillmore on Saturday.
Natalia Lafourcade is at the Fox in Oakland on Sunday. Every time she returns to the Bay Area she's playing a larger venue. See her in a relatively intimate one while you still can.
Heads up: I don't normally include events taking place on the Peninsula, but this one will be well worth getting in a car and heading south: on September 29 Stanford Live presents Philip Glass' complete piano études with 5 pianists: Anton Batagov, Sarah Cahill, Aaron Diehl, Philip Glass, and Jenny Lin. It's currently "at capacity," but if you can find a ticket, don't miss this concert.
Berkeley Rep's audacious and perfectly-timed stage adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here opens on Friday night. Lisa Roberston directs. Bring your favorite fascist relative.
Theatre Rhinoceros' production of Tarell Alvin McCraney's The Brothers Size opens on Saturday. McCraney's Head of Passes and Choir Boy have recently been seen on Bay Area stages, and in this play he mixes music and drama to tell a story about a trio of young men in the Louisiana bayou.
The Shipment, Young Jean Lee's unpacking of African American stereotypes, opens Thursday at Crowded Fire's Thick House.
See previous posts for what's currently on Bay Area stages.
Dance: Pushfest returns to ODC with two different programs this Friday and Saturday, featuring the work of eighteen choreographers and three world premieres.
YBCA is doing a series on the films of Robert Frank, including a new documentary, Don't Blink, that takes a look at the Swiss filmmaker's work with the Beats, Welsh coal miners, Peruvian Indians, The Stones, London bankers, and, of course, Americans. Thursday - Sunday.
All praise the Balboa Theatre, which has an amazing line-up this week: a double feature of Mad Max and The Road Warrior on Tuesday; their Kubrick retrospective continues on Thursday with Full Metal Jacket; on Friday they're having a Madeleine Kahn-a-thon with screenings of High Anxiety, Blazing Saddles, and Clue; on Saturday they're showing Time Bandits and Danny Says. Sunday is a tribute to Gene Wilder, with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Blazing Saddles.
The Castro welcomes Alan Cumming in conversation on Thursday, Chinatown and Two Jakes on Friday, takes a day-long look at the films of Anna Magnani on Saturday (on Sunday PFA screens Angelina), and Sunday screens the entire Back to the Future trilogy + Used Cars.
BAM/PFA ends its Sergio Leone retrospective with A Fistful of Dollars on Friday.
Top photo: The Swingles. Photo by Nedim Nazerali.
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See you next week.