Cal Performances Executive and Artistic Director Jeremy Geffen today announced his organization’s 2023–2024 season, “celebrating performers at all stages of their careers, from living legends to artists who are just beginning to receive the recognition their exceptional artistry warrants.”
Besides returning artists, 10 companies are making their Cal Performances debuts next season, in addition to a group of African dancers performing The Rite of Spring — not a company but a group of dancers who came together for this specific project.
Geffen told SF Classical Voice that the organization is well along emerging from the pandemic period, both financially and with respect to audience attendance, with numbers at pre-pandemic levels. In fact, in the still-ongoing 2022–2023 season, some 81,000 tickets have been sold for mainstage performances alone.
The executive director emphasized Cal Performances’ unique position of “being part of one of the greatest universities, with conversations spanning the campus.”
Geffen hopes programs such as the Golden Bear Circle, which provides $10 premium tickets to hundreds of students and is financed by an anonymous donor, will help build audiences in the future, “not only locally as students return home after graduation.”
UC Berkeley students can also buy tickets for all performances at 50 percent off; flex passes are available for four, six, or eight performances for $15 each, and there are special prices for youth and seniors.
Dance once again is an important component of the season. Presentations include the Bay Area premiere of Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring, featuring 30 dancers from 14 African countries.
A companion piece, common ground[s], also a Bay Area premiere, is a new duet co-created and danced by two septuagenarians — Germaine Acogny, known as the “mother of African contemporary dance,” and Malou Airaudo, a longtime dancer with the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (Feb. 16–18, 2024).
Cal Performances has renewed its partnership with The Joffrey Ballet, which has committed to four residencies over eight years, including its first full-length narrative ballet in Berkeley, Yuri Possokhov’s Anna Karenina (March 15–17, 2024).
Geffen commented on the Joffrey engagement: “The Joffrey is a model 21st-century dance company, as comfortable in full-length narrative ballets as they are in repertory works that explore a dizzying array of contemporary styles. We are thrilled to engage them in a new residency commitment that, over the course of nearly a decade, will give our audiences the opportunity to delight in the many gifts of this illustrious company.”
The Mark Morris Dance Group brings the world premiere of a work by Morris, title to be announced (April 19–21, 2024), and the Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company makes its Berkeley debut with the Bay Area premiere of Ohad Naharin’s MOMO (March 8–9, 2024).
The 2024 Cal Performances gala, to take place during Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s annual engagement (April 2–7, 2024), celebrates the 22nd year of Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp.
Mitsuko Uchida is artist-in-residence, participating in campus activities and performing Schubert’s Winterreise with tenor Mark Padmore (March 17, 2024) and leading the Mahler Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard in two Mozart piano concertos (March 24, 2024). Geffen is proud of engaging Uchida in a residency involving both performing and working with young musicians.
Top recitals of the season will include programs by soprano Christine Goerke with pianist Craig Terry (Oct. 8), pianist Michelle Cann (Oct. 29), cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Nov. 1), cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han (Feb. 11, 2024), and soprano Renée Fleming (Feb. 9, 2024).
There’s also soprano Erin Morley with pianist Malcolm Martineau (Feb. 18, 2024), pianist Conrad Tao (March 3, 2024), the SF Opera wife-and-husband duo of soprano Amina Edris and tenor Pene Pati, joined by pianist Robert Mollicone (April 23, 2024), and pianist Víkingur Ólafsson (May 4, 2024).
World premieres include the Kronos Quartet performing Cal Performances co-commissions by Michael Gordon and Peni Candra Rini as part of a “Five Decades” anniversary project (March 2, 2024) and the Takács Quartet performing a Cal Performances co-commission by violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama (Nov. 12).
From across the Bay, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony will travel to Berkeley to perform the world premiere of Drowned in Light by Jens Ibsen, winner of the Emerging Black Composers Project. Also on the program: Salonen’s Kínēma and Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements (Nov. 10).
Salonen’s work, which had its U.S. premiere in February with the New York Philharmonic, is a clarinet concerto (the title is the Finnish word for “cinema”); the soloist will be SFS principal clarinet Carey Bell. The work is also on the SF Symphony’s schedule for Nov. 11 and 12.
UC Berkeley’s Eco Ensemble performs another premiere, selections from music department faculty member Cindy Cox’s latest musical/theatrical work (Feb. 3, 2024).
Subscription packages for Cal Performances’ 2023–2024 season go on sale to the general public beginning April 21 at noon, and single tickets go on sale on Aug. 8.