Primary tabs

Cal Performances Season Is Tarnopolsky's "Farewell Gift"

April 17, 2018

In a small but significant reverse of the Westward Ho! trend, two prominent art administrators are leaving the city for top positions on the East Coast: Fine Arts Museums Director Max Hollein, 48, will lead the Metropolitan Museum, and Cal Performances’ Matías Tarnopolsky, 48, will become CEO and president of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association.

Cal Performances’ next season, announced today, is Tarnopolsky’s farewell programming, and it’s a complex, unusual, highly sophisticated cornucopia of artistic, societal, and intellectual offerings in addition to a traditional lineup of music and dance.

“There is a sense of vulnerability in the world right now, and we feel a responsibility to ask artists to lead the way in helping us navigate our challenging socio-cultural moment,” Tarnopolsky said announcing the season.

“The exceptional and diverse international artists who comprise the 2018–19 season honor values I have encouraged and supported, in collaboration with the extraordinary Cal Performances team, over the past nine years. Please think of this season as my farewell gift to our inspiring cultural community.”

Tarnopolsky, named one the most influential “movers and shakers” in the performing arts by Musical America, is bringing to Berkeley some music, dance, literary, and theater programs in groups characterized as “thematic strands exploring urgent contemporary issues in artistic context” and “commitment to artistic literacy as Cal Performances continues multifaceted public learning experiences.”

There is rich, appealing specificity in the programs under the umbrella of what may appear highfaluting catchwords. Among those “thematic strands” is “Citizenship and Women’s Work,” which includes:

  • Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra — Israeli, Palestinian, and other Arab musicians performing together — in their West Coast debut, Nov. 10

  • Esa-Pekka Salonen and Philharmonia Orchestra of London in a three-concert residency (March 15–17, 2019), presenting the Cal Performances co-commissioned oratorio Dreamer, inspired by undocumented youth, composed by Jimmy Lopez to a libretto by Nilo Cruz

  • Jordi Savall’s The Routes of Slavery, “an epic musical journey featuring performers from 15 countries on three continents,” Nov. 3

  • From Berlin’s Schaubühne Theater, Thomas Ostermeier’s “radical reimagining of Ibsen’s exploration of personal and social responsibility” in An Enemy of the People; Oct. 12–13.

  • Aida Cuevas, “Queen of Ranchera Music,” with Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlan, a tribute to Juan Gabriel; Oct. 6

  • Sasha Waltz, incoming co-artistic director of the Staatsballett Berlin, presents her signature work, Körper, which explores how medicine, commerce, technology, politics, and reproduction make demands on the human body; Oct. 20–21

There are more programs in the framework of “thematic strands,” but Tarnopolsky also scheduled illustrious guest artists outside such context, for example:

  • The Sept. 23 season-opener features the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and Jon Batiste, pianist and music director of the house band on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

  • Yo-Yo Ma performs the complete Bach Cello Suites on Sept. 30 in the Greek Theater

  • The Mark Morris Dance Group returns to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album with Morris’ Pepperland, which premiered in Liverpool last year; Sept. 28-30.

  • Violinist Nicola Benedetti, the youngest-ever recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2017, gives a recital of works by Bach, Prokofiev, and Strauss, along with the West Coast premiere of a new work by Wynton Marsalis; Jan. 27, 2019

Dance programming includes Compagnie Käfig’s Pixel (Nov. 16–17); Pavel Zuštiak and Palissimo Company’s Custodians of Beauty (Dec. 7–9); Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in two programs, one including the Bay Area premiere of a new work by Emma Portner and Lil’ Buck (Jan. 18–20, 2019); the West Coast premiere of Akram Khan in his final solo dance work before his planned retirement as a performer, the Cal Performances co-commissioned XENOS (Mar. 2–3, 2019); Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s annual residency (Apr. 9–14, 2019); and Eifman Ballet’s new production of Pygmalion (May 31–Jun. 2)

Theater performances include the Polish Song of the Goat Theater’s performances of two works, Songs of Lear and Hamlet: A Commentary (May 11–12, 2019); Théâtre National de Bretagne’s production of Julius Caesar, directed by Arthur Nauzyciel (April 26–28, 2019); and This American Life radio host Ira Glass’s Seven Things I’ve Learned (Mar. 23, 2019)

Just a few of the many recitals: Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich with the Cal Performances co-commission of Harrison Birstwistle’s Keyboard Engine (Nov. 1); Shai Wosner in an all-Schubert program (Dec. 2); Yefim Bronfman (Feb. 1, 2019); and Murray Perahia (Apr. 15, 2019)

Other recitals: cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han (Jan. 20, 2019); soprano Joyce DiDonato (Feb. 20, 2019); the trio of pianist Nicolas Hodges, violinist Jennifer Koh, and cellist Anssi Karttunen, performing a program of contemporary Finnish music (Mar. 10, 2019); violinist Gil Shaham with pianist Akira Eguchi (Apr. 29, 2019); cellist Alisa Weilerstein performing the complete Bach Cello Suites (May 1, 2019); and violinist Michael Barenboim (May 5)

Chamber music concerts include an all-sextet program by the Jerusalem Quartet with violinist-violist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth (Oct. 13); the men’s vocal ensemble Cantus in a concert program featuring a new work by composer Libby Larsen (Feb. 8, 2019); the Danish String Quartet (Feb. 17, 2019); and the Takács Quartet in its first Berkeley appearances with new second violinist Harumi Rhodes (Feb. 24 and Mar. 3, 2019).


Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].