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S.F. Performances Still Looking Ahead at 40

April 9, 2019

Another diverse and intriguing season is in store at S.F. Performances, as the arts presenter announced its 2019-20 season on Tuesday. The 40th season continues the headline, innovative programs that push collaborative and unusual projects to the fore.

The fifth iteration of PIVOT, the series that promotes adventurous new artistic approaches, is a four-day festival, Jan. 23–26, titled “String Theory.” Leading off is lively Baroque keyboardist Mahan Esfahani, who mixes Baroque and contemporary music. He’s partnered by Stefan Jackiw on violin, an Avery Fisher Career Grant winner who’s up for anything. SFP favorites Jennifer Koh, violin, and Vijay Iyer, piano, make an intriguing collaboration with percussionist/composer Tyshawn Sorey, a concert that will include two new works. Vocalist/composer Theo Bleckmann, a musical force in New York for the past 30 years, gets together with the Telegraph Quartet for an exciting concert of cabaret songs titled Songs of Love and War, Peace and Exile, including music by Kurt Weill, Kraftwerk, Charles Ives, Richard Rodgers, and others. And finally, unpredictable violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja teams up with Jay Campbell, cellist of the JACK Quartet, for an evening that includes music from the 11th through 21st centuries.

Although the dance series features few performances, what there is is choice. Paul Taylor Dance Company makes a return to the Bay Area, Feb. 19–23, with a retrospective of the great choreographer’s work, including his last piece, Concertiana. And a quartet of stars — dancer Wendy Whelan, choreographer Lucinda Childs, cellist Maya Beiser, and composer David Lang — are preparing a new work, The Day, which has its Bay Area premiere on Feb. 27–28.

The Salon Series returns next year in a new venue, the Education Studio, Fourth Floor of the War Memorial Veterans Building, sponsored by KDFC radio. Venezuelan jazz master pianist Edward Simon, a member of SFJAZZ Collective, curates a series exploring the music of Latin America, Jan. 15, Feb. 5 and 26, and April 15.

In chamber music, the offerings swell to include BBC New Generation artists Z.E.N. Trio (Oct. 18); the return of the Calidore String Quartet with a world premiere by Anna Clyne (Oct. 21); the Brentano String Quartet with soprano Dawn Upshaw (Dec. 4); violinist Isabelle Faust, pianist Alexander Melnikov, and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras in an all-Beethoven celebration (Feb. 8); the Pavel Haas Quartet with pianist Boris Giltburg (March 10); and the debut of the Israeli ensemble Jerusalem Quartet (Mar. 28).

The Shenson Piano Series pairs Natasha Paremski with young Cuban jazz sensation Alfredo Rodriguez, who begins a new residency at SFP (Sept. 27); then moves on to Sir András Schiff (March 26), Garrick Ohlsson (Feb. 4, March 31), and Marc-André Hamelin (April 23), who also teams up with tenor Mark Padmore on April 27 for Schubert’s Die Winterreise. Other song recitalists include Christian Gerhaher (Oct. 22), Jamie Barton (Dec. 11), and Benjamin Appl (May 6).

The Guitar Series, presented with the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts, includes Manuel Barrueco (Oct. 13); Jason Vieaux (Oct. 26); Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (Nov. 23), rocking out to Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, and adding in Flatt and Scruggs, Pat Metheny, Julian Lage, and others; and Xuefei Yang (Dec. 7). Then Bill Kanengiser, of LAGQ, joins the Alexander String Quartet to premiere Dušan Bogdanović’s Prisms – Six Songs by Sting (March 7), and the series winds up with David Russell (March 21).

Michael Zwiebach is the senior editor/ content manager for SFCV. He assigns all articles and content, manages the writing staff and does editing. A member of SFCV from the beginning, Michael holds a Ph.D. in music history from the University of California, Berkeley.