Dance, music and more in the spring air 

click to enlarge French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, an exceptional champion of contemporary works, shows his range in a San Francisco Performances recital. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, an exceptional champion of contemporary works, shows his range in a San Francisco Performances recital.

Classical music, dance and theater are plentiful, even as opera’s summer season is yet to come. The San Francisco Symphony’s centennial season and the San Francisco Ballet’s 79th season have much to offer. Meanwhile, scores of other performing arts organizations are vying for patrons’ attention.

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

Combining new music and classics as usual, Left Coast’s spring concert “On the Shoulders of Giants” features a new duo by ensemble founder Kurt Rohde and two contemporary string quartets inspired by the immortal Beethoven String Quartet No. 12, Op. 127, which also is on the program.

New quartets are Lei Liang’s “Serashi Fragments,” paying tribute to a Mongolian musician, and Sam Nichols’ “Refuge” to the “Grosse Fuge” of Beethoven. The Rohde piece has been called “...maestoso...misterioso...”  and will be performed by the composer and violinist Anna Presler, the ensemble’s current director.

[8 p.m. Monday. $25. Green Room, Veterans War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 617-5223,]

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, an exceptional champion of contemporary works, shows his range in a San Francisco Performances recital featuring works by Schumann, Liszt and Debussy (the lengthy Book II of “Preludes”) and selections from György Kurtág’s “Games” and “Splitters.”

Kurtág, György Ligeti, Olivier Messiaen and George Benjamin are among contemporary composers Aimard, artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival and artistic adviser to Southbank Centre’s Boulez Festival, has promoted.

[8 p.m. Tuesday. $25-$68. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 392-2545,]


The musical troupe 42nd Street Moon, always in search of the rare and unjustly neglected, is reviving “Sugar.” The 1972 Jule Styne-Bob Merrill show is based on the 1959 movie classic “Some Like it Hot,” which featured Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag as musicians escaping from the mob with an all-girl band.

Riley Krull plays Sugar Kane, the band singer memorably portrayed in the film by Marilyn Monroe; 42nd Street Moon will honor the late actress with a Marilyn contest at the April 11 performance.

[April 4-22. $30-$50. Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson St., S.F., (415) 255-8207,]

S.F. Ballet

Marking the 60th anniversary of performing works by George Balanchine, the San Francisco Ballet’s “Program 7” features his “Divertimento No. 15,” “Scotch Symphony” and “The Four Temperaments.”

“Scotch Symphony” is from 1952, when then-company director Lew Christensen (a renowned Balanchine dancer and ballet master of the New York City Ballet) introduced the master’s work at the War Memorial. The connection never ended; S.F. Ballet is considered one of the world’s finest ensembles presenting Balanchine.

[April 12-18. $20-$285. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 865-2000,]

Nadine Sierra

Soprano Nadine Sierra, a super-talented singer in the Adler Fellowship Program slated to appear in major roles at various opera houses, is featured in a Schwabacher Debut Recital; the concert series created by the late James Schwabacher is famed for launching the careers of internationally acclaimed artists.

Sierra, former Merola program participant and winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, performs works by Bernstein, Grieg, Rachmaninoff and Villa-Lobos. Another Adler fellow, Georgian pianist Tamara Sanikidze, is the accompanist.

[5:30 p.m. April 29. $15-$25. Temple Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., S.F., (415) 864-3330,]

Cleveland Orchestra

The San Francisco Symphony centennial season’s American Orchestra Series includes two concerts by the famed Cleveland Symphony. Conducted by music director Franz Welser-Möst, the programs include Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”) and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6, a rare sunny work from an otherwise dramatic-tragic composer.

Contemporary music is represented by the Cleveland commission of Kaija Saariaho’s “Orion” and selections from Thomas Adès’ controversial opera about the scandalous Duchess of Argyll, “Powder Her Face.” Nikolaj Znaider is soloist in the Beethoven Violin Concerto; selections from Smetana’s “Má Vlast (My Country)” close the April 16 concert.

[7 p.m. April 15, 8 p.m. April 16. $15-$110. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 864-6000,]

Zwilich Violin Concerto

New Century Chamber Orchestra’s 20th anniversary season presents the world premiere of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s “La Commedia dell’Arte,” a piece written specifically for New Century music director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who established a featured composer program to commission new works.

Zwilich, the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in music, was named to the first Composer’s Chair in the history of Carnegie Hall. New Century’s program also include the self-celebratory “Happy Birthday Variations” and Schoenberg’s dramatic “Verklärte Nacht” (Transfigured Night). There will be a free open rehearsal at Herbst Theatre at 10 a.m. May 9.

[8 p.m. May 12. $29-$49. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F., (415) 392-4400,]


The Collection

April 1-13. $20-$50.
Magician Christian Cagigal combines storytelling with magical effects in his mysterious new show; he even asks audiences not to share their memories so future theatergoers will be surprised. [Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy St., S.F., (415) 673-3847,]

Maple and Vine

March 29-April 22. $10-$27.
American Conservatory Theater presents the West Coast premiere of a comedy about a couple that ditches the modern world for a midcentury fantasy, re-enacting the 1950s via Tupperware parties and daily cocktails. But trouble arrives when views on politics, race and gender are rewound. [415 Geary St., San Francisco, (415) 749-2228,]

In Paris

April 25-May 13. $22-$125.
Legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov performs alongside Anna Sinyakina in this play set in 1930s Paris, where romance, art and poetry unite. [Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 647-2949,]

Of Mice and Men

April 4-29. $29-$49.
TheatreWorks presents John Steinbeck’s classic tale of Depression-era California and the brotherly friendship between George and the simple Lennie. [Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View, (650) 463-1960,]

About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
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