The San Francisco Symphony’s seasons usually feature dozens of visiting artists. For the centennial season, they will number in the hundreds.Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas has invited six of the nation’s oldest and most prominent orchestras, about 600 musicians in all, in addition to the participation of world-renowned conductors and soloists.All but two of the orchestras are older than San Francisco’s centennial cast. The Los Angeles Philharmonic (founded in 1919) also has one of the globe’s youngest music directors, 30-year-old Gustavo Dudamel. Read More
For 11 years, the question Michael Tilson Thomas has heard most often about programming has been, “When is American Mavericks coming back, when are you going to do it again?”
Click on the photo at right to see a slideshow of some of this season's performers.Audiences, critics and MTT agree that these concerts, held only in 2000, were iconic, pathfinding and daring. Symphony Executive Director Brent Assink calls Mavericks “one of those ‘only in San Francisco’ events.” Read More
If David Littlejohn’s fiction is correct, the San Francisco Opera House’s recent $90 million seismic reconstruction will not have done much good.In Littlejohn’s new novel, “The Big One: A Story of San Francisco,” the characters converge at a performance of “Don Giovanni” in the War Memorial, as noise “suddenly engulfed them ... like that of a hundred high ocean waves breaking at once.”In the big quake, “the house was visibly swaying and jerking, shedding chunks of itself onto the audience, its steelwork crying out under the strain.” Read More
The San Francisco Symphony’s opening galas are always special occasions, but Wednesday, when the orchestra marks its 100th year, it will be, as Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas puts it, “an extraordinary thing, this moment in time.”A century in the life of a city that’s only 164 years old itself is worth noting, but the central role of the orchestra in San Francisco’s cultural life makes it more than mere formality. Read More
“Here he comes again with another CNN opera,” San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley joked about himself at a press event about the fast-approaching world premiere of “Heart of a Soldier.”
The opera about 9/11, opening in the War Memorial Opera House on Sept. 10, follows a long line of contemporary works produced by Gockley among 33 premieres during his 33 years at the head of the Houston Grand Opera, John Adams’ 1987 “Nixon in China” among them. Read More
Just one week after the death of San Francisco Film Society Executive Director Graham Leggat at age 51, one of his major projects became a reality.
Under Leggat’s leadership, the society transformed itself from the producer of the annual two-week-long San Francisco International Film Festival into a year-round presenter of movies and associated events. Read More
The spotlight shines on San Francisco Opera’s world premiere of “Heart of a Soldier” and, of course, San Francisco Symphony’s huge centennial season. Read More
International themes, past and present — from maharajahs in India to Impressionist masterworks to early 20th-century magic to contemporary sculpture — come to light at Bay Area museums this fall. Read More
A San Francisco company called Oryjin, which is participating in this weekend’s Fair-Trade Bazaar at the de Young Museum, specializes in Laotian jewelry and scarves, and it’s a business with a difference.Instead of taking advantage of low wages in the southeast Asian country with a troubled history and a struggling economy, Oryjin supports people still under Communist control by building their handicraft business in the countryside. Read More
When Spain ceded the Philippines to the U.S. in 1899, American troops came up against the Filipinos’ refusal to accept annexation, an armed independence movement, and the declaration of a republic. From the full-scale Battle of Manila, a guerrilla war continued for three years until a peace treaty, but fighting went on in the islands for a decade more. Read More
‘Four Saints in Three Acts” by Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein is not for the fainthearted or mathematically exacting.The deliberately bizarre experimental opera features not what the title says, but many saints in one or four acts — depending how viewers count — and Stein herself making fun of the situation by having characters in the opera ask, “How many saints?”Last seen locally in a San Francisco Opera Center production 40 years ago, the 1934 “Four Saints” comes this week to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, presented by Ensemble Parallele, YBCA and the San Francisco Mu Read More
In yet another of many acclaimed homecomings, world-renowned baritone Thomas Hampson has returned to The City to prepare for an important world premiere.
Between engagements in Switzerland, Japan and New York’s Metropolitan Opera — where he will sing the title role of Verdi’s “Macbeth” he performed here three years ago — the 1980 Merola Program participant and star of numerous San Francisco Opera productions over three decades is here to sing in a new work marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Read More
Veterans of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music have wonderful old memories, such as the days of Gerhard Samuel, Carlos Chavez and Dennis Russell Davies leading premieres of works, or Nicolas Slonimsky, in his 90s, playing the piano with an orange. Read More
Wood sculptor Andy Vogt does not waste trees for his art. His installations — each an “interactive sculptural environment” — are made of lathe, or thin strips of wood used in construction in the last century as backing for plaster.
The challenge is to find this material.
“I prowl the streets,” Vogt says, “looking for Dumpsters to scavenge. ... I have to dig deep because in demolitions the plaster and other material get dumped on top of the wood. What I find are 4-foot-long, quarter-inch thick strips made of wonderful Douglas fir, 100 to 150 years old.” Read More
The small town of Bayreuth in Germany has been the mecca for Richard Wagner fans around the world since 1876, and the composer’s last work, “Parsifal,” has always had special importance there.In this year’s festival, running through August, the title role of “Parsifal” is being sung by Simon O’Neill, a San Francisco Merola Opera Program veteran of 2002, to great praise. Read More