Patrons won’t be able to see New York-based JACK Quartet play Haas’ String Quartet No. 3 on Friday, because it will be performed in darkness as part of San Francisco Performances’ new PIVOT series. (Courtesy Henrik Olund)

Patrons won’t be able to see New York-based JACK Quartet play Haas’ String Quartet No. 3 on Friday, because it will be performed in darkness as part of San Francisco Performances’ new PIVOT series. (Courtesy Henrik Olund)

A late-night modern quartet – in the dark

San Francisco Performances’ administrator Christine Lim admits that the first of the group’s new, four-concert PIVOT series will be weird.

“It’s going to be crazy … and crazy fun,” says Lim, anticipating Friday’s 11 p.m. concert featuring the JACK Quartet playing contemporary composer Georg Friedrich Haas’ String Quartet No. 3 – in the dark – at the Strand Theater on Market Street.

Preparations are in progress to make sure “no one can see anything, in complete service of the piece,” says Lim. Ushers will have night vision goggles, and the event will begin with a brief “darkness test” so patrons who realize they cannot handle the sensation may leave.

Keeping in mind that the composition runs about an hour (although it has a different length each time it’s performed), and some in the audience need to catch BART, Lim says there will be no late seating.

While Lim hasn’t seen the New York-based ensemble perform this work– in which the musicians can’t see each other, and play from memory, from distant corners of the room — she says the instant she heard about it, she “obsessed” about it.

“It’s going to be a really active sensory experience,” she says. She expects the concert will press audiences to listen hard and to feel time passing, in opposition to the way many people are over engaged and over stimulated in everyday life.

Titled “In iij. Noct,” the piece references a section of late-Renaissance composer Carlo Gesuado’s dissonant 1611 “Tenebrae,” a series of madrigals based on Catholic rites performed in the dark before Easter and depicting the betrayal, trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

While the show may be wild, Lim says it complements San Francisco Performances’ traditional chamber music, recital, dance and jazz offerings.
Part of the PIVOT outreach, she says, is to learn about different ways to interact and experience art – something many of the organization’s loyal patrons want to do.

And in the Bay Area, where genre-defying productions are plentiful, Lim says there are connections between the new and established series.

“I see the through line of our programming philosophy,” she says, noting that it might not be apparent to audiences that encounter the presenter via a single artist, be it Philip Glass, Batsheva or Yuja Wang.

She points to the third PIVOT show, on March 16, in which trumpeter-composer Sean Jones and top local jazz artists will re-create the famed 1961 Mile Davis Quintet performances at the Black Hawk nightclub in San Francisco.

JACK Quartet
Presented by San Francisco Performances
Where: Strand Theater, 1127 Market St., S.F.
When: 11 p.m. March 4 (pre-show talk at 10 p.m.)
Tickets: $25
Contact: (415) 392-2545,

More PIVOT events
Kronos Quartet with Jack Bischoff: 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. March 11 at the Strand
Sean Jones “At the Black Hawk”: 8 and 10 p.m. March 16 at the Strand
Third Coast Percussion: 8 p.m. March 28 at SF JAZZ

ACK QuartetChristine LimdarknessGeorg Friedrich Haas’ String Quartet No. 3PIVOTSan Francisco PerformancesStrand Theater

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