Bach in action

S.F. Performances rings in 27th season with unusual mix of classical, bluegrass

It’s a rare occasion to find bluegrass and classical music fans partying under the same roof. But on Sunday at the War Memorial Veterans Building, bassist Edgar Meyer and mandolinist Mike Marshall will dabble in both musical genres at the San Francisco Performances’ 27th-season gala “Bach to Bluegrass.”

A surprise guest artist who has played and recorded with them in the past will join them.

“We are sworn not to put the name in print,” said Ruth Felt, founder and president of San Francisco Performances.

Twenty-seven years ago, the San Francisco Performances premiere season featured seven concerts. This year, the organization will present 50 diverse artists, from contemporary dancers to chamber musicians, in 81 performances.

The season officially began on Sept. 11 with the chamber ensemble Kronos Quartet performing the West Coast premiere of Michael Gordon’s “The Sad Park.” The commemoratory evening included work by Iraqi, Afghan, Sardinian and Saudi Arabian composers and also recordings of young children reacting to the tragedy.

“The majority of the audience was very impacted,” Felt said. “You could feel it in the lobby after the program. People weren’t leaving the theater. They were milling around. They wanted to share the experience they had just had together.”

Felt anticipates excitement about this season’s dance series, which includes a return of the Batsheva Dance Company from Israel. She calls artistic director Ohad Naharin “one of the leading choreographers in the world.”

“Batsheva is visually challenging and extremely brilliant. Artistically, it is of the highest standard,” she said.

Three years ago, Felt saw Compania Tania Pérez-Salas dance in Mexico City and knew immediately she wanted to bring it to San Francisco for the first time. She calls the company’s work “theatrical and visually beautiful.”

The San Francisco Performances dance series will also feature the first San Francisco appearance of the butoh company Sankai Juku and the return of the popular Paul Taylor.

Felt feels that presenting Thomas Adès to San Francisco this season, for the first time, will be a “kind of major coup.” Born in 1971, the British composer and pianist has been experiencing rising popularity and will only give a few recitals in the United States this year.

Other performers in the piano series to watch for, Felt noted, are 26-year-old Jonathan Biss and Lang Lang, who will return to San Francisco after what Felt described as “taking the world by storm.”

In addition to a full season of evening performances, San Francisco Performances will also present the Salons at the Rex. The casual, salon-style series features eight hour-long performances beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Hotel Rex. “It is a way to have a drink after work and enjoy music in a relaxed and informal way,” Felt said.

Music preview

San Francisco

Performances

27th-Season Gala

When: Sunday at 5 p.m.

Where: War Memorial Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

Price: Tickets are $125-$400

Info: Call (415) 677-0326 or visit www.performances.org

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