courtesy photoMaya Beiser presents the world premiere of “All Vows” in San Francisco this week.

courtesy photoMaya Beiser presents the world premiere of “All Vows” in San Francisco this week.

Cellist Maya Beiser finds spirituality in music

Part musician, part shaman, incomparable cellist Maya Beiser explores the dichotomy between the physical, external world and humans’ secret selves.

Joined by Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, bassist Jherek Bischoff and experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison, she premieres her newest production, “All Vows,” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts this week.

“It’s a big-themed concert about all these things that matter to me,” she says. “I always try to construct my concerts around what I find most relevant in this time and moment, and then take my listeners with me on that journey. What it’s ultimately about is that music allows us the ability to express ourselves and be real.”

“All Vows” is also another step in a life journey of a woman who was raised in a small Israeli kibbutz by Argentine and French parents dedicated to changing the world. Everyone in the kibbutz played an instrument; little Maya soon fell in love with the human quality of the cello’s voice. Equally important to her was the fact that it was big and served as a “kind of protective device from the world.”

Surrounded by all kinds of music — from classical and Jacques Brel to Arabic — Beiser soon found herself uneasy with the strictness of classical culture.

“I remember the first time that I heard Janis Joplin on record, and it blew my mind away,” she says. “I just couldn’t get over the raw emotion, and the way she put herself out there. I became obsessed with her, and started to listen to all of her music. That led me to blues and rock, and the realization that music for me is not just the classical music of the past. I wanted to do something different with my cello, and find the way to connect all these dots for me and my audience … by reinventing the whole concert experience.”

Some of Beiser’s influences will surface in the first half of the evening, which she calls a “carefully curated collection of ‘uncovers’” crafted by Evan Ziporyn. The lineup includes Beiser’s original take on Joplin’s “Summertime” and other rock tunes; post-classical composer David T. Little’s “Hellhound,” based on the blues of Robert Johnson; another “uncover” of music by Howlin’ Wolf; and original compositions.

The second half includes Muslim Arab-American Mohammed Fairouz’s original “Kol Nidrei” for cello and prerecorded sounds (which Beiser calls “a potent statement on why people have to stop shooting at each other and make music together”), and Michael Gordon’s “All Vows,” supported by Morrison’s film.

“The evening goes deep into my spiritual life and the idea that a concert is a spiritual experience,” Beiser says. “The cliche, ‘Music is my religion,’ is actually true for me.”


Maya Beiser’s All Vows

Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Tickets: $25 to $35

Contact: (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.orgAll VowsartscelloClassical Music & OperaMaya Beiser

Just Posted

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Changing zoning in San Francisco neighborhoods where single family homes prevail is crucial in the effort to achieve equity. (Shutterstock)
To make SF livable, single-family zoning must be changed

Let’s move to create affordable housing for working class families

Most Read