Tenor Lawrence Brownlee, paying homage to legendary pop singers of the 1950s and ’60s, will open San Francisco Performances’ new season Oct. 2 with a gala “Crooners” concert at the Herbst Theatre.
The 41st season will close seven months later with a debut recital on May 4, 2021, by South African soprano Golda Schultz, last seen here singing the role of the angel Clara in Jake Heggie’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” at San Francisco Opera in 2018.
In between there will be a parade of more than 70 vocal, jazz, piano, guitar and chamber music artists in some three dozen events, many of them celebrated returnees such as violinist Midori (Feb. 4, 2021) and pianist Jonathan Biss (March 5, 2021), but also including some notable debuts, such as Schultz and Austrian mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager, who will sing the famous “Winterreise” cycle by Schubert on Feb. 20, 2021.
For the sixth year in a row, there will be an innovative four-program festival called PIVOT, this season with an “influencers” theme examining the evolution and recombination of new musical styles.
Trumpeter Sean Jones, three instrumentalists, a turntable spinner and a singing, tap-dancing flutist lead the festival off on April 16, 2021, with a “DizzySpellz” jazz-bepop program focused on the African diaspora and the music of Dizzy Gillespie.
A double dose of whimsy, also in the PIVOT festival, gets delivered with the debut of — wait for it — the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, seven guys and a gal who sing, hum and otherwise vocalize while they strum and plink, some of the time re-creating their own unique versions of well-known pop songs.
A highlight of the Chamber Series will be the debut of France’s Modigliani Quartet, a young ensemble known for recharging the traditional repertoire. Their March 18, 2021, program will include Schubert’s famed “Death of a Maiden” quartet.
Most SFP events take place at the Herbst, but the Guitar Series brings back the great Kazuhito Yamashita on Dec. 5 to perform an all Bach program at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco.
No self-respecting music-presenting organization is getting through the year 2020 without celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and SFP is obliging with an all-day Ludwig-apalooza on Dec. 12 that will begin with a lecture by musicologist Robert Greenberg, followed by two recitals by the Alexander String Quartet separated by a dinner break.
Subscription packages to the new season, $50-$325, go on sale March 18 at 415-392-2545 and at sfperformances.org. Single tickets, $45-$85, will be available Aug. 3.