Local News Matters Arts & Entertainment newsletter
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The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.
An e-opera offering: Yes, it’s sad the coronavirus pulled the plug on the entire summer season at San Francisco Opera, but not everything circled down the drain. The company invites you to a virtual Celebrating the Summer Season concert at 7:30 p.m. July 10 that will highlight a 90-minute program of some of what we would have been able to witness in person. It opens with incoming music director Eun Sun Kim (whose formal fall debut has also been put on hold) conducting the prelude to Giuseppe Verdi’s “Ernani,” which would have been one of the three summer operas. Delving deeper into the “Ernani” scene, soprano Michelle Bradley performs the “Ernani, involami” aria, and tenor Russell Thomas dives into the rarely heard Act II gem “Odi il voto.” (And check out the great Pavarotti singing the very same here, and scratch your heads along with us as to why it is so rare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Aj-WemGP4.) Would-be debut artists, countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński and soprano Louise Alder, perform next, and the night will wind up with Bay Area composer Mason Bates explaining how his “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” came into being and then introducing the smashingly talented mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who will sing an excerpt. Tune it all in for free at the appointed hour at www.sfopera.com, where it will be available to stream until midnight the following day.
• Girl power at the piano: There may be no more ardent proponent of contemporary music than Berkeley pianist and KPFA radio show host Sarah Cahill, whose more than 60 commissioned works for her solo instrument doubtless sealed the deal on her 2018 selection as a Champion of New Music by the American Composers Forum. But the flame-haired artist is also a champion of women composers and a historian of those from past and present. During the current epidemic, she and the Boulanger Initiative have moved her “The Future Is Female: In Conversation and Performance” project online. From her home at 11 a.m. July 9 and July 10, Cahill will introduce and explain her prerecorded performance videos of the works of 12 women composers from all over the globe, present and past. The hourlong segments begin with the 1962-era “Chaconne” from the peerless Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina and conclude on the second day with Theresa Wong’s 2019 work, “She Dances Naked Under Moonlight.” There will be opportunities for viewers to engage Cahill in conversation about the works. Register to receive a streaming link to the free sessions at www.eventbrite.com, typing Sarah Cahill into the search bar at the top of the page.
• New look at AIDS quilt: The Bay Area-based National AIDS Memorial staged a virtual conference this week during which officials unveiled a new website that everyone should view. Chief among the attractions at www.aidsmemorial.org is a new, interactive view of the famed AIDS Memorial Quilt — yes, all 48,000 panels of it — that you can scan and pull in for close-ups. Or you can locate a certain panel by a name search. Also new is the 2020/40 storytelling initiative, so named because it was roughly 40 years ago that AIDS cases were first being reported in the U.S. The initiative will feature a revolving collection of 40 videos telling the stories of those whose lives have been touched by the disease. It’s an impressive, informative and heartfelt site that is worth exploring.
• Hershey lends a hand: During normal times, the Bay Area could count on a visit or two a year from Hershey Felder, the musician, performer and storyteller whose series of multimedia stage productions exploring the lives and music of famous conductors has made him a hit at such theater companies as Berkeley Rep and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Well, rest assured, Felder is not taking the pandemic off. At 5 p.m. July 12, he’s livestreaming a production of “Hershey Felder: Beethoven” (a recorded version of the show will be available for three days following the livestream). And because this is the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth, the production includes a look at Felder’s $25,000 international arts competition honoring Beethoven, as well. Viewers will be able to view 10 finalists in the competition and vote for their favorite. You can watch “Beethoven” at TheatreWorks’ website, www.theatreworks.org. Tickets are $55 per household and proceeds will benefit TheatreWorks, which seems appropriate because that’s the company that gave “Beethoven” its world premiere in 2017.
• Virtual arthouse: The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is closed, of course, but it has an impressive amount of artwork and movies you can view at home. Go to the facility’s website — https://bampfa.org — click on the “Watch From Home” tab and, well, you can find yourself entertained for hours. Several exhibits, such as those focusing on the quilts of Rosie Lee Tompkins or the otherworldly prints from Taiso Yoshitoshi, can be observed via virtual tours and slideshows. And more than two dozen films from around the world are available to rent. You’ll need to create an account — it is free and easy — and screenings run $10-$12, with a chunk of the sum going right back to BAMPFA. Films currently offered range from “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” the new documentary about the congressman and civil rights icon, to Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 classic “Band of Outsiders.” All told, it’s a fascinating reminder of what a treasure BAMPFA is.