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.


2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Reid demonstrates one good way of using her Soundwalk music app in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. (Photo courtesy Erin Baiano)

A musical tour of Golden Gate Park: As the Bay Area’s world-renowned quartet gets set to launch its Kronos Festival, streaming free from Friday through June 18, one of its most intriguing components has got to be the Soundwalk, a listen-as-you-ramble through Golden Gate Park app that uses GPS to deliver music in harmony with what you are seeing in nature at any given point. The brainchild of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and sound artist Ellen Reid, the free downloadable app will be available as of Saturday, and it will provide music to your ears from Kronos and others while you roam the San Francisco park. Reid has other versions of Soundwalk in cities such as Philadelphia and New York, and there is one active now that also features the Kronos Quartet in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. Reid likens using it to discovering hidden musical “Easter eggs” aligned with the landscape and features of the park and says it “is meant to serve as artistic nourishment — a place to recharge, reconnect and re-energize.” Find more information and download the app at ellenreidsoundwalk.com; find programming information for the music festival at kronosquartet.org.


Cellist Anne Lerner, soprano Nanette McGuinness and pianist Margaret Halbig will perform mid-century music by foreign-born composers in Hollywood for E4TT’s season finale. (Photo courtesy E4TT)

Let’s hear it from Hollywood: From the 1930s through the 1950s, Hollywood was fairly awash with foreign-born composers of great talent who had fled war-torn Europe seeking refuge and like companionship in a place where they could ply their trade. Some of their output was gobbled up by the movie studios (Austrian Erich Korngold, for instance, winning the Academy Award for “The Adventures of Robin Hood” in 1938), but these composers gifted us with a treasure trove of all kinds of music. Now the contemporary music group E4TT (Ensemble for These Times) dives deep into that bejeweled chest to bring us its season finale, “Émigrés & Exiles in Hollywood,” a concert program devoted to their works. Cellist Anne Lerner, soprano Nanette McGuinness and guest pianist Margaret Halbig will collaborate on offerings by two-time Oscar winner Miklós Rózsa, Szymon Laks, Hanns Eisler, Alexandre Tansman and others – including the “Hollywood Liederbuch” songs Eisler had set to texts by Bertolt Brecht. Streaming online on YouTube from the San Francisco’s Center for New Music at 7:30 p.m. Friday, the concert is free, but donations will be most gratefully accepted. Sign up at https://emigres.eventbrite.com and find more information at www.e4tt.org.


Members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform “Holding Space,” a Cal Performances-commissioned work debuting Thursday. (Photo courtesy Christopher Duggan/Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)

Dance the blues away: Contemporary dance would seem a particularly fitting medium for addressing the crazy range of emotions we have all experienced during the past year or so, and that is what Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater seems to be aiming for with its newest work, getting a world premiere this week via Cal Performances. “Holding Space,” created by Ailey’s acclaimed resident choreographer Jamar Roberts, is said to explore how people — at a time of civil unrest, global plague and a planet seemingly on fire — are finding ways to move through the angst and heal. Roberts is a dance-maker who is clearly interested in addressing the world at large. His recent dance film “Cooped” was inspired by COVID-19’s disproportionate toll on people of color, and a 2020 tribute to jazz titan Charlie “Bird” Parker was titled “A Jam Session for Troubling Times.” “Holding Space,” which was commissioned by Cal Performances, debuts with a streaming watch party at 7 p.m. Thursday, and will be available on demand through Sept. 8. The program also includes pandemic-revised segments of “Revelations,” one of the company’s most revered works. Access costs $15-$83; go to calperformances.org.


Tina D’Elia stars in “OUT of Sight: Haight-Ashbury,” a queer-eyed look at San Francisco history. (Photo courtesy Robbie Sweeney/Eye Zen Presents)

Haight history: Part performance art, part guided tour, a Tina D’Elia-led “OUT of Sight” production serves up an LGTBQ-centric look at San Francisco history that you likely won’t find anywhere else. Having covered North Beach and SoMa in previous Eye Zen Presents shows, she’s back this weekend with “OUT of Sight: Haight-Ashbury.” Those who take part will see Haight-Ashbury sights and learn colorful aspect of its past, as D’Elia brings to life two of the neighborhood’s famous characters: Peggy Caserta, who ran the famed hippie boutique Mnasidika and was Janis Joplin’s lover; and George Harris III, a.k.a. Hibiscus, a flower-power peace activist who went on to found the famed Cockettes performance troupe. The show, which starts at the Doolan-Larson Building at 1500 Haight St., runs Saturday through July 25; reservations are required. Go to eyezen.org to get tickets ($15-$125), see more information and review the production’s pandemic safety requirements.


Jomar Tagatac stars as Gordon Hirabayashi in ‘”Hold These Truths” for SF Playhouse. (Photo courtesy Nicholas Bruno/Jomar Tagatac)

The good fight: Most stage shows that are available these days are performed outside or offered via streaming. But San Francisco Playhouse this week kicked off a new live show that’s being performed indoors, with social distancing and other safety standards in effect. It’s also available via streaming throughout the run. Either way, viewers will find a fascinating story awaiting them. The company is performing Jeanne Sakata’s solo show titled “Hold These Truths,” which is based on real events and — at a time when attacks against Asians are distressingly frequent — seems more timely than ever. The show follows Gordon Hirabayashi’s lengthy legal battle against the U.S. government’s internment of Japanese families during World War II. Jomar Tagatac, who has appeared in stage shows presented by California Shakespeare Theater and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, among others, stars as Hirabayashi. Bay Area playwright Jeffrey Lo directs. “Hold These Truths” will be performed through July 3. Tickets ($30-$100) and more information are at sfplayhouse.org.

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