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.
Where musical traditions intersect: “Cultural Crossroads” is the theme the Lafayette-based Gold Coast Chamber Players ensemble has chosen for Saturday night’s concert in the Don Tatzin Community Hall of the Lafayette Library. The players will explore the influences from Black and Indigenous peoples that washed over Czech composer Antonin Dvorak when he was living and working in the United States in the mid-1890s and famously declaimed that he heard in African American melodies “all that is needed for a great and noble school of music.” Joining GCCP violist Pamela Freund-Striplen will be the Alexander String Quartet, soprano Michele Kennedy and the Grammy-nominated Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai in a program that includes, fittingly enough, two Dvorak compositions that bear the nickname “American” — his String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97, and the Lento movement from his String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96. Sandwiched in between are three original works written for GCCP by Nakai and his arrangement of “Amazing Grace,” three African American spirituals Dvorak admired and two songs by African American composer Florence Price. The concert will wind up with the famed “Goin’ Home” melody lifted from Dvorak’s “From the New World” Symphony and arranged for soprano, strings and Native American flute. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance are $15-$45, available at https://www.gccpmusic.com/. A bonus: All ticket holders will be able to access the recorded concert online beginning May 17.
Mozart in triplicate — early, middle and late: Music director Daniel Hope of the New Century Chamber Orchestra will pit his trusty violin against the viola of Grammy-nominated instrumentalist Paul Neubauer (who acceded to the prestigious first viola chair of the New York Philharmonic years ago at the tender age of 21) in performance of Mozart’s energetic and flowingly melodic Sinfonia Concertante in three performances this week. That midlife work will be preceded by the composer’s Symphony in B-flat Major, K. 45b, probably written at age 12. (The wunderkind wrote his first work in that genre four years earlier!) The concert will conclude with his famed Symphony No. 40 in G minor, one of his late-life works (with an opening theme that can be waggishly warbled along to the words “Mozart’s in the closet! Let him out, let him out, let him out!”). Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Berkeley’s First Congregational Church, 7:30 p.m. Friday in Palo Alto’s First United Methodist Church and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. Tickets, $30-$67.50, are on sale through City Box Office at https://www.cityboxoffice.com/ and at (415) 392-4400.
Dance royalty: Bay Area choreographer Alonzo King is an icon of the Bay Area arts scene who has made it clear over the years that he approaches his craft as something so much more than designing dance moves. When someone creates works with titles like “The Steady Articulation of Perseverance,” you know they are unique in their approach. When he founded the LINES Ballet 40 years ago, King wanted to redefine the choreographic language of modern dance and explore topical, universal ideas. His full-length dance works have touched on such themes as homelessness, spirituality, identity and lost languages. In October, he will premiere a new work inspired by the climate of the Arctic. His passion for fusing dance with big ideas and other art forms has made him an eager collaborator with a long line of A-list musicians and artists. This weekend, as LINES Ballet kicks off a series of 40th anniversary events, King will debut another new work featuring two of his favorite collaborators — singer Lisa Fischer and jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran. The company will perform the as-yet untitled work Friday through May 22 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The Saturday performance will double as a 40th anniversary gala. Proof of vaccination is required, and masks must be worn in the theater. Tickets are $40-$115. Go to https://linesballet.org/.
Residents come home: The Residents is a San Francisco institution that revels in its anonymity. Most of the members of the 41-year-old art-rock band have kept their identities a mystery, and to further that end, they perform and, are photographed in, huge eyeball masks matched with tuxedos and tails. The band specializes in concept albums and multimedia concerts featuring bizarre storylines, ribald humor and dark musings on popular culture, politics and other matters of consequence. The Residents’ latest production is a high-tech video concert adapted from its classic 1988 rock oratorio “God in Three Persons,” in which lead singer Mr. X tells of his life-changing encounter with a pair of “ambiguously gendered conjoined twins.” The performance features the full band with guest singer Sivan Lioncub and San Francisco porn performer Jiz Lee (who plays the aforementioned twins), with the multimedia component designed by renowned video artist John Sanborn. If it’s not already evident, let us note that the show is not for the little ones. After getting its world premiere in 2020 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, “God in 3 Persons” gets its West Coast premiere at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at San Francisco’s Presidio Theatre. Proof of vaccination is not required for these shows, but masks are strongly encouraged. Tickets are $50; go to https://www.presidiotheatre.org/.
Island vibes: The slack-key guitar, and the tuneful, often soothing music it is associated with, originated in Hawaii in the 19th century after Portuguese settlers introduced the guitar to native islanders, who put their own spin on the instrument with a fingerstyle, open-tuned style of playing. And one of the world’s best slack-key guitarists resides right here in the Bay Area. He is Patrick Landeza, a musician, artist, writer and teacher who has the distinction of being the first mainland musician to capture Hawaii’s prestigious Nā Hōkū Hanohano music award. He is always a joy in concert, a master musician whose pure joy in performing is utterly infectious. His joy is likely even more in play these days now that his band includes two of his sons, Justin Firmeza and Patrick Landeza Jr. The Bay Area treasure will be celebrating the release of a new album, “Patrick Landeza & Sons,” as well as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, with a concert Thursday night at Yoshi’s nightclub in Oakland. The show will showcase the new recording, featuring several traditional Hawaiian songs Landeza learned from his mother, as well as other selections. Special guest is Mahealani Lee, a former Miss Universe, who will emcee and perform hula. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$49. Go to https://yoshis.com/.