In 2008 New York-based composer Ricky Ian Gordon wrote a 19-part song cycle for baritone and string quartet. Entitled Green Sneakers, the work was his way of coping with the death of his lover, Jeffrey Grossi, from AIDS. The title refers to how Grossi’s pair of green sneakers served as a memory trigger after his death. The music is thus a highly personal expression of love, loss, and finding solace, which Gordon has compared with the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourning, and which others have likened to Franz Schubert’s D. 911 Winterreise. It was premiered by the Miami String Quartet and baritone Jesse Blumberg, and the performers subsequently recorded the music on the Blue Griffin label.
Green Sneakers will receive its West Coast premiere on Tuesday, February 19. Blumberg will return as soloist, and he will be accompanied by the Del Sol Quartet. This occasion will also mark the escalation of the song cycle to “mini-opera” status, since the performance will be staged by opera director John de Los Santos (who, in addition to directing many familiar operas and musicals, also provided staging for a performance by Voces Intimae of the songs in Hugo Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch). This staged interpretation of Green Sneakers will take place in the Southside Theater in Building D of the Fort Mason complex. It will begin at 7:30 p.m., and at 7 p.m. Gordon will talk about the piece and entertain questions from the audience. Tickets will be $75 at the door; but they may be purchased in advance through a Ticket Turtle event page for either $65 (rows A–H) or $45 (rows I–N). There is a $4.75 handling fee for each ticket, but advance purchase is still the better deal. The Fort Mason Box Office may be reached by phone at 415-345-7575.