A quick review of my records shows that April was a busy month last year, but the real density of activity did not begin until the weekend of April 20. This year music lovers are going to have to make some serious choices at the beginning of the month. Thus, once again, I feel a need to present the options together out of fairness.
On Friday evening, April 5, the Community Music Center will hold its benefit concert for its Bella and P. P. Chiu Memorial Scholarship Fund. The performers will be the debut of the Mann Quartet. This ensemble was just created by Robert Mann, the founder and first violinist for the first 52 years of the Juilliard String Quartet. Mann decided to celebrate his retirement by starting another quartet. The violist will be his son Nicholas, and they will be joined by Peter Winograd on second violin and David Gerber on cello.
The program for the recital has not yet been announced. Admission will be $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. All proceeds will benefit the Scholarship Fund. The performance will begin at 7 p.m. in the Capp Street Concert Hall of the Community Music Center at 544 Capp Street in the Mission.
That same evening the Canadian Elektra Women’s Choir will be in San Francisco on a short tour in conjunction with their appearance at the New Music for Treble Voices Festival in Palo Alto. They will honor San Francisco with a performance of local composer David Conte’s “In Praise of Music” for women’s choir and piano. They will similarly recognize their “roots” with a performance of “Consider the Lilies” by Canadian composer Stephen Smith, given its first performance in Vancouver this past March 9. Their program will also include Edvard Grieg’s “Vaaren.”
This performance will begin at 8 p.m. The venue will be St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. Admission will be by donation.
For those interested in an alternative that is both lighter and more provocative, Anne Nygren Doherty’s Not Quite Opera Productions has reinvented itself as the New Musical Theater of San Francisco, complete with a resident company of writers and composers called Pen and Piano. Their first production is a 90-minute musical revue entitled Show Me Yours – Songs of Innocence and Experience. The contributing writers and composers are Paul James Frantz, Jerome Gentes, Richard Hefner, Richard Isen, Richard Jennings, Sandy Kasten, Andrew Klein, Ben Prince, Denise Wharmby and Pam Winfrey, as well as Doherty herself (but not William Blake). The performers will be Chloe Condon, Sheelagh Murphy, Jackie DeMuro, Tom Reardon, and Tim Homsley.
This revue will run from April 5 through April 27. Performances will be at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with 5 p.m. performances on Sundays. The venue will again be Alcove Theater, located on the fifth floor of 414 Mason Street, one block west of Union Square. General admission is $27 with premium seating at $40. Tickets may be purchased online through a Vendini event page (for all performances) or by calling 415-992-8168.
Finally, as is the case almost every weekend, there will be both Friday and Sunday recitals in the Old First Concerts series at Old First Church. The Friday event will feature the Jewish Music & Poetry Project with soprano Nanette McGuinness and pianist Dale Tsang-Hall. The program will feature the world premiere of “Phoenix” by San Francisco composer David Garner, a setting of four poems by the Ukrainian-Jewish poet Rose Auslaender. The program will also include the West Coast premiere of “Drei Litauische Lieder” by Edwin Geist. Other composers to be included in the program are Gabriela Lena Frank, Elena Ruehr, Osvaldo Golijov, Ruth Lomon, Vitezslava Kapralova, and Alexander Zemlinsky.
Then on Sunday (April 7) Old First will host Symphony Parnassus conducted by Music Director Stephen Paulson. The featured soloist will be violinist Noémy Gagnon-Lafrenais performing Ernest Chausson’s “Poème.” A quartet of Symphony Parnassus principals will be soloists for “Take 4,” a concerto for saxophone quartet and string orchestra by Laura Karpman. The program will conclude with Johannes Brahms’ Opus 11, his first serenade in D major.
Both concerts will take place at Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento Street, at the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue. The Friday concert begins at 8 p.m., while the Sunday concert begins at 4 p.m. Tickets for the Friday concert are $17 for general admission, $14 for seniors and full-time students, and free for children twelve and under. They may be purchased online through the concert’s event page. The Symphony Parnassus concert has a higher charge of $22 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students. (Children are still free.) Tickets are still available online through a separate event page.
That Sunday also marks the beginning of this season’s Schwabacher Debut Recitals, presented by the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program. The series will begin with Merola alumnus and first-year Adler Fellow bass-baritone Philippe Sly. He will perform songs by Henri Duparc, Maurice Ravel, Guy Ropartz, Franz Schubert, and Gustav Mahler. There will be two remaining recitals in the series on April 21 (with the quartet of soprano Marina Harris, mezzo Laura Krumm, tenor A.J. Glueckert, and bass-baritone Hadleigh Adams) and May 5 (with mezzo Sarah Mesko and tenor Theo Lebow),
All three recitals begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Martin Meyer Sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El. This is located at 2 Lake Street near the corner of Arguello Street. Single tickets are $25, and a subscription to all three concerts costs $50. Tickets may be purchased through the San Francisco Opera Box Office at 415-864-3330. Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Student Rush tickets are available at the door for $15 subject to availability. Valid identification is required with a limit of two tickets per person.