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May will begin with a busy Saturday

Diversity rules again over the San Francisco concert scene
Diversity rules again over the San Francisco concert scenePhoto by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If, as I recently observed, this month will conclude with a diversity of options on its final Sunday, the busy day for the first weekend in May will be Saturday. Once again, the interested listener will have to choose among a wide variety of tastes. Fortunately, one of the options will have a second performance on Sunday. On the other hand, there is also one option that will require leaving town but is special enough to deserve mention. As I did for April 27, I shall consider the options in the order of their start times:

4 p.m.: The earliest of these will be the final concert in the seventh season of the New Esterházy Quartet (NEQ). The title of the program will be Vienna in the 17th & 18th Centuries. The program will be framed by two of Joseph Haydn’s early string quartets. It will begin with a performance of the Hoboken III/12 quartet in B-flat major, the last of the six quartets collected in Haydn’s 1762 Opus 2, which NEQ will have performed the previous evening as guest artists for the California Bach Society. They will then conclude with Hoboken III/20 in E-flat major from the 1769 Opus 9. Between these “bookends” NEQ will perform far less familiar works by Johann Joseph Fux, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Antonio Bertali, Florien Gassmann, and Karl von Ordóñez.

The San Francisco performance of this program will take place on Saturday, May 3, at 4 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the intersection with Franklin Street). Tickets are $25 at the door with $20 for seniors, the disabled, and members of the San Francisco Early Music Society and $10 for students with proper identification. Further information is available from the New Esterházy Quartet either from their Web site or by calling 415-520-0611.

7:30 p.m.: San Francisco Performances (SFP) will conclude their 2013–2014 season with a recital by mezzo Stephanie Blythe. This will be a cabaret program during which Francis Poulenc will rub shoulders with Léo Ferré, Jacques Brel, Nöel Coward, and favorite Broadway composers from the first half of the twentieth century. Blythe’s accompanist will be pianist Warren Jones.

This recital will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Nourse Theater (275 Hayes Street, on the southwest corner of Franklin Street) on Saturday, May 3. Ticket prices are $65, $55, and $38. Tickets may be purchased through the event page on the SFP Web site. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 415-398-6449.

8 p.m.: More solemn music will be provided by the San Francisco Choral Society under the Artistic Direction of Robert Geary. This will be a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s BWV 232 setting of the Mass text in B minor. This will be a complete performance with soloists and instrumental accompaniment, all under Geary’s conducting.

This performance will take place on Saturday, May 3, at 8 p.m.; but there will be a second performance at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 4. The venue will be Calvary Presbyterian Church (2515 Fillmore Street on the northwest corner of Jackson Street). Tickets are $34, $31, and $28, with reserved seats for the two higher categories. Tickets are being sold through City Box Office with separate event pages for the Saturday and Sunday performances.

8 p.m.: The Saturday concert will overlap with the spring concert by Wild Rumpus, whose title is Migrations. That title refers to the fact that the five works on the program, two of which are world premieres, will involve reinterpretation and reinvention of materials from other sources. The world premieres, by Eliza Brown and Lee Weisert, are the latest results from the Wild Rumpus Commissioning Project. Brown’s piece takes, as its point of departure, an “Ave Maria” setting from the seventeenth century by Johann Melchoir Gletle, which we preceded the performance of her composition. The other composers on the program will be David Lang, Asha Srinivasan, and Daniel Wohl.

The results of this intriguing approach to composition will take place at the Center for New Music, 55 Taylor Street. It will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 3. Tickets are $15 with a $10 rate for members of the Center. Information about membership may be found on the Membership Web page of the Center’s Web site.

8 p.m.: Equally ambitious modernism from an earlier period will be found at the same time in the final program for this season from the Conservatory Orchestra at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). The program will begin with two of Charles Ives’ more bizarre orchestra sketches, “The General Slocum” and “Yale-Princeton Football Game.” This will be followed by an equally unorthodox presentation of a fantasy of themes from the opera Carmen composed by Frank Proto for double bass and orchestra. The soloist will be SFCM student Tian Yang Liu (’15). The program will then conclude with the complete score that Igor Stravinsky prepared for the ballet “The Firebird.”

This concert will take place on Saturday, May 3, in the SFCM Concert Hall, located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. This two-hour event will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for general admission and $15 for students, seniors, and Friends of the Conservatory. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 415-503-6275. (The Box Office is located in the lobby of the SFCM building; and its regular hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday through Friday.)

8 p.m.: Finally, for those interested in leaving town, Igudesman & Joo will be returning to the Flint Center in Cupertino. This bizarre comic team of violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist (Richard) Hyung-ki Joo will pick off where they left off in their zany antics performed at their last visit on October 21, 2011. That program, A Little Nightmare Music, was structured around thwarted attempts to perform Mozart, so they have titled their new show And Now Mozart.

The Flint Center is located on the campus of De Anza College in Cupertino. The program will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 3. Tickets are $75 and $35 on orchestra level, $35 in the mezzanine, and $20 in the balcony. They may be purchased online through a Ticketmaster event page.