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This week in the Bay Area - January 15 to 20

Boxcar Theatre's 'The Speakeasy'
Boxcar Theatre's 'The Speakeasy'
Photo: Peter Liu

Last week Boxcar Theatre launched the world premiere of its latest theatrical experience, The Speakeasy. This freely structured play recreates an authentic Prohibition-era saloon, the intrigue enhanced by the revelation of the location only on the day on which patrons are due to attend a performance.

The cast of 35 actors, singers and musicians takes the audience back to the period between World War I and the Stock Market Crash of 1929, where they can move from room to room, eavesdropping on the exchanges between characters of the time - floozies, bootleggers, gamblers - against a backdrop of chorus girls, croupiers, and a host of vaudeville acts. "It's like a museum of people that you can explore by walking around and learning the characters and their stories," says creator Nick Olivero, who’s co-directing with Peter Ruoc.

The Speakeasy runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until March 15. For further information visit

San Francisco Symphony’s Beethoven and Bates Festival, Re/current, continues this week, the program opening with selections from Beethoven’s rarely heard Overture to King Stephen.

This is followed by Liquid Interface, a work by Mason Bates, one the most frequently performed orchestral American composers of his generation. Liquid Interface is described as “an inventive four-movement evocation of water scored for large orchestra and electronica”.

The climax of the program is Beethoven’s rarely heard Mass in C, commissioned in 1807 by Prince Nicholas Esterházy, and regarded by the composer as a “special” work. This week’s performances feature the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, with guest soloists Joélle Harvey (soprano), mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, tenor William Burden and bass-baritone Shenyang.

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus at Davies Symphony Hall from January 15 to 18. Full details and information on ticketing are available on the San Francisco Symphony website.

San Franciscan Mary Stallings is at the SFJAZZ Center this week. This “supremely soulful” jazz singer - described by The New York Times as “perhaps the best jazz singer alive today” - has appeared with jazz greats such as Cal Tjader, Dizzy Gillespie and the Count Basie Orchestra, and was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award by SFJAZZ at the organization’s 2011 Gala. She also appeared at the Center’s Opening Night concert, almost exactly a year ago.

Mary Stallings appears this week with jazz pianist Kenny Barron, a 2010 NEA Jazz Master and nine-time Grammy nominee. His career includes associations with Dizzie Gillespie, Stan Getz, Yusef Lateef and Freddie Hubbard, and he’s featured on nearly 50 albums in settings ranging from solo piano to big band.

Mary Stallings and Kenny Barron appear in the Miner Auditorium at the SFJAZZ Center on January 16 and 17.

Resident Artistic Director, John Santos, follows with a two-night salute to Cuban bassist/composer Israel ‘Cachao’ López - the inspiration for generations of musicians - and Cuban percussion master Walfredo de los Reyes, regarded as one of the most influential percussionists alive. The show, entitled Un Danzón Pa’ Cachao, Una Descarga Pa’ Walfredo, features Santos’ working sextet - Cuban jazz icon Paquito D’Rivera, percussion great Orestes Vilató, the Classical Revolution Trio and Reyes himself.

The John Santos Sextet, with Paquito D’Rivera, Walfredo de los Reyes, Orestes Vilató & the Classical Revolution Trio are at the Miner Auditorium, SF JAZZ Center on January 18 and 19. For further details, visit

San Francisco Performances presents Wayne McGregor | Random Dance in the West Coast premiere of FAR at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. One of today's most sought-after choreographers, McGregor is renowned for his groundbreaking collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology, and science.

FAR features an original score by experimental composer, Ben Frost, and a set design incorporating a computerized board of 3,200 LED lights - designed by rAndom International. The work takes its inspiration from the writing of British historian, Roy Porter - his Flesh in the Age of Reason - in which he investigates how rational thought and scientific innovation during the Enlightenment began to change our understanding of flesh and soul.

FAR by Wayne McGregor | Random Dance takes place from January 17 to 19 at Lam Research Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Further detail and information on tickets can be obtained from

The Salon Series at San Francisco’s Hotel Rex features jazz/cabaret vocalist Linda Kosut on January 17 and 18. Accompanied by the Mike Greensill Trio, Ms Kosut sings the Johnny Green Songbook, in an intimate setting which takes its inspiration from the art and literary salons of Europe in the 1920s and 30s.

Each week, the Hotel Rex, in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square, presents a Salon Series of events designed to encourage dialogue and appreciation of art, literature and music, to be enjoyed with good food and wine. Information on ticketing is available at

Peninsula Symphony, under the direction of Mitchell Sardou Klein, presents A Special Tribute to Dave Brubeck at the New San Mateo Performing Arts Center on January 17. Featuring jazz pianist and composer, Taylor Eigsti, and saxophonist Dayna Stephens, the program includes Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, his overtures to Girl Crazy and Funny Face, and New Compositions by Taylor Eigsti.

More detail from

Cal Performances presents two of the most decorated jazz musicians of all time at Zellerbach Hall on January 18, when pianist and composer Chick Corea and banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck perform a series of duets - from jazz to bluegrass to classical - as well as pieces from the 2007 Grammy Award-winning album, The Enchantment.

This performance marks Fleck’s debut at Cal Performances, while Corea - a Berkeley favorite - is returning for the fourth time, his last appearance having been in 2009.

Tickets and further information are available at

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