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This week in the Bay Area - March 5 to 9

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony present guest violinist, Julia Fischer, in this week’s performances at Davies Symphony Hall. Recognized as an exceptionally gifted artist, this young German violinist brings her “formidable talent” (Seen and Heard International) to San Francisco in a performance of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No 1.

Michael Tilson Thomas
Photo: Art Strieber

Recipient of numerous awards and enthusiastic reviews, Ms Fischer was named ‘Artist of the Year’ at The Gramophone Awards in 2007, and ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ at the 2009 MIDEM Classical Awards. According to London’s Sunday Times, Julia Fischer is “Equal to every technical and musical hurdle…astonishing violin playing by any standard”.

The second work on the program is Hector Berlioz’ enthralling and enormously popular Symphonie fantastique. Subtitled An Episode in the Life of an Artist, in Five Parts, this imaginary yet somewhat autobiographical work depicts the self-destructive obsession of an artist (Berlioz) for a beautiful woman (Harriet Smithson).

MTT and Julia Fischer, with the San Francisco Symphony, appear at Davies Symphony Hall from March 6 to 9. The concerts on March 6 and 9 are at 2.00 pm, those on March 7 and 8 at 8.00 pm. For tickets and further information, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.

One of the most popular dance companies in the US - Ailey II - makes a one-performance appearance in Santa Rosa on Wednesday. Featuring two new commissions - Wings by Jennifer Archibald, and Robert Battle’s WE - the program also includes Rusty, a work by French choreographer Benoit-Swan Pouffer, and Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece, Revelations.

Ailey II is at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa on March 5. For tickets and further information, visit

Read more about the Ailey II performance.

This week, SFJAZZ presents four intimate concerts by one of its favorite artists, Lavay Smith. In each of these performances, Lavay Smith - accompanied by her world-class band - pays tribute to a different ‘diva’ of jazz - Bessie Smith, Billie Holliday, Etta James and Sarah Vaughan. There are still tickets available for the Bessie Smith concert, and while the other three are already sold out, it’s worth checking on the day for returns.

For details, visit the SFJAZZ website.

In the final week of the Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now, the African & African American Performing Arts Coalition, with K*Star* Productions, presents Robert Moses ‘Kin at the ODC Theater in San Francisco.

Robert Moses, choreographer and Founder/Artistic Director of Robert Moses ‘Kin - and a former ODC dancer - presents a co-presentation with ODC Theater, featuring two works - entitled Draft and BY Series. Draft features solo performances created in brief encounters with Moses, highlighting many ODC Pilot alumni and artists of this 2014 Black Choreographer Festival. BY Series features RMK dancers in premier performances of new, short works, by Bliss Kohlmyer, Dexandro Montalvo, Gregory Dawson and Robert Moses himself.

Robert Moses ‘Kin is at the ODC Theater from March 6 to 8. For further information and tickets, please follow this link.

The Vienna Philharmonic is in residence at Zellerbach Hall this week, from March 7 to 9, and each of the three concerts to be presented features a different world-class conductor - Lorin Maazel on March 7, Andris Nelsons on March 8, and Franz Welser-Möst on March 9.

The concert conducted by Lorin Maazel opens the Vienna Philharmonic’s residency on Friday, with Schubert’s Symphony No 8 (the ‘Unfinished’) and Mahler’s Symphony No 4. Andris Nelsons - Music Director of the Boston Symphony - conducts Haydn’s Symphony No 90 and Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn and Symphony No 3 on Saturday. Sunday’s matinee concert is led by Franz Welser-Möst - Music Director of the Vienna State Opera and also of the Cleveland Orchestra - and features Mozart’s Symphony No 28, Staud’s On Comparative Meteorology, and Bruckner’s Symphony No 6.

Musicians from the Orchestra will participate in events which are free and open to the public. These include talks, master classes, open rehearsals and a chamber music concert. There will be a 30-minute talk before each of the concerts by Clemens Hellsberg, the Vienna Philharmonic’s longtime historian, and Franz Welser-Möst will deliver a post-performance talk.

Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at; and at the door.

San Francisco’s Z Space presents the world premiere of Hundred Days, a folk rock odyssey conceived and created by husband and wife duo, Abigail and Shaun Bengson from New York City, whose music has been described by Huffington Post as “a hybrid of Dresden Dolls meets Gogol Bordello meets Annie Get Your Gun”. A joint production by Z Space, piece by piece productions and Encore Theatre Company, Hundred Days tells of a young couple who discover that - because of an illness - they have only three months left together. They decide to live their last 100 days as though they were six decades - imagining the life they would have shared together.

Hundred Days runs from March 7 to April 6, 2014 at Z Space (450 Florida Street, San Francisco). Tickets may be purchased online at and by phone at 866.811.4111.

Classical KDFC’s weekly Saturday morning broadcast, Live from the Met, features the Metropolitan Opera’s Baroque fantasy The Enchanted Island. Inspired by the 18th century tradition of the pastiche, and two of Shakespeares’ plays - The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream - this new work features music by some of the Baroque era’s greatest composers - Handel, Vivaldi and Rameau - with a libretto devised and written by Jeremy Sams.

The Enchanted Island has the four lovers from A Midsummer Night’s Dream shipwrecked - during their honeymoon voyage - on Prospero’s island from The Tempest. In addition to the characters found in the original plays, The Enchanted Island imagines the sorceress Sycorax (who is mentioned in The Tempest but never appears on stage) vying with Prospero for control of the island.

The all-star cast includes Susan Graham as Sycorax, David Daniels as Prospero, Danielle de Niese as Ariel, and the great Plácido Domingo as Neptune.

Visit the KDFC website to check tuning frequencies in the Bay Area, or to listen online.

This weekend, the Society Cabaret at San Francisco’s Hotel Rex features Doris & Me - A Sentimental Journey. Starting Scott Dreier, the show is described as one man’s obsession with music and movie icon, Doris Day. Watch a video clip, and follow this link for more information.

After a three-year absence, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, with Wynton Marsalis, returns to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts on Sunday. Internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and advocate of American culture, Wynton Marsalis co-founded a program in 1987 which became known as Jazz at Lincoln Center. The orchestra which takes its name from this program is described by the Chicago Tribune as “The greatest large jazz ensemble working today”, and by The Daily Telegraph in the UK as “the finest big band in the world today”.

Critically acclaimed wherever it appears, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra draws from an extensive repertoire which includes original compositions by Marsalis, Ted Nash and other members of the Orchestra, as well as works by jazz greats such as Ellington, Mingus and Coltrane.

For more information and tickets, visit the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts website.

The Ovation TV channel has just launched The Morning Canvas. Hosted by Nikki Boyer, the program features a mix of US premiere documentary series and specials, encompassing classical music performances, photography, dance, theater and the visual arts.

The Morning Canvas airs Monday to Friday from 7.00 to 9.00 am (ET) on Ovation.

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