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This weekend in the Bay Area - January 31 to February 1 2014

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The performing arts are alive and well in the Bay Area as usual this weekend, and there’s much to enjoy.

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If you’ve not yet managed to see San Francisco Ballet’s production of Giselle, you have until Sunday to snatch a seat. Choreographed by Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer, Helgi Tomasson, this production is unique to the Company. Though still retaining the main themes of the story, and much of the original Coralli/Perrot choreograhpy, Tomasson has put his own stamp on this version of one of the most popular and frequently performed ballets in the repertoire. The work is set to Adolphe Adam’s beautiful score, with additional music, orchestrations and arrangements by Friedrich Burgmüller, Ludwig Minkus, and Emil de Cou.

San Francisco Ballet’s production of Giselle is at the War Memorial Opera House, with the final performance on Sunday afternoon, February 2. For tickets and more information please visit the San Francisco Ballet website.

There’s more dance on offer this weekend, as Cal Performances welcomes the world renowned Martha Graham Dance Company to Berkeley. The New York-based Company presents a program of works by Graham which are American through and through. Appalachian Spring - a tribute to America’s pioneering spirit - is set to music by Aaron Copland, Cave of the Heart - a version of the Medea story - has a score by Samuel Barber, and Maple Leaf Rag - Graham’s final creation - is danced to the much-loved piece by Scott Joplin. It’s a rare opportunity to see the work of the dancer whose impact on dance, according to PBS, “.... was staggering and often compared to that of Picasso’s on painting, Stravinsky’s on music, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s on architecture.”

The Martha Graham Dance company, with members of the Berkeley Symphony, appears at Zellerbach Hall on Friday and Saturday, January 31 and February 1. Tickets are available at (510) 642 9988, at the door or online at the Cal Performances website http://www.calperformances.org

The San Francisco Early Music Society presents the Galax Quartet with contralto Karen Clark in a program entitled Chromatic Clusters in three locations over the weekend. The program comprises music from the 16th century and early music from today - motets and madrigals by Lasso and Gesualdo, and music written for Galax by Joseph Schwantner and Roy Wheldon. Included are the world premiere of Wheldon’s On the Petaluma River and the West Coast premiere of Joseph Schwantner's Dream Drapery: Thoreau Songs.

Performances of Chromatic Clusters are at First Lutheran Church, Palo Alto, on January 31, St John’s Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, on February 1, and St Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco on February 2. For further information and tickets, please visit the San Francisco Early Music Society website.

With another treat for lovers of dance, Stanford Live welcomes the Brazilian ballet company, Grupo Corpo, to the Stanford Memorial Auditorium this weekend. Featuring two works - Sem Mim and Ímã - the Company appears in an evening length performance on January 31, and in an abridged family matinee on February 1. Grupo Corpo, led by artistic director Paulo Pederneiras and choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras, is described as combining "the sensuality of Afro-Brazilian dance forms, and the technical prowess of ballet, with a contemporary, highly theatrical sensibility".

Tickets for Grupo Corpo are available at the Bing Concert Hall box office, by phone at 650 725 2464 (BING) or at http://live.stanford.edu/.

Classical KDFC’s broadcast Live from the Met this Saturday features Anthony Minghella’s sumptuous production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Amanda Echalaz makes her Met debut as Cio-Cio-San, and tenor Bryan Hymel sings Pinkerton, in a co-production by the Metropolitan Opera, English National Opera and the Lithuanian National Opera. One of the most enduringly popular operas in the repertoire, Madama Butterfly had a disastrous premiere at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, in 1904, but with immediate reworking, it enjoyed great success in Brescia a few months later, followed by a similar reception in Paris, before going on to captivate the world.

The KDFC broadcast is on Saturday, February 1, at 10.00 am. Visit www.kdfc.com for tuning frequencies in the Bay Area, or listen live online.

The Salon Series at San Francisco’s Hotel Rex continues to be a popular draw, featuring a series of intimate events to encourage dialogue and the appreciation of art, literature and music - in much the same way as the salons of Paris did during the 1920s and 30s. Saturday night is Magic Night at the Hotel Rex, at which Sebastian Boswell III and Adam Sachs (of San Francisco’s long-running Absolute Magic Shows) strut their stuff in the Sutter Street side Cocktail Lounge. The Cabaret Showcase - also on Saturday nights - features three up-and-coming singing talents this week, and every Sunday is a Showtune Sunday, at which Broadway’s best is sung by San Francisco’s best.

Further information and tickets for Magic Nights can be found at magicattherex.com/show.htm, and details of the Society Cabaret are at http://societycabaret.com/.

This weekend, ODC Theater presents the next instalment of Dance and Diaspora, its biannual showcase celebrating the world of dance within the Bay Area, and featuring on this occasion the works of Persian dance artists Farima Berenji and Shahrzad Khorsandi - last seen at ODC in the world premiere of Rosanna Gamson/World Wide's Layla Means Night. Poetry in Motion is the name Berenji has given to her own dance style - an improvisational dance form that draws on Persian classical poetry and sacred teachings from Iran and Central Asia. Khorsandi founded the Shahrzad Dance Company in Berkeley in 1996, and has created her own style of dance which she calls Contemporary Persian Ballet - blending elements of contemporary dance with the refined aesthetics of ancient Persia.

Dance and Disapora is at the ODC Theater on February 1 and 2. Tickets can be purchased by calling 415-863-9834, Monday through Friday from 12-3pm, or online at odcdance.org/buytickets.php.

The San Francisco Symphony presents violinist Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica in a concert of works by Britten, Shostakovich and Weinberg on February 2 at Davies Symphony Hall. Part of the Great Performers series, this concert features Kremer as soloist in Weinberg’s Concertino and the Shostakovich Violin Sonata. The group will also perform Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, and Shostakovich’s Anti-formalist Gallery featuring Russian bass vocalist Alexei Mochalov. Gidon Kremer formed his ensemble in 1997 as an educational project for young colleagues from the Baltic states, a group of 24 musicians from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and hosts an annual festival considered to be one of the most important cultural events of the Latvian classical music scene. Over the past 13 years, Kremerata Baltica has played in more than 600 cities in 50 countries and released over 20 CDs, winning won a Grammy® Award in 2002, the ECHO prize in 2002, and the Praemium Imperiale Grant for Young Artists in 2009.

Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica appear at Davies Symphony Hall on February 2 at 7.00 pm. For further information and tickets, please visit the San Francisco Symphony website.

Cal Performances presents a performance by baritone Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake this weekend, featuring Schubert’s epic song cycle, Winterreise, in which the composer sets music to 24 texts by poet Wilhelm Müller, describing the wintertime wanderings of a rejected lover. Having performed on some of the most prestigious stages of the world, with top-flight orchestras and renowned conductors, Finley received the 2012 Grammy® Award for Best Opera Recording for Doctor Atomic with the Metropolitan Opera. British pianist, Julius Drake, has performed and recorded with many of the world’s finest vocal artists during his 30-year career. Professor at Graz University for Music and the Performing Arts in Austria, he presents master classes worldwide, and has directed music festivals in Australia and Wales.

Gerald Finley and Julius Drake perform Schubert’s Winterreise at the Hertz Hall on Sunday, February 2. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, at (510) 642-9988, at http://www.calperformances.org, and at the door.

Another Cal Performances presentation this weekend brings Pacific Islander song to Zellerbach Hall in a program entitled Barefoot Divas. In the opening performance of their first North American tour, Australia’s celebrated female Indigenous singers join performers from New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in an evening of song entitled Walk a Mile in My Shoes. These six artists, backed by a six-piece band playing both traditional and Western instruments, perform a blend of traditional Maori, Aboriginal, Papua New Guinea and Romany music, sung in multiple languages.

Tickets for Barefoot Divas are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall at (510) 642-9988; at http://www.calperformances.org; and at the door.

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