As the 2013–2014 season nears its conclusion, listeners are being confronted with fewer hard choices to make over what to attend, particularly on weekends. Unfortunately, those who enjoy the choral repertoire will have to face such a choice next month. Two different choral ensembles will be performing on the same night at the same time. However, the programs they have prepared are significantly different and will probably appeal to different tastes.
The first of the options will involve a rather special occasion to conclude the 35th season of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC). The title of the program is Rites and Passages. It will consist entirely of Eastern European composers whose pieces fit neatly into the half-century between 1877 and 1927. The composers, in the order of year of birth, will be Bedřich Smetana, Béla Bartók, and Igor Stravinsky. The evening will be even more special through the presence of its guest artists, pianists Kanoko Nishi and Sarah Cahill and the dancers of the Joe Goode Performance Group. The conductor for this occasion will be SFGC Music Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe.
Goode’s contribution will be a choreographic interpretation of three “Village Scenes” that Bartók scored for female voices (originally accompanied by a chamber orchestra). Guest pianist Nishi has prepared a special arrangement of the first and third scenes from Stravinsky’s score for the ballet “Les noces.” This was originally scored for mixed chorus, soprano, mezzo, tenor, and bass soloists, four pianos, and an abundance of pitched and unpitched percussion. Nishi’s arrangement will accompany SFGC with only two pianos (with Cahill joining Nishi). SFGC will also give an a cappella performance of Stravinsky’s arrangements of four Russian peasant songs. Finally, the Smetana selection will be his 1878 set of three all-female choruses.
This concert will take place on Saturday, June 14, beginning at 8 p.m. The venue will be the Nourse Theatre, located at 275 Hayes Street, just off the southeast corner of Franklin Street and across the street from Davies Symphony Hall. Tickets are $26 for general admission and $36 for front-and-center reserved seating. Tickets may be purchased online through a City Box Office event page, by visiting City Box Office at 180 Redwood Street, Suite 100 (open between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday), or by calling City Box Office at 415-392-4400.
The other concert will celebrate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday with a program entitled Midsummer Night’s Singing. This will be presented by the San Francisco Choral Artists under Artistic Director Magen Solomon, All texts will be taken from the plays and sonnets written by the Bard of Avon. There will be a broad diversity of composers including Felix Mendelssohn, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Paul Chihara, and Richard Felciano. In this case the guest artists will be two actors from the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival delivering monologues and dialogues. The major departure from Shakespeare will be the world premiere of a setting of a poem by Philipp Goedicke, best known for the limericks he contributes to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!
The San Francisco performance of this program will also take place on Saturday, June 14, beginning at 8 p.m. The venue will be St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. Tickets are $30 at the door with discounts for advance purchase ($25), seniors ($22), and students ($12). All of these options are available online through a Brown Paper Tickets event page.