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What's on in San Francisco this week

Frances Chung and Davit Karapetyan in Tomasson's 'The Fifth Season'
Frances Chung and Davit Karapetyan in Tomasson's 'The Fifth Season'
Photo: Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet winds up its 2014 home season this week with programs featuring Helgi Tomasson’s The Fifth Season, Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc and a world premiere by Liam Scarlett - Hummingbird. The final program is devoted to works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins - Balanchine’s Agon and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and Robbins’ Glass Pieces.

Read more: Program 7 and Program 8, and further information is available on www.sfballet.org

Once again, the San Francisco Playhouse looks to be on to a winner! Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar opened last week, and the production is drawing rave reviews. The action focuses on four students who’ve paid $5,000 for a private writing class with celebrated author, Leonard, who revels in treating them with utter contempt - crushing hopes and devastating egos, with cynical disdain.

Seminar is wickedly funny, pacy, and breathtaking in its audacity. With taut direction by Amy Glazer, and topnotch performances, it’s a production you’ll not want to miss.

Seminar is at the San Francisco Playhouse until June 14. Further information and tickets available from www.sfplayhouse.org.

Smuin Ballet’s XXcentric Spring Dance Series continues its successful run in San Francisco this week. The program features two World Premieres - Val Caniparoli’s impressive Tutto Eccetto il Lavandino (everything but the kitchen sink) and Amy Seiwert’s enchanting But now I must rest, a work inspired by the music of Cesária Évora - the renowned ‘barefoot diva’ from the Cape Verde Islands. Michael Smuin’s jazzy Dancin’ With Gershwin brings a truly splendid performance to a glamorous and spirited close.

Smuin Ballet is at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts until May 11, after which it moves to the Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, on May 16-17; the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts from May 21-25; and the Sunset Center, Carmel, on June 6-7. Tickets and further information available on (415) 921-1899, or from www.smuinballet.org.

Internationally renowned Bach specialist, Ton Koopman, returns to Davies Symphony Hall this week to lead the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus for the second in a two-week series of concerts celebrating JS Bach and his legacy. The concerts, from May 8 to 10, feature works written by Bach during his 27-year tenure as Director of Music in the principal churches of Leipzig.

The first work, Bach’s Cantata No 207a Auf, schmetternde Töne der muntern Trompeten, is one of his so-called ‘secular’ cantatas (those not written specifically for liturgical use), and is thought to have been written in 1735 to celebrate the name-day of Friedrich August II, who later also became Augustus III, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. This performance features soprano Teresa Wakim, mezzo-soprano Bogna Bartosz, tenor Tilman Lichdi and bass Klaus Mertens, with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, directed by Ragnar Bohlin.

The concert closes with the earliest settings of Bach’s Kyrie and Gloria, both of which Bach would later include in his Mass in B Minor, a fine showcase for the SF Symphony Chorus in its 40th anniversary celebration.

Ton Koopman conducts the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in works by J S Bach on May 8 and 10 at 8.00 pm, and at 6.30 pm on May 9. There’s also an Open Rehearsal on May 8 at 10.00 am.

For more information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website

SFJAZZ presents “the irreverent band of musical outlaws” known as The Bad Plus this week. The trio made its name about 10 years ago with covers of numbers such as Black Sabbath’s Iron Man and Queen’s We Are the Champions, and although the three have always played more of their own material than covers, their latest project is a cover of one of the most influential and controversial works of the 20th century - Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

With a reputation for altering their sets for each performance, these jazz musicians will perform selections from their own repertoire with The Rite of Spring on Thursday and Sunday, and present material from their next release on Friday and Saturday.

The Bad Plus is at the Miner Auditorium from Thursday May 8 to Sunday May 11. For more information visit www.sfjazz.org.