Next week the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (SFCO) will begin its San Francisco performances of its Main Stage Concerts series. Music Director Benjamin Simon has arranged four programs with a particular interest in coupling the familiar with the less familiar. The 2013–2014 season will feature a variety of impressive novelties, and each concert will be organized according to its own theme.
Here are the dates and themes for each of the concerts:
- Friday, October 25, 8 p.m., The Masters: The classical master to be recognized by this program will be Joseph Haydn. SFCO will perform his Hoboken I/100 symphony in G major. This has been called the “Military” because of the marching band that intrudes upon the second Allegretto movement. The Haydn symphony will be coupled with the Bay Area premiere of a cello concerto by Aaron Jay Kernis, who, as a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, may be classified as an “American master.” The soloist for the concerto will be Joshua Roman, who, appropriately enough, gave his Bay Area recital debut in January of 2012 under the Young Masters Series of San Francisco Performances.
- Sunday, December 29, 3 p.m., The Virtuosi: This program will consist entirely of two highly demanding concertos performed by two very impressive soloists. Jon Nakamatsu, a past winner of the Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition, will be featured in a performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Opus 22 piano concerto in G minor (his second). This is probably the most performed of the five Saint-Saëns piano concertos, possibly because it requires the soloist to jump through the largest number of technical hoops. The other soloist will be the SFCO Debut Artist for the season, Jared Pabilona, whose instrument is the double bass. He will perform the second concerto, in B minor, for that instrument composed by Giovanni Bottesini, known in his time as the Paganini of the double bass.
- Friday, February 21, 8 p.m., The Storytellers: For this program SFCO will be joined by the Lewis Mahlmann Lilliputian Puppets and by Joel ben Izzy, who will serve as the “storyteller” for the evening. The major work on the program will be Igor Stravinsky’s “Histoire du soldat.” This was composed while Stravinsky was waiting out World War I in Switzerland, using a text by the Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz based on an old Russian folk tale about a soldier returning from a war, who is tempted by the Devil. The score requires only seven instruments (violin, bass, clarinet, bassoon, cornet, trombone, and percussion) and was composed for a traveling theater troupe performing out of the back of a truck. The program will begin with the world premiere of “Luck vs. Wisdom,” composed by Stephen Saxon on an SFCO commission.
- Friday, April 25, 8 p.m., The Great Fugue: The title is the English version of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 133 (“Große Fuge”). This was originally intended as the final movement of the composer’s Opus 130 string quartet in B-flat major. Because Opus 130 was already a long piece, Beethoven replaced the last movement with a shorter finale; and the fugue was published separately. It is frequently performed by a string ensemble, rather than a quartet. The SFCO performance will be enhanced with a graphic visualization of the score produced by Stephen Malinowski’s Music Animation Machine. The spirit of fugue will also be honored in the final movement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s fourth “Brandenburg” concerto in G major (BWV 1049) with solo parts scored for violin (Robin Sharp) and two flutes (Stacey Pelinka and Laurie Camphouse).
This season the San Francisco performances of the Main Stage Concerts will be given in the Nourse Theater at 275 Hayes Street, across the street from Davies Symphony Hall between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. As in the past, all concerts will be offered without any charge for admission. Doors open for seating 45 minutes before concert time; and seating is first come, first served. However, there is priority seating for Supporting Members and priority entrance 60 minutes before the program begins. The SFCO Web site has a Membership Web page, which outlines the different levels of membership and their associated pages. It also provides a link to a secure site through which donations may be given.