In addition to offering the final performance of Opera Parallèle’s United States premiere production of Tarik O’Regan’s “Heart of Darkness,” the first Sunday in May will present three instrumental concerts, each with its own distinguishing genre; these are best summarized in order of occurrence.
May 3 marks the beginning of the 15th Anniversary Season of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. This San Francisco tradition will present 100 free events between the beginning of May and the end of October. In addition to music, these performances cover theater, circus, dance, poetry, and children’s programming.
This year’s season will launch with the return of the Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra. Palmieri is now 78 and is still hailed as The Sun of Latin Music. His innovative composing skills and his percussive piano technique should provide just the right burst of energy to get the season off to a roaring start.
This will be a free two-hour concert beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 3. Yerba Buena Gardens is located between Mission Street and Howard Street and between 3rd Street and 4th Street. That covers a lot of ground, and the stage is set up at different locations for different acts. Just seek out where the action is; it should not be hard to locate the warm-up sounds coming from the band. It goes without says that accounting for 100 events is no easy matter. However, there are a few music offerings that may motivate readers to save their respective dates:
- Saturday, May 9, 1 p.m.–2:30 p.m.: Electric Squeezebox Orchestra
- Thursday, June 4, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.: The View from Bernal Hill
- Thursday, June 16, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.: Jenny Lind Concert
- Saturday, July 11, 2 p.m.–4 p.m.: Merola Opera’s Schwabacher Summer Concert
- Saturday, August 15, 1 p.m.–2:30 p.m.: Lavay Smith & Her Ret Hot Skillet Lickers
- Sunday, September 6, 1 p.m.–2:30 p.m.: Asian American Orchestra
- Thursday, September 24, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.: Kally Price Old Blues & Jazz Band
- Sunday, September 27, 1 p.m.–2:30 p.m.: Marcus Shelby’s Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio
May 3 will also be the date of the final concert of the 30th season of the Avedis Chamber Music Series. The featured guest artist will be harpist Emily Laurance, who will perform Maurice Ravel’s “Introduction and Allegro” with flutist Alexandra Hawley, clarinetist Mark Brandenburg, and the string quartet of violinists Roy Malan and Susan Freier, violist Paul Hersh, and cellist Stephen Harrison. Laurance will also perform Toru Takemitsu’s “And then I knew ’twas Wind” with Hawley and Hersh. Hawley will also join the string quartet members for Ferdinand Ries’ Opus 107 quintet in B minor, for which Freier will shift from violin to viola, and will open the program with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 285 flute quartet, joined by Malan, Hersh, and Harrison.
All performances will take place in the Florence Gould Theater of the Legion of Honor, located in Lincoln Park, just north of where 34th Avenue meets Clement Street. There is a free parking lot on the grounds. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $17 for seniors and students. However, there are two subscription options. Tickets may be purchased over the phone by calling City Box Office at 415-392-4400. In addition, there is a special group rate, according to which the group leader receives a free ticket with the purchase of ten or more tickets. Group tickets are handled through the separate telephone number 650-946-2946.
Finally, American Bach Soloists (ABS) will conclude their 26th subscription series with a program entitled Bach, Vivaldi, & Leo. That last name is not a joke. It is the surname of Naples-born composer Leonardo Leo, who wrote a series of cello concertos during the 1730s while under the patronage of the Duke of Maddaloni, an accomplished cellist. Leo’s A major concerto will provide the platform for a solo performance by the 2015 recipient of the Jeffrey Thomas Award, cellist Gretchen Claassen. Since her time as a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Claassen has co-founded the busking Cello Street Quartet (which toured Europe with support from the State Department) and two period ensembles: MUSA and the Alchemy Trio.
In addition countertenor Ian Howell will return to ABS for solo performances of both Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. The Vivaldi selection will be his setting of Psalm 127 Nisi Dominus. Bach will be represented by the BWV 169 solo cantata Gott soll allein, mein Herze haben (only God can have my heart). The program will also include two instrumental selections by Bach, the famous BWV 1043 “double” concerto for two violins in D minor, with soloists Elizabeth Blumenstock and Cynthia Black, and the BWV 1069 orchestral suite in D major.
The San Francisco performance of this concert will take place on Sunday, May 3, at 4 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner with Franklin Street). Single tickets range from $27 to $66. Discounted single tickets are available for seniors and students with ID. Tickets may be purchased in advance through hyperlinks on the event page of the ABS Web site or by calling 415-621-7900.