Cal Performances

Filter Theatre's Twelfth Night at Cal Performances

12th-night-filter-theatre-2017* Notes *
Filter Theatre brought a manic 90-minute multi-media version of Twelfth Night to Cal Performances last night as part of a tour of the state. Directed by Sean Holmes, Shakespeare's comedy — already chock full of love triangles, cross-dressing, and mistaken identity — involves a lot of music and takes audience participation to a new level.

The stage has no real scenery and is littered with instruments, microphones, and various props. Alan Pagan sat at a drum kit stage left, while Ross Hughes, who shares music and sound responsibilities with Tom Haines, played ukulele and attended to other effects.

The evening was carefully controlled chaos and very engaging. From the very beginning, the unconventional nature of the production was obvious. Jonathan Broadbent, as Orsino, starts us off by wandering around the audience with a cup of mint tea, then comes to the stage with the first words of the play "If music be the food of love, play on" but in an agonizingly slow way, as if he is composing the poetry on the spot. Our Viola, Amy Marchant, wearing a damp rain poncho, asks for a man's hat and jacket, and rejected someone's rain coat in favor of something "smarter, like a blazer."

The high point of the piece is certainly the riotous Act II Scene 3, it was basically a party set to the song "What is love? 'Tis not hereafter." Jonathan Broadbent plays a very silly Sir Andrew Aguecheek here, wearing a velcro-covered cap that he catches balls on, and a ridiculous amount of balls were thrown out to the crowd so we could all try. A dozen audience members were taken on stage to dance about. A pizza from La Val's was passed around.

The most comic scenes work best. Ferdy Roberts was completely ridiculous and absurd as Malvolio when he gets the fake letter from Olivia, and his two pairs of yellow stockings with tiny yellow short shorts provoked a ton of laughs.

While I definitely appreciate how captivating the performance was, the cuts to the text are extensive. Antonio does not appear at all, and Viola's brother Sebastian only shows up at the very end. The Clown and Fabian are condensed into Feste, played charmingly by Gemma Saunders, who also is Maria. I wondered the whole time what was going to happen when Sebastian and Viola appear on stage together, since they both are played by Marchant, who simply said the lines of both parts from the stage. I don't know if this works for people that don't know the play well, but seems like it could be confusing.

* Tattling *
The audience loved this performance and it was hard to imagine anyone there was bored in the slightest.

Cal Performances 2015-2016 Season

September 11-12 2015: National Circus of the People's Republic of China
September 18 2015: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
September 24-25 2015: Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela
October 1-4 2015: Mariinsky Ballet & Orchestra
October 9 2015: Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club
October 11 2015: Takács Quartet
October 11 2015: Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers of India
October 16-18 2015: Twyla Tharp
October 23 2015: eco ensemble
October 24 2015: Bach Collegium Japan
October 29-30 2015: Circa
November 6-7 2015: Ensemble Intercontemporain
November 7 2015: Youssou N'Dour
November 8 2015: Leila Josefowicz, violin and John Novacek, piano
November 13-14 2015: Compañia Flamenca José Porcel
November 19-22 2015: Rude Mechanicals
November 22 2015: Danish String Quartet
November 27-29 2015: Mummenschanz
December 6 2015: Garrick Ohlsson, piano
December 12-13 2015: Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host
January 22-23 2016: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
January 24 2016: Yefim Bronfman, piano
January 24 2016: Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour
January 29-30 2016: St. Louis Symphony
February 14 2016: eighth blackbird
February 21 2016: Takács Quartet
February 26 2016: Jordi Savall, viol and Frank McGuire, bodhrán
February 27-28 2016: Chitresh Das Dance Company
February 28 2016: Danish String Quartet
March 5 2016: Renée Fleming, soprano
March 6 2016: Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder of SERIAL
March 6 2016: Yefim Bronfman, piano
March 11-13 2016: Mark Morris Dance Group and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale
March 18-19 2016: Trajal Harrell
March 19 2016: Buika
March 19 2016: L'Arpeggiata
March 20 2016: Savion Glover with the Jack DeJohnette Quartet
March 26 2016: Montreal Symphony Orchestra
March 29- April 3 2016: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
April 2 2016: Musicians from Marlboro
April 9 2016: The Tallis Scholars
April 10 2016: Brentano String Quartet
April 14 2016: Gil Shaham, violin
April 17 2016: Murray Perahia, piano
April 26 2016: Matthias Goerne, baritone and Alexander Schmalcz, piano
May 1 2016: Kronos Quartet
May 5-8 2016: Edgar Oliver
May 7 2016: David Finckel, cello and Wu Han, piano
May 12 2016: Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor and Jérôme Ducros, piano

Cal Performances announced the 2015-2016 season on April 20, 2015. The Koret Recital Series includes Renée Fleming, Matthias Goerne, and Philippe Jaroussky.

Official Site | Brochure

Cal Performances 2014-2015 Season

MT_katwade_outsideZHAugust 12 2014: Yo-Yo Ma performs Bach's Cello Suites
September 13 2014: Eco Ensemble
September 25-28 2014: Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble
October 10 2014: Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston perform WORDLESS!
October 11 2014: Afropop Spectacular: Bassekou Kouyate and the Krar Collective
October 12 2014: Takács Quartet and Marc-André Hamelin, piano
October 16-19 2014: Australian Ballet performs Swan Lake
October 24-25 2014: Sasha Waltz & Guests
October 26 2014: Richard Goode, piano
October 30 2014: Mavis Staples, vocals
November 2 2014: Jorge Federico Osorio, piano
November 7-8 2014: Théâtre de la Ville performs Six Characters in Search of an Author
November 9 2014: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
November 13 2014: Apollo's Fire plays Monteverdi's Vespers for the Blessed Virgin
November 14-15 2014: Curlew River – A Parable for Church Performance
November 15 2014: Academy of Ancient Music plays Bach's Complete Orchestral Suites
November 15 2014: David Sedaris
November 16 2014: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and Tony Arnold, soprano
November 16 2014: Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
November 21-23 2014: Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe perform The Old Woman
November 23 2014: St. Lawrence String Quartet
December 4 2014: Cantus performs All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914
December 5-6 2014: Paul Dresher Electro-Acoustic Band and Amy X Neuburg perform They Will Have Been So Beautiful: Songs and Images of Now
December 6 2014: Audra McDonald, soprano
December 7 2014: Takács Quartet and Erica Eckert, viola
December 10 2014: Yo-Yo Ma, speaker
January 13 2015: Gidon Kremer, violin and Daniil Trifonov, piano
January 18 2015: The Kronos Quartet and Wu Man, pipa
January 24-25 2015: Peking Acrobats
January 25 2015: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and Nicolas Hodges, piano
January 31 2015: Matthew Polenzani, tenor
January 31- February 1 2015: Kodo
February 4-7 2015: Les 7 Doigts de la Main Circus performs Sequence 8
February 8 2015: Peter Nero Trio
February 15 2015: Olli Mustonen, piano
February 19 2015: The Nile Project
February 20 2015: Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI
February 22 2015: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
March 1 2015: Susan Graham, mezzo soprano
March 1 2015: Cassandra Wilson, vocals
March 6 2015: The Intergalactic Nemesis: Book Two: Robot Planet Rising
March 8 2015: David Finckel, cello and Wu Han, piano
March 11 2015: Hugh Masekela, trumpeter, vocalist and Vusi Mahlasela, singer-songwriter
March 12 2015: Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano and Tamara Stefanovich, piano
March 14-15 2015: Joffrey Ballet
March 15 2015: Jennifer Koh, violin
March 19 2015: Chick Corea, piano and Herbie Hancock, piano
March 20-22 2015: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
March 28 2015: Davitt Moroney, harpsichord
March 29 2015: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
March 28-29 2015: Chitresh Das Dance Company performs Shiva
April 10-11 2015: The Tallis Scholars
April 13 2013: Ray Kurzweil
April 12 2015: Ian Bostridge, tenor
April 17 2015: Arlo Guthrie
April 21-26 2015: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
May 1-3 2015: Handspring Puppet Company performs Ubu and the Truth Commission
May 1 2015: Les Arts Florissants
May 8 2015: Donal Fox Trio
May 10 2015: Christian Tetzlaff, violin and Lars Vogt, piano
May 15 2015: Sérgio Assad, guitar and Odair Assad, guitar
June 2015: Ojai North!

Matías Tarnopolsky announced the new Cal Performances season today.

Official Site | Brochure

Plácido Domingo Concert in Berkeley

7-placido-8849Plácido Domingo is performing at UC Berkeley's Greek Theatre on Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 8pm. He will be joined by guest sopranos Angel Joy Blue and Micäela Oeste and guest conductor Eugene Kohn. Presale tickets are available Tuesday, July 9, at 10am until Saturday, July 13, at 11:59 pm online only through Another Planet Entertainment and Ticketmaster. The presale password is "GREEK."

APEConcerts | Ticketmaster

World Premiere of The Secret Garden

Sf-opera-secret-garden-wm-2013* Notes *
San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances presented the world premiere of Nolan Gasser's The Secret Garden (Act II pictured left, photograph by Betsy Kershner) last night in Berkeley. The music features a tiny ensemble of ten instrumentalists, lead by conductor Sara Jobin. The rhythms employed are of interest, particularly in the prologue, which is set in India. Carey Harrison's libretto has some awkward moments, somehow the narrative of the book does not always work well as sung text. This is evident in the Cholera scene and when Colin sings about how he will live to adulthood. Other parts are more successful. The letter scene between Susan Sowerby and Archibald Craven is quite beautiful. The production, directed by José Maria Condemi, moves along nicely. The costumes are of the period, and are perfectly serviceable. Naomie Kremer's hallucinatory visual designs range from cartoonish to Impressionistic.

The singing has much to recommend it. Ao Li (Ben Weatherstaff), Erin Johnson (Mrs. Medlock), and Laura Krumm (Martha Sowerby) all made charming contributions to the performance, both vocally and dramatically. Tenor Scott Joiner was a winsome Dickon, but had some trouble with the high notes in his first duet with Mary. Philippe Sly impressed as Archibald Craven, and his aforementioned duet with Marina Harris (Susan Sowerby) was splendid. Boy soprano Michael Kepler Meo convinced as spoiled, sickly Colin Craven. His voice is pretty, but the amplification used was obvious and slightly distracting. Bright-voiced Sarah Shafer deftly portrayed Mary Lennox. Her sound is pleasant and her acting was not overwrought.

* Tattling *
There were many children in attendance, and for the most part, they were more well-behaved than the adults. Two women in Row P Seats 5 and 7 of the Orchestra Level talked repeatedly during the music when there was no singing. Oddly, they knew the maestra, and vehemently cheered her when she took her bow.

One of the boys in Row N was the son of either the composer or the librettist and he was absolutely delighted to see his father during the ovation. His enthusiasm was adorable.

Eric Owens at Cal Performances

Eric-owens_01_credit_dario-acosta* Notes * 
Cal Performances presented baritone Eric Owens (pictured left, photograph by Dario Acosta) in recital with pianist Warren Jones on Sunday. The first half of the performance consisted of German Lieder and the second half French chansons. Owens and Jones started with Wolf's Drei Lieder nach Gedichten von Michelangelo, which were performed with sensitivity. The four Schumann songs that followed were all rather dark, especially Muttertraum. The three Schubert songs that rounded out the German section of the program seemed sinister. The French section of afternoon had a more dream-like quality, particularly the three songs by Debussy. Ravel's Chanson a boire had particular appeal. Owens was able to establish an immediate rapport with the audience, and though he was not always precise in his intonation, his winning musicality more than made up for this.

* Tattling * 
The audience was fairly quiet. The encores were Purcell's "Music for a While" and Robert Lowry's "Hanson Place." For some reason, I found the former somewhat surreal to hear from Owens, perhaps because the last four times I have heard this piece live it has been performed by counter-tenor.

Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela

Bolivars-dudamel-2012* Notes * 
Gustavo Dudamel and the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar (pictured left, photograph by Scott Grieder) played the first of two concerts at Cal Performances last night. The program the orchestra is touring right now is entitled "¡MUSICA! A Celebration of Music from Latin America," thus featuring, in this instance, Carlos Chávez, Julián Orbón, and Silvestre Revueltas. The orchestra is huge, so the intensity of the volume is likewise impactful. The orchestra members seemed earnest and serious in playing Chávez's Sinfonia india, the rhythms were all clear. Orbón's Tres versions sinfonicas was, in turns, jaunty, stately, and charming.

The orchestra had fun with the Revueltas that followed the intermission, La Noche de los Mayas, which sounded, as one would expect for a concert suite based on a film score, cinematic. The playing was vigorous and all the musicians seemed present in the moment.

The two delightful encores were La Conga del fuego nuevo by Arturo Márquez and "Mambo" from Bernstein's West Side Story. During the latter, the musicians spun around their instruments and even got up to dance.

* Tattling *
Most of the audience was quiet and attentive. There was some of talking between a few elderly people who must not realize how audible their conversations are to those with unimpaired hearing.

Philharmonia Orchestra's Wozzeck

Philharmonia-orchestra-peg-skorpinski* Notes * 
Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra (pictured left, photograph by Peg Skorpinski) stopped at Cal Performances this weekend as part of a US tour. Last night's program was a semi-staged version of Wozzeck. The lack of set and costumes allowed the music to take precedence, and the drama of this piece remained vivid and clear.

Joshua Ellicott (Andres) sang prettily, while Hubert Francis (the Drum-Major) was strong. Tijl Faveyts was a creepy doctor, his voice has a dryness that makes for a good contrast with the other low voices. He did have a tendency to blend in with the more highly orchestrated parts of the music. Peter Hoare's Captain is mocking and bright. 

Angela Denoke has a sound few rough or sharp edges, yet was able to faithfully portray Marie's anguish. Johan Reuter made for a sympathetic Wozzeck, piteous and crazed. His voice is warm.

* Tattling * 
There was some light talking from long-time patrons in the orchestra section. An iPhone (Apple's personal assistant application) was heard when the Idiot sings "Lustig, lustig...aber es riecht." Someone's phone rang when Wozzeck sang about death in the last act.

Einstein on the Beach

Einstein-on-the-beach-cristina-caccone* Notes * 
Cal Performances presented the West Coast premiere of Einstein on the Beach (Act I Scene 2 pictured left, photograph by Cristina Caccone) last night in Berkeley. This collaboration between director Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass, first performed on July 25, 1976 at the Festival d'Avignon, feels like a product of its time. This is noticeable in the cut of the costumes and certain aspects of the scenic design. Nonetheless, the monumental opera, which clocks in just under four and a half hours, has a timeless quality as well, and is rather mesmerizing.

There is never a dull moment, each second seems packed with some combination of tones, words, light, or movement. The surreal humor of the piece keeps the proceedings from dreary pretension. The endurance of all the performers is striking. The Philip Glass Ensemble and the chorus held together under the direction of Michael Riesman. The singing was hauntingly beautiful. Jennifer Koh likewise impressed as Einstein, her violin playing never flagged. The choreography, from Lucinda Childs, fits the music perfectly. The two dance scenes are a riveting visualization of the vocal and instrumental lines.

* Tattling * 
Though Wilson and Glass insist that the audience members may come and go as they please, it was difficult to decide where a good stopping point might be, and several people never left their seats. Somehow the lack of formal intermission made others feel that they could speak whenever they wished.

Cal Performances Fall Free for All 2012

Postcard Front - Final Cal Performances is holding a third Fall Free for All this Sunday, September 30th, from 11am to 6pm. Several student ensembles will be featured. Other participants include the Lily Cai Dance Company, the Cypress String Quartet, saxophonist George Brooks, Eth-Noh-Tec Storytelling, the Shotgun Players/Assassins, the Chitresh Das Dance Company, harpsichordist Davitt Moroney, Marcos Silva Brazilian Jazz, Kitka, storyteller Dianne Ferlatte, San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, jazz and blues vocalist Pamela Rose, pianist Shai Wosner, shadow puppeteer Daniel Barash, and the Kronos Quartet.

Fall Free for All | Official Site

Cal Performances 2012-2013 Season

September 15-16 2012: National Circus of the People's Republic of China
September 18 2012: Laurie Anderson
September 27-28 2012: Théâtre de la Ville performs Rhinocéros
September 30 2012: Fall Free for All: Open House at Cal Performances
October 10-12 2012: Mariinsky Ballet & Orchestra performs Swan Lake
October 16 2012: Delfeayo Marsalis Octet performs Sweet Thunder
October 20 2012: Georgia's Ensemble Basiani
October 26-28 2012: Einstein on the Beach
November 3 2012: Dan Savage
November 3 2012: Calder Quartet
November 3 2012: Concert Köln
November 4 2012: Dell'Arte Company performs The Fish in My Head
November 7 2012: Chucho Valdés & Afro-Cuban Messengers
November 8 2012: Gloria Cheung, piano
November 9-11 2012: Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Philharmonia Orchestra
November 13 2012: Emanuel Ax, piano
November 15 2012: Fran Lebowitz
November 17 2012: Angélique Kidjo
November 23-25 2012: Mummenschanz
November 29-30 2012: Gustavo Dudamel conducts Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela
December 8 2012: Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performs Messiah
December 14-23 2012: Mark Morris Dance Group performs The Hard Nut
January 19 2013: Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour
January 24 2013: Yo-Yo Ma, cello and Kathryn Stott, piano
January 26-27 2013: Joffrey Ballet
January 27 2013: Nicolas Hodges, piano
February 1-2 2013: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
February 3 2013: Kodo
February 8 2013: Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca
February 10 2013: Eric Owens, bass-baritone and Warren Jones, piano
February 10 2013: Ira Glass
February 12 2013: Christian Tetzlaff, violin
February 15-17 2013: Circus Oz
February 17 2013: Leonidas Kavakos, violin
February 19 2013: Milos̆, guitar
February 24 2013: Oakland Folkharmonic
February 24 2013: Susanna Phillips, soprano
March 1-10 2013: The Secret Garden
March 2 2013: Voices of Afghanistan
March 3 2013: Brentano String Quartet
March 9 2013: Nathan Gunn, baritone and Julie Gunn, piano
March 10 2013: Jeffrey Kahane, piano $42
March 15 2013: Trisha Brown Dance Company
March 17 2013: Afiara String Quartet
March 17 2013: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
March 22-23 2013: Australian Chamber Orchestra
March 23 2013: The Tallis Scholars
March 24 2013: Mohammad Reza Shajarian, vocals
March 30 2013: Afropop Spectacular
April 7 2013: Davitt Moroney, harpsichord
April 10 2013: Paquito D'Rivera and the Assad Brothers
April 13 2013: Ray Kurzweil
April 13 2013: Trout Fishing in America
April 14 2013: Simon Trpčeski, piano
April 18 2013: Arlo Guthrie
April 23-28 2013: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
April 26-27 2013: Handel and Haydn Society
May 3-5 2013: Les 7 Doigts de la Main Circus
May 10-12 2013: Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg
May 17 2013: San Francisco Opera Orchestra
June 11-13 2012: Ojai North!

Einstein on the Beach will be performed this October. Philharmonia Orchestra performs Wozzeck on Saturday, November 10. San Francisco Opera performs a new work by Nolan Gasser in March. Handel and Haydn Society performs Jephtha on Saturday, April 27 .

Official Site | Brochure

Ojai North! Programs 5-6

Leif-ove-andsnes-ojai-north-2012* Notes * 
Ojai North! at Cal Performances ended with two performances on Thursday. Program 5 began with two contemporary pieces, Hafliði Hallgrímsson's Poemi and Bent Sørensen's Piano Concerto No. 2. Both were played by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (Det Norske Kammerorkester), featuring violinist Terje Tønnesen in the first work, and Music Director of the Ojai Festival and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes (pictured left, photograph by Felix Broede) in the second. Hallgrímsson's Poemi is evocative and tense. The musicians communicated clearly with each other and the playing was beautiful. The Sørensen had a little bit of everything: claves played by the whole orchestra, humming, rumbling, and brightness. The contrasts between the orchestra and pianist were carefully drawn, and the moments of similarity were also lovely.

It was interesting to note the opposite postures the two soloists took, Tønnesen seems flexible, and bends backward as he plays and constantly moves, while Andsnes hunches more or less in the same position. This of course has to do with their instruments as much as anything else.

The second half of Program 5 consisted of Berg's Four Songs Op. 2, sung by mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn with pianist Marc-André Hamelin and Leif Ove Andsnes playing Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, "Waldstein." Stotijn's voice has a deep resonance, and her singing was sensitive and hypnotic. Andsnes played "Waldstein" with a grim determination. His style is dry, and for the Beethoven, seemed to lack a sense of breath.

After a break of thirty minutes, Program 6 began with Andsnes playing several György Kurtág pieces. Andsnes sounded precise and elegant. This was followed by a pretty rendition of Debussy's Danse sacrée et danse profane from the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, with Ida Aubert Bang as the harp soloist.

Stotijn and Hamelin returned to the stage with Cabaret Songs by William Bolcom. Stotijn's voice is perhaps not quite as well suited for this as the Berg earlier. The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra ended Ojai North! with Grieg's "Holberg" Suite. The musicians, having changed into summery street clothes, played with vigor. Everyone but the cellists stood and even danced during the Rigaudon. The exuberance of the playing was wonderful to see and hear.

* Tattling *
Someone's mobile phone rang during the Hallgrímsson. A service dog seated by Row G Seat 1 made several high pitched noises, and had to be taken outside in the middle of the Kurtág.