Best Bets: music of all varieties and “The Law of Attraction”

The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

Channeling Bach: Celebrity pianist Lang Lang gave a live recital of J.S. Bach’s famed “Goldberg Variations” (reportedly written for a patron who needed lulling to sleep at night) back in March. What was unusual about it, and especially meaningful to the artist, was that it took place in Leipzig’s historic St. Thomas Church in Germany, which is suffused with the spirit of the composer, who is buried on the premises. Deutsche Grammophon, which recorded the recital, is now making it available for 9.9 euros (that’s $11.74, as of this writing, to us Yanks). It begins streaming on the record label’s DG Stage website at 11 a.m. Thursday and will remain available for 48 hours. Go to www.dg-premium.com and click on DG Stage to register.


Girl power is a strong theme when Ars Minerva, the Baroque opera specialists, join forces with the San Francisco Girls Chorus to perform music from Vivaldi’s “Juditha Triumphans.” (Artwork by Entropy)

Beware the lady with the sword: The Bay Area’s Baroque opera company Ars Minerva joins forces with the San Francisco Girls Chorus to mount what promises to be a thrilling performance of video-enhanced music from “Juditha Triumphans,” Vivaldi’s 1716 oratorio based on the Biblical account of the Hebrew heroine Judith seducing the invading Assyrian general Holofernes, getting him drunk and then lopping off his head. Other Baroque music that celebrates female power by Vivaldi’s predecessors Barbara Strozzi and Isabella Leonarda is also on the program, and the organist Corey Jamason is featured as a guest artist. It streams at 7 p.m. Friday for free, but with a suggested donation of $25. Go to www.sfgirlschorus.org to sign up.


Help from hell: Popular Bay Area playwright Patricia Milton has a knack for creating stage comedies stuffed with such hot-button issues as race, feminism, corporate malfeasance and more. In her latest play “The Law of Attraction” — billed as a “comedy of bad manners” — she takes on the self-help industry. The show revolves around a best-selling author who instructs her loyal fans on how to maintain the perfect relationship. But her own love life is, of course, headed for disaster. The show was originally set to be part of New Conservatory Theatre Center’s 2020-21 season, and when the pandemic hit, Milton reworked “Attraction” as a radio play. Directed by Nikki Meñez and starring Chelsea Bearce and Cary Ann Rosko, the production is available for streaming and has been extended until Jan. 3. Tickets are offered in a pay-what-you-can format. Access and more information are available at www.nctcsf.org.


Saxophonist Karl Denson is among those performing in a live-streamed concert to benefit repairs to California’s fire-ravaged state parks on Nov. 21 (Courtesy of Karl Denson)

Music that matters:California’s parks have been ravaged by wildfires this year and having a global pandemic going on hasn’t made their cleanup any easier. You can do your bit to help, and it doesn’t require anything more than spending a couple of hours listening to some of the state’s talented musicians. At 4 p.m. Saturday, the California Wildfire Relief Fund concert, organized by the nonprofit group Parks California and the livestreaming platform StageIt, will raise funds for state park cleanup efforts by serving up performances by singer-rapper Aloe Blacc, singer-musician Garrett Dutton (better known as G. Love), alt-rock band Fishbone, funk/jazz sax man Karl Denson, DJ Qbert and many more. 

The show is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $10. Note, though, that you need to acquire a ticket to get access to the show. Information and tickets are available at  StageIt.com.


Anat Cohen’s 2017 performance at SFJazz will be streamed as part of the venue’s Fridays at 5 concert series. (Paul Brady/Courtesy of Anat Cohen)

Here comes Cohen: Anat Cohen had a pretty good year in 2017. The talented Israeli-born, New-York-based clarinetist, saxophonist and bandleader released two Brazilian-influenced albums that year and came away with a pair of Grammy nominations. She also toured with her raved-about Tentet, which included such A-List musicians as trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis, pianist Vitor Gonçalves, vibraphonist James Shipp and guitarist Sheryl Bailey. The band made a December stop at SFJazz, and on Friday, you can catch a recording of that show online and see why the jazz world is so high on Cohen (her brothers, trumpeter Avishai and pianist Yuval, are stars in their own right). The show streams at 5 p.m., and you must be a SFJazz digital member (which costs $60 a year) to access. Members also have access to streaming shows by Snarky Puppy, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Zakir Hussain that are $10 each and available on demand through Dec. 31. Go to www.sfjazz.org.


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