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.
Hitting a double: Symphony San Jose opens its 1922-23 season – its 20th, we should note – by bringing two new artists to the California Theatre stage this weekend. Cuban-born violist and conductor Andrés Cárdenes will be leading the orchestra for the first time, and the featured soloist will be the celebrated Norwegian trumpet player, Tine Thing Helseth. Her showpiece will be the stylistically diverse and technically demanding 1948 Trumpet Concerto by Henri Tomasi. The soloist, by the way, is known on six continents and has toured widely with tenThing, a 10-woman brass ensemble she founded 15 years ago. Also on the program will be Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Russian Easter Overture,” Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin” and Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, the “Rhenish.” Performance times are 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the theater, 345 South First St., San Jose. Find tickets, $55-$115, at symphonysanjose.org or call 408-286-2600. You can sample the talents of the trumpeter here: https://youtu.be/XXc2JRyPcJU
Another grand night for singing: The German “Liederabend” roughly translates to “evening of song,” and Lieder Alive! – an organization founded here in the Bay Area a little over a decade ago to keep German art song and other forms of chamber music always around – will launch its 2022-23 season Sunday afternoon at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez St. in San Francisco. The recital features soprano Heidi Moss Erickson and pianist John Parr performing music by Richard Strauss, Lili Boulanger, Anton Webern and Kurt Erickson (the singer’s composer husband), as well as some settings of Emily Dickinson poems by Aaron Copland, George Walker and Lori Laitman. The highlight of the program will be the world premiere of San Francisco-based composer Tarik O’Regan’s “Seen and Unseen,” set to poetry by Yone Noguchi. Performance time is 5 p.m. Find tickets, $25-$80, through www.liederalive.org.
Casting a wide musical net: You have to hand it to the folks who put on the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. During the past two years, when the annual three-day event in Golden Gate Park was, like most shows, relegated to online-only status, they did what they could to ease the pain by posting hours and hours of cool music on the event’s website. But let’s face it, HSB was meant to be experienced live, where you can take in the gorgeous setting and feel the sun warm your face (or the fog rob your extremities of all feeling). Thankfully that will be the case this weekend, as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass returns to Golden Gate park Friday, Saturday and Sunday. HSB is different from most other festivals. For one, it’s all free. Second, there are a ridiculous number of acts, most of whom play fairly short sets. This is the kind of festival where it’s more likely that you’ll go to take it all in, not see one particular act. You might catch a few songs from a favorite musician and half an hour later discover a new favorite musician by accident. And they are not kidding about the event’s name. Though its vibe is tilted toward Americana music, artists from all genres – R&B, jazz, hip-hop, heavy metal – have all graced the stages at HSB over its 21-year history. This year’s acts include such artists as Bob Schneider, the Drive-By Truckers, Jesse Colin Young, Asleep at the Wheel, Elvis Costello, Buddy Miller, one-time Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison with King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, Bela Fleck, Allison Russell, Dave Alvin, Emmylou Harris and acoustic guitar picker extraordinaire Yasmin Williams. And if you happen to be on the grounds at 11 a.m. Saturday, check out the Go to Hell Man Band, made up of siblings, offspring, grandkids, friends and former bandmates of the late Warren Hellman, who founded HSB in 2001. The music starts at 1 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. It’s a good idea to peruse the event’s website, for more information, do’s and don’ts and other key information; www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com.
We might as well go laughing: Let’s face it, Earth is going to hell in a handbasket. Global warming will eventually cook us to a crisp or submerge us in toxic ocean water. Crime is rising. Government stability is plummeting. We can’t even count on the Try Guys anymore.
And what is Alicia Dattner doing about all this? Cracking wise, of course. The wildly versatile Bay Area comedian, playwright and actor has a new show running at The Marsh in Berkeley titled “Are You Dressed for the Apocalypse?” Directed by Tom Bentley-Fisher, the production promises to touch on topics ranging from the coming ecological demise to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and bills itself as “raw, uncensored, apocalyptic, non-dual, post post-feminist ukulele comedy at its finest.” Yes, you read that correctly. As if things weren’t bad enough, there is ukulele playing involved.
Dattner has performed her hit shows such as “The Oy of Sex” and “The Punchline” in the Bay Area, New York and elsewhere, and has been a staple on the comedy circuit for years. She’s even written a mock self-help book, Getting (expletive) Done.” Her new show plays at 7 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. Sundays at The Marsh’s Berkeley outpost, 2120 Allston Way. Tickets are $20-$100 and can be purchased at www.themarsh.org.
An ‘Indecent’ opener: San Francisco Playhouse is kicking off its new season by recalling a 1920s controversy that shook Broadway to its core. We’re talking about Paula Vogel’s 2015 play “Indecent,” which recounts the furor that shook Broadway in 1923 when playwright Sholem Asch’s play “God of Vengeance” opened on Broadway.
The play is about a Jewish brothel owner attempting to whitewash his business by feigning respectability within the Jewish faith. Although many warned Asch that the play, which included scenes dealing with prostitution and lesbianism, was inviting trouble, he kept promoting the work until it opened on Broadway. Soon after the entire cast, management team and owners of the theater were indicted on obscenity charges.
“Indecent,” by award-winning playwright Vogel (who touched on other hot-button issues with “How I Learned to Drive”), recalls the Broadway controversy that erupted over the play, the artists who risked their careers (and lives) to perform it and the combination of money and politics that help govern what is considered fit for public entertainment. SF Playhouse, in collaboration with the Yiddish Theatre Ensemble, is presenting the Bay Area premiere of the play, directed by Susi Damilano and featuring a klezmer-fueled score performed live. The production runs through Nov. 5. Tickets are $15-$100 and available at www.sfplayhouse.org.