Best Bets: ‘Mandolin Madness,’ ‘Mozart Serenades,’ ‘Great Leap,’ and more

Mandolinists Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall will be featured in the world premiere of a new concerto by Evan Price presented by the San José Chamber Orchestra on March 17. (Courtesy Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall)

Sensational strings: Two world-class string players, mandolinists Caterina Lichtenberg, and Mike Marshall, are teaming up with the San José Chamber Orchestra this Sunday to perform the world premiere of a new double concerto for their instruments, which we’ll hazard a guess composer Evan Price has titled it in their honor, as it is called “A Game of Cat and Mike.”

Price, a mean string player in his own right, is a 10-year veteran of the Turtle Island String Quartet and the music director of the Space Orchestra and a composer with a long list of contributions to various Bay Area ensembles. Also on the “Mandolin Madness” program, which will be conducted by Barbara Day Turner, are a wind quartet by composer and San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen called “Memoria” and music by the late Irish composer Joan Trimble.

Performance time is 7 p.m. in St. Francis Episcopal Church, 1205 Pine Ave., in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood. Find tickets, $15-$75, at or by calling (408) 295-4416. 

Conductor Donato Cabrera has an eclectic program titled “Mozart Serenades,” but including new music, in this weekend’s California Symphony concerts. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen)

Serenades and more: There will be lovely, lush strains and some banging sounds in this weekend’s eclectic lineup that music director Donato Cabrera has programmed for his two California Symphony “Mozart Serenades” concerts at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, specifically designed to showcase woodwinds, brass and percussion. First up is the Serenade that composer Richard Strauss produced at the tender age of 17, inspired by his father’s horn playing.

Following it, concertmaster Jennifer Cho, backed up by five percussionists, will perform Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra, which will keep her compatriots busily occupied on a variety of recognizable and totally unique instruments, including washtubs, flower pots, gongs, congas and coffee cans. (And the composer also called for a double bass to be laid on its back and struck with sticks!) Things will calm down a bit for the closing work from Mozart, his “Gran Partita” Wind Serenade, a seven-movement masterpiece filled with effervescent rhythms and beautiful melodies.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets, $20-$90, are at and (925) 943-7469. 

Artistic director Robert Moses, at left, leads his company in a rehearsal for a new program to be performed this weekend in San Francisco. (Courtesy Robert Moses KIN)

Robert Moses and free speech: Bay Area contemporary dance troupe Robert Moses KIN launches its 29th season with a typically thought-provoking program that addresses the theme of censorship.

The program, “New Legacies: One Act Dances” serves up some very different works by Moses and three guest choreographers – Natasha Adorlee, Khala Brannigan and Robert S. Kelley II – who all have deep Bay Area ties. The works will be set to widely varying musical styles (from “a cappella to goth,” say organizers) but all deliver what artistic director Moses says is “a defiant response to the chilling effects of censorship,” whether it manifests itself in suppressive school curricula or banning of certain forms of expression.

Says Moses: “Libraries crumble and rise again, their contents reshaped to serve the whims of power. This obliteration of stories is the obliteration of lives.” Moses and his company never fail to challenge dance fans with their provocative performances. This weekend promises more of the same from a true icon in the Bay Area arts community.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Presidio Theatre, 99 Moraga Ave., San Francisco. Tickets are $10-$45; go to 

James Aaron Oh and Nicole Tung rehearse for Center Repertory Company’s production of Lauren Yee’s basketball drama “The Great Leap.” (Courtesy Center Repertory Company)

Hoop dreams: San Francisco native Lauren Yee has not had problems finding local stage companies to present her works. Her musical, “Cambodian Rock Band” and the autobiographical and deeply personal “King of the Yees” have both seen well-received productions in the Bay Area, and her basketball-and-politics work “The Great Leap” got its regional premiere in 2019 at American Conservatory Theater.

Now “Leap” is getting another shot in Walnut Creek, with a new staging by Center Repertory Company. The show is packed with intersecting themes and stories. It follows a University of San Francisco men’s basketball team traveling to China to play a headline-making exhibition game.

The tension jumps when an incident in China draws international headlines, and the play does indeed reflect on China’s Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square massacre as proof that history has a way of constantly encroaching on the present. The comedy/drama also centers on a promising but overlooked point guard on the USF squad, dreaming for the chance to show his full potential.

Directed by Nicholas C. Avila, “The Great Leap” plays Saturday through April at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Tickets are $42-$70; go to or (925) 943-7469. 

Free St. Patrick’s Day festivities: Varied community and cultural groups working under an umbrella organization called the United Irish Societies of San Francisco are hosting UniteSF 2024, which includes the big 173rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade (followed by a multicultural celebration) on Saturday.

Keyboardist-vocalist Eamonn Flynn, who played on “The Commitments” soundtrack, leads Dublin Soul. The band headlines the big St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in San Francisco’s Civic Center on Saturday afternoon. (Courtesy Eamonn Flynn/Instagram screenshot)

The parade starts at 11:30 a.m. at Second and Market streets, then travels down Market to Civic Center Plaza near City Hall, where the free party starts at 2 p.m.

Along with food, drink and dance, there will be performances by The Hooks (from Sligo, the county town in Ireland); Glide Ensemble and Change Band (playing gospel); and Dublin Soul (a soul-Irish fusion group with Tony Lindsay of Santana, Omega Rae of Van Morrison’s band, Amelia Hogan singing traditional songs and Ronan and Keith Mulligan from The Hooks, led by keyboardist Eamonn Flynn, who played on “The Commitments” soundtrack).

Also on the bill: Tributes to late Irish titans Sinéad O’Connor and Shane MacGowan. Visit for details. 

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