There are a lot of great shows and concerts to catch in the Bay Area this week and beyond, from a full-scale production of “Carmina Burana” to the return of Concord’s popular Music & Market series, to the legendary Brazilian musician Hermeto Pascoal.
Here’s a partial rundown.
On stage: epic ‘Carmina Burana’
Symphony San Jose is closing its 2022-23 season this weekend with a staging of German composer Carl Orff’s epic “Carmina Burana,” the popular, widely referenced if somewhat controversial cantata.
Conducted by Carlos Vieu, the performance will bring all the firepower called for in Orff’s full-throttle 1930s work, set to a collection of 11th-13th-century poems addressing everything from love to sin and virtue to the fickle nature of wealth and power. The Symphony will join soprano Maria Valdes, tenor Martin Bakari, baritone Brian James Myer, the Symphony San Jose Chorale, Santa Clara Chorale and Cantabile Youth Singers for the production.
While some detractors complain that work and its composer were favorites of the Third Reich, “Carmina Burana” is widely produced in various stagings around the world and is likely most famous for its frequent use in films (“Excalibur,” “Cheaper by the Dozen”), TV shows (“Glee,”) and numerous advertisements, including a Domino’s Super Bowl ad.
The Symphony San Jose weekend program also includes Samuel Barber’s
“Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” also featuring Valdes.
Details: 8 p.m. June 3, 2:30 p.m. June 4; California Theatre, 345 S. First St., San Jose; $55-$115; 408-286-2600, www.symphonysanjose.org.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
Music & Market concerts are back
One of the Bay Area’s nicer traditions returns each year around this time: the municipal-organized concerts staged in parks and public spaces through spring, summer and fall. The performances are usually free (or inexpensive); the music is fun, lively and often of an exceptional caliber; and you get to experience it all in a nice setting, maybe with a glass of wine or beer or a picnic. It’s why many folks believe music can anchor events that foster a sense of community.
One of our favorite music series returns this Thursday night to Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza at Willow Pass Road and Grant Street (there is free parking nearby). The Music & Market series takes place at 6:30 p.m. each Thursday through September and each performance is free. The series takes its name from the fact that the concert is going on while a fun and sizable farmer’s market is running at the same site. It all makes for a lively scene that is a perfect post-work adventure. Thursday’s opening performer is none other than a hometown hero – the Concord Blue Devils, one of the finest drum and bugle corps in the country.
In all, the series features a nice mix of jazz, party pop/rock, world music, blues, Cajun and more. Some of the performers are top-notch musicians who have been playing Music & Market and other Bay Area community concerts for years, including acclaimed Cajun and Zydeco fiddler/violinist Tom Rigney and his band Flambeau (June 15), the Prince tribute band Purple Ones (July 13), the all-woman Led Zeppelin tribute band Zepparella (Aug. 31) and The Sun Kings (Sept. 14), considered one of the best Beatles tribute outfits going.
Details: A full schedule and more information is at cityofconcord.org/downtownevents.
— Bay Area News Foundation
Pascoal is casting his spell
It’s no wonder that Hermeto Pascoal is known with awe and affection as “O Bruxo” (the Sorcerer) at home in Brazil. A composer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and sonic conjurer once described by Miles Davis as “the most complete musician I’ve ever met,” the 86-year-old Pascoal has been a revolutionary figure for more than six decades.
Under the auspices of the Los Angeles music label and production house Jazz Is Dead he performs Friday in Santa Cruz and Sunday in Berkeley with his longtime sextet, an improvisation-steeped combo he refers to as his “universal family.” It’s an apt phrase, as bassist Itiberê Zwarg has propelled the group since 1977, and he was joined in the rhythm section some three decades later by his son, drummer Ajurinã Zwarg. Hermeto’s son, percussionist, soprano saxophonist and producer Fabio Pascoal, came on board in 1987, and pianist André Marques was 18 when he plunged into Pascoal’s teeming waters two decades ago. The band’s most recent addition, saxophonist and flutist Jota P., has been in the group for more than a decade.
With Hermeto Pascoal on piano, keyboard, teapot and toys, the band finds beauty everywhere, no matter what he plays. “I don’t like to compare instruments,” he said. “Each one like a person. We use the biggest one, our body, and when I get another one in my hands the intuition flows according to the instrument, and is totally unexpected.”
Details: 7 p.m. June 2 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz; $34-$68.25; www.kuumbwajazz.org; 7 p.m. June 4 at UC Theatre, Berkeley; $35-$125.65; theuctheatre.org/events.
— Andrew Gilbert, Correspondent
SF Opera launches summer season
San Francisco Opera’s summer season gets off to a thrilling start this weekend with two of the season’s much-anticipated productions.
First on the calendar is Saturday night’s opening performance of “Madame Butterfly,” with soprano Karah Son making her San Francisco debut in the title role and tenor Michael Fabiano as Pinkerton. Music director Eun Sun Kim conducts Puccini’s classic.
On Sunday afternoon, it’s “Die Frau ohne Schatten” (The Woman without a Shadow). Richard Strauss’s opera stars soprano Camilla Nylund as The Empress and Nina Stemme as Barak’s Wife; former S.F. Opera music director Sir Donald Runnicles conducts.
Details: 7:30 p.m. June 3, 2 p.m. June 4; War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco; $36-$464; 415-864-6000; www.sfopera.com.
— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent
Girl power at Berkeley Symph
The theme is the strength, courage and resiliency of women as conductor Joseph Young and the Berkeley Symphony close out the season at June 4 at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall with a program called “Enduring Stories.”
Bay Area actress Leontyne Mbele-Mbong will be on hand to narrate, portraying four archetypal black females for composer Carlos Simon’s “Portrait of a Queen,” transforming from the proud African of the title to a plantation slave, then a woman enduring the strictures of the Jim Crow South and finally a strong, church-going matriarch of the modern era.
The program will open with the world premiere of Chinese-born composer Xi Wang’s “Lotus Prayer” and conclude with Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”
Details: 4 p.m.; $15-$90; 510-841-2800, www.berkeleysymphony.org.
— Bay Area News Foundation
Ragazzi choir ready to celebrate
Fresh off their winning performance as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s triumphant rendition of Britten’s “War Requiem,” the Redwood City-based Ragazzi Boys Choir returns to action this weekend in a performance that celebrates the acclaimed chorus’ 35th anniversary.
The program this time will likely be a tad more upbeat, as the choir is set to perform what’s billed as a “jubilant spring concert” featuring a new work composed especially for the talented lads. The work, “I was Created for Joy,” is by renowned composer/conductor Dr. Andrea Ramsey, with text based on a poem by 14th-century Persian poet Hafiz. This concert features works by two other female composers, including Elaine Hagenberg and Mary
The choir’s appearance with the S.F. Symphony was nothing new. The choir took part in the symphony’s 2018 performance of Stravinsky’s “Perséphone,” which was included on an album that later won a Grammy Award. The choir has also collaborated on a regular basis San Francisco Opera, Opera San Jose, West Bay Opera, Lawrence Pech Dance Company, Peninsula Symphony, Masterworks Chorale, the Stanford University Symphonic Chorus, Peninsula Girls Chorus, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, and Sonos Handbell Ensemble.
Details: 4 p.m. June 4; Aragon High School, 900 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo; $25-$45; Ragazzi.org.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
‘Chinglish’ plays in SF
They were the darlings of social media some years back: those public signs in China that included awkward English translations (“Beware of Missing Foot,” “Slip and Fall Carefully!”). Their fascination has faded with time (and perhaps with the realization that they were only funny to Americans who expect every other country to speak English), but one lasting remnant of value is David Henry Hwang’s play “Chinglish,” which is enjoying a successful and well-received run at SF Playhouse.
The play centers on an American businessman who heads to China hoping to secure some lucrative contacts for his family sign company. Of course, the prospective clients he meets don’t always understand him very well, and what unspools is an insightful and comedic clash of idioms, expectations and motivations. But don’t take our translation, go see the show for yourself. SF Playhouse’s production, directed by the talented Jeffrey Lo, runs through June 10 at 450 Post St.
Details: Performances are 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday; $15-$100; www.sfplayhouse.org.
‘Re:SET’ your concert experience
Heading to Stanford University this weekend is an intriguing approach to the traditional concert format, albeit one that still promises to deliver some first-rate pop and rock. Titled Re:SET, the format calls for each headlining act to select a different cast of supporting musicians for each show, so that the itinerary is never repeated over the course of the tour. Re:SET is bringing three shows to Stanford’s lovely Frost Amphitheatre.
The series kicks off Friday with the terrific and adventuresome Brooklyn band LCD Soundsystem, led by James Murphy, with his curated openers including British DJ Jamie XX, British rockers Idles, and American rapper Big Freedia, and more. Saturday welcomes the singer-songwriter-guitarist Steve Lacy and his guests, Brit singer-songwriter James Blake, American singer Toro y Moi, and American singer-songwriter Foushee, among others. Sunday brings Boygenius, the indie rock supergroup including Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, and their guests, singer-songwriter Clairo, American musician and producer Dijon, and the guitarist Bertees Strange, among others. Each concert begins at 4 p.m.. Tickets are not cheap, $99.50-$275, but these shows should each deliver a ton of great music.
Details: Tickets and more information are at https://live.stanford.edu/
Enter if you ‘Dare’
Hollywood’s Pre-Code films of the late ‘20s to mid-30s were so starkly dramatic – with sin and sacrifice fighting for attention – that they remain ripe for satire. One of the more acclaimed recent satires is getting its regional premiere with a new production at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre.
“The Confession of Lily Dare” is by Charles Busch, heralded playwright, author and drag queen who’s famous for his campy melodramatic shows, in which he often appears. His best-known play, “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” was a hit on Broadway, but he might be even more adored for such off-Broadway shows as “Psycho Beach Party,” “Die, Mommie, Die!,” and especially “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.” He adapted “Lily Dare” from his own 2019 book. Set in the Bay Area (the “seedy underbelly of the Barbary Coast,” as NCT puts it) the story is a mashup parody of pre-Code films as it follows the titular doomed heroine whose many pitfalls and predicaments are all tied her desperate quest to help the child she was forced to abandon.
The comedy, starring well-known Bay Area actor and drag performer J. Conrad Frank, is playing at New Conservatory Theatre, 50 Van Ness Ave., through June 11.
Details: $25-65; nctcsf.org.
— Bay Area News Foundation