Look below to find a list of our upcoming concerts. You can also learn more about the artists by clicking on their names and following the links to their bios and websites.
To respect our artists and patrons, we do not permit infants or toddlers to attend our performances.
Roy Malan, violin; Susan Freier, violin; Nancy Ellis, viola; Stephen Harrison, cello; Keisuke Nakagoshi, piano
Joaquin Turni Il Circulo for Piano Trio, Op. 91
Ernst von Dohnányi String Quartet No. 2 in D-flat major, Op. 15
Gabriel Fauré Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, Op. 45
Please join the Ives Collective for performances that adventure beyond the familiar. The Fall IC program (one of three the IC will be performing for OFC), features rarely heard works, including Joaquin Turina’s Il Circulo, a work for piano trio that evokes the passing of a single Spanish day. About his Second Piano Quartet Gabriel Fauré recalled: “I remember having translated, almost involuntarily, the far-off memory of a peal of bells…” Lastly, the IC perform “one of the great... post-Brahmsian romantic string quartets”, Dohnanyi’s brilliant Quartet No. 2 from 1906.
Grace Note Chamber Players
Claudia Bloom, violin; Geoffrey Noer, violin; Wendy Clymer, viola; Glenn Fisher, cello; Special Guest Madeline Bloom, piano
Béla Bartók Piano Quintet
works by J. S. Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven
The Grace Note Chamber Players, founded in 2010, is a flexibly-sized ensemble devoted to presenting programs of rare and beautiful chamber music to Bay Area audiences. For this program, the ensemble will be joined by guest pianist Madeline Bloom in a performance of Bartók’s Piano Quintet, along with works by Bach and Beethoven. Madeline Bloom is a graduate of Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music, and has an active career performing as a soloist and with chamber ensembles particularly in the Greater Cleveland and New York metropolitan area, as well as throughout the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe. The Grace Note Chamber Players are all prominent Bay Area musicians, including members of the Opera San Jose orchestra, Mission Chamber Orchestra of San Jose, and the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony.
Composite Identities: The Music of Schulhoff, Frank, and Bartók
Emily Botel, violin; Abigail Shiman, violin; Erica Zappia, viola; Helen Newby, cello
Erwin Schulhoff Five Pieces for String Quartet
Gabriela Lena Frank Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout
Béla Bartók String Quartet No. 4
This evening's program explores the idea of cultural identities in the music of Erwin Schulhoff, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Bela Bartók. Each of these composers are, to varying extents, musical anthropologists. Frank and Bartók’s music often incorporates folk and native music styles into a western classical structure, whereas Schulhoff integrates elements of modernism, neoclassicism, jazz, and dance from a number of sources and cultures. Schulhoff’s Five Pieces, a seemingly modern take on the baroque dance suite, highlights several aspects of the composer's hybrid style: bizarre caricatures and parodies of traditional forms (Alla Valse and Alla Serenata), an homage to Czech folk music (Alla Czeca), an admiration for contemporary, popular dance (Alla Tango), and a rapid and rhythmic finale (Alla Tarantella). Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian-Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian-Jewish descent, Gabriela Lena Frank keenly explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions. According to Frank, Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout "draws inspiration from the idea of mestizaje ... where cultures can coexist without the subjugation of one by the other.” Frank counts composer Béla Bartók among her many influences, particularly regarding his passion for ethnomusicology. The composer’s deeply personal and idiomatic language, one rooted in the synthesis of eastern Europe folk music and Western art sources, has cemented him as one of the twentieth century's most important composers. Bartók's String Quartet No. 4 displays an enormous range of expression while concurrently reflecting his preoccupation with formal unity and coherence.
Piano Party & Champagne Reception
A Benefit for Old First Concerts
Sarah Cahill, piano; Luciano Chessa, piano; Daniel Glover, piano; Peter Grunberg, piano; Heidi Hau, piano; Mack McCray, piano; Robert Schwartz, piano; William Wellborn, piano
Please note special ticket price of $35
Please join us for a piano party featuring a host of the Bay Area's finest pianists performing on Old First Concerts' magnificent Steinway. The program will include Daniel Glover performing two transcriptions by Pletnev from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Luciano Chessa performing a new arrangement for piano of the Siciliana from his Partita, originally composed for solo violin. We'll also have Sarah Cahill performing excerpts from Endless Shout by George Lewis, Heidi Hau performing a selection of preludes by Debussy, Mack McCray performing Schultz-Evler, William Wellborn performing Beethoven, and more! Come hear why Old First Concerts is a favorite performance venue for pianists, enjoy a champagne reception with the artists, and support the perennially exciting programming of Old First Concerts.
Natalie Parker, clarinet; Solomiya Ivakhiv, violin; Matthew Oshida, violin; Jason Bonham, viola; Jonah Kim, cello; Special Guest Christine McLeavey Payne, piano
Sergei Prokofiev Overture on Hebrew Themes
Aaron Copland Sextet for Clarinet, Piano, and String Quartet
Durwynne Hsieh Sextet World Premiere
Carl Maria von Weber Clarinet Quintet in B-flat major, Op. 34
The Farallon Quintet, founded in the summer of 2012, is a dynamic Bay Area ensemble and the only professional chamber music group focused exclusively on the clarinet quintet—string quartet plus clarinet—repertoire. In addition to playing the classics, the quintet seeks to perform rarely heard works, innovative arrangements, as well as new music by living composers. This program will feature the World Premiere of Durwynne Hsieh’s Sextet, which is a set of three contrasting pieces, a brief anthology of musical short stories. The Farallon Quintet received a grant from San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music to record and release its debut album and was recently awarded a Barlow Grant to commission young composer Chad Cannon's first clarinet quintet. The ensemble is made up of leading Bay Area musicians who are currently principal players in such orchestras as the San Francisco Ballet, Santa Rosa Symphony, Marin Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, Fremont Symphony, Modesto Symphony, and the Sacramento Philharmonic. The group takes its name from the Farallon Islands, located right off the coast of San Francisco. In addition to being a landmark location close to where the players live and work, its meaning—“pillar” or “steep rock” in Spanish—indicates the group’s vision to become an important “pillar” or “rock” in classical music by building awareness around the lesser known yet musically significant clarinet quintet repertoire. The Farallon Islands also represent the group’s inspiration which is founded in the simplicity and beauty of nature. In fact, the group is known to intersperse rehearsals with hikes in the mountains and road trips—all with the intent to discover the natural beauties of Northern California.
Chiaroscuro-The Light and the Dark
Eric Chin, violin; Joseph Maile, violin; Pei-Ling Lin, viola; Jeremiah Shaw, cello
Franz Josef Haydn String Quartet in C major, Op. 33, No. 3, ‘Bird’
Brett Dean Eclipse for String Quartet (2003)
Franz Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D. 810, ‘Death and the Maiden’
The Telegraph Quartet was formed in September 2013 with a commitment to a passionate approach to the standard chamber music as well as contemporary and non-standard repertoire, alike. Described alternately as “intensely urgent” and “poignantly resonant”, the Telegraph Quartet received the prestigious Grand Prize of the 2014 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and has gone on to perform in concert halls, music festivals, and academic institutions across the United States and Europe. In this program, the quartet will explore the contrast between light and dark over the course of the evening, and with styles spanning over two hundred years of music. The light and balmy ‘Bird’ Quartet by Hayden, is one of six exceptional quartets that would later be a model for quartets of such composers as Mozart. The quartet is in the sunny key of C major, and explores a variety of pastoral moods—from the lyric to the rustic—and the “bird” makes its cameo on more than one occasion. From here, the darkness starts to seep in, with Australian composer Brett Dean’s Eclipse for String Quartet. Written in 2003 in response to an incident in the Indian Ocean in 2001 involving a Norwegian freighter carrying Iraqi and Afghani refugees, the quartet is an emotional response to the politically charged morass that ensued as the refugees attempted to seek amnesty on Australian shores. The eclipse of the title refers to the process, explored abstractly throughout Dean’s work, in which these refugees found themselves caught up in the muddle of polarized Australian politics, and how differing idealistic beliefs managed to eclipse their very real plight as they drifted in limbo off shore for weeks on end. Last on the program, we transition into true darkness with Schubert’s seemingly autobiographical ‘Death and the Maiden’, based on the song of the same name of 1817. It was written in 1824, four years before Schubert’s death following a very strenuous period of illness for the composer—an illness that would continue to plague him and eventually lead to his death. Inundated with an atmosphere befitting his recent brush with death, the work can be viewed as a dark premonition of what is soon to come. It can also be seen as the first of many defiant triumphs over his future untimely death due to the sheer quality and quantity of works that would succeed this work in a desperate race to artistically cheat his own fate.
Holiday Guitar Concert
Lawrence Ferrara, guitar soloist & ensemble director; Mengni Tang, piano
Come and hear Lawrence Ferrara, soloist and ensemble director in the annual San Francisco Holiday Guitar Concert. Ferrara will be presenting works that bring cheer and delight to the Holiday Season and New Year. You will hear music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, with performances of the works by Gaspar Sanz, George Frederic Handel, Anotnio Vivaldi, and J. S. Bach. Other works performed will be in the spirit of the Holiday Season and New Year. Performing with Mr. Ferrara will be pianist Mengni Tang.
Cookie Segelstein, violin, viola, scordatura violin; Joshua Horowitz, chromatic button accordion, cimbalom, piano; Stuart Brotman, basy (bass cello), bass, tilinca, baraban
Taking its name from the mountain pass through which Magyar tribes crossed into the Carpathian basin to settle what later became the Austria Hungarian Empire, Veretski Pass plays old country music with origins in the Ottoman Empire, once fabled as the borderlands of the East and the West. In a true collage of Carpathian, Jewish, Rumanian and Ottoman styles, typical suites contain dances from Moldavia and Bessarabia; Jewish melodies from Poland and Rumania; Hutzul wedding music from Carpathian-Ruthenia; and haunting Rebetic aires from Smyrna, seamlessly integrated with original compositions. Playing in an unbound, energetic “village style, this band of world renown klezmer veterans carries on the ancient tradition of klezmer musicians, playing music of all kinds, but with a recognizably Jewish sound.
Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir
Robert Geary, Director
Please join us for an evening of superb treble and mixed voice music performed by the Performing Department of the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir in Old First Church's wonderful acoustic. Four choirs, under the direction of Andrew Brown, Eric Tuan and Bob Geary, will sing a varied concert of traditional to adventurous repertoire that reflects both the reverence and the joy of the Holiday season. All 120 singers will come together to crown the night with a stirring performance of Herbert Howells' Magnificat.
Lacuna Arts Chorale
The Story of Christmas: Distler's Die Weihnachtsgeschichte
Sven Edward Olbash, Artistic Director
Hugo Distler Die Weihnachtsgeschichte
Arvo Pärt Which Was the Son of…
Following the model of the a cappella choral Passion settings of Baroque composer Heinrich Schütz, Hugo Distler (1908–1942) has set the familiar story of the Nativity of Jesus Christ for soloists and unaccompanied chorus in a highly idiosyncratic style that is truly modern while still firmly rooted in the Germanic compositional tradition. Woven into the story are seven chorale variations on the carol Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming, which recall J. S. Bach's chorale cantatas. In a sort of Biblical prequel to the Christmas story, Arvo Pärt's Which was the son of... recounts the genealogy of Jesus through seventy generations back to Adam and Eve. Pärt uses his minimal, "tintinnabulous" style to evoke a meditative quality through the litanic text. The Lacuna Arts Chorale—now entering its second decade under the direction of conductor Sven Edward Olbash—are thrilled to be returning to Old First Concerts for their second innovative Christmas concert of rarely heard modern works after last year's performance of Persichetti's Mass, Poulenc's Christmas motets, and minimalist compositions by Górecki and Pärt.
Ragazzi Boys Chorus
In the Company of Angels
Joyce Keil, Artistic Director & Co-Founder; Kent Jue, Associate Artistic Director & Avanti Chorus Director; Jesse Buddington, Young Men's Ensemble Associate Director; Ihang Lin, accompanist; Othello Jefferson, accompanist
Ragazzi Boys Chorus presents In the Company of Angels, exploring the language and harmonies of our eternal search for spiritual wisdom. As intermediaries and guardian spirits, angels have inspired countless composers and poets, appearing widely across Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and Sikhism. Ragazzi’s selections include Heinrich Schütz’s rhythmic and textured 16th century masterpiece Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt. America’s rich Spiritual tradition is celebrated with Dillworth’s joyful arrangement of Shine on Me. Hymn to the Eternal Flame, by Stephen Paulus, soars beyond earthly constraints with a gorgeous soprano solo. Contemporary composer Eric Whitacre’s Sainte Chapelle weaves chant and poetry to recreate a mystical encounter between a young girl and angels in one of France’s most beautiful chapels. Instrumentalists will join vocalists in Haydn’s swirling and ecstatic Gloria from his Missa Cellensis. The concert will conclude with carols - and an invitation for the audience to join the boys in song.
Christmas in a Celtic Land
Margie Butler, vocals, Celtic harp, penny-whistle, recorder; Paul Espinoza, vocals, guitar, accordion, octave-mandolin; Kathy Sierra, vocals, violin, viola, recorder
Once again Golden Bough will bring their infectious music to Old First Concerts with their annual Christmas in a Celtic Land show. Folk songs tell a story and the music of the Celtic trio Golden Bough is full of the stories and mythology of the Celtic lands. The Celtic nations share a long history of culture and fine arts and their music often intertwines to create the powerfully emotional sound of what we now call Celtic music. Golden Bough was founded with the concept of combining this music with various folk styles, highlighting their own compositions. For 36 years Golden Bough has been delighting audiences with their exceptional interpretations of the music of the Celtic nations and the uniqueness of their original compositions. Their interpretation of this music has made them a favorite with audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, gaining critical acclaim and enthusiastic support from folk fans wherever they perform. Their Holiday Concert is the perfect setting in which to enjoy Golden Bough's rare carols and songs of celebration for the Winter Solstice and the New Year. With lively instrumental pieces, haunting ballads and humorous sing-alongs, the band creates an atmosphere in which the listener is transported to another place and time. Margie Butler, Paul Espinoza and Kathy Sierra capture the essence and joy of traditional music on a wide variety acoustic instruments, including; Celtic harp, penny-whistle, guitar, accordion, violin, viola, mandolin, and bodhran (a hand held drum, particular to the Celtic culture). Golden Bough will have their new CD, Celtic Festival available at the concert. This recording is full of the lively music they perform at Festivals and Highland Games throughout the U.S and Europe. For further information on Golden Bough, their recordings, concert schedule and history you can access their website at goldenboughmusic.com.
Shira Cion, Director
Please note special ticket prices: $23 advance / $25 at door General Admission, $15 advance / $20 at door Senior & Full-time Student
Wintersongs is Kitka's critically-acclaimed and wildly popular winter holiday program showcasing seasonal music from a wide variety of Eastern European ethnic and spiritual traditions. For countless centuries, people around the world have utilized the power or community singing to infuse warmth, cheer, spirituality, wishes for peace, health, and good fortune into the long, dark, cold and difficult winter season. Eastern Europe's geographic position as a crossroads between Europe and the Orient has produced an astonishingly rich and varied array of seasonal musical rituals. Kitka's program features songs ranging from rousing Slavic folk carols; to lush, meditative Eastern Orthodox sacred choral works; to Baltic pagan incantations for the return of the Sun Goddess, to Caucasus Georgian Alilos (hallelujahs); to Yiddish songs for Chanukah. Traditional pieces will be woven together with new folk song arrangements and original compositions by Kitka members and contemporary American and Eastern European composers, all inspired by the customs, beauty, and mystery of wintertime. For more information please visit kitka.org.
The following pre-sale ticket prices are good until Saturday, December 17, 2016 AT 6:00PM. Tickets purchased at the door will be $25.00 for General Admission, $20.00 for Seniors, and $20.00 for Full Time Students.