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S.F. Girls Chorus Just Wanna Sing Sing Sing

August 4, 2017

San Francisco Girls Chorus, turning 40 next year, is announcing a dizzying schedule for the 2017–2018 season, a name-dropper’s delight of collaborations with Philip Glass, Pamela Z, San Francisco Opera, Opera Parallèle, San Francisco Symphony, a Carnegie Hall debut, and more.

Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and Music Director Valérie Saint-Agathe have planned three subscription concerts in San Francisco, in addition to a world of other performances. Known for its commitment to the work of contemporary musicians, the Chorus School is engaging Bay Area composer Pamela Z for a year-long residency, working closely on the process of creating and performing new music as part of its choral training program.

The season begins on Oct. 25 in Herbst Theater, with a program called “Philip Glass and the Class of ’37,” celebrating Glass’s 80th birthday (which actually fell on Jan. 31), in collaboration with members of the Philip Glass Ensemble. The program, which also includes music by other composers, presents Glass’s “Building and Knee Play 5” from Einstein on the Beach, Act III of The Photographer, “Vessels” from Koyaanisqatsi, and “Father Death Blues” from Hydrogen Jukebox.

On Dec. 1–3, the venue is Cowell Theater in Fort Mason, with Opera Paralléle’s production of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince.

SFGC appears in Davies Hall on Dec. 18, with “Greetings from All Seasons,” including Eric Banks’s The Syrian Seasons, Gustav Holst’s Ave Maria, selections of Ladino songs, Christmas music from Mexico, Germany, and Ireland, seasonal music from India, Haiti, Russia, and others, plus sing-along traditional carols.

Glass is on the agenda again on Feb. 16, 2018, in Carnegie Hall and on Feb. 20 in Davies Hall, performing the 1971 Music with Changing Parts, a work dating five years before Glass’s breakthrough Einstein on the Beach, and regarded by many as one of the seminal works for the genre known as minimalism.

“Strings Attached” follows in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on April 22, with such works as Bielawa’s “Opening: Forest” from the TV opera Vireo, Theo Bleckmann’s Final Answer, André Caplet’s Septuor, the world premiere of the chamber version of Colin Jacobsen’s If I Were Not Me, and the music of Gabriel Kahane, Carla Kihlstedt, Meredith Monk, and Aleksandra Vrebalov. The concert features guest artists Colin Jacobsen (ukulele and violin) and Daniel Carlson (violin and other string instruments).

The Girls Chorus will participate in the June 7 and 9 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition in performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Other collaborations include the San Francisco Opera (Puccini’s Turandot) and San Francisco Symphony (Home Alone screenings in Davies Hall).

Commenting on “what will be one our most ambitious and busiest seasons to date,” Bielawa looks back proudly on SFGC’s record of “presenting performances of the highest artistic caliber, collaborating with the nation’s most prominent professional organizations and consistently championing the music of our time.”

Sainte-Agathe emphasizes that “Fostering a sense of community is an important part of the SFGC’s mission and we are proud to partner with so many arts organizations this coming season.”

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at janosg@gmail.com.

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