Weekend Roundup: Boys Chorus Gala, Jenny Lin’s SF Recital Debut, Academy Awards


Donned a frock on Saturday night and hosted the San Francisco Boys' Chorus Gala at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. Didn't have anything near the wardrobe of Anne Hathaway at the Oscar's ceremony on Sunday, but I had fun anyway. I wish I had been asked to curate the performances for the evening though. All of the soloists and groups on the schedule were wonderful in their own way, but some were more appropriate to the proceedings than others. For instance, I love the Conspiracy of Beards (an all-men's chorus dedicated to performing a cappella … [Read more...]

On Skiving Off


There's something enormously satisfying about experiencing impromptu art, whether it's coming across a flash mob performance in a shopping mall or shirking off an afternoon in the office to experience a matinee concert at the Symphony.I relished doing the latter yesterday when I decided at about 20 minutes notice to head around the corner to Davies Symphony Hall to hear Michael Tilson Thomas lead the SF Symphony and Chorus in a matinee performance of Mozart's Requiem. Additionally on the program were two pieces that were new to me: … [Read more...]

Two Kinds of Publicists


There's nothing quite like a good PR manager. The best of my colleagues in public relations make my job so much easier. They inspire ideas for articles, help connect me with the people I need to speak to to do my reporting and respond to my fact-checking questions and other requests promptly and efficiently.A conversation I had last night with a friend who heads up a prominent arts group in the Bay Area on the theme of publicists made me realize that there are really two kinds of publicists. One kind you want to work with, and the other, you … [Read more...]

Art & Age


The way in which different arts events attract audiences of different age demographics occasionally strikes me as odd. It's no surprise that a gig at a club featuring several DJs, a couple of live bands, live painting displays, breakdancing demonstrations and video projections will skew younger, age-wise, than a recital of 19th century German lieder at a concert hall.But why should it be, for instance, that classical and contemporary dance performances as a whole should attract more diverse audiences including droves of younger people than … [Read more...]

Faith in Fables


Collaborations between local youth choirs and established professional performing arts companies seem to be all the rage these days in the Bay Area, in part I'm guessing as a result of special funding opportunities for these kinds of projects. There have been several such productions in recent years, such as the San Francisco Girls Chorus' partnership with the Joe Goode Dance Company a couple of years ago and now "Fable & Faith," a dance work steeped in children's fairy tales created by the Robert Moses' Kin dance company with the … [Read more...]

Eating Opaque


As a person who enjoys food as a hobby and writes critically about the performing arts professionally, I love culinary experiences that are also dramatic.I experienced one of the most theatrical meals on Monday night at Opaque, a basement restaurant in San Francisco which specializes in serving meals in the dark.When I say dark, I mean blacker than pitch. It was so dark in the restaurant that I couldn't see my hands two inches in front of my face, let alone the table laden with crockery and cutlery, let alone my partner and the other dining … [Read more...]

On Kids Singing Cole Porter: Creepy or Sweet?

An event on Monday at a nightclub to benefit the San Francisco Arts Education Project featured a lively medley of Cole Porter love songs performed by a promising bunch of local public school students dressed in natty tuxedos and pretty black and white satin party dresses as its centerpiece.I found the performances of romantic standards like "You're the Top" and "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" to be rather endearing. The friend who joined me for the event had reservations. Many of the students, who are all aged between 9-15, had great … [Read more...]

Weekend Roundup: From Vaudeville to Viols

Another smashing, action-packed weekend of cultural mayhem in San Francisco. Forthwith, some brief impressions of various experiences, both the entrancing and not-so-entrancing...1. The Companion Piece at Z Space : Director Mark Jackson, and performers Beth Wilmurt, Chris Kuckenbaker and Jake Rodriguez are among the most captivating theatre artists in the Bay Area. This world premiere devised theatre production is hilarious, physically exhilarating (the actors probably burn off a thousand calories apiece doing everything from tap-dancing … [Read more...]

Mathis Mania

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco was packed to the knishes for an event celebrating the life of Johnny Mathis last night.The singer was on top form, looking spry at 75 and full of gentle tales of his youth in San Francisco.I loved the event most for the tidbits I learned from Mathis about the Fillmore district in the 40s and 50s and the partially-lost art (as he sees it) of singing a great love song. Singers today don't put enough emphasis on the lyrics, Mathis says, and they over-emote instead of letting the music speak for … [Read more...]

Agent Provocateur

Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris' drama about race, community, urban development and the language we use to define - or avoid having to define - all three of these concepts is having its west coast premiere at the American Conservatory Theater right now.The best thing about Jonathan Moscone's pretty fluid and well-acted production is the reaction from the audience.To elicit any kind of reaction from an ACT audience is a feat in itself. It's not unusual to see patrons snoring their way through the company's frequently dull shows.But Norris' drama … [Read more...]

The Essence of Collaboration

I attended what I thought was going to be a "crossover" concert last night: A performance at Yoshi's jazz club by Simone Dinnerstein, a classical pianist best known for her crystal clean yet emotionally deep interpretations of J S Bach's music, and Tift Merritt, a rock musician and singer-songwriter in the tradition of Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell.Some of the concert -- the least compelling parts of it -- did indeed go into crossover terrain with Dinnerstein performing Daniel Felsenfeld's dense but ultimately tedious variations on the Leonard … [Read more...]