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.
Holiday Guitar Ensemble
Lawrence Ferrara, guitar soloist; Alan Lopez, guitar; Bruno Panunzio, guitar; Tatiana Senderowicz, guitar
Come and hear Lawrence Ferrara, soloist and ensemble director for the annual San Francisco Holiday Guitar Concert, presenting works that bring cheer and delight to the holiday season and New Year. The program will feature new transcriptions of solo guitar works by Egberto Gismonti, Rafael Robello, and Astor Piazzolla along with well-known guitar works by Francisco Tárrega, and Paulo Bellinati.
Cookie Segelstein, violin & scordatura violin; Joshua Horowitz, chromatic button accordion & tsimbl; Stuart Brotman, basy
Veretski Pass, founded in 2002 by Cookie Segelstein, takes its name from this mountain pass in the Carpathians, through which the emigrating Jews settled in Transcarpathia, first reaching the town of Mukachevo, or Munkacs. It was also the initial point of entry of the Magyar tribes into Europe in 896 A.D. led by Prince Árpád. Cookie's father was born in Nizhniye Veretski at the base of this pass, her mother in Munkacs, and much of the music for tonight’s program comes from this region. With traditional instruments of this area, violin, bayan (button accordion), tilinca (Carpathian overtone flute), and basy (cello), Veretski Pass plays a mix of Jewish instrumental music of pre-WWII Eastern Europe, or klezmer music, along with traditional melodies from Ukraine, Carpathian-Ruthenia, Bessarabia and Rumania. 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 into original compositions. Much of this rare music has been gleaned from field recordings gathered by the musicians in numerous trips throughout Europe, as well as from family members. Tonight’s concert also contains new material from the repertoire of their newest recording, Poyln: A Gilgul (Poland: A Metamorphosis). This project contains arrangements of pre-World War II Polish, Jewish, and Hasidic melodies, as well as new compositions in traditional style. The original compositions are created according to the ancient tradition of klezmer musicians, playing music of all kinds, but with a recognizably Jewish sound. This music was traditionally used for celebrations, most commonly weddings, but also considered Jewish folk art music. It was not uncommon to have elements of indigenous music mixed with classical as well as liturgical phrases. It was also common in each town that the musical groups consisted of Jews, Gypsies, and local musicians, whose varied styles intermingled to produce a unique sound.
Piedmont East Bay Children's Choirs
Robert Geary, Artistic Director
Experience ethereal world melodies, premieres of new choral masterpieces, and festive holiday songs sung by the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir's most experienced performing groups. This concert is perfect for families and choral newcomers looking for an uplifting holiday musical experience. For more information please visit piedmontchoirs.org.
Lacuna Arts Chorale
Hymns to the Virgin: A Lacuna Arts Christmas
Sven Edward Olbash, Artistic Director; Winnie Nieh, soprano soloist
Now in their 10th season, the Lacuna Arts Chorale is known for innovative programming of a cappella masterworks. This special Christmas program is far from your average concert of holiday chestnuts. Artistic director Sven Edward Olbash leads the ensemble in challenging modern works for 8-part chorus, including Vincent Persichetti's 1960 Mass, four Christmas motets by Francis Poulenc, and music by local composer David Conte. Rounding out the program are hymns in honor of the Virgin Mary by Pärt, Górecki, and Villette. For more information please visit lacunaarts.org.
Ragazzi Boys Chorus
I Dream a World
Jesse Buddington, Young Men's Ensemble Associate Director; Ihang Lin, accompanist; Joyce Keil, Artistic Director; Kent Jue, Avanti Chorus Director; Othello Jefferson, accompanist; Bruce Olstad, chorus vocal coach
Ragazzi Boys Chorus’ I Dream a World concerts feature music inspired by the words of the classic Langston Hughes poem of the same name. This music celebrates the traits that humans have in common – the power of love and music to transform lives, across many cultures. Selections include the mystical Adinu, a Sufi chant sung in Arabic, which proclaims that “love is our religion.” Contrasting pieces in Hebrew will be sung: the lively dance Shiru (“Sing!”), and the thoughtful prayer, L’Dor Vador. From the European tradition, the six-part counterpoint of William Byrd’s Haec Dies (“This is the Day”) illuminates the world of the English Renaissance. The concert will also include traditional carols. Founded in 1987, Ragazzi provides outstanding musical education and performance opportunities for boys and young men, ages 7–18. Over 200 singers—from over 100 schools and over 30 coastside and valley communities—participate in this internationally recognized program. Under the leadership of artistic director and co–founder, Joyce Keil, Ragazzi Boys Chorus performs a wide range of traditional and contemporary works for both the treble and changed voice. The chorus concertizes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Ragazzi participated in the San Francisco Symphony’s recording of Stravinsky’s Perséphone, which was included in the Symphony’s Grammy award for best classical album in 2000. The chorus also produces its own discography, which is available for sale and sample. Ragazzi Boys Chorus regularly tours in the United States and internationally to widen chorus members’ musical and cultural horizons, and deepen Ragazzi’s reputation for performance excellence. For more information please visit ragazzi.org.
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
Christmas has long been celebrated as a time for family and friends to gather and share in the joy of the season. Golden Bough’s special Celtic Yuletide Concert at Old First Concerts is the perfect setting to join together in song and celebration and to drive the cold winter away. Old World Carols from England, Ireland and Scotland, along with Celtic songs of Christmas and Winter, provide a festive atmosphere in which the listener is transported to another place and time. No newcomers to the current Celtic trend, Golden Bough has been bringing their Winter Concerts to family audiences far and wide since 1980. These modern-day minstrels have traveled the world over performing their own brand of Celtic music, drawn from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, The Isle of Man, French Brittany and even Galicia (in Spain). An Old World carol states, “Good fortune attend each merry man's friend to do the best that he may, forgetting all wrongs in carol and song to drive the cold winter away.” With that in mind, Golden Bough created a special Yuletide season program for the whole family. With lively instrumental pieces, haunting ballads and humorous sing-alongs, you’ll be hard put to sit still once the fire of Celtic music is flamed by these fine musicians. A splendid time is guaranteed for all! You can find out more about Golden Bough, their recordings, concert schedule and history by visiting their website at goldenboughmusic.com.
Kelly Atkins; Caitlin Tabancay Austin; Barbara Byers; Shira Cion; Erin Herman; Janet Kutulas; Corinne Sykes
photographer: Tomas Pacha
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, Sephardic, and Hebrew songs for Chanukah; to Bosnian-Muslim ilahijas (devotional hymns); to rhythmic Balkan Romany ("Gypsy") tunes for the winter festivals of Vasilica and Kurban Bajram. 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.