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.
Yuri Liberzon, guitar
A diverse classical guitar program featuring baroque to contemporary composers including Fernando Sor, Domenico Scarlatti, J.S. Bach, Leo Brouwer, Sergei Rudnev, Keith Jarrett, and Astor Piazzolla.
Russian-born and Israeli-raised guitarist Yuri Liberzon ranks among today’s foremost classical guitarists in the United States and the world. His playing has been described as “transcendent technical prowess at the service of gracious musicality. He is a natural born guitarist”. His debut album Ascension was released to both domestic and international listeners in July 2015. It wasn’t long before the album received a stunning review from classical music critic Dan Cohen at The Muse’s Muse. He writes: “...he's all about melody, all about communication, all about heart. It's his Ascension, to be sure, but he wants to take us with him. My advice to you—drop everything and go!” Yuri’s success in the United States began with full scholarships to study with two of the world’s leading guitar figures: Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, and Benjamin Verdery at Yale University School of Music. Mr. Liberzon went on to successfully complete his Graduate Performance Diploma and Bachelor’s degree from Peabody and finally a Master’s degree from Yale. His skills have also earned special recognition by the USCIS; Mr. Liberzon was granted Alien of Extraordinary Ability United States Permanent Residency based on his achievements in the music field. In addition to arrangements and transcriptions, his expertise has also been called on to judge competitions in the United States, most notably the Beatty Music Competition for the Classical Guitar in Washington D.C. For more information please visit yuriguitar.com.
B3LLA Piano Trio
The Complete Beethoven Piano Trios-part three
Mimi Lee, piano; Fred Lifsitz, violin; Eric Gaenslen, cello
Ludwig van Beethoven Kakadu Variations, Op. 121a; Piano Trio No. 2 in G major, Op. 1, No. 2; and Piano Trio No. 6 in E-flat major, Op. 70, No. 2
The masterful Beethoven Piano Trios have entertained audiences worldwide for centuries. What makes these works so mesmerizing? B3LLA explores these trios with fresh eyes and impassioned personal interpretations and presents them to you. They put the works in context historically and find ways to make the works relevant to our lives today. The emotions evoked in these inspired works have clearly spoken to humanity – join B3LLA as they continue the tradition and breathe bits of their own hearts and souls into them. B3LLA was founded in 2010 when Mimi experienced the profoundly transformative power of music while battling breast cancer. As a physician, Mimi had embraced and championed wellness - the constant, conscious pursuit of living life mindfully and peacefully. B3LLA seeks to inspire others with that power, through high-quality, live chamber music performance, for anyone open to finding a place of centered peace and calm as an essential part of their mindful journey through life. For more information please visit bpt3.org.
Berkeley Choro Ensemble
with guest bassoonist Paul Hanson
Jane Lenoir, flute; Ricardo Peixoto, 7-string Brazilian guitar; Brian Rice, pandeiro/percussion; Harvey Wainapel, clarinets; Special Guest Paul Hanson, bassoon & reeds
The Berkeley Choro Ensemble (pronounced "shoro"), is a group of world-class musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area that made its debut in 2010 at the Berkeley Public Library. The group celebrates the music, culture and history of Brazil, with a special emphasis on the Choro genre, a style of music which emerged in the 1800's in Brazil, fusing the music of Brazil's European immigrants and the native music of Brazil's indigenous and African-Brazilian population. In particular, the choro sound is somewhat akin to a combination of European classical music, ragtime, and blues. Historically, the choro style influenced Brazil's most famous classical composer, Heitor Villa Lobos, to compose some of the world's most hauntingly beautiful music, the Bachianas Brasileiras. This program will feature choro along with baiao and samba by composers including Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Ximbinho, Joventino Maciel, and ensemble members Ricardo Peixoto and Paul Hanson. For more information please visit berkeleychoroensemble.com.
Cascada de Flores: quintet
A Musical Altar for our Muertos
Arwen Lawrence, voice & dance; Jorge Liceaga, voice & lead guitars; Marco Diaz, piano & trumpet; Saúl Sierra-Alonso, bass; Kyla Danysh, violin
A musical altar inspired by the troubadours of Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and beyond, sung with strings, zapateado and heart.
Cascada de Flores celebrates love, life, and music, inspired by the troubadours of Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and beyond, with an evening of song, strings, zapateado and heart. A musical altar will be played, singing for loved ones and inspiring cultural icons that have passed: Sones from different regions of Mexico, danzones, waltzes, boleros, guarachas and a few compositions using these traditional forms. SING OUT! Magazine has called their performances "a dream from which you have no desire to return. You learn the roots while listening to experts play music they clearly love. The result is rich, delicate, and lovely." For more information please visit cascadadeflores.com.
Amati Ensemble joins Gold Coast Chamber Players
Rebecca Jackson, violin; Pamela Freund-Striplen, viola; Jennifer Culp, cello; Special Guest Gil Sharon, violin; Special Guest Ron Ephrat, viola
image left: Gold Coast Chamber Players, right: Gil Sharon
Mozart Duo in G major for violin & viola, K. 423
Mozart Quintet in C major, K. 515
Mendelssohn Quintet No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 87
The Gold Coast Chamber Players, known for their engaging and vibrant performances, are joined by Gil Sharon and Ron Ephrat of the Netherlands-based Amati Ensemble in a program featuring works of two of the greatest child prodigies of all times: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn’s Second String Quintet bears similarities to Mozart’s String Quintet K. 515, in that they are ‘viola quintets’ – string quartet plus an extra viola. Mozart’s quintet, although conversational in nature, is a masterpiece among his chamber works. Mozart’s Duo for violin and viola features a sparkling interchange between the two instruments. The viola was among Mozart’s favorite instruments, and in this duo it is an equal partner with the violin, rather than its familiar role as an accompanying voice.
One Great City
Alexandra Iranfar, guitar & voice; Timothy Sherren, guitar
World Premiere of a new song cycle by Eric Choate, along with works by Scarlatti, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Assad.
San Francisco based two guitar and voice ensemble One Great City Duo returns to Old First Concerts to celebrate the release of their debut album, titled Excursions, produced by Grammy Award-winning artist Sérgio Assad. This diverse program features music by Baroque keyboard composer Domenico Scarlatti, 20th-century composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and music by their mentor Sérgio Assad. They are thrilled to give the world-premiere of award-winning young composer Eric Choate’s new song-cycle, with poetry by Edgar Allan Poe. The San Francisco Examiner acclaims that One Great City Duo "brings a journey of discovery to every recital they prepare." One Great City Duo crystallized in 2011, combining Alexandra's abilities as a guitarist and a soprano with their love and dedication to chamber music. Season highlights include performances at the eighth annual SFMusic Day, the Presidio Sessions, as well as a masterclass and performance at Sonoma State University. Additionally, they have been invited by their alma mater to give an interactive performance and presentation for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Alumni Recital Series. One Great City Duo recently appeared at the Hot Air Music Festival, and on KALW 91.7 FM’s Revolutions Per Minute, hosted by Sarah Cahill. In March 2015, their collaboration with two outstanding young composers, Eric Choate and Shahab Paranj, was the feature of a brief documentary film. Timothy and Alexandra completed their Master of Music degrees and Professional Studies Diplomas at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where they studied privately and as a duo with scholarship under Grammy Award-winning artist Sérgio Assad. One Great City Duo is a fiscally-sponsored affiliate of San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the service of chamber music in California. Visit their website at onegreatcityduo.com
Sarah Cahill with special guest Stuart Canin
Sarah Cahill, piano; Stuart Canin, violin
Brahms Sonata in A major, Op. 100
Prokofiev Sonata in D major, Op. 94
Stravinsky Duo Concertante
and other works
Violinist Stuart Canin and Sarah Cahill join forces for an evening of Brahms, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, as well as various bonbons from Fritz Kreisler and others. Stuart Canin studied Stravinsky’s Duo Concertante with Samuel Dushkin, the work’s dedicatee and frequent Stravinsky collaborator, so he performs the piece with special insight. The former Concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Opera, Stuart Canin was a founder of New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco. He was the first recitalist to perform on the Heifetz Guarnerius violin given to the City of San Francisco after the death of the famed Jascha Heifetz, and had the distinction of playing a command performance at the Potsdam Conference for U.S. President Truman, British Prime Minster Churchill, and Russian Premier Josef Stalin. He has taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara and Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In 1970 Seiji Ozawa appointed him Concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony, where he remained for ten years, and in 1992 he founded the New Century Chamber Orchestra. Sarah Cahill is very proud to be in residence at Old First Concerts this season. She was recently called “a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde” by The New York Times and “a brilliant and charismatic advocate for modern and contemporary composers” by Time Out New York. Composers who have dedicated works to her include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Annea Lockwood, and Evan Ziporyn. Recent appearances include a concert at San Quentin of the music Henry Cowell wrote while incarcerated there, Lou Harrison’s Piano Concerto with Steven Schick and the La Jolla Symphony, four performances at the San Francisco Symphony’s Soundbox, a residency at Dickinson College, and concerts in Maui, Miami, and at MIT. She is in the process of recording a two-CD set of Terry Riley’s solo and four-hand music with pianist Regina Schaffer for the Irritable Hedgehog label. Her radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco. She is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory and will curate a monthly series of new music concerts at the new Berkeley Art Museum when it opens in early 2016. For more information, please visit sarahcahill.com.
The Delphi Trio
Liana Bérubé, violin; Michelle Kwon, cello; Jeffrey LaDeur, piano
Haydn Trio in F major, Hob. XV:6
Smetana Trio in G minor, Op. 15
Schubert Trio in B flat, Op. 99
Praised for “…spot-on ensemble playing and a beautifully blended sound…” (San Francisco Classical Voice) and “…rich, committed string tone, dazzling pianism, rhythmic flexibility, and risky tempi…” (Sarasota Herald Tribune) the Delphi Trio has become a powerfully eloquent voice in the world of chamber music. The Trio is grounded in the immensely rich classic repertoire for piano trio and is committed to the exploration of its deep, lasting meaning for performers and audience alike. Liana Bérubé, Michelle Kwon, and Jeffrey LaDeur are graduates of the University of Toronto, Stanford University and the Eastman School of Music respectively, and formed the Trio while studying in the prestigious Chamber Music Program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For more information, please visit thedelphitrio.com
Heidi Hau, piano
Debussy Preludes, Book 1
Chopin Preludes, Op. 28
A prelude is typically a short piece of music, often improvisatory in nature. In the Baroque era, it served as an introductory piece of music, most famously in J. S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. It was this set of works that influenced Frédéric Chopin who liberated the prelude and allowed it to serve as an independent concert piece, each conveying a specific idea and emotion. His Op. 28 Preludes challenged the contemporary attitudes of the worth of such a small musical form. Opinions of this work were mixed among his peers. However, Franz Liszt said, "Chopin's Preludes are compositions of an order entirely apart... they are poetic preludes, analogous to those of a great contemporary poet, who cradles the soul in golden dreams..." A century later, in 1915, Claude Debussy agreed to edit a new complete edition of Chopin’s works. Debussy had always worshipped Chopin and said “Chopin is the greatest of all…for with the piano alone he discovered everything.” And like his great musical hero, he too wrote his own set of preludes, 2 books of 12 preludes each. He infused each prelude with his own sense of individuality, being a master of color and harmony, light and darkness and texture and rhythm. Heidi Hau has performed in recital venues throughout the world including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Wiener Saal in Salzburg, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Carnegie Hall in New York, the National Concert Hall and the John Field Room in Dublin and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. She was selected nationally as one of the two recipients of the Fulbright Scholarship for graduate study in Ireland. She completed her Masters degree with a First Class Honors at the Royal Irish Academy of Music under the director, Dr. John O’Conor. Currently she is the Director of the Marilyn Mindell Piano Competition of the Peninsula Symphony and on the pre-college piano faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For more information please visit heidihau.com.
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 as well as well-known guitar works by Francisco Tárrega, and Paulo Bellinati. The holiday classic, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite arranged for 4 guitars will also be performed!
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
In medieval music, a lacuna is a gap or missing section in a particular manuscript. Under the artistic direction of Sven Edward Olbash, Lacuna Arts bridges the gap between large community choirs and small professional choruses in the San Francisco Bay Area. We believe that the process of rehearsing serious music is fun, and that performing at a high level of excellence is its own reward. For more information please visit lacunaarts.org.
Ragazzi Boys Chorus
I Dream a World
Joyce Keil, Artistic Director; Joyce Keil, Artistic Director
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.