San Francisco's Home for Great Concerts since 1970

Old Becomes New – Ensemble for These Times – Friday, November 20 at 8 pm



Ensemble for These Times
Old Becomes New

Nanette McGuinness, soprano; Anne Lerner, cello; & season guest Margaret Halbig, piano

with special guest appearance by Dalit Warshaw, piano

Mary Bianco (b. 1939) Etude for Margaret (2020) and Are You Born (2020) World Premieres
Juliana Hall (b. 1958) Through the Guarded Gate (2018) California Premiere
Dalit Warshaw (b. 1974) Winter Dream (in memoriam Charlotte Salomon) (2018)
Marti Epstein (b. 1959) Etudes No.’s 2 & 12 from American Etudes (1991–2005)
John Musto (b. 1954) In Stride from 5 Concert Rags (1991–8)
Grigory Smirnov (b. 1982) Chaconne (2013)
David Garner (b. 1954) Gershwin from Cinq Hommages (1983, rev.)
Alden Jenks (b. 1940) Twilight Mazurka (2019)

plus selections from Mystery Variations on a Theme by Columbi for Cello (2010):
Giuseppe Columbi (1635–1694) Chiacona (theme)
            Esa-Pekka Salonen (b. 1958) Sarabande per un coyote
            Steven Stucky (1949­–2016) Partite sopra un basso
            Tan Dun (b. 1957) Chiacona – after Columbi
            Pablo Ortiz (b. 1956) Paloma

Awarded second place for Chamber Music Performance by The American Prize, contemporary music group Ensemble for These Times kicks off its thirteenth season with Old Becomes New, new music by living composers inspired by older forms, styles, and themes, taking something old and giving it a new perspective for these times by refashioning it into something brand new. The double highlights of this program will be two World Premieres (Etude for Margaret for solo piano and Are You Born, to a poem by Muriel Rukeyser) of commissions by California composer Mary Bianco, along with a guest appearance from NYC by 2016 Guggenheim Fellow composer/pianist Dalit Warshaw, performing her Winter Dream (in memoriam Charlotte Salomon) (rescheduled from earlier this year due to COVID-19). The program will also feature the California premiere of Through the Guarded Gate (2018) by 1989 Guggenheim Fellow Juliana Hall to texts by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Margaret Widdemer, along with Gershwin from Cinq Hommages by E4TT’s co-founder David Garner. Other composers on the program include John Musto, Alden Jenks, Grigory Smirnov, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Steven Stucky, Tan Dun, and Pablo Ortiz. Season guest pianist Margaret Halbig will join E4TT soprano Nanette McGuinness and cellist Anne Lerner.

Originally formed after co-founders McGuinness and Garner met at Skywalker Studios, E4TT focuses on 20th and 21st century music that is relevant, engaging, original, and compelling, music that resonates today and will speak to tomorrow. E4TT strongly believes in the power of artistic beauty, intelligence, wit, lyricism, and irony to create a deep understanding of our times and the human condition.


“With the release of this deeply moving and well-conceived project, the San Francisco-based Ensemble for These Times (E4TT) has put forth a superb and relevant spoken word and musical recording … Now more than ever, as the U.S. experiences a déjà vu of hatred and is poised on the brink of societal unravelling, the potent and timeless messages of survival, love, tolerance and forgiveness contained on this brilliant presentation need to resonate throughout the world.”  (Leslie Mitchell-Clarke, about E4TT’s debut CD, Surviving: Women’s Words)

“Lerner-Wright is definitely an impressive cellist. She was clearly up to the full scope of challenges of all of the works on the program; and she could “play well with others” as effectively as she could present her solo work.” (Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio)

“Soprano Nanette McGuinness (accompanied by Dale Tsang on piano and Laura Gaynon on cello) deftly negotiated Garner’s convolutions [in Mein Blaues Klavier].”  (Stephen Smoliar,

“E4TT’s soprano Nanette McGuinness effectively channeled this nervous energy [in Derek Jenkins’ Fruehlingsglaube from Nach Raum und Zeit], and guest pianist Taylor Chan beautifully shaped the late Romantic harmonies.”  (Rebecca Wishnia, San Francisco Classical Voice)

“Fascinating … Garner’s music is difficult but compelling, varied and harmonically interesting… [McGuinness] manages the vocal and musical challenges well. (Erin Heisel, American Record Guide)

“Extremely well done. Recommended.”  (Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical-Modern Music Review)