Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Contact: Nancy Bertossa
(415) 677-0328 or nancy@sfperformances.org

San Francisco Performances Announces Its 40th Anniversary Season
2019–20 Highlights Include:


40th Season Gala featuring

40th Anniversary Family Day of Performances, Veteran’s Building
40th Anniversary Concert

(Two World premieres) with performances by

JENNIFER KOH, violin/VIJAY IYER, piano /TYSHAWN SOREY, percussion

including the West Coast premiere of Concertiana, Paul Taylor’s last work

Bay Area premiere of The Day
with choreography by LUCINDA CHILDS and music by DAVID LANG

Introducing baritone BENJAMIN APPL and pianist BORIS GILTBURG

Series Subscriptions on Sale April 24—Single Tickets on Sale August 19.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—April 9—President Melanie Smith today announced the 2019–2020 40th Anniversary season of San Francisco Performances (SFP), which runs from September 27, 2019 through May 16, 2020. The season features three world premieres, seven debuts, over fifty events and seventy-five artists in chamber music, piano, dance, guitar, vocal recitals, special events, family matinees and engagement activities across four venues.

This special year is both a retrospective of SFP’s history and an opportunity to highlight the unique perspectives of artists appearing in the season. Looking backward, SFP welcomes the return of renowned pianist Sir András Schiff (Mar 26), acclaimed baritone Christian Gerhaher (Oct 22), and the beloved Paul Taylor Dance Company (Feb 19–23) as essential artists who have performed frequently over the years return once again. Looking forward, SFP continues to introduce artists in exciting debut performances, like baritone Benjamin Appl (May 6), percussionist/composer Tyshawn Sorey (Jan 24), and the young Z.E.N. Trio (Oct 18) and to present new work in music and dance, including a new song cycle for tenor Nicholas Phan (Apr 26) by composer/performer Gabriel Kahane, and a new dance theater work with choreography by Lucinda Childs and music by David Lang, performed by Wendy Whelan and cellist Maya Beiser (Feb 27-28).

“For the past four decades, SF Performances has brought the best and the broadest perspective on chamber music and contemporary dance to the Bay Area, presenting a range of great artists and programs that are at the core of our mission. Today we continue to provide audiences with the opportunity to experience performances that are in the moment, as well as timeless. We give artists the space and support they need to create personally meaningful, authentic programs. In our 40th season we will honor many artists and ensembles who have appeared on our series often over the years, while celebrating the debuts of others beginning their careers. It will be a season of remembrance and renewal, as we look ahead and re-imagine what chamber music and contemporary dance might be, while celebrating their history and ongoing relevance today.” —SFP President Melanie Smith

San Francisco Performances at 40

When pianist Andre Watts walked onto the stage of the brand-new Davies Symphony Hall on November 23, 1980, more than 2,500 people witnessed the birth of what is now internationally recognized as a remarkable success story: San Francisco Performances.

From its formal beginning on July 4, 1979, SFP has been much more than just another arts organization in a city that is a world cultural capital. Founded by Ruth A. Felt and a small group of dedicated music patrons, San Francisco Performances set out with an ambitious program designed to make an important contribution to the growth and vitality of an already vibrant arts scene.

In 40 years SFP has presented many hundreds of acclaimed and emerging touring artists to complement the Bay Area’s own live performing arts. From a first season of just seven performances, SFP has grown to feature more than 50 mainstage performances and hundreds of important debuts and premieres.

SFP has led the way in presenting today’s great artists in solo recitals, most often in the intimate acoustics of Herbst Theatre, giving audiences the up-close and personal experience for which it is well known. Through the years, SFP has presented more than 100 premieres and San Francisco debuts, introducing such acclaimed artists in recital as composer/pianist Thomas Adès, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, pianist Evgeny Kissin, soprano Dawn Upshaw, and bassist Edgar Meyer as well as presenting single choreographer-led international dance companies such as Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company from Israel, Company Wayne McGregor from England and the iconic American company Paul Taylor Dance Company.



SFP begins the anniversary celebrations with the 40th Anniversary Gala which will take place on Tuesday, October 29 in the War Memorial Veterans Building featuring a pre-concert cocktail reception (6pm), a recital with renowned pianist Richard Goode in Herbst Theatre (7pm) with a program of Debussy and Chopin, and a post-concert dinner in the Green Room (8pm). Proceeds benefit San Francisco Performances’ education programs. Tickets start at $500. For more information, patrons should call 415.677.0326. Concert-only tickets are available online for $85/$65/$45.

40th Anniversary Family Day of Performances & 40th Anniversary Concert

On Sunday, April 26, 2020 SFP invites the public to an all-day anniversary extravaganza with two programs: a Family Day marathon (Noon-5pm) of 40 free and low-cost concerts and recitals throughout the Veteran’s Building and an evening concert (7pm) with pianist Marc-André Hamelin, the Alexander String Quartet, tenor Nicholas Phan and composer/performer Gabriel Kahane. The program features the world premieres of a new quintet by Hamelin that he will perform with the Alexander String Quartet and a new song cycle by Gabriel Kahane for Nicholas Phan, performed by Phan and Kahane. All evening concert seats are $40.

SFP also offers a special Artist Perspectives sub-series. The programs were chosen by and reflective of Marc-André Hamelin and Mark Padmore’s personal musical viewpoints in honor of the 40th season. Those performances take place on April 23, April 26, April 27 and April 29 and are also part of the Piano, Art of Song, Hear Now and Then series and the 40th Anniversary Concert.

2019–20 Season By Series

Dates, artists, and programs are subject to change. All 2019/2020 season performances take place in Herbst Theatre, (War Memorial Veterans Building) unless otherwise noted.


Now in its fifth year, this innovative exploration of new adventures in the performing arts has become a success. String Theory is our theme this year for this four-day festival of music—chosen from our 2019-2020 season artists—that crosses boundaries and energetically explores and unifies four threads of music: ancient, traditional classical, new music and jazz.

Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani (Jan 23), returns to shatter musty stereotypes of the baroque keyboard with violinist Stefan Jackiw in a program surveying 300+ years of music that puts the harpsichord in an entirely new light. SFP favorites Jennifer Koh and Vijay Iyer team up with the debut of percussionist Tyshawn Sorey (Jan 24) to examine the limitless relationships between composers and performers. Their program Limitless will include two new works. Category-defying German composer/vocalist Theo Bleckmann (Jan 25) makes his SFP debut with the adventurous Telegraph Quartet in an evening of cabaret songs titled Songs of Love and War, Peace and Exile, including music by Kurt Weil, Kraftwerk, Charles Ives, Richard Rodgers and others. PIVOT closes with violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaya (Jan 26) and cellist Jay Campbell of the JACK Quartet, playing a program that spans from the 11th to the 21st century.


Dance performances will be held at The Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA and Herbst Theatre (War Memorial Veteran’s Building).

SFP takes an affectionate and nostalgic look back at the powerful work of Paul Taylor — one of the world’s great dance-makers of the 20th and 21st centuries and a look forward with the Bay Area premiere of a new work by a quartet of contemporary movement-theater innovators.

Last seen in San Francisco in 2017, the vibrant and versatile Paul Taylor Dance Company has called SFP its second home with regular appearances here for three decades. Their inclusion in SFP’s 40th season with their new artistic director Michael Novak, will be thrilling for dance audiences. The company will perform two programs at The Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA (Feb 19-23) which will include the West Coast premiere of Paul Taylor’s final work, Concertiana, and signature dances that defined his artistry: Piazzolla Caldera, Company B, Polaris, Last Look and his iconic Esplanade. Also in February SFP presents an exciting new project with ground-breaking dancer Wendy Whelan, legendary choreographer Lucinda Childs, renowned cellist/creative producer Maya Beiser and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang in the Bay Area premiere of The Day (Feb 27-28). The collaborative evening is a sensory exploration of interconnected human journeys—life and the eternal—as seen through the shared languages of music and dance. Performed by Whelan and Beiser (onstage in her SFP debut), the two performances take place at Herbst Theatre.

Hear Now and Then Series

Bringing together the old and the new and aligning the unconventional with the quintessential, the Hear Now and Then series blurs boundaries and mashes up genres and styles. Spanning four centuries of music, this series celebrates the tension between innovation and tradition, with programs that acknowledge the past while speaking to the future.

Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani (Jan 23), returns with violinist Stefan Jackiw in a program surveying 300+ years of music. Jennifer Koh and Vijay Iyer perform with percussionist Tyshawn Sorey (Jan 24) to examine the limitless relationships between composers and performers. Category-defying German composer/vocalist Theo Bleckmann (Jan 25) makes his SFP debut with the adventurous Telegraph Quartet in an evening of cabaret songs titled Songs of Love and War, Peace and Exile including music by Kurt Weil, Kraftwerk, Charles Ives, Richard Rodgers and others. SFP favorite tenor Mark Padmore (Apr 29) brings together some of the top Baroque interpreters of our time, including cellist Tanya Tomkins, in an all-Baroque program.

The Shenson Piano Series

For the 40th season, SFP brings back many of the international titans of the keyboard who have made this series one of its signatures. Pianists Natasha Paremski and Alfredo Rodriguez (Sept 27) combine their individual musical fireworks. One is known as a galvanizing young classical artist and the other a Cuban jazz virtuoso. Their “call-and-response” style program makes historical masterworks ingenious material for jazz interplay and improvisation. Perennially loved by Bay Area audiences, Garrick Ohlsson (Feb 4 & Mar 31) returns for two recitals to complete his two-year survey of Brahms’ complete solo piano works begun last season. One of music’s most revered pianists, Sir András Schiff (Mar 26) has a long history with SFP audiences and his all-Beethoven program will be a highlight of the season. Marc-André Hamelin (Apr 23) who is also a decades-long partner with SFP, performs his illuminating artist perspective program of Scriabin, Feinberg and Schubert.

The Chamber Series

SFP’s chamber series helped spark a renaissance in the genre in the Bay Area 40 years ago. It remains a popular and influential series to this day, presenting esteemed ensembles, introducing fresh talent and fostering artist-inspired programming, premieres and partnerships.

This season’s chamber series welcomes the SF debut of Z.E.N. Trio (Oct 18), which captured the UK’s attention in its electrifying debut as BBC New Generation Artists. Named after the first letter in each of the trio members’ first names, the “N” in Z. E. N. is Narek Hakhnazaryan, introduced by SFP in 2018 in the Discovery Series. The Calidore String Quartet (Oct 21) returns after its successful 2018 SFP debut bringing a classical program with an exciting new twist—a world premiere by the young British composer Anna Clyne. The SF debut of pianist Boris Giltburg with the Pavel Haas Quartet (Mar 10) brings a concert of Eastern European chamber music featuring Dvořák’s stunning Quintet. The series closes with the SFP debut of the Israeli ensemble Jerusalem Quartet (Mar 28) in a program of Haydn, Shostakovich and Brahms.

The Art of Song

40 years of vocal recitals have earned SFP an international reputation among a handful of top presenters with a keen eye for artistry. SFP presents well-known and emerging singers, significant recital debuts of renowned artists from around the world and programs that give voice to our performers’ own perspectives.

German baritone Christian Gerhaher (Oct 22), who has been called “the most moving singer in the world,” returns to SFP with an all-Mahler program. Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton’s (Dec 11) program brings a refreshingly personal, uniquely feminist perspective focusing on women composers, putting them in context alongside their male peers. Tenor Mark Padmore and pianist Marc-André Hamelin (Apr 27) make an eagerly awaited return and their first duo performance together. They have charisma, chemistry, emotional depth and, together, the technical gifts to make Schubert’s tour-deforce Winterreise a transcendent musical experience. Suave-toned and supremely inspired, baritone Benjamin Appl (May 6) makes his SF debut in a varied and energetic program of music inspired by the night.

Great Artists and Ensembles

One thousand years of music have been personally selected to be interpreted by many of today’s most thoughtful and accomplished performers who will lead audiences on an unusually rich journey. Off-the-beaten-path pairings of acclaimed soloists performing together, with programs ranging from the hits of the Middle Ages to a substantial evening of Beethoven trios, and from Mozart to music that changed the 20th century, are what make these artists and ensembles truly great.

The “diva next door”—warmly personable and formidably gifted soprano Dawn Upshaw—returns to SFP with the peerless Brentano String Quartet (Dec 4) in a rarely heard program of Mozart, Respighi and Schoenberg. Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja (Jan 26) and cellist Jay Campbell of the JACK Quartet have chosen a program than spans a millennium underscoring the timeless power of music to communicate, innovate and move us. Violinist Isabelle Faust, pianist Alexander Melnikov and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras bring together their individual prowess as international soloists in an all-Beethoven celebration (Feb 8). The rare pairing of a violist and pianist makes for a unique musical experience when Tabea Zimmermann and Javier Perianes (Mar 27) play a program of mostly Spanish works.


The guitar Series concerts will be held at Herbst Theatre and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.

One of SFP’s most popular series offers a wide-ranging, boundaries expanding mix of top performers and music that puts the guitar in its context of historically bridging “classical” and “popular” styles and appealing to broad audiences.

The series begins with the incomparable Manuel Barrueco (Oct 13) who has had a long and close relationship with SFP and our audiences, as a frequent performer and former artist-in-residence. His program is steeped in Spanish and New World musical traditions. Jason Vieaux (Oct 26) has been called “perhaps the most precise and soulful guitarist of his generation.” Vieaux will play the West Coast premiere of a work written for him by American jazz icon Pat Metheny on a program encompassing baroque to contemporary. The Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ) (Nov 23) will perform a program of American Guitar Masterworks with music from Pat Metheny, Souza, Copland, Zappa, Hendrix, Chet Atkins, Flatt & Scruggs, Julian Lage and others. A frequent SFP performer charismatic Xuefei Yang (Dec 7), returns with a multinational program. Bill Kanengiser of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet joins the Alexander String Quartet (Mar 7) for the US premiere of Sting and Dusan Bogdanovich’s Prism—Six Songs by Sting. The program, entitled “British Invasion,” also features works by Leo Brouwer, Ian Krouse and John Dowland. The sixth guitar program with the elegant and Grammy-winning David Russell (Mar 21) continues Russell’s reign as one of the world’s most popular performing guitarists.

The Guitar Series is presented in association with OMNI Foundation for the Performing Arts.

Saturday Mornings
Alexander String Quartet and Robert Greenberg, host and lecturer

All Saturday Morning Series programs will be held at the Herbst Theatre and are at 10am on Saturdays.

In celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020, SFP resident artists the Alexander String Quartet and host and lecturer Robert Greenberg will survey Beethoven’s string quartets in this audience-favorite Saturday Morning Series. Combining full performances of the Quartets with Greenberg’s affable, informed and often humorous lectures about Beethoven, his world, his life and his music, these 10:00am Saturday concerts are extremely accessible. SFP artist-in-residence Dashon Burton (Feb 8) will join Bob Greenberg for an additional program called “Words and Music” focusing on Beethoven’s vocal music. Together they will explore the depth and beauty of these rarely performed works in a unique lecture/recital format.

The 2019–20 Saturday Morning series is now at one location in Herbst Theatre and runs: Oct 19, Nov 9, 2019; Jan 25, Feb 22, Feb 29, Mar 21 and May 16, 2020.

Family Matinee

The Family matinee will be held at Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA.

SFP’s Family Matinees bring some of the world’s top creators and performers into engaging, entertaining and informative exchanges with younger audiences. Usually about an hour in length, Family Matinees feature complete performances with an interactive component—sometimes a Q&A with the artists, sometimes with audience participation—designed to give a deeper glimpse behind and inside what’s on stage. The 2019-20 Family Matinee will be a performance by Paul Taylor Dance Company (Feb 22).

Salon Series

The Salon Series will be held in the Education Studio, 4th Floor of the War Memorial Veterans Building. Sponsored by KDFC radio.

The Salon Series is back after a one-year hiatus and SFP is honored to have Edward Simon serve as curator of the Salons as this series is re-introduced in a new venue. A native of Venezuela, Simon has made a name for himself over decades in America as a jazz improviser, composer-arranger and band leader. Based in San Francisco as a member of the all-star SFJAZZ Collective, he has put together four programs that explore the music of Latin America, featuring performances with other Bay Area artists (TBA). Dates for the series are four Wednesday evenings: Jan 15, Feb 5, Feb 26 and Apr 15, 2020, all at 6:30pm.

Resident Artists

SFP’s continuing artists–in-residence (a four-year cycle) in the 2019–20 season includes bass-baritone Dashon Burton and guitarist Jason Vieaux, working directly with students and teachers in public schools around the Bay Area. In addition, jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez will begin a new residency in the fall of 2019. Our artists-in-residence program provides arts education in schools and community centers, builds new audiences, and furthers the careers of talented artists by providing the time and freedom necessary to explore new ideas and develop new works.


  • BENJAMIN APPL (SF debut)
  • Z.E.N. TRIO (SF debut)
  • MAYA BEISER (SFP debut)


  • Anna Clyne, untitled (World premiere) performed by CALIDORE QUARTET
    MONDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2019, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Paul Taylor, Concertiana (West Coast premiere) performed PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY
    Program A, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2020, 7:30pm; SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2020, 7:30pm, SUNDAY FEBRUARY 23, 2020, 2pm, Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA
  • Wendy Whelan/Maya Beiser/Lucinda Childs/David Lang, The Day (Bay Area premiere) performed by WENDY WHELAN and MAYA BEISER
    THURSDAY–FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27-28, 2020, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Pat Metheny, untitled (West Coast premiere) performed by JASON VIEAUX
    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2019, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Sting/Dusan Bogdanovich, Prism – Six Songs by Sting (US premiere) performed by ALEXANDER STRING QUARTET/BILL KANENGISER
    SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 2020, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Marc-André Hamelin, untitled (World premiere) performed by ALEXANDER STRING QUARTET/MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN
    SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2020, 7:00pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Gabriel Kahane, untitled (World premiere) performed by NICHOLAS PHAN/GABRIEL KAHANE
    SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2020, 7:00pm, Herbst Theatre

2019–20 Venues

  • Herbst Theatre, War Memorial Veterans Building
    401 Van Ness Avenue (at McAllister), San Francisco
  • St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
    St. Mark’s Square at 1111 O’Farrell Street (at Franklin Street), San Francisco
  • Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA
    700 Howard Street (at Third Street), San Francisco
  • Education Studio, War Memorial Veterans Building
    401 Van Ness Avenue (at McAllister), 4th Floor, San Francisco

Ticket Information

Subscriptions are on sale April 24, 2019.
Subscribers receive benefits, including savings on single ticket prices, priority seating, free ticket exchange privileges and invitations to a gift concert. Call SF Performances’ subscriber hotline at (415) 677-0325 or visit sfperformances.org.

Single-event tickets go on sale August 19, 2019.
Single tickets may be purchased by calling the main box office line, (415) 392-2545 or visiting the website at sfperformances.org. (Subscribers have priority seating.)

For selected high-resolution images of the 2019–20 season, please visit https://sfperformances.org/media/1920/selectphotos.html or contact Nancy Bertossa.

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