Friday, June 19, 2020
Contact: Nancy Bertossa
(415) 677-0328 or

Media Alert
San Francisco Performances Announces Front Row “Sanctuary Series”
June 25–July 16, 2020
Available Free Online

Upcoming Releases

The Alexander String Quartet
Available Free Online: Thursday, June 25, 2020
Recorded June 12, 2020

The Living Earth Show
Featuring Danny Clay’s Music for Hard Times
Original Podcast (Nadia Sirota’s Living Music) June 25, 2020
SF Performances’ Version Available Free Online: Thursday, July 2, 2020

Nicholas Phan, tenor and Jake Heggie, piano
”Time—a Meditation on this Moment”
Available Free Online: Thursday, July 9, 2020
Recorded June 25, 2020

Edward Simon, piano
Performing music by Federico Mompou
Available Free Online: Thursday, July 16, 2020
Recording TBD, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—June 19, 2020—San Francisco Performances (SFP) announces the release of the “Sanctuary Series,” a free series of four performances recorded specifically for release on the SFP Front Row online platform. The first series of performances released on Front Row consisted primarily of selected audio recordings from SFP’s vast archive of full-length past performances. The Sanctuary Series is the result of multiple collaborations between artists and SFP President Melanie Smith to produce newly recorded content for the platform.

“Throughout many periods of challenge and change in human history, we have sought refuge and retreat. From cloisters and cathedrals to mountain tops and forests, we look for places to find sanctuary from the world’s woes. Music has also been called a refuge or an oasis, as well as a catalyst for reflection and even revolution. With these new digital programs, called the Sanctuary Series, we offer a musical space for focus and introspection.

The idea behind this series came from the artists it features, each of whom has an ongoing connection to San Francisco Performances. Both the Living Earth Show (Andy Meyerson, percussion and Travis Andrews, guitar) and tenor Nicholas Phan approached me separately to ask if we would be interested in digitally presenting new programs they were creating.

The Living Earth Show’s Music for Hard Times, written by Bay Area composer Danny Clay, came from the frustrations and opportunities of sheltering in place and grew out of their question “Is it possible for us to use the tools of our discipline—classical art music—to make people feel better?” Music for Hard Times consists of a recorded album (which will be released June 25 on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, etc.), a companion film created by San Francisco filmmaker and mixed media artist Jon Fischer and a companion workbook: a “score” of calming musical exercises. The music is co-presented by SFP and Living Music with Nadia Sirota (a quarantine variety show, streamed on Facebook Live). Tuesday, June 23, 6pm a “live-stream” premiere of a movement from Music for Hard Times will be broadcast on the Living Music Pirate Radio editionAM with the full piece and film premiering June 25, 6pm. SFP will premiere the piece (music only) on the Sanctuary Series starting Thursday, July 2.

Nicholas Phan was tired of seeing artists live streaming from their homes “like animals in a zoo,” and wondered if a full program, in a real concert setting, could be recorded and shared with our audience. “As the musical world has been forced to shut down due to this pandemic, and we musicians have suddenly found ourselves with untold amounts of time on our hands,” says Phan, ”I’ve been thinking a lot about time itself. Our program meditates on humanity’s relationship with time: how it sometimes feels as though it is flying by, how sometimes it feels as though it is endless, and how finite it is. No matter how much time we feel we have, we only have so much.” At the same time, the Alexander String Quartet had plans to gather together again for the first time in three months, to rehearse and finish their recording of Brahms string quartets, and pianist Edward Simon was considering a complete album of works by Catalan composer Federico Mompou. In very different ways, each program offered a perspective on this extraordinary time, and the idea of finding refuge or release through music.

Since the Alexander String Quartet had already booked St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere (a well known venue for recordings and concerts) for their Brahms recording, we asked about other dates and the church readily and graciously made them available for this project.

We look forward to returning to presenting live performances as soon as we can this fall, even if gathering for a concert looks and feels a bit different. This digital series, along with all of the offerings on our Front Row platform, are meant only as placeholders for those in-person experiences. But we also hope that they will provide both continuity and inspiration as we wait for that time to come.” —Melanie Smith, SFP President

About San Francisco Performances

San Francisco Performances has been a leader in the Bay Area cultural scene since our founding in 1979. With a strong curatorial vision and adventurous programming, we are the city’s premier presenter of intimate concerts and solo performances.

We have introduced hundreds of established and emerging classical music, jazz and dance artists to audiences, including Yo-Yo Ma, the Juilliard String Quartet, Philip Glass, Wendy Whelan, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. We also champion a new generation, committed to building a contemporary and equitable repertoire. Performers like violinist Jennifer Koh, tenor Lawrence Brownlee and pianist/composer Vijay Iyer are moving their art into the present and future, making it accessible to younger audiences while converting many traditionalists to new possibilities. They represent the path forward.

Quality, intimacy and connection are the hallmarks of San Francisco Performances. We nurture unique relationships with today’s best artists to create an accessible, warm and engaging arts experience.

Calendar Editors, Please Note:

The following audio recordings will be available as listed by their airdate, at


The Alexander String Quartet
Available Free Online: Thursday, June 25, 2020
Recorded live, June 12, 2020 | St. Stephen’ Church, Belvedere, CA
Quartet in C minor, Op. 51, No. 1
Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2
Intermezzo Op. 118, No, 2 (for piano, transcribed by Zakarias Grafilo)

The Living Earth Show
With post-performance artist talk moderated by pianist/composer Timo Andres
Available Free Online: Thursday, July 2, 2020
DANNY CLAY: Music for Hard Times

Nicholas Phan, tenor
Jake Heggie, piano

Available Free Online: Thursday, July 9, 2020
Recorded live, June 25, 2020 | St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere, CA
Program: “Time—Meditation for thie Moment”
IVES: Memories
DOWLAND: Time Stands Still
CHAUSSON: Le temps des lilas
LILI BOULANGER: Les lilas qui avaient fleuri
FAURE: Mandoline
ROREM: Early in the morning
NADIA BOULANGER: Heures ternes
HOWARD SWANSON: I Will Lie Down in Autumn
JAKE HEGGIE: By the Spring, at Sunset; The Sun Kept Setting; and Goodnight
BRITTEN: If it’s Ever Spring Again
FINZI: In years defaced
BERNSTEIN: We’ll Catch Up Some Other Time

Edward Simon, piano
Available Free Online: Thursday, July 16, 2020
Recording TBD, 2020 | St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere, CA
MOMPOU: Song and Dance, Nos. 1, 2, 6 & 12; Música Callada (Silent Music); and Prelude Nos. 8,9 & 10

Editors: To schedule an interview with SFP President Melanie Smith regarding her viewpoints on art and culture during this COVID-19 outbreak, please contact Nancy Bertossa at

For images contact

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