Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Contact: Nancy Bertossa
(415) 677-0328 or nancy@sfperformances.org

San Francisco Performances Announces Its 41st Season

2020–21 Season Artists

(L-R clockwise): Soprano Golda Schultz, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, guitarist Thibault Cauvin and Dreamers’ Circus

2020–21 Highlights Include:

Danish String Quartet

Beethoven All-Day Marathon
Alexander String Quartet
Robert Greenberg, lecturer


Jonathan Biss, piano

The Romeros with Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano

Anthony Ross Costanzo with Attacca Quartet and Timo Andres, piano
with new works by Timo Andres

Introducing Doric String Quartet, Modigliani Quartet, Chiaroscuro Quartet and soprano Golda Schultz

Series Subscriptions on Sale March 18—Single Tickets on Sale August 3.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—March 3, 2020—President Melanie Smith today announced the 2020–21, 41st season of San Francisco Performances (SFP), which runs from October 2, 2020 through May 4, 2021. The season features twelve debuts, a World premiere and West Coast premiere, over thirty-five events and seventy-two artists in chamber music, piano, guitar, vocal recitals and special events in three venues.

“SFP’s 2020-21 season is our 41st year of giving great artists a place to create their most personal performances and providing audiences with a meaningful connection to their art. The season is about the influences and influencers of music, from both yesterday and today, and how they often come together to become something even more compelling and timeless.

The 2020-2021 season also offers new discoveries, like the Modigliani Quartet (March 18) and pianist Aaron Diehl (April 21), along with artists and programs that are more familiar, such as the Danish String Quartet (November 10) and the dashing duo of pianist Beatrice Rana and violinist Renaud Capuçon (February 25). In this era of rapid programmatic change, it’s exciting to see where today’s forward-thinking artists are taking chamber music—that ultimate medium for collaboration. Their innovation is exemplified in counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo’s program with the Attacca Quartet and composer/pianist Timo Andres (April 29), and in trumpeter Sean Jones multi-disciplinary tribute to the great Dizzy Gillespie (April 16) including tap dancer/flutist/vocalist Brinae Ali and turntablist Wendel Patrick. With all of SFP’s programs, we aim to go deeper into what makes a good concert and a transformative arts experience.” —SFP President, Melanie Smith


SFP begins the season with its 41st Gala which will take place on Friday, October 2, 2020, in the War Memorial Veterans Building Green Room and Herbst Theatre. The Gala includes a cocktail reception on the loggia overlooking City Hall (6pm) and a concert that brings the versatile tenor Lawrence Brownlee in a performance of his popular program Crooners—an homage to legendary vocalists from the 50s and 60s (7pm). Following the performance there is dinner and a fund-a-need drive in the Green Room. All proceeds from the Gala benefit San Francisco Performances’ education and outreach programs. Tickets start at $500. For more information, patrons should call 415.677.0326. Concert-only tickets for Lawrence Brownlee are available online for $70/$55/$45.

2020–21 Season By Series

Dates, artists, and programs are subject to change. All 2020–21 season performances take place in Herbst Theatre, (War Memorial Veterans Building) unless otherwise noted.

PIVOT Festival

Now in its sixth year, this innovative exploration of new adventures in the performing arts has become an eagerly anticipated highlight of SFP's season. Influencers is our theme this year for this four-day festival of music. What makes music the soundtrack of its time and place or the music of an era? Sometimes distinctly different kinds of music collide, merge and come forth as new sounds and new genres. These four far-reaching programs dynamically trace the origins of styles, genres and creators, illuminating their revolutionary and evolutionary paths. From music of the African diaspora and seminal jazz to rebooting Nordic folk traditions, and from rigorous classical training to soaring, free improvisation, this year’s PIVOT Festival is a ride through the creative panorama that made some of the music we love today.

Trumpeter Sean Jones (Apr 16) returns to SFP this time with friends Brinae Ali (tap dancer/vocalist/flutist), Zaccal Curtis (piano), Boris Curtis (bassist), Wendel Patrick (turntablist) and Obed Calvair (durmmer). The ensemble brings the program Dizzy Spellz; an exploration of the cultural and spiritual crossroads of the African diaspora telling the story of the life and music of Dizzy Gillepsie and the jazz it ultimately produced. The humbly compelling and beloved instrument, the ukulele, gains virtuoso freedom with the Bay Area debut of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (Apr 17). At the hands of this special orchestra, the ever-present relevance of popular music meets the lofty sounds of “highbrow” fare in a delicious acoustic mash-up of programming. Pianist Aaron Diehl (Apr 21) makes his SFP recital debut in a program that illuminates the many cross-influences of classical music traditions and jazz. Diehl shows off his classical training and the enigma and inspiration of improvisation with his program Paradoxes in Performances, with works by Satie, Prokofiev, Glass, Ellington and others. A new driving force in Nordic music, the trio Dreamers’ Circus (Apr 23) takes off from deep folk traditions with ancient and modern instruments giving voice to a newly forged amalgamation of history and sound in their SFP debut. The members of the trio have various musical backgrounds (including violinist Rune Tønsgaard Sorensen from The Danish String Quartet), but what unites them is an interest in and love for folk and traditional music.

Chamber Series

SFP takes pride in presenting debuts of international ensembles. Three young quartets make their debut in the Chamber series next season. These ruggedly individualistic ensembles clearly frame their perspectives on the string quartet through nuanced interpretations, gutsy energy and repertory that encompasses classical, Romantic, traditional and new. They represent the vanguard of new voices defining chamber music in Europe and beyond.

They look like they could be characters from Game of Thrones, but they bring their adventurousness to a wide range of music. The Danish String Quartet (Nov 10) returns to SFP with a program of Mozart, Shostakovich and arrangements of their traditional Nordic folk music. The London-based Doric String Quartet (Jan 19) is one of Europe’s hottest young ensembles and SFP is pleased to present them in their debut in a program of Mozart, Brett Dean and Mendelssohn. The members of France’s Modigliani Quartet (Mar 18) are artistic heirs to legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, having been named co-directors of the Evian Festival he oversaw. Reinvigorating traditional chamber music is what they are known for and their SFP debut program will include Mozart, Bartok and Schubert’s “Death of a Maiden.” SFP audiences know Alina Ibragimova from her galvanizing solo recitals, and now she returns with her Quartet. The Chiaroscuro Quartet (May 1) fuses the raw, pure sound of historical strings with powerful, contemporary technique in performances.

Piano Series

From international piano masters to SF Performances’ regular favorites, plus a newcomer to the Herbst Theatre stage, this year’s series presents the most innovative and exciting artists of any generation.

You’ll see composer/pianist Timo Andres (Jan 29) on multiple concerts this season, and with good reason. He’s an engagingly versatile artist with a gift for connecting with audiences to break down traditional stuffy barriers to enjoying great music. His program reads like a who’s-who and what’s what in contemporary music with pieces by Andres, Adams, Andriessen, Dennehy, Glass, Mehldau, Muhly, Holcomb, Gabriella Smith (New Work), Copland and Rzewski. David Greilsammer (Feb 7) wowed The New York Times with his ear-opening, inventive style when they selected two of his releases as Recordings of the Year in 2019. His SFP recital debut brings a program of Janáček, CPE Bach, Mozart, Pelz and Rebel. Jonathan Biss (Mar 5) has earned an avid following for his brilliant knack for putting together deeply satisfying programs and delivering them with mastery, joy and wit. Biss returns to the Herbst Theatre with a program of Schubert, Kurtag and Schumann. The Piano series closes with Natasha Paremski (April 10) who returns after her SFP mainstage debut last season. Striking and dynamic performances, lyrical range and flawless technique are a few of the frequent descriptions you’ll read of this thrilling artist who will perform works by Chopin, Adès and Prokofiev.

The Art of Song

For more than 40 years, SFP has set the standard for presenting vocalists in an intimate setting and creating up-close connections between them and audiences for an unmatched artistic and personal experience. This season’s artists have a knack for getting inside the repertory to expose and explore stories, characters and connections across styles and centuries of great music.

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee (Oct 2) who was named “Male Singer of the Year” by both the International Opera Award and Bachtrack, opens the 2020-21 season with an exploration of the golden age of popular singers. His program Crooners is an homage to legendary vocalists from the 50s and 60s. Mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager (Feb 20) is truly an international treasure with her dual national honors from the Austrian government and England’s Royal Academy of Music for her lifetime contributions to vocal artistry. With pianist Julius Drake, she makes her SFP recital debut with the indispensable work of art, Schubert’s Winterreise. Trio Mediaeval (Mar 6), the highwire vocal act of three women can sing anything—and they bring a program that’s not just for the dark ages. The a cappella group embraces a millennium of music from the middle ages to contemporary works created especially for them. Anthony Roth Costanzo (April 29) re-created the demanding title role of Philip Glass’ monumental opera Akhnaten last season at the Met and now makes his SFP recital debut with 2020 Grammy-winning Attacca Quartet (SFP debut) and frequent collaborator Timo Andres. An accomplished professional performing since his teens, Costanzo has a wealth of experience getting inside musical characters to deliver captivating performances. The artists will perform works by Glass and new works by Andres. The South African soprano Golda Schultz (May 4) makes her SFP recital debut after singing the role of Clara the Angel in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life at SF Opera. Noted by The Financial Times that “she is a newcomer who simply has everything,” Schultz and pianist Jonathan Ware will perform a program to be announced.

The Shenson Great Artists Series

In classical music, increasingly the future looks female. This season the series celebrates women who have commanding roles in contemporary music as creators, interpreters and leaders.

Jennifer Koh (Nov 17) has defined and expanded music through insightful and dazzling performances and commissions. In this program she teams up with composer/pianist Timo Andres and cellist Jay Campbell, a member of the JACK Quartet, for a program with works by Andres and Janáček. Midori (Feb 4) has one of the busiest solo careers in the industry as she travels from one end of the world to the other. Her thrilling performances and thoughtful, innovative programs build connections between art and the human experience. High-energy Italian pianist and Gramophone Young Artist of the Year Beatrice Rana (Feb 25) joins renowned violinist Renaud Capuçon for a tour-de-force program that spotlights their exceptional technical mastery and interpretive sensitivities with Prokofiev and Schumann Sonatas for Violin and Piano. Sought-after soloists on their own, this “super-trio” Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk (Mar 10) have devoted time to performing together since they were students in London. The result is an uncanny performance precision and warm camaraderie on stage. In their SFP debut, they bring a program of Schubert and Tchaikovsky.


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

The guitar world is a close one with many interconnections and relationships. It is both a family in the larger sense and features a high degree of related-by-blood artists and musical dynasties. This year’s series explores, in part, these relationships and relations in music.

The series begins with the young Thibault Cauvin (Nov 21) in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. By 13 Cauvin had won prizes in more than 20 competitions, paving the way for studies at the Paris Conservatory. In addition to concert halls, he performs in what he calls “magic” places, including the Eiffel Tower, Inca ruins and China’s Forbidden City. Cauvin will perform works by Albéniz, Piazzolla, Pereira, Yocoh, Duplessy, Vachez and Domeniconi. The sensitive and prolific artist Kazuhito Yamashita (Dec 5) who released 52 recordings before he turned 32, is perhaps Japan’s greatest guitarist. He will perform an All-Bach program also in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. The Grammy-nominated Assad Brothers, Sérgio and Odair (Jan 30), have re-defined the modern history of guitar music. Their energizing performances bear witness to their artistic lineage from giants like Andrés Segovia through Monina Távora. Their program in Herbst Theatre will include music by Couperin, Haydn, Bogdanović, Piazzolla, Sérgio Assad and others. The Rolling Stones helped Laura Snowden (Mar 20) get into England’s prestigious Menuhin School, where she was its first graduate in guitar. Her creative range has encompassed collaborations with leading contemporary composers and the occasional rock star. Her program at St. Mark’s will include music by Barrios and Villa Lobos, plus traditional Celtic songs. Celin, Pepe, Celino and Lito Romero—members of the “Royal Family of the Guitar” The Romeros (Apr 8) celebrate their 60th anniversary tour with the versatile vocalist Isabel Leonard. Their program features Spanish songs with music by Falla, Lorca, Villa Lobos, Rodrigo and others.

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.

The beloved and famed Alexander String Quartet and Robert Greenberg welcome an accomplished new violist, David Samuel, and a host of guest artists including founding member Paul Yarbrough as “plus ones” to explore music for five. These 10am Saturday concerts combine complete performances with commentary by SFP Music Historian-In-Residence Robert Greenberg, on the composers, their lives, times and music bringing depth, insight and humor to the context. In 2021 the group will explore “The Art of the Quintet” with programs of Mozart, Brahms and Schubert.

The 2020-21 Saturday Morning series runs: Jan 30, Feb 13, Feb 27, Apr 10, May 1, 2021

Beethoven All-Day Marathon

The Alexander String Quartet (ASQ) and Robert Greenberg take on a special project in 2020 in an all-day Beethoven Marathon (Dec 12) with complete performances of selected quartets and spirited commentary. The day will begin with Greenberg's energizing and informative lecture, followed by two all-Beethoven concerts by ASQ with a dinner break in between. Special discounted pricing and a complimentary ticket to the Beethoven lecture is available when purchasing both the 2pm afternoon concert and the 7:30pm evening concert.

Salon Series

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

The Salon Series continues on four Wednesday evenings, all at 6:30pm. Dates and artists to be announced.

Resident Artists

SFP’s continuing artists–in-residence (a four-year cycle) in the 2020-21 season includes bass-baritone Dashon Burton, jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, guitarist Jason Vieaux, music historian Robert Greenberg and the Alexander String Quartet—working directly with students and teachers in public schools around the Bay Area. 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. The scope of SFP’s work in the community reflects the commitment to making the arts an essential part of everyone’s life—a central part of SFP’s mission since our founding.


  • Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (Bay Area Debut)
  • Aaron Diehl, piano (SFP Recital debut)
  • Dreamers’ Circus (SFP debut)
  • Doric String Quartet (SFP debut)
  • Modigliani Quartet (SFP debut)
  • The Chiaroscuro Quartet (SFP debut)
  • David Greisammer (SFP recital debut)
  • Angelika Kirchschlager (SFP recital debut)
  • Anthony Ross Costanzo (SFP recital debut)
  • Attacca Quartet (SFP debut)
  • Golda Schultz (SFP recital debut)
  • Laura Snowden (West Coast debut)


  • Gabriella Smith, untitled (World premiere) performed by Timo Andres
    Friday, January 29, 2021, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Timo Andres, untitled (West Coast premiere) performed by Anthony Ross Costanzo, Attacca Quartet and Timo Andres
    Tuesday, April 29, 2021, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre

2019–20 Venues

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

Ticket Information

Subscriptions are on sale March 18, 2020.
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 3, 2020.
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.)

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.

Through successful partnerships with artists, Bay Area schools and community organizations, SFP has also established one of the most recognized and respected performing arts education programs in the country. Anchored by the artist residency program that brings artists into classrooms and community workshops, the arts education projects help expose new audiences, young and old, to the great performers of our time. San Francisco Performances’ outreach promotes active engagement with the performing arts, deepening the experience while opening events to diverse audiences.

For selected high-resolution images of the 2020–21 season, please visit https://sfperformances.org/media/2021/selectphotos.html or contact Nancy Bertossa.

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