Friday, October 1, 2021
Contact: Nancy Bertossa
(415) 677-0328 or

San Francisco Performances Presents
PIVOT Festival 2021—7th Season
Ghost Stories
Brooklyn Rider and Nicholas Phan, tenor

Thursday, October 21, 2021 | 7:30pm | $65/$55/$45
Herbst Theatre

West Coast Premiere of Nico Muhly’s Stranger plus other works

The performance will be followed by dialogue with artists moderated by KALW radio host and pianist Sarah Cahill.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—October 1, 2021—Now in its seventh year, San Francisco Performances (SFP) presents PIVOT, created for adventurous audiences interested in unique arts experiences. The 2021 PIVOT Festival will present four programs over the span of October 20-24 at Herbst Theatre and Taube Atrium Theater, the second program being Brooklyn Rider and tenor Nicholas Phan on Thurs, October 21, 7:30pm in Herbst Theatre. San Francisco Performances presents Brooklyn Rider for the third time; they first appeared in November 2017 with dancer Wendy Whelan. Nicholas Phan is SF Performances’ Vocal Artist-in-Residence Emeritus (2014–18) and appears for the fourth time in a mainstage concert.

With their gripping performance style and unquenchable appetite for musical adventure, Brooklyn Rider has carved a singular space in the world of string quartets over their 15-year history. Defining the string quartet as a medium with deep historic roots and endless possibility for invention, they find equal inspiration in musical languages ranging from late Beethoven to Persian classical music to American roots music to the endlessly varied voices of living composers. Claiming no allegiance to either end of the historical spectrum, Brooklyn Rider most comfortably operates within the long arc of the tradition, seeking to illuminate works of the past with fresh insight while coaxing the malleable genre into the future through an inclusive program¬ming vision, deep-rooted collaborations with a wide range of global tradition bearers, and the creation of thoughtful and relevant frames for commission¬ing projects.

The 2021–22 concert season is strongly illustrative of the intrepid musical appetite of Brooklyn Rider. In the fall, they premiere a major new work by the great Argentinian composer and close friend, Osvaldo Golijov. The quartet also has two new collaborative projects this year. One is with Israeli mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital, and the other is a brand-new phase of work with Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, where they will explore themes of love and death through the music of Franz Schubert and Rufus Wainwright. Looking further into the future, they will expand work already underway with Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and will launch a major new commissioning venture for the 2022-23 season called “The Four Elements”: an exploration of the four classical elements (earth, air, water, and fire) as metaphor for both the com¬plex inner world of the string quartet and the current health of planet Earth.

Brooklyn Rider has remained steadfast in their commitment to generate new music for string quartet at nearly every phase of their history. Shared during the global pandemic at the height of the US lockdown, the Grammy®-nominated recording Healing Modes (In A Circle Records) presented Beethoven’s towering Opus 132—the composer’s late testament on healing and the restor¬ative power of new creation—interwoven with five new commissions power¬fully exploring topics as wide-ranging as the U.S.-Mexico border conflict, the Syrian refugee crisis, the mental health epidemic, and physical well-being. Described by The New Yorker as a project that “…could not possibly be more relevant or necessary than it is currently,” the composers include Reena Esmail, Gabriela Lena Frank, Matana Roberts, Caroline Shaw, and Du Yun.

That same season also saw the release of two projects from vastly different musical spheres—one with the master Irish fiddler Martin Hayes (In A Circle Records) and the other, Sun on Sand (Nonesuch Records), featuring the saxophone great Joshua Redman. In fall 2018, Brooklyn Rider released Dreamers on Sony Music Masterworks with Mexican jazz vocalist Magos Herrera, and 2017’s Spontaneous Symbols (In a Circle Records) featured new commissions by Tyondai Braxton, Evan Ziporyn, Paula Matthusen, Kyle Sanna, and Colin Jacobsen. These records, along with the rest of Brooklyn Rider’s 18-album discography have helped give rise to NPR Music’s observation that Brooklyn Rider is “recreating the 300-year-old form of string quartet as a vital and creative 21st-century ensemble.”

About Nicholas Phan, tenor

Described by the Boston Globe as “one of the world’s most remarkable singers,” American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction. An artist with an incredibly diverse repertoire that spans nearly 500 years of music, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. Phan is also an avid recitalist and a passionate advocate for art song and vocal chamber music; in 2010, Phan co-founded Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC), an organization devoted to promoting this underserved repertoire.

A celebrated recording artist, Phan’s most recent album, Clairières, a recording of songs by Lili and Nadia Boulanger, was nominated for the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. His album, Gods and Monsters, was nominated for the same award in 2017. Phan’s growing discography also includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony, as well as the world premiere recording Elliott Carter’s A Sunbeam’s Architecture.

Sought after as a curator and programmer, in addition to his work as artistic director of CAIC, Phan has also created programs for broadcast on WFMT and WQXR; and served as guest curator for projects with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Laguna Beach Music Festival, Apollo’s Fire, and San Francisco Performances, where he served as the vocal artist-in-residence from 2014–2018. Phan’s programs often examine themes of identity, highlight unfairly underrepresented voices from history, and strive to underline the relevance of music from all periods to the currents of the present day.

The program for the evening will be:
Brooklyn Rider:
THOMAS CAMPION: Never weather-beaten sail
NICO MUHLY: Stranger (West Coast Premiere)
Brooklyn Rider with Nicholas Phan:
FRANZ SCHUBERT: String Quartet No. 14 D Minor, D. 810 (“Death and the Maiden”)

Tickets are $65/$55/$45 and can be purchased at or by calling 415.392.2545. Tickets can also be purchased at the door as available including 50% off student rush tickets and 20% off senior rush tickets.

Please note our current health and safety protocols: Per San Francisco city guidelines, SF Performances requires all patrons ages 12 years and older, to show proof of full vaccination with a photo ID to attend performances. Masks will still be required at concerts until further notice. Full details of our safety protocols and practices are available here. Also note that social distanced seating is no longer required at SFP events.

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:

(Please include our name as the presenter—many thanks!)

Brooklyn Rider
Nicholas Phan, tenor
WHEN: Thursday, October 21, 2021, 7:30pm
WHERE: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue (at McAllister), San Francisco
PROGRAM:: Nico Muhly’s Stranger (West Coast Premiere) and other pieces
CONCERT TICKETS: $65/$55/$45
CONTACT: (415) 392.2545;

For high-resolution images, contact Nancy Bertossa at or go to

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