Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Contact: Nancy Bertossa
(415) 677-0328 or nancy@sfperformances.org

San Francisco Performances Announces Its 42nd Season

2021–22 Highlights Include:

Introducing Isata Kenneh-Mason, piano

Introducing Catalyst Quartet with
Stewart Goodyear, piano
Anthony McGill, clarinet
Dashon Burton, bass-baritone
Michelle Cann, piano

Introducing Dublin Guitar Quartet

Introducing George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

The Romeros with Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano

PIVOT Festival Year VII: Ghost Stories
Theo Bleckmann, vocals; Brooklyn Rider with Nicholas Phan, tenor;
Post:ballet with The Living Earth Show; Jennifer Koh with Missy Mazzoli

Takács Quartet with Julien Labro, accordion and bandoneon

Matthias Goerne, baritone and Seong-Jin Cho, piano

Also introducing Jerusalem Quartet; Castalian Quartet; Andrew Tyson, piano; Golda Schultz, soprano; plus eight additional debut artists.

Series Subscriptions: $120–$405
Single Tickets: $45–$85

Subscriptions on Sale June 28
Single Tickets on Sale September 13

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—June 15, 2021—President Melanie Smith today announced the 2021–2022 42nd season of San Francisco Performances (SFP), which runs from October 7, 2021 through May 12, 2022. The season features sixteen debuts, four World Premieres, three West Coast Premieres, over forty-three events and one hundred and fifteen artists in chamber music, piano, guitar, dance, vocal recitals and special events in four venues.

“SFP’s 2021–2022 season is our 42nd year of giving great artists a place to create their most personal performances and providing audiences with a meaningful connection to their art. We seek out artists who give voice to our time through programs that are relevant and reflective of the world around us now. As New Yorker music critic Alex Ross has written, ‘Classical music can overcome the shadows of its past only if it commits itself more strongly to the present.’

In keeping with that outlook, our 2021–2022 season offers a multitude of dynamic discoveries, like the Catalyst Quartet (Oct 7, Nov 11, Feb 11, Apr 7) who are headlining our new Uncovered Series. We are thrilled to present the young British pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason (Mar 7) in her SFP debut, and bass-baritone Davóne Tines (performing with the Dover Quartet (Nov 9) in his SFP debut. We also welcome mandolinist Avi Avital (Mar 12), the London-based Castalian Quartet (Nov 17), the Dublin Guitar Quartet (Feb 12), and nine other artists making their SFP debuts.

I am proud to unveil two new series or groupings this season. The Uncovered Series, created by the Catalyst Quartet, brings four distinct programs by composers whom history has overlooked due to their race or gender. Each performance includes a guest artist and pre-curtain commentary by bass-baritone Dashon Burton. The new Sanctuary Series takes place in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and is appropriately themed around music as refuge and solace and includes bass-baritone Dashon Burton, violinist Johnny Gandelsman, and cellist Matt Haimovitz.

The new season also brings many familiar faces, like Jennifer Koh (Oct 23), Steven Isserlis (Jan 29), Mark Padmore (Mar 16), Jonathan Biss (Dec 11), and Richard Goode (May 7), and the surprising superstar pairing of baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Seong-Jin Cho (Apr 9).

It’s exciting to present the evolving face of chamber music—the ultimate medium for collaboration, with the presentation of many performances with unique artist pairings and new works. Brooklyn Rider and tenor Nicholas Phan present the West Coast Premiere of Nico Muhly’s “Stranger” (Oct 21). The quartet then returns with mandolinist Avi Avital to perform two World Premieres for mandolin and string quartet (Mar 12). Takács Quartet unites with accordion and bandoneon player Julien Labro for a program of new works by Bryce Dessner, and soprano Isabel Leonard performs with The Romeros in a program of Spanish songs (Apr 8). These artists are bringing vital and vibrant new perspectives to our programming, and to the evolving art of chamber music.”&emps;—SFP President, Melanie Smith

2021–22 Season By Genre

Dates, artists, and programs are subject to change. All 2021–2022 season performances take place in Herbst Theatre, (War Memorial Veterans Building) unless otherwise noted.

PIVOT Festival

Now in its seventh year, this innovative exploration of new adventures in the performing arts has become an eagerly anticipated highlight of SFP’s season. Ghost Stories is the theme this year for this five-day festival of music. This breakout series brings together some of today’s artist-thinkers who explore the presence of the past and the impact of memories on our hearts, reminding us to look with hope to the future.

Vocal chameleon Theo Bleckmann (Oct 20) has successfully balanced genres and styles from classical to jazz, inventing his own distinct voice along the way. His project Elegy (also his debut album) showcases him as a composer as much as a singer. Although its underlying concept may be dark, Bleckmann and his trio of musicians deliver an achingly poetic program. Brooklyn Rider and tenor Nicholas Phan (Oct 21) perform the West Coast Premiere of Nico Muhly’s Stranger, a reflection on the American immigrant experience from four different perspectives. The piece received its World Premiere at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia in 2020 with its current cast. SFP is excited to present the Bay Area artists Post:ballet and The Living Earth Show in the World Premiere of Lyra. This take on the age-old story of Orpheus and Eurydice features music by Samuel Adams, choreography by Vanessa Thiessen, and the cinematography of Benjamin Tarquin, and is a highly collaborative synthesis of dance, projected film, live music, and new spatial sound technology. The piece will have two performances (Oct 22 & Oct 24) and will be performed in the Taube Atrium Theater. Violinist Jennifer Koh and composer-pianist Missy Mazzoli (Oct 23) partner in an all-Mazzoli evening of music. NPR has referred to Mazzoli as “the 21st Century’s gatecrasher of new classical music.”


Six ensembles that represent a sweeping three-centuries range of repertory, innovation and glorious music making makes up the chamber performances in 2021–2022.

The American Dover Quartet with its youthful vitality and fresh sound team up with bass-baritone Davóne Tines (Nov 9), known for his ability to bring together opera, spirituals, gospel and anthems—in a wide-ranging program of Zemlinsky, Barber, Caroline Shaw, and Brahms. Founded scarcely a decade ago, the Castalian Quartet (Nov 17) was named the 2019 Young Artist of the Year by the Royal Philharmonic Society. The ensemble makes its SFP debut performing pieces by Mendelssohn, Ligeti, and Sibelius. The impeccable Pavel Haas Quartet (Mar 18) returns to SFP on the eve of its 20th year as one of the world’s leading chamber groups. The ensemble has chosen works by Haydn, Martinů, and Schubert. The Ébène Quartet (Apr 5) has made a name for themselves not only as an elegant purveyor of classical fare but also for jazz performances. Their program confirms their omnivore musical interests with work by Haydn, Janáĉek, and arrangements of jazz standards. The Jerusalem Quartet’s (May 5) SFP program delves into what makes a “Romantic” string quartet sound, contrasting works by Mendelssohn, Webern, and Tchaikovsky. The nine-time Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet (May 6) continues to make significant and lasting contributions to the world of chamber music. They bring a program of Borodin, Walton, and Bartók to the season.


Insightful and intelligent programs from seasoned icons of the keyboard to exciting young talent shining a light onto the future of the instrument and the art, make up the piano presentations this year.

At 18 Jan Lisiecki (Oct 27) became the youngest performer to receive Gramophone’s Young Artist Award. Still in his mid-20s the Canadian pianist brings Chopin’s “Night Music” for his SFP performance. Long-time favorite, Jonathan Biss (Dec 11) combines lush playing with a compelling knack for creating engaging programs. This season he plays Schubert, Janáĉek, Kurtag, and Schumann. Andrew Tyson’s (Jan 30) individualistic performance style led Gramophone to compare him favorably to Roald Dahl’s character Willy Wonka. The whimsical Tyson brings a French program of tour-de-force works to his SFP recital debut. British pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason’s (Mar 7) recording debut of the works of Clara Schumann went to No. 1 on the UK Classical Charts in 2019. Her SFP recital debut is highly anticipated as she and her other musical siblings—including cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, are fast becoming Britain’s first family of classical music. Richard Goode (May 7) is a pianist who other pianist flock to see. His return to SFP will include music by Schubert, Schumann, and Bartök.

The Art of Song

As one of the last remaining presenters in the country of the art of song, SFP has set the standard for presenting vocalists in an intimate setting and creating up-close connections between them and audiences. This season’s artists are gifted storytellers, illuminating emotional truths and inviting audiences to see themselves in journeys of the human experience and spirit.

The South African soprano Golda Schultz (Jan 21) 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. This performance is also part of the 42nd season Gala, the same evening. Noted by The Financial Times that “she is a newcomer who simply has everything,” Schultz will perform a program by all women composers. Tenor Mark Padmore and The Bad Plus founding member, composer-pianist Ethan Iverson (Mar 16) team up to perform the program Songs of the Earth, with works by Schubert, Barber, and others. This fast-rising tenor, Ilker Arcayürek (Apr 1) performs an all-Schubert program, organizing a selection of the composer’s songs to illustrate life’s path. Baritone Matthias Goerne, a favorite of SFP audiences, and pianist Seong-Jin Cho (Apr 9) a global star, have paired up for a surprising appearance together, performing works by Wagner, Strauss and others. Mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager (May 12) 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.

Great Artists

Great music transcends instruments and genres and often crosses and combines both as these artists abundantly demonstrate.

One of music’s most popular and prodigious artists, cellist Steven Isserlis (Jan 29) returns to Herbst Theatre with pianist Connie Shih in a program of Kabalevsky, Shostokovich, and Rachmaninoff. The word “superstar” and “mandolinist” look odd next to each other but in the classical world they are starting to be joined frequently. Mandolinist Avi Avital joins the adventurous Brooklyn Rider (Mar 12) to perform two World Premieres for mandolin and string quartet by Gonzalo Grau and Osvaldo Golijov, plus others works. In business for more than 40 years, Takács Quartet returns to SFP with accordion and bandoneon player Julien Labro (Mar 17) for an evening of new works by Bryce Dessner and a SFP commissioned World Premiere by Clarice Assad. Trumpeter Sean Jones (Apr 15) returns to SFP this time with friends Brinae Ali (tap dancer/vocalist/flutist), Zaccai Curtis (piano), Boris Kozlov (bassist), Wendel Patrick (turntablist) and Obed Calvaire (drummer). 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.

Uncovered Series

The Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet (Oct 7, Nov 11, Feb 11, Apr 7) has a bold and compelling mission: ”We believe in the unity that can be achieved through music and imagine our programs and project with this in mind.” The Quartet has chosen to team up with guest artists in four programs throughout the season to explore music from composers who have been overlooked due to their race or gender. The first event with pianist Stewart Goodyear (Oct 7) will present works by George Walker and Samuel Coleridge Taylor, followed by a program with clarinetist Anthony McGill (Nov 11) in his SFP debut, with works by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence Price, and Samuel Coleridge Taylor. The third in the series is with bass-baritone Dashon Burton (Feb 11) of the popular group Roomful of Teeth performing a selection of pieces from various composers. Burton will also hold pre-curtain commentary before each of the four performances. The final performance is with pianist Michelle Cann (Apr 7) who has become an acknowledged champion of the lush and complex works of Florence Price. Catalyst and Cann will perform an all-Price program.

Sanctuary Series

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

Initially conceived of and created last summer as a free online series during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place, the series continues to center on music as refuge and solace—from the familiar comfort of lullabies and the uplift of Bach to the renewal and promise of spring.

Bass-baritone Dashon Burton (Feb 5) brings a program called “Lullabies” to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church with works by Schumann, Dowland, Bach, Price, Vaughan Williams, and others. Violinist Johnny Gandelsman (Feb 18) pairs unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas by J.S. Bach with newly commissioned works. The program also features composers Clarice Assad, Rhiannon Giddens, Terry Riley, Tyshawn Sorey, and Conrad Tao. Renowned as a musical pioneer, cellist Matt Haimovitz (Feb 26) brings a solo program “Primavera”, in which he pairs unaccompanied Cello Suites by J.S. Bach with newer works that celebrate the return of Spring.


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

From sublime to cheeky, classical to contemporary, these performances take an unusually wide-ranging and energetic look at history’s enduringly popular instrument.

The Dublin Guitar Quartet (Feb 12) is a rare guitar ensemble devoted to contemporary music. This quartet has compiled an impressive repertory of new work and original arrangements. For their SFP debut they will perform works by Bryce Dessner, Glass, Willian Kanengiser, Legeti, and others. The humbly compelling and beloved instrument, the ukulele, gains virtuoso freedom with the Bay Area debut of the George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (Mar 24). 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. The Rolling Stones helped Laura Snowden (Mar 26) get into England’s prestigious Menuhin School, where she was its first graduate in guitar. Her program at St. Mark’s will include music by Brouwer along with her own pieces. There is no doubt why David Russell (Apr 2) is invited back, season after season. His name is synonymous with sublime performance and riveting precision. Celin, Pepe, Celino and Lito Romero—members of the “Royal Family of the Guitar” The Romeros (Apr 8) celebrate their 60th anniversary milestone with the versatile soprano 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 Alexander String Quartet and Robert Greenberg welcome an accomplished new violist, David Samuel to the Quartet and to Saturday Mornings. These six 10:00am concerts combine complete performances with commentary by SFP Music Historian-In-Residence Robert Greenberg on the composers and their lives, times, and music. In 2022 the group will explore the chamber music of Antonin Dvořák.

The 2021-22 Saturday Morning series runs: Jan 22, Jan 29, Feb 19, Mar 5, Mar 12, Apr 30, 2021

Salon Series

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

The Salon Series provides an insider perspective for audiences to hear and learn from artists as they share their music, the love of their craft, and their own stories. The Salons will be held on four Thursday 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 2021–2022 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.


  • George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (Bay Area Debut)
  • Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano (SFP Recital debut)
  • Castalian Quartet (SFP debut)
  • Avi Avital, mandolin (SFP debut)
  • Post:ballet (SFP debut)
  • Missy Mazzoli (SFP debut)
  • Davóne Tines (SFP debut)
  • Anthony McGill, clarinet (SFP debut)
  • Golda Schultz (SFP recital debut)
  • Andrew Tyson, piano (SFP recital debut)
  • Dublin Guitar Quartet (SF debut)
  • Michelle Cann (SFP debut)
  • Laura Snowden (West Coast debut)
  • Jerusalem Quartet (SFP debut)
  • Angelika Kirchschlager (SFP recital debut)


  • Nico Muhly, Stranger (West Coast Premiere) performed by Brooklyn Rider, Nicholas Phan; Thursday, October 21, 2022, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Post:ballet/The Living Earth Show, Lyra (World premiere) with music by Samuel Adams, choreography by Vanessa Thiessen, cinematography by Benjamin Tarquin, performed by Post:ballet and The Living Earth Show, Friday, October 22, 2021, 7:30pm And Sunday, October 24, 5pm, Taube Atrium Theater
  • Gonzalo Grau, Cazons Revenge (World Premiere) performed by Brooklyn Rider, Avi Avital; Saturday, March 12, 2022, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Osvaldo Golijov, Arum der Fayer (World Premiere) performed by Brooklyn Rider, Avi Avital; Saturday, March 12, 2022, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Clarise Assad, new work (World Premiere) performed by Takács Quartet, Julien Labro; Thursday, March 17, 2022, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Bryce Dessner, new work (West Coast Premiere) performed by Takács Quartet, Julien Labro; Thursday, March 17, 2022, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Sean Jones, Dizzy Spellz (West Coast Premiere) Sean Jones’ arrangements of Dizzie Gillespie, performed by Sean Jones, Brinae Ali, Zaccai Curtis, Boriskozlov, Wendel Patrick, Obed Calvaire; Friday, April 15, 2022, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre

2021–22 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
  • Taube Atrium Theater, 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 go on sale June 28, 2021.
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 September 13, 2021.
Single tickets may be purchased by calling the main box office line, (415) 392-2545 or visit sfperformances.org. (Subscribers have priority seating.)

For selected high-resolution images of the 2021–22 season, please visit https://sfperformances.org/media/2122/selectphotos.html or contact Nancy Bertossa.

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