10th Bay Area Flamenco Festival
That warm, dry Mediterranean breeze blowing in from the east can mean only one thing: the Bay Area Flamenco Festival is bringing yet another infusion of Andalusia’s most spectacular Gypsy artists to stages around the region. Launched and directed by Nina Menéndez -- no slouch of a flamenco vocalist herself -- the 10th annual BAFF opens Sunday, March 22, at the Palace of the Fine Arts with a multi-generational dance triumvirate featuring flamenco legend Concha Vargas, a riveting performer and master teacher who embodies the traditions of Lebrija (a small town with an oversized impact on flamenco artistry). The festival’s focus turns to flamenco vocals on Friday, March 27, at the Brava Theater, with performances by José Valencia and Esperanza Fernández, both powerhouse singers who represent the essence of flamenco’s soul-baring deep song. The festival closes on Sunday, March 29, at Cabrillo College’s Crocker Theater in Aptos, with a female-centric program drawn from the previous events, featuring dancers Concha Vargas and Gema Moneo and singer Esperanza Fernández and a cast of exceptional Spanish guitarists and percussionists. Details and ticket information here.
Shotgun Players kicks off a season of women playwrights with a new version of Antigone by poet, classics professor and MacArthur “Genius” grantee Anne Carson. Although Carson calls it a translation, Antigonick is a bold adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy in which the characters are aware of their own cultural legacy and talk freely about their story's subsequent interpretations by Hegel and Brecht. Originally conceived not for performance but as a book with surreal illustrations by Bianca Stone, Antigonick allows ample room for interpretation by adventurous co-directors Mark Jackson and Hope Mohr. It’s also the third new version of Antigone to open in the Bay Area in a little over a month, after premieres at Cutting Ball Theater and the African-American Shakespeare Company. Details and ticket information here.
To see Lang Lang perform Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons" on piano is to witness a true representation of the phrase "feeling it." Forget those photos of guitar gods in the throes of ecstasy over their fretboard; Lang Lang's fevered excitement as he taps away at his piano keys puts them all to shame. No wonder the New Yorker called the Versace-loving flair master "the ambassador of the keyboard." The Chinese classical virtuoso, who made his concert debut at the age of 13, performs Tchaikovsky, along with pieces by Chopin and Bach, when he dramatically takes the stage at Stanford's Bing Concert Hall on March 20. Details and ticket information here.
Be Calm Honcho
The San Francisco band Be Calm Honcho exudes a refreshing blend of musicianship and attention-grabbing vocals, with just enough rawness to keep them squarely in the indie-rock corner of the ring. They combine a wealth of influences: '70s blues rock, husky diva vocals, jangly sixties riffs, spacey keyboard-driven melodies, all without getting too tangled up in different musical styles like a lesser band might. Check out the song "I Love California" for a sense of the amalgam (and wild fashion sense) that is Be Calm Honcho. The band plays the Rickshaw Stop on March 20; opening the show are Idea the Artist, and Ghost Tiger. Details and ticket information here.
'Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from Scotland's National Galleries'
Spanning the Renaissance to the start of the last century, this exhibition of works on loan from Scotland's National Galleries includes some that have never been seen in the United States. The collection showcases masterworks by Velázquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet, Gauguin, and Picasso, along with the noted artists of the exhibit's title. The 55 pieces on display offer many memorable images, such as Pissarro's The Marne at Chennevières (detail at right) and Sir Henry Raeburn's Reverend Robert Walker, Skating on Duddingston Loch. Details and ticket information here.
Shape-shifting indie-pop band Of Montreal makes another stop in town, and the occasion shouldn't be missed by anyone favoring musical drama, weird R&B, high falsettos and theatrical presentation. Supporting the band's 13th studio album, Aureate Gloom, bandleader Kevin Barnes draws heavily from many genres, including glam and punk rock. The group's latest album showcases the band's literary lyrics and their boundless energy to move from genre to genre. Fellow Georgians Yip Deceiver open along with Springtime Carnivore. After a night at the Great American, the group also swings by Slim's.