Cy and David's Picks: A Well-Stuffed Show With A Communal Orchestra, Dream Pop, and the Politics of Soccer

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Jia Taylor and Kehinde Koyejo appear as Mary and Blondelle in Word for Word's production of 'All Aunt Hagar's Children' at Z Space  (Photo: Mel Solomon/Word for Word)

KQED's Cy Musiker and David Wiegand share their picks for great events around the Bay Area this week.

We're always left with a few great items that don't make the main list. Jazz pianist Larry Vuckovich is celebrating his 80th birthday, fingers still flying on the keyboards, on Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay and Sunday, Dec. 4, at Piedmont Piano in Oakland. Opera Parallele presents Xochitl and the Flowers, a kid's opera with children performers, for free on Sunday, Nov. 20. And Classical Revolution, the San Francisco group that pioneered classical music in bars and clubs around the country, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a free performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Grace Cathedral. Now the best of the rest.

Nov. 22 and 23: The Berlin Philharmonic is one of the world's great orchestras, and unique in that the musicians pick their own conductor. And this is a goodbye tour for their current choice, the great Simon Rattle, who is stepping down at the end of 2017. They're bringing a challenging program: Webern, Boulez, Berg and Schoenberg, sweetened with Brahms and Mahler. But trust them, this tightly knit orchestra can make sense out of music that baffles lesser musicians. Details for their Davies Hall concerts Nov. 22nd are here, and on Nov. 23rd are here.

Khary Moye and Margo Hall. star in Word for Word's production of All 'Aunt Hagar's Children' at Z Space
Khary Moye and Margo Hall. star in Word for Word's production of 'All Aunt Hagar's Children' at Z Space (Photo: Mel Solomon/Word for Word)

Nov. 17–Dec. 11: Edward P. Jones' "All Aunt Hagar's Children" is a terrific noir short story (first published in the New Yorker in 2003) about a Korean War veteran, an African American, who tries to solve the murder of a cousin and finds out more than he wanted to about his family. Now, Word for Word -- the San Francisco company where the actors transform short stories into great drama -- performs Jones' story, in which the nameless hero also deals with class and race issues. You know you're in good hands with Margo Hall (co-directing), Velina Brown, and Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe in the cast. And there's a special performance with Edward P. Jones in conversation with journalist Belva Davis on Dec. 1. Details for the Word for Word production at Z Space are here.


Nov. 20 and Dec 4: Klezmer music always makes me think of weddings and good parties. This relic of shtetl culture was in danger of dying out in the 20th century, along with Yiddish, but groups like KlezCalifornia, both an organization and an annual festival, have helped revive the music and the language. The festival is a pair of concerts and workshops, featuring comedy, Yiddish songs, storytelling, and yes, you’ll probably have to dance in a big circle at some point. It's also a chance to see my favorite Jewish lesbian comedian juggler Sara Felder -- a true shayna punim. Details for the concerts on Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, and Sunday, Dec. 4, at the JCC East Bay in Berkeley are here.

Ongoing: We’re celebrating a new museum on the outskirts of the Bay Area -- UC Davis' new Minetti Shrem Museum. For the opening, they've tapped a great legacy of work by UC Davis faculty, including some revolutionary figures who taught there in the Art Department's early years like Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley, Manuel Neri, Ruth Horsting, and Jane Garritson. The show Out Our Way featuring their work is on view through March 26. I'm also fascinated by Hoof and Foot, a giant video piece by Bay Area artist Chris Sollars, about the comparisons in how animals and students learn. (UC Davis also has a top veterinary school.) Details for exhibits at the Minetti Shrem Museum, which is always free, are here.

Nov 18–20: Marc Bamuthi Joseph is a Bay Area treasure -- Chief of Program and Pedagogy at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and a terrific choreographer, dancer and poet. He’s got a new piece called /peh-LO-tah/ — a futbol framed freedom suite, about soccer as a sport of joy for kids, but also the place where the Third World meets the First World in a haze of corruption. "Soccer is an extended metaphor," Bamuthi told me before starting a day of rehearsals. "Moving without the ball is an immigrant story. Being focused on your goal, without being in possession, that’s an immigrant story. So the piece is deeply emotional, but also deeply political in its scope and ambition." If that sounds too analytical, go anyway. Bamuthi's dance/plays are always as moving as they are thoughtful. Details for /peh-LO-tah/ at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts are here.

Nov. 18: Jay Som is the stage name for the multi-talented dream-pop singer and songwriter Melinda Duterte. She grew up in Brentwood and recently moved to San Francisco, so it's heartening to find we haven’t gentrified everyone out of town yet. Duterte just reissued her Bandcamp debut Turn Into, plus she’s got her first music video out (see above). This is handcrafted music, mostly recorded at her home, and wonderfully spooky in the way it mixes memory and heartache. One review called her songs “gorgeous tearjerkers,” and I couldn't agree more. Details for her show at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall are here.