KQED's Cy Musiker and the Chronicle's David Wiegand share their picks for great events around the Bay Area this week.
Cy and Davids Picks: A Chicano/a Biennial, a Midlife Crisis, and an Epic Sax Player
Consider this Do List a requiem for 2016. We're saying goodbye to an election year in which fiction mixed way too often with fact; and a year when we lost so many groundbreaking artists, including the death this week of Carrie Fisher, whose show Wishful Drinking at Berkeley Rep was such a funny and thoughtful dissection of her own celebrity. Here's hoping 2017 brings beautiful art to heal us all, starting with the listings below.
Jan. 6 - 8: The Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra is so Berkeley: all volunteer, no audition, with a long waiting list for membership, and a crackerjack conductor in Ming Luke. To open it's 51st season the BCCO perform requiems by Mozart and Cherubini (music that's both mournful and joyous) at the scrumptious sounding Hertz Hall on the Cal Berkeley campus. Soloists include Ariana Strahl, Kirk Dougherty, and Matt Hanscom, all members of the San Jose Opera repertory company, plus mezzo-soprano Silvie Jensen. Admission is free so it’s a CHEAP THRILL!
Jan. 1: Carrie Fisher is fondly remembered not just for her feistily feminist portrayal of an intergalactic princess, but also as one of Hollywood's best scriptwriters and script doctors. The Roxie in San Francisco is offering a tribute to her writing prowess, by showing Postcards from the Edge, based on Fisher’s memoir and featuring her own screenplay, starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine and directed by Mike Nichols. Details here.
Continuing through March 12: MACLA is staging its 6th Chicana/o Biennial — with some of the very best work in the U.S. by Latino artists. I was especially knocked out by the socially conscious work of John Jota Leaños, who teaches at UC Santa Cruz. The exhibit, the only biennial devoted to contemporary Chicano/a art in the US, also features work by Javier Martinez, Natalia Anciso, Adrian Delgado, Gilda Posada, Eric Almanza, Isabel Castro, Raul Gonzalez, Suzy Gonzalez, Julia Landois, Rolando Palacio, Ezequiel "Zeke" Peña, and others.
Jan. 6 - 8: The sound sculptors who play their work at the San Francisco Tape Music Festival aren't really playing with audio tape any more (as in the picture above of Pauline Oliveros, a founding member and first director of the SF Tape Music Center), but they're still shaping found sounds and electronica into weird audio environments, sometimes soothing, sometimes deeply disturbing. This year's lineup features work by Oliveros, who coined the term "deep listening' to describe the experience she was seeking to invoke in her audiences, locals Warner Jepson and Bill McGinnis, plus excerpts from the soundtrack of David Lynch’s film Eraserhead, truly a creepy audio space. This is another CHEAP THRILL! Details for the surround sound shows at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco's Mission (right by the 16th Street BART Station) are here.
Continuing through Jan. 15: We’re a society hooked on memoir, and few write them as well as Sandra Tsing Loh, a familiar voice on public radio and the author of The Madwoman in the Volvo. She’s adapted that book into a play at Berkeley Rep, with help from Berkeley Rep's associate director, Lisa Peterson. It's a tale of a menopause fueled mid-life crisis careening from a visit to Burning Man, a love affair, a divorce, and a rough bout of depression. The show is a comedy, Loh told me, but it comes at a really poignant time for anyone troubled by the election, or suffering from seasonal affective disorder. "The show is running in the darkness of winter," Loh said, "and we are lighting candles in the sanctuary of the theater, and we’re going to find joy and were going to outlast this time." Details for The Madwoman in the Volvo are here.
Jan. 6 - 8: I’ve been wanting to feature this music on the Do List since I first heard Kamasi Washington's The Epic last year. The music is a a wonderful mashup of free jazz, jazz fusion and big band styles, with a chorus and strings on top, and somehow it all hangs together. Washington has been a powerful influence in other ways; he did some arrangements for Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp A Butterfly. He'll be playing here with his dad, Ricky Washington, and a "small" touring band (two drummers, three horns, including Washington and his dad Ricky, both on sax, a pianist, a bassist and a singer). Details for the SFJAZZ show are here.