Whether the presidential inauguration is making you queasy or giving you a thrill, it's always a good idea to turn off the TV and take in some shows. As extras this week, we're suggesting the pianist Holly Bowling's reimagining of the Grateful Dead's songs at the Center for New Music on Jan. 25. Or for pure musical pleasure but with a political payoff, try an inauguration night (Jan. 20) benefit concert by Frequency 49, a San Francisco-based woodwind sextet, with all proceeds going to the American Civil Liberties Union, at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco.
Now on to the show.
Jan 21 and 22: Symphony Silicon Valley isn't like most orchestras. For one, there are no charismatic conductors; instead General Director Andrew Bales picks the repertory, finds a good conductor, and then counts on his devoted musicians to make it all sound great. That formula is working well, and this weekend Bales got Paul Polivnick (a regular) conducting two pieces by American composer Kevin Puts (once a composer in residence at the California Symphony), Leonard Bernstein's Fancy Free (gorgeous), and a violin concerto by Dmitri Kabalavsky that features virtuoso Mayuko Kamio. Details here.
Jan. 25–April 30: Diane Arbus was such a brave photographer, daring to shoot pictures of people on the street who many of us might have been too shy to approach, and outsiders like a fire eater on Coney Island, or a stripper backstage in Atlantic City. And her subjects stare right back at you. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is presenting a show of Arbus’s early work (curated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art) called Diane Arbus: In the Beginning, and these 100 pictures show her already mastering that penetratingly direct gaze. Details here.