KQED's Cy Musiker and David Wiegand share their picks for great shows around the Bay Area this week.
March 31-April 3: Bach composed a number of motets for double chorus, always for special occasions, and the American Bach Soloists (ABS) have programmed a full evening of these ethereal choral works. Music director Jeffrey Thomas led the ensemble in two of these pieces,"Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied" and "Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir" at the 2012 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, but ABS has added works for double chorus they say have only recently been attributed to Bach, which sounds like a promise of musical discovery. Details for the concert in Belvedere, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Davis are here.
March 30-April 23: Needles and Opium is a play about Miles Davis and his love for French singer Juliette Greco and heroin in the Paris of 1949, as well as movie director Jean Cocteau's dalliance with New York City and opium the same year. It's an odd concept, but exactly what we might expect from French-Canadian theater director Robert Lepage. This revival of Lepage's 1989 piece will be performed in a cube hanging over the American Conservatory Theater's Geary Stage with an acrobat playing Miles Davis. Lepage's work, at its best, is always a dazzling, disorienting puzzle. Details for the San Francisco run are here.
April 6-16: In The Town Hall Affair, New York's The Wooster Group brings to life a real-life debate from 1971 between the writer Norman Mailer, a hardcore macho chauvinist, and some of the biggest names in second wave feminism, including Germaine Greer, Jacqueline Ceballos, and Susan Sontag. The play is based on a documentary about the evening, Town Bloody Hall, made under challenging conditions by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. The theatrical result should be maddening and enlightening. Details for the run of Town Hall Affair at Z Space in San Francisco are here.
April 1 & 2: Mucca Pazza is a 20 plus member ensemble based in Chicago that gleefully deconstructs the whole idea of a marching band. As you can see and hear in the video above, they do it with lots of brass, drums and cheerleaders. The music is a blend of gypsy jazz and New Orleans funk. What could be bad? Details for Mucca Pazza's performance at the Mondavi Center in Davis on Saturday are here, and details for their Sunday show at San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill are here.
April 1-March 2018: On April 1, 75 years ago, the U.S. began registering and forcing Japanese Americans on the West Coast behind barbed wire at incarceration camps like Manzanar and Tule Lake. It's mostly forgotten today, but the Presidio's presiding officer at the time, General John Dewitt, oversaw the internment process. To commemorate that terrible breach of American values, The Presidio is opening the show Exclusion: The Presidio's Role in World War II Japanese American Incarceration.The Presidio's director of heritage programs, Eric Blind, says one thing the show explores is the fact that fabricated news stories are an old tactic. "There were fake news stories going around saying that some of the Pearl Harbor bombers were wearing American university graduation rings, and this idea that there was a fifth column inside the United States ready to be spies and saboteurs from the Japanese American community," Blind says. "None of these things were found to be true. But it did lead to bad decisions." Details for Exclusion at the Presidio Officers' Club are here.
April 5-19: You could simply disappear into the dark for days on end at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival. It's a rite of spring with its 120 or so showings of features, documentaries, and cartoons. There are also seminars, like one on on Vertigo and another on Citizen Kane, both hosted by San Francisco film historian David Thomson. Local highlights include Peter Bratt with his documentary Dolores about farm worker leader Dolores Huerta, and Peter Nicks'The Force, a documentary about the Oakland Police Department. Details for the SF International Film Fest are here.
April 3: The band Wire was born 40 years ago in London England, and they sound as tough and intense as they ever did on their new album Silver/Lead. They're formalists in a way, sticking to a classic, guitar-heavy sound. Yet they always find new things to say. The three old guys -- Robert Gray on drums, Graham Lewis on bass guitar, and Colin Newman on guitar -- are as punk as ever, and Matt Simms, the new guy since 2010, adds more awesome guitar work. Details on this chance to hear rock history at Slim's on Monday are here.