upper waypoint

Jazz, Classical, and More: 10 Picks for Fall in the Bay Area

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Cecile McLorin Salvant kicks off SFJAZZ's new season.

For jazz and classical lovers, the Bay Area in the fall is hard to beat. In late September, the fine annual tradition of SF Music Day—completely free!—brings dozens of early music, chamber, jazz and avant-garde ensembles to the Herbst Theatre and surrounding venues, while all around the region, new seasons get underway and big names come to town.

Here’s a selection of upcoming best bets in jazz and classical.

John Zorn.
John Zorn. (MacArthur Foundation)

John Zorn 65th Birthday Residency

The Chapel, San Francisco
Sept. 1–4, 2018

Details Here

The New York iconoclast John Zorn seems only comes to the Bay Area every 10 years or so, but when he does, he brings an army. This residency features the man and his “radical Jewish music” in a variety of settings, including a group with Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton and Slayer’s Dave Lombardo, and an evening with Laurie Anderson and Terry Riley.

Cecile McLorin Salvant.
Cecile McLorin Salvant. (Mark Fitton)

Cecile McLorin Salvant

SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco
Sept. 6–9, 2018

Details Here


Anyone unsure if female jazz vocals are having “a moment” need look no further than their local box office: the Texas-based singer Jazzmeia Horn has already sold out four shows at SFJAZZ, and Cecile McLorin Salvant is in line to do the same. For anyone who’s on a first-name basis with Sarah and Billie, Cecile delivers the goods.

Joshua Redman's 'Still Dreaming' quartet.
Joshua Redman’s ‘Still Dreaming’ quartet. (NPR)

Joshua Redman: Still Dreaming

SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco
Sept 13–16, 2018

Details Here

As a student in the jazz program at Berkeley High, Joshua Redman began following in the footsteps of his father, the great saxophonist Dewey Redman. The thing was, Joshua didn’t really know his dad that well. Lately, he’s assembled a quartet to explore the music of Dewey Redman’s group New and Old Dreams, and the results are dazzling.

Thumbscrew. (Amy Touchette)

Thumbscrew (feat. Mary Halvorson)

Center for New Music, San Francisco
Sept. 20, 2018

Details Here

Mary Halvorson’s guitar playing is like a long, winding treasure map, where getting lost is half the fun. She appears with her trio Thumbscrew at the Center for New Music, which on any other night laudably gives 100 percent of the door money to the artists. For this fundraiser (at $45, hardly a black-tie gala price tier), the money benefits this worthy venue.

Max Richter.
Max Richter. (Yulia Mahr)

Max Richter

Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
Oct. 5, 2018

Details Here

The world may have lost Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson this past February, but carrying a similar torch is Max Richter, whose accessible compositions are simultaneously melodic and melancholy. In other words, perfect for a TV drama. At Zellerbach, Richter performs music from his 2004 breakout album, The Blue Notebooks, and his 2010 album Infra, inspired by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.

Francesco Lecce-Chong.
Francesco Lecce-Chong.

Francesco Lecce-Chong conducts ‘Passion and Power’

Green Music Center, Rohnert Park
Oct. 6–8, 2018

Details Here

Sure, this season at the Santa Rosa Symphony includes some returning faces: namely, conductors emeritus Jeffrey Kahane and Bruno Ferrandis. But it’s all about the new kid on the block: Francesco Lecce-Chong, who starts his first season on the podium with a program including Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 inside the acoustically delightful Green Music Center.

Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson.
Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson.

Ethan Iverson-Mark Turner Duo

Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz
Oct. 11, 2018

Details Here

Since leaving his longtime trio The Bad Plus, Ethan Iverson has worked in a variety of settings, always with a scholar’s mind for the history of the music. In the Bay Area for a performance of the choreographed Beatles tribute Pepperland, Iverson steals away with the expressive saxophonist Mark Turner in Santa Cruz for a sure-to-please night.

Minnesota Opera's production of 'Arabella.'
Minnesota Opera’s production of ‘Arabella.’ (Michal Daniel)


War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco
Oct. 16–Nov. 3, 2018

Details Here

Most people know Richard Strauss as the composer of Also Sprach Zarathustra, the celestial overture used as the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. For his rarely performed opera Arabella, he brings the themes down to Earth: specifically, sex, love, and money. Freudian undertones and a story set between the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich make for a layered production.

Daniela Tabeling.
Daniela Tabeling.

Daniela Tabernig sings ‘Four Last Songs’

California Theater, San Jose
Oct. 27–28, 2018

Details Here

A run of sold-out concerts by Japanese Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi during Symphony Silicon Valley’s last season brought an infusion of life and joy to the California Theater; this October, expect a pivot into death. Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs, a song cycle on dying, is a rich, moving experience; it’s paired here with Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier suite and two early, lesser-performed pieces by Debussy.

Music director Michael Tilson Thomas.
Music director Michael Tilson Thomas. (Kristin Loken)

MTT conducts ‘From The Diary of Anne Frank’

Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
Nov. 15–18, 2018

Details Here

Welcome to 2018, when the Anne Frank Center finds its posts about the Holocaust censored by Facebook, while Holocaust deniers and actual neo-Nazis thrive across social media and find favor in upper levels of government. How the hell did we get here? Conducting the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas slyly answers with a performance of ‘From The Diary of Anne Frank,’ his own composition; it’s from 1990, but its themes are as relevant as ever.

Plus more shows of note below:

Omar Sosa
Blue Note, Napa
Sept. 6–8, 2018
Details Here

Yo-Yo Ma plays the Complete Bach Cello Suites
Greek Theater, Berkeley
Sept. 30, 2018
Details Here (Note: Sold out at press time)

John Cage’s Electronic Music for Piano
The Lab, San Francisco
Oct. 6, 2018
Details Here

Placido Domingo
War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco
Oct. 21, 2018
Details Here

Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom
Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz
Oct. 25, 2018
Details Here

Daniel Barenboim conducts the West Eastern Divan Orchestra
Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
Nov. 10, 2018
Details Here

John Brothers Piano Co. plays ‘Mingus Plays Piano’
Joe Henderson Lab, SFJAZZ
Nov. 16, 2018
Details Here

lower waypoint
next waypoint
The Best Filipino Restaurant in the Bay Area Isn’t a Restaurant at AllYour Favorite Local Band Member Is Serving You Pizza in the Outer RichmondAndrew McCarthy Hunts the ‘Brat Pack’ Blowback in New Hulu DocumentaryGolden Boy Pizza Is Where You Want To End Your NightA Lakeview Rap Legend Returns With a Live BandToo Short, Danyel Smith and D’Wayne Wiggins Chop It Up About The Town‘Erotic Resistance’ Reveals the Historical Defiance of San Francisco Sex WorkersThe 19 Movies NPR Critics Are Most Excited About This SummerBiko Eisen-Martin’s New Play Grapples With a 1966 Uprising in Hunters PointQueenie’s Second Life on Screen Gives Her More Room to Grow