Delta variant viruses notwithstanding, classical music presenters in the central peninsula are moving forward with in-person concert plans for the 2021-22 season. Here are some of the highlights of what is currently planned, although, more than usual, the caveat that everything is subject to change applies.
The Peninsula Symphony gives two performances each of a three-concert season. Saturday concerts will take place at the Heritage Theater in Campbell; the locations of the Friday concerts, usually in San Mateo in the past, have not yet been determined. The season begins October 29-30 with Jon Kimura Parker as pianist in Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, followed by Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. An all-Russian program will follow with Jon Nakamatsu as solo pianist and an offbeat all-American program. A subscription-free concert on April 8 and 9 is a rescheduling of the Violins of Hope concert postponed from the end of this residency to early 2020. It will feature Jewish and Jewish-inspired music performed on these preserved violins from victims of the Holocaust.
The Redwood Symphony is planning a full season of six concerts on Saturday nights at the CaÃ±ada College Theater in Redwood City, including a summer concert in July, with soloists carried over from the past two years. The season begins early September 25 with new work by popular local composer Mason Bates playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, as well as Jassen Todorov in Brahms’ Violin Concerto. Then, on November 20, a work by Italian modernist Luciano Berio performing works by Schubert, as well as a concerto for saxophone quartet by Philip Glass.
The Palo Alto Philharmonic season includes eight concerts including two chamber music concerts. Most will be on Saturday evening. Until December, they will be held in the First Lutheran Church in the old town of Palo Alto; after that most will be at the usual Cubberley Theater venue across town. The next concert, the second of the season, will feature popular works by Aaron Copland (Appalachian Spring) and Edvard Grieg (Holberg Suite), as well as lesser-known gems by Igor Stravinsky and African-American composer George Walker. .
The chamber orchestra of the new century
The New Century Chamber Orchestra presents four programs, three on Fridays in the First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto and one (in January) on Saturdays at the Bing Concert Hall in Stanford. First, on October 1, a striking modern program of works for strings by Josef Suk, Mieczyslaw Weinberg and contemporary British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. The January concert will be an all-American program featuring Copland and Florence Price.
Philharmonia Baroque’s seven upcoming concerts take place on Wednesdays or Fridays at Bing or the Palo Alto First United Methodist Church. Next, an unusual 19th century program with music by Robert Schumann on October 15 at Bing. Four performances, all at Bing, will be given in April of a fully staged production of Handel’s opera âRadamistoâ.
Music at Kohl Mansion offers seven Sunday evenings with guest chamber ensembles, starting with a program by the Harlem Quartet and pianist Aldo LÃ³pez-GavilÃ¡n ranging from classics by Robert Schumann to jazz standards by Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Strayhorn. Next, on November 21, the award-winning Rolston Quartet will perform the popular âLeyendasâ by Gabriela Lena Frank as well as classics by Haydn and Mendelssohn.
Music @ Menlo presents two of its âFocus Residenciesâ, each featuring an in-depth discussion on the Friday evening before a chamber music concert on the Saturday afternoon, all held at the new Spieker Center on the Menlo School campus in Atherton. Tickets for each are sold separately. The October 22-23 program mixes South American music with works from the United States, mostly of Latin American inspiration, while the April 8-9 program will feature Spanish music.
The San Francisco Early Music Society gives four concerts on Friday nights at the First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto. First, on October 22, an evening of trio sonatas by Bach, Telemann and others.
Other groups, including the Ives Collective and the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, are planning shows but have yet to release schedules.
All these groups present their concerts under a strict security protocol in the event of a pandemic. Participants are required to bring full proof of vaccination – completed at least two weeks before the concert – and ID to confirm their identity. They should also wear masks throughout their presence at the event.
Typically, these apply to all listed groups. Some, however, have modifications. The Philharmonia Baroque accepts unvaccinated individuals who provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within 72 hours. This will allow children under the age of 12. However, other groups, including the Peninsula Symphony, explicitly exclude children below the age of vaccination. Kohl Mansion is asking people who are medically unable to get vaccinated to contact their office for help.
Various measures are taken to ensure social distancing. Some groups space the seats in their rooms. Most discourage or even prohibit door-to-door ticket sales and on-call pickup. Participants must purchase tickets online in advance and put them on their smartphone or print them out.
Some online substitutes or supplements are available. Music @ Menlo sells tickets live to his lectures and concerts, which should prove popular, as the socially remote in-person seats in his small venue can sell out quickly. The San Francisco Early Music Society sells separate tickets for âSnapshots,â additional online programs for its concerts that include interviews and bonus performances. The Redwood Symphony is moving its traditional pre-concert lectures into files emailed to ticket holders a week in advance.
Some groups, including the Peninsula Symphony and the New Century Chamber Orchestra, have been offering free videos of socially distanced recorded music on their websites for the past year or so.