Here are three classical music events of interest for the weekend.
SoundBox is back: The San Francisco Symphony’s innovative SoundBox series, which offers alternative repertoire in a large, intimate venue nestled inside Davies Symphony Hall, returns this weekend with “Ecstasy,” described as a “multi-sensory odyssey through the dark and light”. British-born Chinese composer and conductor Jamie Man hosts the event, which features light artist Ben Zamora and singers Natalia Solemmo, Michele Kennedy, Leandra Ramm and Silvie Jensen, as well as symphonic musicians, in a program that will be announced on site.
• Details: 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday (doors open 8 p.m.); Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco; $65; sfsymphony.org.
The Chamber series returns: Aside from large works, the San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series gives orchestral musicians the opportunity to perform chamber works in small ensembles. The series will resume on Sunday afternoon with a program featuring Schubert’s “Trout” quintet, as well as works by Frank Bridge and Jennifer Higdon.
• Details: 2 p.m.; Davies Symphony Hall; $40; sfsymphony.org.
A New Duo at Kohl: The Music at Kohl series Sunday night program features the Mesa-Yakushev duo, featuring Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa and Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev. Cello and piano sonatas by Brahms and Rachmaninoff are the works presented for this in-person event; the duo will complete the program with music by Chopin, Lera Auerbach, Andrea Casarrubios and Joaquin Nin.
• Details: 7 p.m.; Kohl Mansion, Burlingame; $22 to $52; musicatkohl.org.
Several events and performances are planned around the Bay Area to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Monday. Here are three you should know.
Marcus Shelby: The Bay Area bassist and songwriter brings his quartet to the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View on Saturday to perform selections from his 2011 album “Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” The album includes original works as well as spirituals and songs associated with the civil rights movement. The concert is offered as a live broadcast event.
• Details: 7:30 p.m.; free but donations encouraged; access the show on the CSMA YouTube channel.
African Diaspora Museum: The San Francisco museum will be closed to the public on Monday, but several pre-planned MLK-related events will be offered online. These include a Q&A with Jetta Grace Martin and Waldo Martin, authors of “Freedom! The History of the Black Panther Party” (12:00 p.m.), a presentation by MoAD docents on how the civil rights movement was captured through art and music (2:00 p.m.) and a child-friendly art project (3:30 p.m. )
• Details: Free but donations encouraged; register and go to moadsf.org.
“Freedom Songs”: The SF Human Rights Commission is hosting an MLK-themed concert tonight called “Toward Justice: An Evening of Freedom Songs” featuring gospel singer Lena Byrd-Miles, R&B singer Nate the Soulsanger and the operatic soprano Hope Briggs and more.
• Details: 7 p.m.; War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco; free but registration required; www.eventbrite.com (search “Toward Justice”).
‘Cursed Child’ opens
If you weren’t lucky enough to catch the dazzling ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ stage show when it last came to San Francisco – before it was canceled by COVID in March 2020 – well , he is back.
But the “Cursed Child” currently playing in preview at the Curran is very different from the version that played two years ago at the stately Geary Street Theatre. The bottom line is that it’s no longer a two-part affair over 5 hours, which fans could enjoy marathon-style in a single day or spread over two days. This is now a new single performance show lasting approximately 3.5 hours.
But, as the New York Times wrote of the new version of “Cursed Child” when it hit Broadway late last year, “it remains exceptionally sharp in its stagecraft. and dazzling in its visual imagination, as magical as any spell or potion.”
And the storyline – created by Potter author JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany – is much the same. The action returns to Hogwarts 19 years after the books and films ended, and Harry Potter’s son is a student at the legendary school of wizardry.
• Details: in preview until February 9; the main race is from February 10 to March 5; check websites for COVID updates; $79 to $299 (subject to change); sfcurran.com or sf.harrypottertheplay.com.
—Randy McMullen and Jim Harrington
New year, new tunes
Here are three cool album releases to check out in January.
“The Boy Named If”, Elvis Costello: The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is back with his 32nd album in an impressive catalog of recordings that stretches back to late ’70s classics like “My Aim Is True” and “This Year’s Model.” The singer-songwriter leads his backing band Imposters on the 13-track album, which follows 2020’s “Hey Clockface.”
The album is available in several formats, including one accompanied by an 88-page hardback edition, each numbered and signed by Costello himself. The book includes 13 illustrated short stories that share the same titles with the songs on the disc. “The Boy Named If” is due out January 14.
“Dominion”, Skillet: The Christian rock band has managed quite an impressive career, having released top-selling platinum albums like “Comatose” in 2006 and scoring several hit singles. These Grammy-nominated rockers from Memphis, known for songs like “Whispers in the Dark,” “Hero” and “Awake and Alive,” are on the hunt for more success with the release of this 11th studio effort, which is due out on January 14.
“Breakthrough: Exodus”, Ricky Dillard: After spending time working in Chicago’s house scene in the late 1980s, Dillard returned to his musical roots and started a gospel choir, Ricky Dillard’s New Generation Chorale. His 1990 debut album, “Promise,” made the top 20 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart and earned a Grammy nomination. “Amazing”, released in 2014, also earned a Grammy nomination. His latest release is due out on January 21.
A golden ticket
What’s better than an Everlasting Gobstopper? How about some “golden tickets” to see Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which opens next week at the Center for the Performing Arts in San Jose?
The show follows the incredible story told in Dahl’s 1964 novel about Willie Wonka, the original “Candy Man” who invites young Charlie Bucket and a few other golden ticket winners on a tour of his mysterious factory. And there are all the wacky inventions, the famous big glass elevator and, of course, the Oompa-Loompas.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which premiered in London in 2013 under the direction of Sam Mendes, features great tracks by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley from the 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” including “Pure Imagination “, “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” and, of course, “The Candy Man” (the latter of which was later covered by Sammy Davis Jr., resulting in a #1 pop hit). There are tracks Extras from Grammy- and Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
• Details: Tuesday to January 23; proof of vaccination required and wearing a mask compulsory in the theater; $38 to $103; broadwaysanjose.com.