San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is excited to present the fourth and final program of our Mainstage Concert series in the 2012-2013 series, A Night at the Opera. We close our season with a program of musical stories, spoken and sung. The centerpiece of the evening is the SFCO Commission and World Premiere of Journey of the Shadow, from our award-winning Composer in Residence Gabriela Lena Frank, in collaboration with Pulitzer-winning playwright Nilo Cruz.
With touches of fantasy and the magical realism - a signature of the work of playwright Nilo Cruz - Journey of the Shadow was crafted from an Andean folktale about the creation of the world, is the story of a boy who writes a letter to his father, a soldier in Afghanistan. At the center of the story is the boy's shadow who slips in with the letter and gets into a bit of trouble in a distant postal office, affecting the letter's journey History and politics provide context for this intimate human story that illustrates the persistent innocence of children against the backdrop of war. Frank and Cruz have collaborated previously on original new music works for the voice and recently completed the critically acclaimed song cycle La Centinela y La Paloma, a re-imagining of the after-life of artist Frida Kahlo, for Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber orchestra. This will be the first piece they have created together for narrator and music with Dr. Frank performing the narration. Benjamin Simon will conduct.
On program with the new work will be Samuel Barber’s brilliant Hand of Bridge—with libretto by composer Gian Carlo Menotti— and Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne an equally brilliant, one-act comic masterpiece that displays Mozart’s precocity in a series of charming scenes and songs, both featuring seven young fellows from the San Francisco Opera Center’s famed Adler Fellows program, 2012-2013 SFCO Debut Artists - Jennifer Cherest, A.J. Gluecker, Philippe Sly, Hadleigh Adams, Marina Harris, Chuanyue Wang and Erin Johnson.
Dr. Gabriela Lena Frank is an American pianist and composer of contemporary classical music. Identity has always been at the center of Gabriela Lena Frank's music. Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank has traveled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own. Dr. Frank’s music has been commissioned and performed by the Kronos Quartet, Wu Man, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Chanticleer Ensemble, the Chiara String Quartet, the Brentano Quartet, Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, and others. She has served as composer-in-residence with the Modesto Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Aspen Music Festival, and many others. She is the recipient of a United States Artists Fellow award. the Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a Latin Grammy Award for best Contemporary Classical Music and is a Grammy nominated pianist.
Nilo Cruz is a Cuban-American playwright and pedagogue. His introduction of Latino themed plays into mainstream American theater has set the stage for playwrights and authors to come. His play, Anna in the Tropics, was the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Steinberg Award for Best New Play. A year later it received its Broadway premiere with Jimmy Smits in the lead role. Some of the theatres that have developed and performed his works include New York’s Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Pasadena Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, The Alliance, Florida Stage and the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Cruz has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including two NEA/TCG National Theatre Artist Residency grants, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, San Francisco's W. Alton Jones award, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays award and a USA Artist Fellowship. He has translated work by Gabriel García Márquez; Federico García Lorca; The House of Bernarda Alba and Pedro Calderón de la Barca.
The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is dedicated to making classical music accessible to audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the Bay Area by providing fully professional, admission-free concerts and educational programming. The SFCO presents over forty concerts annually in five Bay Area cities with musical offerings for children and families, seasoned concert-goers, and those just discovering the joys of classical music. The SFCO Debut Artist program has a long and proud history of presenting the professional solo debut of talented young artists from the Bay Area. Through their Side-by-Side program, young musicians from some of the Bay Area’s best music schools and ensembles are invited to rehearse and perform onstage and alongside the Orchestra’s professionals at the popular Family Concerts. This unique program not only presents an important professional development opportunity for these young musicians, but it also makes the concert experience more relevant and entertaining for young audience members and their families. Since its inception in 2004, our robust New Works Program has commissioned and presented 19 world premieres, and three regional and local premieres. A key element of SFCO’s outreach efforts, the production of these contemporary pieces serves to advance 21st century compositional craft within the context of music that reflects the diverse cultural traditions of our shared past. Our commissions to date include new works from such leading artists as Paul Dresher, Kurt Rohde, Valerie Coleman, Wayne Wallace, Yu-Hui Chan, and our own Grammy award-winning composer in residence, Gabriela Lena Frank.