The beauty of the SFJAZZ Festival lies in how broadly its organizers define it. October’s schedule opens and closes with veteran masters who are forward-thinking creators. Visionary saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter (Oct. 2), now 78, and 80-year-old guitarist extraordinaire Jim Hall (Oct. 23) lead finely tuned all-star bands of much younger colleagues.
San Francisco Symphony fires up its centennial season with a lineup of classical music superstars rolling through Davies Symphony Hall. At the Opening Night Gala on Sept. 7 are master violinist Itzhak Perlman and young pianist Lang Lang. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas rolls up his tuxedo sleeves for some artistic heavy lifting, collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma on Hindemith’s Cello Concerto (Sept. 14–17) before continuing an exploration of composer Gustav Mahler’s work with performances of Symphony No. 3.
Don’t tell me you don’t like jazz. You like music, don’t you? You like art, right? That’s all jazz is—musical art. Sometimes you can even dance to it. (Try dancing to a painting.) Like any kind of art, you’re not going to like all of it, but there’s got to be some part of it you get. It’s people music. That’s why it travels the world so well. Every generation in every culture has some form of jazz. We even had a Jazz Age in America, where conservatives worried that the decadence of jazz was ruining young people’s morals. You’ve got to love that.
Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung (also known as The Ring Cycle) is sometimes called the Armageddon of opera—but not because there’s a big fire at the end. The saga begins with the forging of a mystical gold ring that gives its bearer ultimate power along with a tragic curse. The ring passes through generations of gods and mortals who steal it from one another until it’s finally returned to its origins in a spectacular finale. It all takes place over 17 hours in four operas performed over four nights, so it’s no wonder that few companies even consider it.
The musical culture of New Orleans has never been more honestly displayed than in HBO’s series Treme. David Simon and Eric Overmyer’s gritty, lyrical drama shows residents of the Crescent City remaking their homes following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Musical performance has become a central feature of the series, which goes into the Treme neighborhood, home to Congo Square and the birthplace of jazz. This month, the Big Easy makes a local appearance courtesy of SFJAZZ.
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