SFGC Announces 2017-2018 Season





San Francisco, CA – Tuesday, August 1, 2017 – The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) today announced its 2017-2018 season. Led by Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and Music Director and Principal Conductor, Valérie Saint-Agathe, SFGC will present three subscription concerts in San Francisco. In celebration of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday, SFGC will present a program dedicated to the composer in collaboration with members of the Philip Glass Ensemble, with whom the Chorus makes its Carnegie Hall debut in February. Further subscription highlights include the Chorus’ popular annual holiday concert at Davies Symphony Hall featuring guest soprano and SFGC alumna Michele Kennedy and the world premiere of the chamber version of Colin Jacobsen’s If I Were Not Me, part of an April program showcasing works from the Chorus’s latest album, to be recorded in August with the Kronos Quartet and released early next year. Furthering its commitment to the music of living composers, the Chorus School welcomes Bay Area composer Pamela Z for a year-long residency working closely on the process of creating and performing new music as part of its choral training program.  
In addition to its own concert series, SFGC will be featured on stage in numerous collaborations with leading arts organizations including the San Francisco Opera (Puccini’s Turandot); Opera Parallèle (Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince); San Francisco Symphony (Home Alone); Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Performances, and the Philip Glass Ensemble (Philip Glass’s Music with Changing Parts); and the San Francisco Early Music Society and Voices of Music as part of the 2018 Berkeley Early Music Festival (Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas).

Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa says, “For years, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has been presenting performances of the highest artistic caliber, collaborating with the nation’s most prominent professional organizations and consistently championing the music of our time. This is perfectly encapsulated in what will be one our most ambitious and busiest seasons to date.”
Music Director and Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe says, “Fostering a sense of community is an important part of the SFGC’s mission and we are proud to partner with so many arts organizations this coming season. With such a broad range of challenging repertoire ranging from Purcell to the World Premiere of a work by Colin Jacobsen all of our members will continue to build on the broadening artistry that they are renowned for.”

The season opens on October 25, 2017 at Herbst Theatre with the program – Philip Glass and the Class of ’37 – in recognition of the composer’s 80th birthday this year. The program features a selection of Glass’ works that are available for performance only with members of the Philip Glass Ensemble, including excerpts from the opera Einstein on the Beach; mixed-media work The Photographer; and the soundtrack to Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi. Tracing four centuries of classical music lineage and contextualizing the composer’s 1937 birth year, the program will also include works by composers from the “class of ‘37” - Dietrich Buxtehude (born 1637), Joseph Michael Haydn (born 1737) and Mily Balakirev (born 1837). SFGC’s own Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa, a longstanding member of the PGE, is delighted to welcome two other longstanding members as guest artists: Music Director and keyboardist Michael Riesman, and saxophone-flutist Andrew Sterman.
Building on previous collaborations, SFGC joins Opera Paralléle from December 1-3, 2017 at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture for three performances of the opera The Little Prince by Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman and librettist Nicholas Wright. Based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry about a boy who falls from space into the Sahara desert, The Little Prince will be performed with a twist casting SFGC choristers in principal roles typically performed by young boys. Commenting on the April 2014 production of Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspeil, San Francisco Classical Voice praised SFGC’s collaboration between Opera Parallèle as “a joy to hear.”
The season continues December 18, 2017 with a San Francisco Girls Chorus tradition – the annual holiday concert at Davies Symphony Hall. This year’s concert – Greetings from all Seasons – is inspired by the diverse range of holiday traditions celebrated by SFGC’s choristers. Through the collection of stories from choristers about their respective holiday experiences, a unique program was formed to tell a special ‘SFGC Holiday Tale’ that ranges from Luminaria to Hannukah to Victory Day to Holi to Nawrouz to Christmas, from Mexico to Haiti, from Syria to Ireland, from Armenia to China. Hundreds of members from the Chorus and Chorus School will take to the stage in a festive program, including performances, some of them world premieres, of works sung in Hindi, Arabic, Farsi, Spanish and more, and will be joined by SFGC alumna (1995) and soloist, soprano Michele Kennedy, praised as a “fine young soprano with a lovely voice” (Washington Post).
In February, SFGC travels to New York for its Carnegie Hall debut on Friday, February 16, 2018. In a continuation of the yearlong celebration of the music of Philip Glass and its ongoing collaboration with Philip Glass Ensemble, SFGC and PGE team up for a remounting of the composer’s seminal 1971 work, Music with Changing Parts. Following the New York performance, both ensembles return to San Francisco to perform the program at Davies Symphony Hall, on Tuesday, February 20, 2018, presented by San Francisco Performances.
On the heels of the early 2018 release of its newest album, SFGC concludes its own season on Sunday, April 22, 2018 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts with Strings Attached, a program featuring a selection of works from the recording along with the world premiere of the chamber version of violinist/composer Colin Jacobsen’s If I Were Not Me, which was originally premiered at the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial festival at Lincoln Center. Jacobsen, who is a founding member of two intrepid New York-based ensembles, The Knights orchestra and Brooklyn Rider, is also a regular performer with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. Other works on the program include a wordless septet by French composer André Caplet (Debussy’s copyist), Opening: Forest from Lisa Bielawa’s TV opera Vireo, Aleksandra Vrebalov’s Bubbles, Carla Kihlstedt’s Herring Run, Theo Bleckmann’s Final Answer, Gabriel Kahane’s Back of the Choir and Meredith Monk’s Panda Chant.
SFGC’s 2017-2018 performance season concludes on June 7 & 9, 2018, at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, with a project in collaboration with the San Francisco Early Music Society and Voices of Music. SFEMS, through its 2018 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, will present SFGC and VoM in two historically-informed concert performances of Henry Purcell’s 1680 opera, Dido and Aeneas. Full concert information will be announced by SFEMS at a later date.
As part of SFGC’s commitment to championing the music of living composers, its Chorus School includes a season–long Composer-in-Residence program which provides its nearly 300 choristers, ages 5-18, hands-on, intimate experience with the process of creating and performing new music. For the 2017-2018 school year, SFGC welcomes Bay Area composer, performer, and media artist Pamela Z as its third Composer-in-Residence. In this position, Pamela Z will visit rehearsals, work closely with the Directors of each of the Chorus School’s four choruses, and create a new work to be premiered next May by the entire cohort of choristers. Pamela Z’s work places emphasis on music for voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound and video. She regularly tours throughout the world and has appeared at international festivals such as Bang on a Can (NY), Other Minds (San Francisco), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy) and Pina Bausch Tanztheater (Germany). Among the groups that have commissioned works from Pamela Z is Kronos Quartet, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra.
Three-concert subscriptions to San Francisco Girls Chorus self-produced concert season go on sale August 14. Call (415) 392-4400 or visit http://www.cityboxoffice.com to purchase a subscription. Single tickets range in price from $26 to $60 and will go on sale September 1. Discounted student tickets are available at $18 with valid ID.

The San Francisco Girls Chorus is grateful to the many individuals, corporations, and foundations whose support makes possible the 2017-2018 season.



San Francisco Girls Chorus Presents “Philip Glass and the Class of ‘37”
Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 8 p.m., Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Valérie Sainte-Agathe, conductor
Featuring members of the Philip Glass Ensemble
   Michael Riesman, Music Director and keyboard
   Andrew Sterman, flute and saxophone
Philip Glass: Building and Knee Play 5 from Einstein on the Beach
Philip Glass: Act III from The Photographer
Philip Glass: Vessels from Koyaanisqatsi
Philip Glass: Father Death Blues from Hydrogen Jukebox
Dieterich Buxtehude: Excerpts from Salve Jesu, patris gnate unigenite
Johann Michael Haydn: Excerpts from Leopold Mass
Mily Balakirev: Selected Songs and Romances

 Opera Paralléle: The Little Prince
Featuring members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus School
Friday, December 1, 2017, 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 2, 2017, 7 p.m.
Sunday, December 3, 2017, 7 p.m.
Cowell Theatre, Fort Mason, San Francisco
Rachel Portman: The Little Prince (2003)

San Francisco Girls Chorus Presents “Greetings from all Seasons”
Monday, December 18, 2017, 7:30 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco

Valérie Sainte-Agathe, conductor
Michele Kennedy, soprano and SFGC Alumna

Selections of Ladino Songs, Christmas music from Mexico, Germany and Ireland, seasonal music from India, Haiti, Russia, and others, plus sing-along traditional carols.

 Philip Glass Ensemble: Music with Changing Parts
Featuring the San Francisco Girls Chorus
Friday, February 16, 2018, 8 p.m., Carnegie Hall, New York
Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 7:30 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
Philip Glass: Music with Changing Parts (1971)

 San Francisco Girls Chorus Presents “Strings Attached
Saturday, April 21, 2018, 4 p.m., Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Valérie Sainte-Agathe, conductor
Colin Jacobsen, ukulele and violin

Plus Daniel Carlson, violin, and others
Colin Jacobsen: If I Were Not Me (World Premiere of Chamber Version)
Lisa Bielawa: Opening: Forest from the TV opera Vireo

André Caplet: Septuor
Aleksandra Vrebalov: Bubbles
Carla Kihlstedt: Herring Run
Theo Bleckmann: Final Answer
Gabriel Kahane: Back of the Choir
Meredith Monk: Panda Chant

 2018 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition presented by San Francisco Early Music Society
June 7 & 9, 2018 (times TBD), First Congregational Church of Berkeley

San Francisco Early Music Society
 Harvey Malloy, Executive Director
San Francisco Girls Chorus
 Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Music Director
Voices of Music
 Hanneke van Proosdij & David Tayler, Music Directors
Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

San Francisco Girls Chorus / Carlin Ma
Philip Glass / Steve Pyke
Michele Kennedy / Josh South
Colin Jacobsen / ColinJacobsen.com
Pamela Z / Ars Electronica
Brenden Guy

Founded in 1978, the San Francisco Girls Chorus’ founding Artistic Director, Elizabeth Appling, prepared the first-ever chorus of girls to perform with the San Francisco Opera, an opportunity previously reserved only for boys. Founded with a vision to become an international-caliber chorus for young women, SFGC has grown into a renowned, industry-leading performing arts and music education organization. Today, under the leadership of Artistic Director, Lisa Bielawa, and Music Director, Valerie Sainte-Agathe, SFGC serves nearly 300 choristers ages 5-18 from 45 cities and all 9 Bay Area counties each year. Served by a music faculty of 21 teaching artists and 7 administrators, the organization operates a professional-level performance, recording and touring ensemble; the four-level Chorus School training program; and a Preparatory Chorus.

SFGC collaborates annually with leading arts and cultural organizations including the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Film Festival, and the Kronos Quartet, among many others. The Chorus has toured to more than a dozen countries and performed at major national and international venues including the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, New York’s Lincoln Center, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the World Choral Symposium in Kyoto, Japan, the World Vision Children’s Choir Festival in Korea, and the Gateway to Music Festival in China. SFGC’s commitment to artistic excellence has been recognized through numerous awards, including five GRAMMY Awards and three ASCAP/Chorus America Awards for Adventurous Programming.

SFGC also owns and operates the Kanbar Performing Arts Center, a six-story hub for the arts in San Francisco’s Civic Center district that annually serves more than 30 arts organizations. SFGC’s current annual operating budget is $2.4 million.