Arts & Events

Around & About Theater, Dance, Opera & Music: Isadora's 137th Birthday Celebration; Mendocino Music Festival Preview at City Club; Jaime De Angulo Novella As Opera; Marion Faye's Theater Class

By Ken Bullock
Friday May 23, 2014 - 04:35:00 PM

--May 26th is the 137th anniversary of Isadora Duncan's birth in San Francisco. (She grew up in Oakland, taking her artistry and considerable influence in art, manners and fashion to the world while still young.) This year, as for the past 16, Mary Sano, the Bay Area's extraordinary exponent of Duncan Dancing in teaching, choreography and her own exquisite performances, will host a birthday party in her studio on the two days previous, next weekend.  

Joining Sano will be her Duncan Dancers, pianist Mutsuko Dohi, wood flautist Elizabeth Gaston, Neo-Classical pianist-composer Benjamin Alea Belew and singer-songwriter tony Chapman. It will be the first collaboration between Sano, Dohi and Gaston, and will feature new flute music by Reynaldo Hahn. 

Mary Sano's studio shows are intimate and offer a different perspective on local arts. I've been attending since the start, and find these programs a constant surprise and refreshment. 

Saturday, May 24 at 8; Sunday the 25th at 5; Mary Sano Studio of Duncan Dance, 245 Fifth Street, between Howard & Folsom at Tehama, San Francisco.$18 reserved, $20 at the door. (415) 357-1817; 

--Mendocino Music Festival (July 12-26)--the ever-ambitious annual event in the glorious town by the ocean, created 28 years ago by Berkeleyites Allan Pollack and Susan Waterfall--features a Bachfest this year (July 13-16), curated by Waterfall, which will feature pianist Stephen Prutsman, as well as a Bach & Beer symposium, illuminating more than just brew in the life and times of the great composer.  

This Wednesday, Waterfall, playing piano in concert with cellist Burke Schuchmann, flutist Wendy Rosenfeld and violinist Jeremy Cohen, will present a preview of the Fest, a program unto itself, in the Julia Morgan-designed rooms of the Berkeley City Club, featuring the Trio Sonata from the Musicall Offering, the d Minor Chaconne for violin, the Italian Concerto and selected movements from Bach suites and sonatas.  

The Festival as a whole will range musically from a performance of 'Don Giovanni' to Pollack's Big Band jazz, from blue grass to latin to rock, and feature guest artists from Frederica von Stade to Kim Nalley, Poncho Sanchez to Chris Hillman, Irma Thomas to Kenny Washington, plus flamenco and other treats. 

Wednesday, May 28, 8 pm, Berkeley City Club, Durant Avenue (between Ellsworth & Dana). $20. 

--Jaime De Angulo lived in the Berkeley Hills--and the Big Sur highlands--during the early and middle 20th century, traveling California to learn Indian languages, music and customs directly from the many tribes and bands still populating the state. In 1949-50, just before his death, he regaled radio audiences with his remarkable reading of the entirety of his book of stories for children from those tribes' myths, 'Indian Tales,' on KPFA, which can be found on CD in libraries or purchased from Pacifica. His daughter and biographer Gui still lives in the area. 

Now a new opera of Jaime's magnum opus, 'The Lariat,' by the talented Lisa Scola Prosek, will be previewed next week by the San Francisco Arts Festival in a studio version; the full premiere will be next Spring. 'The Lariat,' a novel set at the Carmel Mission and in the Big Sur back country, about a Spanish ex-soldier who's taken the cloth and his collision with the life and magical medicine practices of the Essalen tribe, was Ezra Pound's favorite of De Angulo's books. Pound worked to get Jaime published, enlisting Allen Ginsberg as informal agent at one point, who took 'Indian Tales' to his dedicatée of 'Howl,' Carl Solomon, who in turn helped bring it into print--it's never been unavailable since.  

Scola Prosek has worked closely with members of the Essalen Nation to further advance their perspective on the story: there is an Essalen libretto by Louise Miranda Ramirez, and Desirée Harp, an Essalen mezzo soprano, plays a key role. 

Saturday, June 21, 7 pm, Un-Scripted Theater, 533 Sutter, between Powell & Mason, San Francisco. $15. (A video of Harp singing "Creator, Take Me, Too" in Essalen, is on the site.)  

--Marion Fay's excellent Theater Explorations class is gearing up for the summer session. Beginning on June 16, there will be six Monday classes from 1-3 pm (no class on July 7), and three plays the class will see: 'Maestro' (aout Leonard Bernstein) by Harvey Felder at Berkeley Rep, 2 pm, June 22; 'American Buffalo' by David Mamet at Aurora, July 10 at 8; Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' at Shotgun, July 20 at 5.  

Guest speakers include two playwrights, alighting designer/actor and a stage director from Ashby Stage/Shotgun Players. 

Class fee: $50, payable at the first class. Discounted theater tickets at additional charge. 

Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda (near Solano Avenue and the tunnel).