New Cal Performances season puts focus on inclusion, innovation, immersion

Black Arm Band. Photo: Cal Performances
Australia’s Aboriginal musicians Black Arm Band will perform “Dirtsong” in the 2016-17 Cal Performances season. Photo: Cal Performances

A world premiere of  a Mark Morris work, the first fully staged performance of an opera in 270 years, a restaging of a groundbreaking collaboration between John Adams, Lucinda Childs and Frank Gehry, a residency by London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, a choral festival, and a complete cycle of Beethoven string quartets are among the highlights of the 2016-17 season of Cal Performances.

At the core of the 111th Cal Performances season are what executive and artistic director Matías Tarnopolsky calls “three strands of artistic exploration”: inclusion, innovation and immersion. The inclusion theme kicks off with the season opening world premiere of Mark Morris Dance Group’s “Layla and Majnun,” with music performed by The Silk Road Ensemble with the voices of Azerbaijan’s Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, with sets and costumes by British artist Howard Hodgkin. 

Available Light, with music by John Adams, choreography by Lucinda Childs, and sets by Frank Gehry. Photo: Craig T. Matthew
Available Light, with music by John Adams, choreography by Lucinda Childs, and sets by Frank Gehry. Photo: Craig T. Matthew

The innovation strand includes the restaging of “Available Light,” the 1983 collaboration between Berkeley-based composer Adams, choreographer Childs and designer Gehry.

“Artistic collaboration, next to double murder suicide, is the most painful thing two humans can do to one another,” said Adams in a video shown at the season’s press launch.


For immersion, Tarnopolsky highlighted the Beethoven quartet cycle with the Takács Quartet, five works by Igor Stravinsky performed by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and a particularly rich series of choral and solo voice concerts.

The Philharmonia will be performing Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” and “Oedipus Rex,” a recreation of one of the very first concerts at Zellerbach Hall in May 1968, with the composer in attendance.

Among the other season highlights are the first fully staged performance of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s The Temple of Glory — libretto by Voltaire! — since 1746 (apparently Louis XV didn’t like it after its original performance and that was that); “Letter to a Man,” a collaboration between Robert Wilson and Mikhail Baryshnikov inspired by the diaries of Nijinsky; The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma performing at the Greek Theatre; Filter Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night; and the Australian Aboriginal ensemble Black Arm Band performing their “Dirtsong.”

Tickets for the 2016-17 season of Cal Performances go on sale at noon on Thursday, April 21. 

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