Vienna, Kronos, much more in Cal Performances season

Cal Performances 2013-14 season features a return residency for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the world premiere of Mark Morris’s Acis and Galatea (see video above), a celebration of Kronos Quartet’s 40 years, and an emphasis on Brahms, with performances by Yo Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and Anne Sofie von Otter, as well as a host of dance, new music, theater, jazz and early music concerts.

“These are all my children,” said Director Matías Tarnopolsky, explaining why it was so difficult to choose which performances to highlight. 

At the launch of the new season, Tarnopolsky put particular emphasis on the ways in which Cal Performances integrates with the academic work of students and faculty at UC Berkeley.

“We’re in a culturally rich environment,” he said. “A lot of what we do is about celebrating what happens when you bring together great ideas and great performances.”


Tarnopolsky pointed to the work of resident artists with Cal students, such as the master class led by  David Harrington from Kronos with a Cal student quartet, or the work of Vienna Philharmonic players with students during their residency in 2011.

The Vienna Phil will return for three performances and a residency in March, 2014. Tarnopolsky said that the orchestra committed to finding a future date at Cal when they did their first residency in 2011, largely because of the positive experience they had working with students.

“For an orchestra that gets many more invitations than it can accept, it was a touching tribute to their experience here,” he said.

In April, Mark Morris Dance Group will stage the world premiere of their Acis and Galatea, based on Mozart’s arrangement of Handel’s score. “Mozart’s arrangement of Handel is kind of jazzy,” Morris explained in a video interview (see above). “It swings in a way that Handel doesn’t.”

Among the other highlights in the season is a 40th birthday concert on Dec. 7 by the Kronos Quartet, including works by Terry Riley and Philip Glass, as well as George Crumb’s Black Angels, the work that inspired the formation of the quartet. Pipa virtuoso Wu Man will perform with Kronos, as well as giving a solo recital on Jan. 26. For those who went to the press launch of the new season, Wu Man gave an impromptu performance on what she called her “Chinese banjo” of a traditional work, Flute and Drum Music at Sunset. Here’s a snippet.

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The live “radio” play Book One: Target Earth, comkng to Zellerbach in November. Photo: The Robot Planet

Dance highlights include both the Nederlands Dans Theater and the Martha Graham Dance Company. Two countertenors (Tarnopolsky: “Why have one countertenor when you can have two?”) are in the music program: Iestyn Davies on Mar. 28 singing Tudor and Stuart songs, as well as a new work by Nico Muhly, and Philippe Jaroussky with the Venice Baroque Orchestra on Feb. 7 singing arias by Baroque composer Nicola Porpora. The Takács Quartet is doing a Bartók cycle in March and pianist Mitsuko Uchida is playing Schubert and Beethoven the same month.

In a completely different artistic direction, Tarnopolsky pointed to The Intergalactic Nemesis’ Book One: Target Earth, which will be in Zellerbach Hall on Nov. 14. “It’s A Prairie Home Companion meets Star Wars,” Tarnopolsky said. Slightly more soberly, the genre is described as “live-action graphic novel.”


Tickets for the Cal Performances season go on sale at noon on Monday, Apr. 29. 

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, visit Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. It’s a post-your-own calendar so we also encourage you to submit your own events.