Regular readers know that I have frequently used this platform to extol the virtues of the Old First Concerts series. Not only has this emerged as the Bay Area’s most eclectic, low-cost, high-quality concert series; but also it has enjoyed the advantage of the impeccable acoustics of the Old First Presbyterian Church, which has been equally conducive to the subtleties of a solo guitar recital and the full force of the church’s pipe organ. The series was established in 1969 with the intention of offering concerts on a year-round basis; and each year it presents an array of between 60 and 70 diverse programs, giving “equal time” to classical, jazz, and world repertoires while also offering a platform for premiere performances of newly composed works.
Next month Old First Concerts will celebrate its 43 years of activity with a fund-raising Benefit event. This concert will feature Terry Riley, whose activities as both composer and performer span a period of 50 years. His 1964 “In C” has rightfully earned iconic (if not monumental) status in the history of the minimalist movement. It was not surprising that last April the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players selected this work as the “main event” at their 40th Anniversary Gala Concert; and fifteen of their regular participants were joined in this celebratory performance by two electric guitar students of David Tanenbaum and four percussions students of William Winant.
For the Old First Concerts Benefit, Riley has prepared a program that will emphasize his work for solo piano since the beginning of the new century. This will include “Baby’s Song” (2001), I Like Your Eyes Liberty (2003), “The Bull” (2008), and “The Shape of Flames” (2008). I was also informed that Riley has been making arrangements with the Church staff to include at least one selection on the pipe organ.
This Benefit Concert will take place in the Old First Church at 1751 Sacramento Street (on the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue) on March 23 at 8 PM. All tickets are $25. These may be purchased through special event page on the Old First Concerts Web site. Further information may be obtained by calling 415-474-1608.