Standing on the sidelines never seemed like an option for the San Francisco International Arts Festival. With the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the globally minded organization quickly set out to provide a forum for artists active in the resistance against policies designed to restrict access to the United States. Last year, the festival’s programming centered on protest, guided by German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s insistence on the importance of artists bearing witness through their work to “the dark times.”.
Two works by Sir Frederick Ashton are on the program, The evening kicks off with the company premiere of Ashton’s Les Rendezvous, the first major ballet that he created for London’s Vic-Wells Company, which later became The Royal Ballet, The piece, which premiered in 1933, is set to music from Daniel Auber’s L’enfant prodigue, The one-act Les Rendezvous doesn’t feature a structured plot, but rather a series of ballet dancewear san francisco playful dances depicting young people meeting up and spending time together at the park..
Juan has toured with an array of artists, including Prince, Lionel Richie, MC Hammer and Hall and Oates. “I try to learn from every tour, every band I’ve played with. It could be just a piano player I’m playing with. Or it could be a big tour like Hammer’s ‘Too Legit,’ where I learned a lot from the horn players on the tour bus, talking to them about the business. You get out of it what you want to put into it. If you want to just party and not learn and just do the shows, some people do that. And I would be like that, when I was younger, in my 20s. But I’m older now and I just like hanging with the musicians, learning more about the business, what they do in the studio, what they are working on.
But it’s the poignant tale of the older lovers, Fraulein Schneider (the always phenomenal Linda Piccone, who doesn’t quite nail the German accent) and Herr Schultz (sweet, sympathetic Paul Araquistain) who capture the audience’s hearts, The pricey fruits Herr Schultz brings to his ladylove ballet dancewear san francisco are symbolic of his willingness to give his all for her, Yet once she realizes that the Germanic march toward Nazism and intolerance of Jews puts her at risk if she marries him, she retreats, It’s absorbing and agonizing to watch..
Credit the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition for helping to bring this repertoire into the limelight. Founded in 1990 by Robert Cole, then director of Cal Performances, and the late Joseph Spencer, owner of Berkeley’s The Musical Offering, the festival has grown to become the Lollapalooza of early music, a major event that attracts artists, audiences and scholars from around the world. This year’s festival runs June 5-12 at various venues near the UC Berkeley campus. Co-produced by the San Francisco Early Music Society and Early Music America, the events include eight days of concerts, exhibits, lectures and master classes, with appearances by pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, violinist Rachel Podger, the Archetti Baroque String Ensemble and the Philharmonia Baroque Players under Nicholas McGegan.