SOME OF US are beginning to doubt that summer will arrive, given the short shrift on sunshine that spring has accorded us so far. But when the calendar flips to June, there is every indication the Bay Area classical music scene, at least, will be hot, hot, hot.
Things are already starting to heat up in Berkeley, where preparations are under way for the 10th edition of the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, running June 6-13. This lavish and exuberant celebration of early music, launched by Cal Performances director Robert Cole 20 years ago, has filled venues on and around the UC Berkeley campus every other summer since. Copresented by the San Francisco Early Music Society in association with a half-dozen other arts presenting and performing organizations, the festival is both a scholarly exchange — with participatory workshops, lectures and instrument demonstrations — and a nine-day series of public concerts featuring international artists and ensembles from the Bay Area and far beyond. It also has sparked its own Fringe Festival, which this year will encompass more than 50 lively musical events, some quite offbeat and whimsical.
Major performers this year include renowned Dutch recorder virtuoso Marion Verbruggen, who will perform French and German Baroque masterpieces with her trio (viola da gambist Margriet Tindemans and harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree) in Berkeley's First Congregational
The Indiana University-based cornetto and sackbut (akin to an early trombone) ensemble Sacabuche! will combine forces with British lutenist Nigel North and tenor Paul Elliott in the same venue June 10 for a concert of 17th-century Venetian-style double-choir music by composers Orlando di Lasso, Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Schutz and others.
From New York comes the 12-member vocal and instrumental ensemble ARTEK, a frequent collaborator with the Mark Morris Dance Group, who will perform seminal five- and six-part madrigals by Monteverdi the evening of June 12. Baroque violinist Carla Moore, viola da gambist John Dornenburg and harpsichordist Lorna Peters, performing as Music's Re-creation, play music of the early English Baroque the afternoon of June 12.
Also being presented as "Main Stage" artists are two well-known Bay Area ensembles — Warren Stewart's Magnificat vocal and instrumental group and Jonathan Dimmock's AVE chorale. For the festival's final concert, all of the above-mentioned artists, plus the string ensemble Archetti, gather in First Congregational Church at 4 p.m. June 13 for a "Vespers in Venice from Monteverdi to Vivaldi" program that will include a performance of the latter's "Magnificat" canticle.
Meanwhile, at more than a dozen on- and off-campus venues in Berkeley, the so-called Fringe performers will make their merry music — the Three Trapped Tigers Recorder Ensemble, the Wildcat Viols and Fair Iris and Her Swains being some of the quirkiest names listed. The New Esterházy Quartet — four musicians from the Philharmonia Baroque and the American Bach Soloists who have been recording the entire quartet output of Franz Josef Haydn — have the most unusual gig lined up. At 8 p.m. June 9 in the Trinity Chapel at Dana and Durant streets, New Esterházy will pump up "Haydn's Jukebox," during which audience members can call for any of the more than 280 individual movements that comprise Haydn's 68 string quartets.
Tickets for the Main Stage concerts at the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition range from $25 to $38; some Fringe Festival events are free, with others ranging in price from $5 to $25. Main Stage tickets can be ordered at 510-642-9988. A complete schedule of all events, including the Fringe Festival, is posted at www.sfems.org.
OUT WITH A BANG: The San Francisco Girls Chorus, a five-time Grammy winner that sang at President Barack Obama's inauguration last year, closes out its season at 8 p.m. June 4-5 with a highly unusual world premiere. "Angel Island Passages," a multimedia work by composer Chen Yi in collaboration with the Cypress String Quartet and filmmaker Felicia Rowe, commemorates the 100th anniversary of the immigration station in the San Francisco Bay known as "the Ellis Island of the West." Also on the program, "A New Land, a New Song," are works by Stravinsky, Dvorak, Krenek and others. The concert takes place at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak St. Tickets, at $18-$58, are available at 415-392-4400 or www.cityboxoffice.com.
AMADEUS LOVE FEST: Tickets are on sale for conductor George Cleve's annual Midsummer Mozart Festival, two separate programs performed in five Bay Area venues July 15-25. Program I features young pianist Audrey Vardanega in a performance of the Piano Concerto No. 21, Robin Hansen soloing in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 and the orchestra performing the Symphony No. 4 in G minor. The concert is at Mission Santa Clara at 8 p.m. July 15, 8 p.m. July 16 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 6:30 p.m. July 17 at Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma and 7 p.m. July 18 in Berkeley's First Congregational Church.
Program II, in addition to the ballet music from the opera "Idomeneo," features soloist Seymour Lipkin playing piano concertos No. 23 and 25 and bass Jeremy Galyon singing concert arias "Alcandro, lo confesso" and "Mentre ti lascio." Concert times are 8 p.m. July 22 at the California Theatre in San Jose; 8 p.m. July 23 at the S.F. Conservatory; 6:30 p.m. July 24 at Gundlach Bundschu and 7 p.m. July 25 at First Congregational. Tickets are $35-$60, with a special 20 percent discount for those who buy both concerts before June 20. Call 415-627-9141 or visit www.midsummermozart.org.
Contact Sue Gilmore at sgilmore@Baybayarea newsgroup.com.