Alex Shrader is a young tenor whose star began tracing its upward arc when he won the National Council Auditions at the New York Met back in 2007 at age 25 (and whose winsome personality was on display in award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke's documentary "Audition" about that very event.) Twice engaged here as a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow (seasons 2008 and 2009), he is a veteran of many performances on the War Memorial stage and is also a welcome presence at the New York Met, where he sang as Ferdinand in Thomas Ades' "The Tempest" last fall and as Almaviva in "The Barber of Seville" in December.
The Cleveland, Ohio-born tenor is making his full-blown solo recital debut for San Francisco Performances on Friday night at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His wide-ranging program dips into music by Rossini, Bellini, Mercadante, Faure, Richard Strauss, Turina, Handel, Martin y Soler, Iain Bell, Virgil Thomson and Ethelbert Nevin.
Details: 8 p.m. Feb. 15, 50 Oak St., San Francisco; $38; 415-392-2545, www.sfperformances.org.
MUSICAL CONNECTIONS: If one is interested in a particular era, a side excursion into the music of the time can illuminate its basic zeitgeist. The educated nobility and the church provided both patronage and audiences for the music of 17th- and early 18th-century Western Europe. Now identified as the Baroque period, its highly structured, elaborately ornamented music tended to be architectural in nature, with short motifs, a mathematical orderliness and generally propulsive rhythms. Composers J.S. Bach, Handel and Vivaldi represented its apex.
In the last half of the 18th and the early 19th centuries, the sensibilities promoting the rights of the common man were coming into focus. An evolving middle class started to patronize the new venues arising in Germany, France, Bohemia and England. The music mirrored the times as it acquired a more humanistic nature, with melodies resembling human song supported by pleasing diatonic accompaniments. It came to be known as the Classical era, with composers Haydn, Mozart and the early Beethoven representing its pinnacle.
Nicholas McGegan, conductor of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, is convinced these musical giants had significant ties to their predecessors -- and he is presenting his case in current performances here.
According to McGegan, Mozart was strongly influenced by those who came before. It was during a tour in London that the young prodigy befriended J.C. Bach, Johann Sebastian's youngest son. McGegan claims that it was from him that Mozart borrowed "a brilliant texture" and from Haydn, "a wide vocabulary of emotive expression."
His concerts are featuring Philharmonia oboist Marc Schachman and bassoonist Danny Bond in J.C. Bach's Sinfonia Concertante in F major, a piece McGegan says draws a direct line to Mozart's Symphony No. 29. The program also includes Haydn's Symphony No. 44 in E minor, the "Trauer"; J.C. Bach's Symphony No. 6 in G minor and Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A major.
Details: 8 p.m. Feb. 15, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco; 8 p.m. Feb. 16 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, First Congregational Church, Berkeley; $25 to $97; 415-252-1288, www.philharmonia.org.
A LITTLE LOVE MUSIC: For an upbeat musical evening, consider Waffle Opera's "Love Is Calling" program, featuring a performance of Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act comedy opera "The Telephone," playing Feb. 14 at Salle Pianos & Events, 1632 Market St., San Francisco.
Menotti's humorous opera involves a young man about to propose to his girlfriend. But her new telephone keeps interrupting and thwarting his efforts. Angela Jarosz and Harlan Hayes star. In addition to the opera, operatic love duets by Mozart, Strauss and Offenbach will be sung by Nikola Printz, Gillian Watson, Sarah Eve Brand, and Jamie McDonald.
Ticket prices, $15 to $50, include a glass of Champagne and waffles. Call 415-240-2181 or visit www.waffleopera.com. Sounds like a perfect Valentine's Day date, yes?
HEARTY CONGRATS: A big round of applause goes to Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for yet again emerging triumphant at the Grammy Awards. Their recording of Berkeley composer John Adams' "Harmonielehre" and his "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" (the latter recorded live at the Symphony's 2011 Centennial Season Gala) waltzed away with the best orchestral performance award on Sunday. Of the 15 Grammys the S.F. Symphony has now accumulated, 10 have been won during the MTT tenure.
Contact Cheryl North at firstname.lastname@example.org.