The first Sunday in March will see the return of the Hot Air Music Festival to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). The Hot Air Music Festival took place for the first time on Sunday, April 4, 2010. It began at 2 p.m. and ran almost non-stop through 10 p.m. Between 2 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. all performances took place in the Concert Hall. Then, between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., performances were given concurrently in the Recital Hall and the Osher Salon. The event was entirely run by students, including the initiators and organizers, Matthew Cmiel (B.M. in Composition, 2011), Andrew Meyerson (M.M. in Percussion, 2010), and Carolyn Smith (M.M. in Guitar, 2010). All performances were free of charge.
2016 is thus the year of the seventh iteration of this marathon event. The temporal scope has broadened. The Festival will begin at 10:30 a.m. and run until 9:30 p.m. Also, there will be a greater focus on alumni, performing both as soloists and in groups. Thus, clarinet alumnus (and current faculty member) Jeff Anderle will have a solo slot of music for solo clarinet and “many, many pre-recorded clarinets.” On the other hand there will be an impressive variety of alumni groups all with connections to the Guitar Department. These include Ignition Duo, The Living Earth Show (in which Meyerson plays percussion), Mobius Trio, and One Great City. Friction Quartet will also be one of the scheduled groups.
The day will be organized into four sessions and one special event, taking place with some overlap. The first session will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Recital Hall. This will be followed immediately by the second session taking place in the Osher Salon and running from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Overlap will take place when the third session begins in the Recital Hall at 3 p.m. and will run to 6 p.m. The special event will begin at 5 p.m. in the Osher Salon, where composition faculty members Elinor Armer and David Conte will discuss their work and play archival recordings from past SFCM performances. This will be a one-hour program.
Only the final session will take place in the Concert Hall. It will run from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. World premieres will be performed by both Living Earth Show (Nick Vasallo’s “Surrounding the Earth” with clarinetist John McCowen) and Friction Quartet (Taylor Rankin’s “Smear Music”). In addition Nathaniel Berman will conduct a large string orchestra in the world premiere of Riley Nicholson’s “One,” consisting of 37 independent parts.
Once again, this marathon event will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 6. A Web page has been created with programs for all four sessions. Admission will be free, and no tickets will be required. Music lovers will be free to come and go as they please. SFCM is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station.
Those interested in punctuating the day with a bit of variety will have a chance to listen to the next recital performed on the Ruffatti Concert Organ in Davies Symphony Hall. This will be the next concert in the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) Organ Series for the 2015–16 season. The organist will be David Titterington, currently Artistic Director of the International Organ Festival at St. Albans.
In the spirit of the Hot Air Music Festival, Titterington also has a strong commitment to contemporary music. His program will feature the United States premiere of a chaconne for organ by Sally Beamish. More traditional will be a D minor toccata by Dieterich Buxtehude (BuxWV 155) and Johannes Brahms’ coupling of a prelude and fugue in A minor (WoO 9). More modern will be Titterington’s performance of Carl Nielsen Opus 58, “Commotio” (his last major composition). The major work on the program will be César Franck’s Opus 17 three-movement “Grande Pièce Symphonique,” the second of six pieces for solo organ that Franck published as a set (but with different opus numbers for each piece) in 1868.
This recital will be given only one performance in Davies. It will take place at 3 p.m. on that same Sunday, March 6. Ticket prices are $23 for Front Orchestra, Rear Box, and Upper Orchestra and $33 for Premiere Orchestra, the remainder of the Orchestra, Side Boxes, and the Loge. All other sections will be closed for this performance. Tickets may be purchased through the event page for this concert on the SFS Web site. They may also be purchased at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street or by calling 415-864-6000.