By LOU FANCHER
Cal Performances, announcing its 2014-15 season, might consider changing its name to "One Stop Culture Shop." The new moniker would certainly fit the Berkeley presenting and producing organization's broad array of early, classical, opera, jazz, contemporary, and world music performances -- not to mention the dance, theater, cross-genre collaborations, festivals, extended residencies, low- or no-cost student and public outreach programs, and the inauguration of the Berkeley Talks speaker series.
Musical projects offer everything from performing puppets to piquant poetry to perfect pairs, like a three-concert residency with Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra focusing on the music of John Adams, or smaller scale shows, like Bay Area classical Guitar duo, Sérgio and Odair Assad (May 15). And good things come in trios, too: dancer/actor Mikhail Baryshnikov with actor Willem Dafoe in Robert Wilson's The Old Woman (Nov. 21-23), to name one intriguing offering.
Solo artists are no less prominent. The range, in one season, is dizzying: there's Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen (Feb. 15); American Folk music icon Arlo Guthrie (Apr. 17); Yo-Yo Ma performing solo Bach at the Greek (Aug. 12); recitals by soprano Audra McDonald (Dec. 6) and Mexican-born pianist Jorge Federico Osorio (Nov. 2); jazz from vocalist Cassandra Wilson (Mar. 1); gospel from the honey-toned throat of Mavis Staples (Oct. 30) and more.
Musical groups and ensembles fill the calendar to near-bursting. New music gets its nod with the Paul Dresher Electro-Acoustic Band and Amy X Neuburg celebrating multiple anniversaries by commissioning new works from 10 of their favorite composers (Dec. 5-6). San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet continues its Artists in Residence activities, returning with pipa virtuoso Wu Man and a commission marking anniversaries of its own: Terry Riley's The Cusp of Magic was created for the occasion of Riley's 70th birthday and will be performed on its 10th anniversary, also the composer's 80th birthday (Jan. 18). Steven Schick and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players get not one, but four, separate appearances as part of Project TenFourteen, featuring works by California composers and George Crumb (Nov. 16, Jan. 25, Feb. 22, Mar. 29).
Embracing multiple categories, the highlights continue: Benjamin Britten's Curlew River (Nov. 14-15), The Nile Project with music from Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda (Feb. 19), The Handspring Puppet Company's exploration of apartheid, part of a series of University of California, Berkeley, events honoring the life of Nelson Mandela (May 1-3), and -- can we say it again? -- more.
With all that sound, there has to be dancing, and bold movement arrives from "nearby" neighbors -- Bay Area classical kathak master Pandit Chitresh leading his company in Shiva, Mark Morris Dance Group, Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater -- and distant shores: The Australian Ballet with Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake and Berlin-based Sasha Waltz & Guests. (Visit calperformances.org for dates and ticket information.)
The inaugural Berkeley Talks series has UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks hosting Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman (Oct. 10), bestselling author David Sedaris (Nov. 15), and cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Dec. 10). Expect a few good tunes and lots of conversation centered in the crosshairs of culture, scholarship, literature and music.
If this (partial) roster run-up is not enough to slake a savage artistic thirst, there's also the "out of this world" category. Look to hear and see innovation arriving from all directions: Afropop Spectacular, a double bill of West African music (Oct. 11), Peking Acrobats with live accompaniment performed on ancient folk instruments (Jan. 24-25), taiko drummers of Kodo (Jan. 31-Feb. 1), Bay Area Chitresh Das Dance Company with seven musicians, (Mar. 28-29), and Paris's Théâtre de la Ville's "captivating and disturbing" (Télérama) Six Characters in Search of an Author (Nov. 7-8). To top off all the global galavanting? The second installment of The Intergalactic Nemesis' live-action trilogy, Book 2: Robot Planet Rising (Mar. 6).
Subscription tickets, priced from $63.00 to $353.00, go on sale for the 2014/15 Season at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, May 2, 2014. There are a number of ways to purchase tickets at lower prices. Subscription series subscribers save up to 25 percent off single ticket prices, and a 10% discount on additional single tickets purchased throughout the season. Patrons may also select choose-your-own subscription packages of four or more events on a single order, receiving up to 20 percent off single ticket prices. Orders may be placed online at calperformances.org. Single tickets go on sale to Email Club members on August 5 and to the general public on Aug. 13 and range from $18.00 to $175.00. UCB students receive a 50 percent discount on single tickets.
Zellerbach Hall: Bancroft Way at Dana Street, UC Berkeley Campus
Zellerbach Playhouse: Bancroft Way at Dana Street, UC Berkeley Campus
Hertz Hall: Bancroft Way at College Avenue, UC Berkeley Campus
Wheeler Auditorium: Bancroft Way at Telegraph Avenue, UC Berkeley Campus
First Congregational Church: 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley
The Greek Theatre: 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley