György Ligeti

April 6-7, 2018

Noe Valley Ministry
1021 Sanchez St. (at 23rd)
San Francisco

“a rich inaugural season” – San Francisco Classical Voice

Following its critically acclaimed first season, The World of György Ligeti, Bard Music West returns to Noe Valley Ministry in April with a deep dive into the world of Bay Area visionary Henry Cowell. Join us in discovering how Cowell’s inventive ideas and daring new techniques shocked the music world and how his guileless nature and inquisitive mind inspired countless artists, including students John Cage and Lou Harrison and collaborator Martha Graham.

One of the original Bay Area innovators, Henry Cowell (1897-1965) transformed the musical landscape of his time. Over two days, hear pianos pounded, elbowed, and strummed; experience classical Persian music and heart-thumping works for percussion; and enjoy an experimental fusion of music and dance, a world premiere, glorious early American choral music, and thrilling, rarely heard works by Cowell and his contemporaries. With three performances, a talk, and composer/choreographer interviews, delve into Cowell’s fascinating life and influences and trace the evolution of American music.


“Music is my weapon. I believe in music, in its spirituality, its exaltation, its ecstatic nobility, its humor, its power to penetrate to the basic fineness of every human being.”

                   —Henry Cowell


2018 Programs

7:30pm, Friday April 6
Program One: In Search of American Music

Follow Henry Cowell in his search for the American voice, from early American choral works of Billings and Walker to some of the great American luminaries he promoted, Charles Ives and Ruth Crawford Seeger. Beloved local pianist Sarah Cahill performs works by Cage and Cowell and the a cappella group Volti returns after their “transcendent” performance at Bard West’s inaugural festival.

3pm, Saturday March 18
Conversation One: Joel Sachs Lecture Recital

A performance and talk by Joel Sachs - pianist, Juilliard professor, and author of the widely acclaimed biography on Henry Cowell. Sachs will share stories from Cowell’s adventurous life and perform rarely heard works.



4pm, Saturday March 18
Program Two: Living in the Whole World of Music

Discover the inspiration that Cowell drew from non-Western music, how his work opened the door for his students Lou Harrison and John Cage, and how that widening of possibilities is reflected today in contemporary musical masterworks that weave across cultures. New York-based superstar ensemble Third Sound closes the program.




7:30pm, April 7
Conversation Two

Preconcert Interview with Eugene Birman, 2018 Composer in Residence, and James Sofranko, Choreographer and Director of SFDanceworks.






8pm, Saturday April 7
Henry Cowell: Inventor

Revel in the sonorities of Henry Cowell’s wild musical inventions. Experience this year’s commissioning project: an experimental collaboration between composer Eugene Birman and choreographer and San Francsco Ballet soloist, James Sofranko.  Inspired by Martha Graham’s legendary collaboration with Cowell and written for SFDanceworks and Third Sound, this premiere is sure to be unforgettable. The award-winning Telegraph Quartet ends the program with Cowell’s moving United Quartet.


Third Sound  “forward-looking, expert ensemble”—The New Yorker

Patrick Castillo, composer and director
Sooyun Kim, flute
Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet
Karen Kim, violin
Michael Nicolas, cello
Orion Weiss, piano

Joel Sachs, piano and lecturer

SF Danceworks, James Sofranko, director                            

Volti a cappella, Robert Geary, director


Eugene Birman, composer in residence

Sarah Cahill, piano

Allegra Chapman, piano

Luosha Fang, violin

Laura Gaynon, cello

Sara LeMesh, soprano

Shaháb Páranj, tombak       

James Sofranko, choreographer

Telegraph Quartet   “an incredibly valuable addition to the cultural landscape” —San Francisco Chronicle         

Eric Chin and Joseph Maile, violins               
Pei-Ling Lin, viola
Jeremiah Shaw, cello