György Ligeti

April 6-7, 2018

“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

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

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.

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, including Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, and Ruth Crawford Seeger. Cowell specialist, pianist Sarah Cahill, performs and the a cappella group Volti returns after their “transcendent” performance at Bard West’s inaugural festival.


3pm, Saturday April 7
Conversation with Joel Sachs

Joel Sachs - pianist, Juilliard professor, and author of the widely acclaimed biography Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music - will share stories from Cowell’s adventurous life.



4pm, Saturday April 7
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. Tombak virtuoso, Shahab Paranj, performs and New York-based superstar ensemble Third Sound closes the program.


7:30pm, Saturday April 7
Preconcert Interview

Eugene Birman, 2018 Composer in Residence, and James Sofranko, 2018 festival choreographer and artistic director of SFDanceworks.


8pm, Saturday April 7
Program Three - Henry Cowell: Inventor

Revel in the sonorities of Henry Cowell’s wild musical inventions and experience this year’s commissioning project. 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.


2018 Artists

*Students of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Mika Nakamura, percussion*