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 returned to Noe Valley Ministry in April with a deep dive into the world of Bay Area visionary Henry Cowell. One of the original Bay Area innovators, Henry Cowell (1897-1965) transformed the musical landscape of his time. Audiences discovered 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. Over two days, we heard pianos pounded, elbowed, and strummed; experienced classical Persian music and heart-thumping works for percussion; and enjoyed glorious early American choral music, and thrilling, rarely heard works by Cowell and his contemporaries, and the world premiere of an experimental fusion of music and dance.

 “There was so much on offer in the Festival...Many highly talented and fresh young artists created a nonstop array of attractive performances in three jam-packed programs.”
—Bay Area Reporter

“Bard Music West…is one of the most exciting new developments on the Bay Area music scene in a long while. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”
—SF Civic Center Blog

2018 Photo Gallery

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*