Among the diverse offerings in store for this week’s culture roundup, art and activism form the heart of many events — in typical Bay Area fashion.
There’s a poetry reading ruminating on our dynamic, unprecedented time; an art talk centering on the erasure of Black identity; and an educational wine tasting led by Black winemakers and sommeliers, benefitting the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Other options include eclectic concerts, streamed opera, and an exhibit and discussion highlighting the Victorian era. Read on for a thought-provoking list of things to do this week and weekend.
1. Watch a specially curated playlist by Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
British cello phenom Sheku Kanneh-Mason graced the stage at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall with his sister, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, last December. This week, his charms return — the former BBC Young Musician of the Year has guest curated the latest Cal Performances Now, More Than Ever weekly YouTube playlist.
His guest curation includes an exclusive performance by Kanneh-Mason and a message for Cal Performances audiences.
Watch online for free here: news.calperformances.org/
2. Sink into a cathartic operatic journey of lost love.
Hearing your yearnings for live opera as we all shelter in place, Opera San Jose is streaming a performance of Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love) on its website through August 15. The intimate offering is the first virtual concert in OSJ’s Digital Media Studio series and includes a sit-down interview with resident artists.
Performing is baritone Eugene Brancoveanu; maestro Christopher James Ray conducts. “This masterpiece of German lieder uses vivid, poetic imagery to weave an intimate, heart-wrenching tale of a poet’s love — and the harrowing, emotionally cathartic journey he takes after that love’s been lost,” notes Opera San Jose.
Streaming online through August 15. Tickets are $15, $25 or $50 (based on a pay-what-you-choose scale).
3. Be serenaded by a Disney songwriting legend.
Composer and songwriter Alan Menken, the force behind treasured hits “Be Our Guest,” “Under the Sea,” and “A Whole New World,” performs at a virtual benefit for the Walt Disney Family Museum. Also expect a program of Broadway staples and other cinema soundtrack classics. If that’s not enough to entice you: Special guest Lin-Manuel Miranda will also be joining.
Menken, who’s just achieved coveted EGOT status (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), will give a chat to VIP ticket holders with Disney music executive Chris Montan. Proceeds benefit the museum’s At-Promise Youth Animation Academy initiative, which offers animation training for young people experiencing economic and social displacement.
Thursday, August 6 at 5 p.m. online. Free, with VIP packages available.
4. Explore the Poetics of Solidarity.
Taking cues from Nina Simone to wed art with activism, the Asian Art Museum presents an online poetry reading featuring local writers. Expect poems that grapple with and evoke what organizers are calling “the heartbreaking, devastating, and hopeful moment we are in.”
Featured poets are ASHA, Chinaka Hodge, Genny Lim, Michael Warr and Chun Yu. Moderating is D. Scot Miller.
Thursday, August 6, at 7 p.m. on Zoom. Tickets are on a sliding scale, from free to $25.
5. Appreciate the outdoors with the Exploratorium.
The next online presentation of the Exploratorium’s After Dark programming centers on the great outdoors. And yes, they’re aware you might be all too familiar with the great indoors lately.
Natural green spaces and the ecology of the California coastline is this week’s focus. Leave with renewed appreciation for our world — and how “natural environments are essential to our well-being.”
Thursday, August 6, at 7 p.m. on YouTube and Facebook. Free. 18+.
6. Listen to songs about wild horses to wildfire with CJM Radio.
Treat yourself Friday afternoon by sinking into the folksy sound world of Sonoma singer-songwriter Ismay. The Contemporary Jewish Museum invites Ismay, a.k.a. Avery Hellman, to bring their evocative musical storytelling to the next presentation by RadioCJM.
“Mystical lyricism, ethereal vocals, and dynamic guitar fingerpicking are the defining features of their music,” write CJM organizers.
Friday, August 7, at noon on Zoom. Free. Advance registration required.
7. Drink (and learn all about) wine from Black wine professionals for a worthy cause.
Join the Museum of the African Diaspora for a special event: Sips with Soul, A Live Virtual Tasting & Benefit. Presented by the San Francisco Wine School, the fundraiser features Black winemakers, winery owners and sommeliers, and benefits the museum and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Wine tasting kits are included in the ticket cost; at the virtual benefit, wine experts will guide you through your tasting. The event also includes musical performances by Tower of Power keyboardist and Bump City Wine Co. owner Roger Smith.
Friday, August 7, at 6 p.m. online. Tickets are $145; or $85 without wine.
8. Get your jazz and classical fix with Old First Church.
Miss Old First Church concerts? Good news: They’re here for you.
Livestream a show — their first public performance, actually — by the Bow & Mallet Quintet. They’re a crossover ensemble marrying strings, piano, vibraphone and drums to conjure jazzy covers of the Great American Songbook.
The Bow & Mallet Quintet comprises cellist Jennifer Kloetzel, former cellist of the Cypress String Quartet, vibraphonist and former principal percussionist of the San Francisco Symphony Jack Van Geem, pianist Brian Cooke, double bassist Robert Wright and drummer Brian Simpson.
Friday, August 7, at 8 p.m. on YouTube. Suggested donation $20.
9. Learn how Victorian-era Americans managed to have fun without Netflix.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum has yet more intriguing programming this weekend. As we at home continue to tunnel into streaming services and take social distance walks, the museum offers a glimpse of the distractions of eras past.
Leisure and pleasure in the Victorian age is the focus of the museum’s latest Sunday Stories series. The talk grows from a current exhibition, an immersive photography installation by Los Angeles-based artist Stephen Berkman, who pays tribute to mythical 19th century Jewish immigrant photographer Shimmel Zohar. Many images spotlight uncanny aspects of Victorian life in the United States.
Sunday, August 9, at 10 a.m. on Facebook. Free.
10. Explore the removal of Black identity in art, through art.
The next Second Sunday series at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center explores how “popular culture and history have removed the identities of Black people.” This half-hour interactive lesson geared toward families focuses on Titus Kaphar’s painting Page 4 of Jefferson’s “Farm Book” as a jumping-off point for this deeper discussion.
Museum educators also invite participants to make a photomontage inspired by Kaphar.
Sunday, August 9, at 11 a.m. on Zoom. Free.