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What to do this Weekend: Nov 12-15

by Cristina Schreil

The weather’s getting crisp, Bay Area! Cozy up with this week’s roundup of fun things to do in the art and culture realm. Launch the weekend with not one, but two, events on marine life (with jellies and octopuses galore) and thought-provoking talks. 

Lest you miss the usual bustle of the fall season, know that San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera both have excitement in their calendars: There’s the opera’s annual costume sale and a special symphony concert ushering forth the era of Esa-Pekka Salonen. There, catch a world premiere new work by Nico Muhly, transporting you virtually to Germany, New York, France, Finland, and beyond. 

There’s also two fun workshops (including one on all things chocolate) and a banjo extravaganza. 

Read on for the full curated list below.

Float into the weekend with lessons on marine invertebrates

After last week’s tension, sit back and drift with Cal Academy’s latest Virtual NightLife. The presentation centers on the ocean’s heartless, brainless and lungless: jellyfish and their relatives. 

Join author Dr. Juli Berwald for a talk about her work traveling to find blooms. Evolutionary biologist Anna ML Klompen also digs into the sciences of jellies’ toxins; biologist Riah Evin speaks about jelly lifecycles; and science illustrator Nick Bezio speaks about how to coexist with these wandering wonders.

Thursday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube. Free. 


Get smart about animals with the Exploratorium

Calling all who’ve watched My Octopus Friend 10 times already during the pandemic: The Exploratorium’s next After Dark event celebrates and spotlights the mysterious, remarkable intelligence of animals. 

Learn about ocean creatures like sponges, shrimp, octopuses and whale sharks with author Peter Godfrey-Smith. 

Thursday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube. Free.


Go shopping at the SF Opera Costume sale

It’s time for the San Francisco Opera costume sale! As with many things in 2020, the sale takes place online — but, the enhancements to your wardrobe are very much IRL. 

Peruse hundreds of unique, individually designed outfits — capes, dresses, feathered hats galore — from the SF Opera stage, worn in productions like Tannhäuser, Die Fledermaus and The Merry Widow.  

The sale goes online Friday, Nov. 13 and lasts through Nov. 15. 


Check out a chat between Claudia Rankine and the Museum of the African Diaspora

MoAD’s next installment in its series Conversations Across the Diaspora features poet, essayist and playwright Claudia Rankine. You may know Rankine from one of her five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; and the plays The White Card; and Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue

Rankine chats with series host Sarah Ladipo Manyika. Among the topics of note is Rankine’s latest essay collection, published in September.  

Friday, Nov. 13, noon on Zoom. Pay what you can. 

Enjoy Debussy for string quartet

Dip into Debussy’s Preludes for piano, arranged for string quartet and performed by Bay Area-based Circadian String Quartet. Old First Concerts presents the livestream concert.

Tune into an evening of these vivid and evocative pieces, including Ondine, Des pas sur la neige and La danse de Puck. Also on the program is Debussy’s string quartet. “This work brought the string quartet into the sensibilities of the twentieth century and uses color to plumb the subtle depths of human thought and emotion,” concert programmers write of the work. 

Friday, Nov. 13, 8 p.m. $20 suggested donation. 

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Attend a gala honoring Pat Monahan and Train

San Francisco nonprofit Family House supports the families of children with life-threatening illnesses. This weekend, it presents “Rock the House,” a benefit gala honoring Pat Monahan and Train. Funds go toward supporting housing, meals and transportation for families of young patients at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. 

Before a live acoustic performance by Train, tune in for a virtual cocktail reception featuring the aptly named “Drops of Juniper” tipple. Meg Abraham, mixologist and beverage director of restaurants Mourad and Aziza, instructs guests on how to mix the drink at home.

Liam Mayclem hosts a live auction.

Saturday, Nov. 14, 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $150. 


Catch a concert heralding the Salonen era — including a world premiere Nico Muhly work commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony

Those missing trips to Davies Symphony Hall can relish in a rich and unique concert program welcoming new music director Esa-Pekka Salonen and eight collaborative partners. Tune in to KQED or to an online livestream for Throughline: San Francisco Symphony—From Hall to Home.  

The digital concert event looks ahead to the symphony’s future. There’s music by Ellen Reid, John Adams, Kev Choice and Ludwig van Beethoven. 

The highlight is the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Throughline, an SF Symphony commission. Symphony organizers write: “Throughline consists of thirteen interconnected sections, with each movement highlighting a small ensemble of SF Symphony musicians; eight of the movements feature one of the collaborative partners as soloist … Pianist Nicholas Britell was filmed in Los Angeles, CA; classical singer Julia Bullock in Munich, Germany; flutist Claire Chase in New York, NY; guitarist Bryce Dessner in St-Pée-sur-Nivelle, France; violinist Pekka Kuusisto in Helsinki, Finland, and jazz bassist and vocalist esperanza spalding in Northern Oregon … Carol Reiley used artificial intelligence to co-compose a movement for Throughline from Los Altos, CA.”

Also, expect performances of other works. 

Saturday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m. The recording of the concert will remain on-demand at and will be rebroadcast on NBC Bay Area on Monday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. 


Revamp your mask with BAMPFA

Does your pandemic style need a pick-me-up? University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive guides you through a mask makeover workshop led by artist Janie Radler. The art of collage informs this approach: you’ll gather fabric scraps to fashion a new mask. No sewing experience is required.  

Sunday, Nov. 15, 4 p.m. on Zoom. 


Eat chocolate with the Conservatory of Flowers

Soothe whatever residual stress you’ve carried over from election week with a chocolate-centric virtual event with the Conservatory of Flowers. 

Join the Conservatory and Brad Kintzer, chief chocolate maker of Berkeley chocolatier TCHO, for a guided tasting. You’ll also learn about chocolate’s history and process (from “bean to bite”). Also, participate in a virtual tour and scavenger hunt. 

Pick up your chocolate at the Conservatory of Flowers to enjoy in time for the tasting. 

Friday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m. on Zoom. $55. 


Two words: Banjo extravaganza

This weekend brings the 9th Annual California Banjo Extravaganza, presented by the Freight and Salvage. Join in for this one-night-only online event featuring banjo talents like Bill Evans, Catherine Bowness, Allison de Groot and John Bullard. 

Typically, Evans assembles the best of the banjo world for a string of concerts around Northern California. This year, the spirit lives on online. In addition to the concert itself, enjoy an afternoon of Zoom banjo workshops. 

Saturday, Nov. 14, 5 p.m. on Zoom. Suggested donation of $20. 


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