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Dear Friends,

The month of May brings forth ever more fruitful works of live art as we approach the close of Cal Performances’ 2014–2015 season.

We begin with a May Day performance in First Congregational Church by the French early music ensemble Les Arts Florissants under its celebrated founder and music director, William Christie. Their inspired program, which concludes our 2014–2015 early music series, is entitled Airs sérieux et à boire and focuses on “airs de cour,” 17th-century popular songs that express a variety of moods: earnest, sorrowful, festive, bawdy. Mr. Christie and Les Arts Florissants perform songs by Charpentier, Couperin, Michel Lambert, and rarely heard composers Honoré D’Ambruys and Joseph Chabanceau de La Barre—all in the best historically informed style.

Cal Performances’ mission is to present and produce programs of the highest artistic quality, enhanced by programs that explore compelling intersections of education and the performing arts. One way we fulfill our mission is by presenting in-depth artist residencies in which artists instigate substantive interactivity between Cal Performances’ commissioning and presenting, UC Berkeley scholarship, and Bay Area public learning across a wide age range. A shining example is this month’s residency by Cape Town’s Handspring Puppet Company, a major event on our season. Best known for their acclaimed London production of War Horse, Handspring will be in residence at Cal Performances from April 22 to May 3. For their Cal Performances début, in Zellerbach Playhouse from May 1 to 3, Handspring performs their award-winning, rarely seen historical puppet theater work Ubu and the Truth Commission, set during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in post-apartheid South Africa. Throughout the nearly two-week residency, members of the company, including Ubu Director Basil Jones, Associate Director Janni Younge, and playwright Jane Taylor, participate in a series of public and campus activities. On April 25 and 26, Ms. Young and Handspring puppeteers Gabriel Marchand and Mongi Mthombeni gave a puppetmaking workshop presented by Cal Performances in association with Theatre Bay Area. And on May 2, in Wheeler Auditorium, we present a free and open-to-the-public symposium entitled Impossible Machines: Puppets, Politics, and Truth Commissions, which brings together leading scholars in history, politics, and theater with members of Handspring. The symposium addresses subjects ranging from the creation of Ubu and the Truth Commission and issues faced by those living in a “majority minority” state, to the synergy of puppets and politics.

Our jazz series concludes when we welcome the Cal Performances début of pianist and composer Donal Fox and his Inventions Trio. Although an uncommon presence on the West Coast, Mr. Fox is renowned for his innovative and adventurous jazz improvisations within the framework of classical, tango, and Afro-Latin music. On May 8, in Zellerbach Hall, he performs his Scarlatti Jazz Suite Project, exploring and expanding upon the work of 18th-century Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti, with his trio colleagues, bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel.

Two days later, on May 10 in Zellerbach Hall, violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt join forces to perform Brahms’s masterful Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Nos. 1–3, alongside Webern’s Four Pieces, Op. 7. Mr. Tetzlaff returns to Cal Performances after memorable recitals in 2010 and 2013, and Mr. Vogt appears for the first time in a dozen years. The opportunity to experience these two extraordinary artists realize three of the great Romantic chamber works in juxtaposition with a masterpiece of the Second Viennese School is not to be missed.

Over the past decade, the Brazilian guitarists Sérgio and Odair Assad have performed frequently at Cal Performances, both as a duo and in the company of clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, and have earned a reputation as audience favorites. On May 15, in First Congregational Church, we bring our 2014–2015 world stage series to a close when the Assad brothers return in a recital of classic guitar music of Spain (Albéniz and Granados), Brazil (Pernambuco, Jacomino, Sardinha, Reis, Powell, Gismonti, Bellinati, and Sérgio Assad), and Argentina (Piazzolla).

On April 20, Cal Performances announced our ambitious 2015–2016 season and marked the launch of Berkeley RADICAL (Research And Development Initiative in Creativity, Arts and Learning), our newest and boldest plan to address our role in the future of the performing arts in our culture and community, and on our campus. Beginning this September, several distinctive projects on each season will feed the Berkeley RADICAL process and include explorations of known works or creation of major new ones, with public performances, residencies of commissioned artists, significant partnerships with the University across academic disciplines, on- and off-campus learning programs, and post-performance dissemination of findings on the creative process, education, research, and scholarship endeavors delivered via various media platforms. Berkeley RADICAL is intended to work in tandem with, and utilize, the unique intellectual resources and capabilities of the university that is our home. Our 2015–2016 programming carries forward a curatorial vision rooted in the principles of Berkeley RADICAL and abounds with the most important performing artists in classical, new, and early music, jazz and world stage, dance and theater—and includes many unique performances that can be experienced nowhere else but here. I look forward to welcoming you throughout the season.

Matías Tarnopolsky
Executive and Artistic Director
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