Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Old First Concerts
1751 Sacramento St.
San Francisco CA 94109  
Old First Concerts, established in 1970 as a year-round concert series, continues to present an astonishing array of programs performed by outstanding musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Old First Concerts has a distinctive niche within the local musical community with a solid history of creating and programming an incubator space for emerging and established musicians and ensembles of all genres. The musical content (our curatorial mission) is artist-driven on every level, with no restrictions placed on the musicians' artistic vision.

The concert season is developed by Director Kathy Barr Kathy Barrin conjunction with Program Associate Rick Bahto and an Artist Advisory Board of musicians from throughout the region, representing a variety of disciplines. Musicians and ensembles propose an evening-length program, which is considered and evaluated. The result of this approach is a series that features diverse and often unconventional repertoire that ranges from classical recital and chamber performances to blues, folk, avant-garde, and jazz, as well as multicultural and world music. The series presents numerous World, US and regional premieres each year, often by emerging or mid-career Bay Area composers. Please visit our Performance Archives to explore past performances.

Artists perform in an acoustically and aesthetically appealing setting, seating approximately 450 people, with a backdrop of vividly-colored stained glass windows, and an entranceway featuring an elaborately hand painted ceiling. The venue is an ideal median between the larger local performance and recital halls, and the smaller community centers and clubs. Pianists have developed a deep fondness for performing on Old First Concerts' excellent New York Steinway (circa 1980).

Upcoming Events:
Sunday, March 4 2018 4:00 PM
Trio Foss

Trio Foss make their Old First Concerts debut with a program featuring chamber works by Shostakovich, Beethoven, and Martinů.

Trio Foss
Hrabba Atladottir, violin; Nina Flyer, cello; Joseph Irrera, piano

Dmitri Shostakovich Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67
Ludwig van Beethoven Trio, Op. 11
Bohuslav Martinů Bergerettes

Trio Foss is a new group just entering the music scene. Having only been in existence for a few months now, the trio has already secured concerts throughout the Bay Area and is in the midst of its first recording project with composer Allan Crossman. Trio Foss is a fusion of varying personalities, backgrounds, and nationalities. Icelandic Violinist Hrabba Atladottir is in high demand as both a soloist and chamber musician. She frequently appears in the USA and abroad and has toured with her native Icelander, Björk. Here in the Bay Area she is a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Players. Nina Flyer was on the faculty for many years at the University of the Pacific where she was also a member of the UOP trio in residence, Trio180. She has worked and recorded with many record labels including Skywalker Sound, and her 2005 CD with the English Chamber Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy. Locally Nina is principal cellist of the Pacific Chamber Orchestra and performs regularly with Composers Inc. Concert pianist and Steinway Artist Joseph Irrera is new to the Bay Area. Originally from Western, NY he completed his Doctor of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music and tours with his brother John, as the Irrera Brothers Piano & Violin Duo. Joseph’s solo and duo concerts have taken him to Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and internationally. Joseph is represented by Parker Artists. For this concert, Trio Foss will present the monumental trio by Shostakovich, the Op. 11 Trio by Beethoven and Martinu’s folksy and energetic Bergerettes.  More...

Friday, March 9 2018 8:00 PM
Robert Stallman, flute
with special guests Isabelle Chapuis, flute; Dmitriy Cogan, piano

Performances and recordings have established flutist Robert Stallman as a virtuoso “who dazzles because of his penetrating artistry” (The Sunday Times/London). In capitals around the world, from New York to London, Vienna, Paris, Prague, Tokyo, Shanghai, Mexico City and beyond, Stallman warms music-loving hearts with concerts that have been called “special occasions in every sense of the word” (The Boston Globe). At the same time his outpouring of recordings has established his interpretive authority in a broad repertoire and his publications here and abroad have greatly expanded the flute literature. We are privileged to have Robert Stallman back in San Francisco, appearing for the first time with Old First Concerts. Join us for a fascinating program of “new” and exciting lesser-known flute masterpieces by C.P.E. Bach, Dvořák, Ravel, Jeanjean, Taktakishvili, as well as Schubert’s magical Rondo in A major in the world premiere of Stallman’s arrangement for two flutes and piano. Robert partners here with two of his favorite colleagues, pianist Dmitriy Cogan and flutist Isabelle Chapuis. For more information please visit  More...

Sunday, March 11 2018 4:00 PM
Trois Bois

Trois Bois examines the idea that insecurity can be a springboard for creative expression, and that music reflects the times in which it is written, through a program of works by Kirke Mechem, Donald Waxman, Sean Osborn, and Damian Montano.

Trois Bois
Creativity in Times of Insecurity
Laura Reynolds, oboe; Patricia Shands, clarinet; David Granger, bassoon

Kirke Mechem Trio, op. 8 (1959)
Donald Waxman Trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon (1960)
Sean Osborn Miniature Trio (2001)
Damian Montano Trio for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon (2009)

Insecurity can be a springboard for creative inspiration and music is often thought to reflect the times in which it is written. Trois Bois examines these concepts with an all-American program of works brought to life during periods of insecurity for the United States. The concert begins with two trios by living composers of the Greatest Generation, written at the height of the Cold War, and concludes with two trios by Generation Xers, composed in the first decade of the 21st century. Works by Kirke Mechem, Donald Waxman, Damian Montano and Sean Osborn. Trios Bois will add context with verbal commentary and invite listeners into the conversation.  More...

Friday, March 16 2018 8:00 PM
Holes in the Floor

Cello quartet Holes in the Floor present a program of works including West Coast Premieres by Jeremy Crosmer and Bosba Panh, along with works by Alexandre Tansman and Laszlo Varga’s arrangement of the Ciaccona from J. S. Bach’s Violin Partita. No. 2.

Holes in the Floor
Jonathan Butler, cello; Eunghee Cho, cello; Yejin Hong, cello; Joy Yanai, cello

Jeremy Crosmer Suite No. 2 for Cello Quartet West Coast Premiere
Alexandre Tansman Deux mouvements pour quatour de violoncelles
J. S. Bach, arr. Laszlo Varga Ciaccona from Violin Partita No. 2
plus a West Coast Premiere by Bosba Panh

The cello quartet Holes in the Floor assembled at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) under a shared vision: to explore and communicate the beauty and vitality of classical music through the voice of four cellos. Cellists Jonathan Butler, Eunghee Cho, Yejin Hong, and Joy Yanai have each built an international reputation winning major prizes at Amsterdam’s Cello Biënnale, Alice & Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition in Harbin, China, and the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Moscow, Russia. Through the New England Conservatory Entrepreneurial Musicianship Grant, Holes in the Floor commissioned colleagues of the conservatory to write two new cello quartets. The ensemble will perform the west coast premieres of these new commissions, as well as Suite No. 2 for Cello Quartet—inspired by the unaccompanied suites by J. S. Bach and described by its composer, Jeremy Crosmer: “too intricate to sight-read on the street, but at the same time they present that groovy, down-to-earth feel”—on their Old First Concerts debut. Among recently completed transcriptions of the beloved piano repertoire by the ensemble members and their close colleagues, Holes in the Floor will also present Laszlo Varga’s arrangement of J. S. Bach’s Ciaccona from Violin Partita No. 2 and Alexandre Tansman’s Deux mouvements pour quatour de violoncelles. Holes in the Floor will lead you on an aural voyage through cherished classics to hot off the press premieres with not one, but FOUR cellos!  More...

Sunday, March 25 2018 4:00 PM
Edward Neeman

Pianist Edward Neeman presents a darkly passionate recital, featuring the West Coast Premiere of Larry Sitsky’s Piano Sonata No. 1, ‘Retirer d’en bas de l’eau’, plus Jan Ladislav Dussek’s final sonata, ‘L’invocation’, and Paul Schoenfield’s Peccadilloes.

Edward Neeman, piano

Jan Ladislav Dussek Sonata in F minor, Op. 77, ‘L’invocation’
Larry Sitsky Piano Sonata No. 1, ‘Retirer d’en bas de l’eau’ West Coast Premiere
Paul Schoenfeld Peccadilloes

Invocations are the theme in this darkly passionate recital by Edward Neeman. Jan Ladislav Dussek’s wrote his final sonata, subtitled “L’invocation,” the year before his death in 1812. As Dussek faded into irredeemable alcoholism, he penned this sonata which veers between raging invective and penitent prayer. This recital will also include the West Coast premiere of Australian composer Larry Sitsky’s Piano Sonata No. 1, “Retirer d’en bas de l’eau,” based on the Voodoo ritual of the dead that invokes invisible spirits. Composed in 2009, this sonata is part of a series of improvisatory pieces that saw the 75-year-old Sitsky re-invent his compositional style through his piano music. The recital concludes on a cheerier note with Paul Schoenfield’s Peccadilloes, a collection of six tongue-in-cheek offenses against the specter of “good taste.” The Australian-American pianist Edward Neeman has performed across five continents. Critics have lauded him as a “true artist” with “an excellent technique” who “isn’t afraid to put a distinctive stamp on whatever he touches, without resorting to mannerism.”  More...

Friday, April 6 2018 8:00 PM
Irrera Brothers Duo

The “riveting and dynamic” Irrera Brothers Duo come to Old First Concerts with a program of music for violin and piano by Vitali, C. Schumann, Stravinsky, Dietrich, R. Schumann, and Brahms.

Irrera Brothers Duo
John Irrera, violin; Joseph Irrera, piano

Tomaso Antonio Vitali Chaconne in G minor
Clara Wieck Schumann Three Romances, Op. 22
Igor Stravinsky Suite italienne
Albert Dietrich, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms FAE Sonata

The award winning Irrera Brothers Duo presents a concert of music which spans the gamut of human emotion and experience. The program begins with Vitali’s Chaconne, a work of fiery virtuosity whose origin presents intrigue. The work, credited to the Baroque composer, features musical characteristics and a virtuosic flair that is uncommon for this period, leading many to question who truly wrote the work. Despite this ambiguity, the work has become a favorite of audiences the world over, and was a personal favorite of Heifetz. Also on the program is the the lush and poignant Three Romances, which were among the last pieces composed by Clara Schumann. Their simple yet achingly beautiful melodies fill the work to the brim, and make one long for a greater compositional output from this musical genius. The program continues with Stravinsky’s Suite italienne, which combines the noble and courtly styling of the classical period with Stravinsky’s own quirky style, making the music distinctly his own. The program concludes with the rarely heard FAE Sonata. Composed in 1853 as a present for violinist Joseph Joachim, the work is comprised of movements by three different composers: Brahms, Albert Dietrich, and Robert Schumann. The initials of Joachim’s personal motto, Frei aber ensam (free but lonely), became the inspiration for the work, as each movement is based on the musical notes F-A-E, a musical cryptogram.

Cited by the New York Concert Review as providing a “riveting and dynamic performance” at their 2013 Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall concert, the acclaimed Irrera Borthers Duo has captivated audiences throughout the United States and abroad, and have been hailed by the late world-renowned violinist and pedagogue Zvi Zeitlin as “two gifted boys.” Joseph and John have also performed at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Spivey Hall at Clayton State University, Rochester’s Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre and internationally throughout Europe and Central America. They have released CD recordings, including Beethoven & Prokofiev and Vitali, featuring Russell Scarbrough’s Bow Shock, written for them and premiered at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2013. Currently, the duo is completing a multi-year recording project of the complete violin and piano works by Robert Morris, Professor of Music at the Eastman School of Music. Included on the album will be Drawn Onward – Fantasy for Violin and Piano, composed for the Irrera Brothers in 2014. In addition to their duo collaboration, Joseph and John Irrera are also celebrated soloists.  More...

Friday, April 20 2018 10:00 PM
M. Lamar & The Living Earth Show

With a libretto that draws on Hegel, Nietzsche and Sun Ra, “goth-postpunk-diva” (KQED) M. Lamar’s song cycle Lordship and Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman synthesizes the Negro spiritual, black and doom metal, and contemporary classical opera to engage African Americans’ experiences of enslaved and liberated consciousness. Commissioned and performed with The Living Earth Show, this is the song cycle’s World Premiere.  More...