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:
Friday, September 21 2018 8:00 PM
Winds of Change: Shakuhachi, Didgeridoo and Clarinet
New Music and Evolving World Traditions

Beth Custer, clarinets; Cornelius Boots, shakuhachi; Stephen Kent, didgeridoo

An evening of breath-powered music prowess from Bay Area luminaries, international innovators Beth Custer, Cornelius Boots, and Stephen Kent. In solo, duo and trio configurations they will perform original compositions, arrangements, traditional repertoire, and improvisations.

All of life is breathing; wind instruments have the deepest history among all instruments. Why? When the creative impulse of the universe finds its voice, we have the no-limits, soul-based lineage of woodwind wizardry: symbiotic sound art between humans and plant consciousness. Reeds, bamboo, trees and branches working with the imagination. Winds of Change means expressing this truth, making a joyful noise and finding our deeper, truer connections; heralding a change from the fever dreams of the mind and to the vastness of the heart.

More about the performers:

Cornelius Boots is a woodwind composer-performer, bamboo shakuhachi master, breathing ambassador and educator. Active internationally since 1990, his love affair with reeds and bamboo began at age 9. He is currently creating adventurous new music hymns & anthems in a style of expressive woodwind performance that can be called hermit blues or bamboo gospel. Boots is a relentless pioneer and recovering perfectionist who aims to be a fun-loving, professional woodwind wizard, and inspiring shakuhachi performer, contributing to the repertoire and evolution of certain woodwinds, first bass clarinet and now shakuhachi. Previously, Boots was the founder and leader of Edmund Welles: the bass clarinet quartet and Sabbaticus Rex (easy listening for dinosaurs). He has contributed to film scores and collaborative projects, released over 20 albums as a leader and created dozens of original scores and instructional materials for his private lesson studio.

Beth Custer is a San Francisco based composer, performer, bandleader, and the proprietor of BC Records. She composes for theatre, film, dance, television, installations and the concert stage. Beth has created scores for the contemporary chamber ensembles Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Zeitgeist, Earplay, City Winds, and Turtle Island and Kronos String Quartets; for the theatre productions of Campo Santo Theatre, Berkeley and San Diego Repertory Theatres, Magic Theatre, California Shakespeare, Overtone Industries, and Cornerstone Theatre; for the dance troupes Joe Goode Goode Performance Group, Roco Dance, Flyaway Productions, Ledoh, Harupin Ha, and Osseus Labyrinth; for the films of Cathy Lee Crane, Melinda Stone, Betsy Bayha, KQED, CBS/Film Roman, and Koohan Paik (aka Camera Obscura). Beth has created four musicals with award winning writer Octavio Solis. Her collaborative scores with inventor and MacArthur Fellow Trimpin lead her to compose Vinculum Symphony, a site-specific, large-scale work that unites chamber musicians with experimental instrument builders. She has over twenty-five recordings out with her ensembles Eighty Mile Beach, Clarinet Thing, Trance Mission, The Beth Custer Ensemble and Club Foot Orchestra. Her numerous awards include a six week artist residency in an Italian castle at Civitella Ranieri.

Multi Instrumentalist and composer Stephen Kent‘s musical career has taken him across five continents, living at various times in the UK, Spain, East Africa, Australia and the US. His musical scores, composed for theatre, circus and dance companies, have received international acclaim and his work as a performer and recording artist has established him in the world music scene, exploring a broad range of playing styles and musical genres. As a performer on the Australian Aboriginal Didjeridu he has pioneered its use in contemporary music across the globe collaborating with a number of musicians, including Airto Moreira (Brasil), Zakir Hussain (India), Habib Koite (Mali), Omar Sosa (Cuba), Leonard Eto (Japan), Choi Jong Sil (Korea), Steve Roach (USA) and many more. Stephen also hosts Music of the World, a weekly show on Pacifica Radio’s KPFA.

*General Admission: $25
*Seniors (65 and over): $20
Full time Student w/ID: $5
Kids under 12: FREE  More...

Sunday, September 23 2018 4:00 PM
Golden Gate Philharmonic Faculty & Friends
Cameo Charms

Anthony Blea, Eileen Bourgade, Jason Totzke & Anna Washburn violins; David Daniel Bowes & Valerie Tisdel, violins & violas; Paula Karolak & Patrick Kroboth, violas; Louella Hasbun, Onew Park & Ben Snellings, cellos; Darcy Mironov, flute; Alden Jenks, composer

with special guests Anthony Blea’s Afro-Cuban Quartet; Stephen Damonte, composer & piano & Mikako Endo, piano

Zoltan Kodaly excerpt from Duo, Op. 7
Stephen Damonte Sonata for Violin and Piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Quartet for flute, violin, viola, and cello No. 1 in D major, K. 285
Alden Jenks Unrestful Sleep
Henri Wieniawski excerpt from Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 22
Felix Mendelssohn excerpt from Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20
selected Cuban danzones

The distinguished faculty of the Golden Gate Philharmonic, San Francisco’s all-inclusive youth orchestra, is showcased in this not-to-be-missed benefit recital. Featured are new works from local Bay Area composers Alden Jenks and Stephen Damonte—both of whom will be in attendance—and an exciting, vibrant Afro-Cuban quartet led by violinist Anthony Blea, all nicely balanced with Mendelssohn and Mozart masterworks and Kodaly and Wieniawski gems. GGP Faculty are seasoned professionals and members of many of the Bay Area’s leading music institutions and ensembles. A significant portion of all proceeds will benefit the GGP and its programs.  More...

Friday, September 28 2018 8:00 PM
Jihye Chang, piano
Continuum 88, Part III: Into Fantasies


Peter Kramer Pieta I and Thema, from Fantasiestücke, written for the Continuum 88 project. World Premiere
Carl Czerny Etude, Op. 299, No. 9 from School of Velocity
Daniel Godsil Études Chimiques for solo piano, No. 2, ‘Hélium’ World Premiere
Addie Camsuzou Etude No. 1
Frédéric Chopin Étude, Op. 25, No. 1
Earl Wild 7 Virtuoso Etudes on Gershwin Songs, No. 4 ‘Embraceable You’
Seungyeon Kim Etude-Fantasy: Gradus Adversus Gravitatem, written for the Continuum 88 project. World Premiere
W. A. Mozart Fantasia in D minor, K. 397
Shinuh Lee Chorale Fantasy No. 4, based on Lutheran Chorale ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’ written for the Continuum 88 project. World Premiere
Robert Schumann Fantasy in C major, Op. 17

Pianist Jihye Chang has been internationally and nationally engaged as a soloist, chamber musician, and new music specialist. She has premiered numerous works by prominent composers, including a piano concerto by the Grammy award winning composer Robert Aldridge, and has recorded five CDs of contemporary works on Albany and Centaur labels.

This program is the third chapter of her five-year solo piano project, Continuum 88, which began in 2016, spanning performances in Korea, Taiwan, and across the US. In this project, Chang explores the major forms and genres of piano literature – Preludes, Etudes, Fantasies, Miniatures and Variations, and Sonatas. This project has two goals: exploring the masterworks of each category and engaging living composers to write in that form/genre, then performing the newly written works more than once, and within the context of the literature. By doing so, Continuum 88 will foster a greater connection for the audience with these new works.

During the 2017-18 season, Chang performed new etudes by prominent Australian composer Natalie Williams, etudes by Luke Haaksma and Yiguo Yan selected from the Brevard Music Center’s Etude Project (2017), and an etude by young Korean composer Cheol-Hun Jung multiple times in various venues, alongside etudes by Chopin, Debussy, Ligeti, and Rachmaninoff. The program at O1C signals the beginning of Continuum 88, Part III: Fantasies, with a few etudes that will connect it with Part II: Etudes. This program will include five world premieres, with two works by Bay Area composers Addie Camsuzou and Daniel Godsil, and three works written for this project by Seungyon Kim, Peter Kramer, and Shinuh Lee. These new works will be programmed with Schumann’s monumental fantasy, Mozart’s short and fascinating fantasy, and a few wonderful etudes by Chopin, Debussy, and Ligeti.

*General Admission: $25
*Seniors (65 and over): $20
Full time Student w/ID: $5
Kids under 12: FREE
*$2 discount when purchased online!  More...

Friday, October 12 2018 8:00 PM
Stenberg | Cahill Duo

Kate Stenberg, violin; Sarah Cahill, piano

Aaron Gervais Talking in Circles World Premiere
Gabriela Lena Frank Suenos de Chambi
Kaija Saariaho Tocar
Linda Catlin Smith With Their Shadows Long
plus works by Henry Cowell and Grażyna Bacewicz

Newly formed in 2016, the Stenberg | Cahill Duo is dedicated to promoting the American experimental tradition and expanding it through the commissioning of new work. This program includes the World Premiere Aaron Gervais’ Talking in Circles with performances of Gabriela Lena Frank’s Suenos de Chambi, Kaija Saariaho’s Tocar, Linda Catlin Smith’s With Their Shadows Long, and works by Henry Cowell and Grażyna Bacewicz. The Stenberg | Cahill Duo is dedicated to promoting the American experimental tradition and expanding it through the commissioning of new work. Recent appearances include performances at San Francisco Performances’ PIVOT Festival, the Mendocino Music Festival, BAMPFA, and the Music by the Mountain Festival.

Described as “highly virtuosic and deeply communicative … full of character and presence” (NewMusicBox) Kate Stenberg’s violin playing has led to performances worldwide and the release of dozens of CDs on New World Records, Sono Luminous, Newport Classics, Decca Records, New Albion and Other Minds labels. Hailed as a “Bay Area new-music luminarie” (San Francisco Chronicle) Stenberg enjoys a diverse, unconventional career, and is deeply committed to new concert music. She has commissioned, recorded and performed hundreds of world premieres by living composers. Stenberg’s CD Scenes from a New Music Séance with virtuoso pianist Eva-Maria Zimmermann has received special notice and features groundbreaking, innovative works by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Ruth Crawford Seeger and George Antheil. Composers who have dedicated work to her include Charles Amirkhanian, Robert Honstein, Amy X Neuburg and Ronald Bruce Smith. Stenberg developed and commissioned new chamber music as co-founder of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and Real Vocal String Quartet, and from 1995-2015 she served as the first violinist of the award winning Del Sol String Quartet, where she fostered the string quartet repertoire through collaboration and the commissioning of established and emerging composers. She worked closely with many composers including Per Nørgård, Jack Body, Joan Tower, Tania Leon, Mason Bates, Mohammed Fairouz and Chinary Ung at such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Symphony Space and the National Gallery of Art. Hailed by Gramophone Magazine as “masters of all musical things they survey”, Del Sol Quartet was a two-time top winner of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.

Sarah Cahill, recently called “a brilliant and charismatic advocate for modern and contemporary composers” by the Chicago Tribune, has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to her include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Samuel Adams, and Ingram Marshall. Recent appearances include the Interlochen Arts Festival, the Cleveland Museum of Art, a concert with the Silk Road Ensemble at Alice Tully Hall, the Other Minds Festival, and the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art. Upcoming concerts include the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the Festival of New American Music, National Sawdust, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Sarah Cahill’s discography includes over twenty albums on the New Albion, CRI, New World, Tzadik, Albany, Innova, Cold Blue, Other Minds, and Pinna labels. Cahill’s four-CD box set, Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley, was released late last year on the Irritable Hedgehog label. Her radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco. She is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory and curates a series of new music concerts at the new Berkeley Art Museum.

For more information about the performers, please visit their websites:  More...