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, July 22 2018 4:00 PM
Sarah Cahill, piano


Phil Kline Long Winter
John Adams China Gates
Annea Lockwood RCSC
Samuel Adams Shade Studies
Meredith Monk Steppe Music (excerpts)
Pauline Oliveros Quintuplets Playpen
Terry Riley Be Kind to One Another

On the occasion of being named a 2018 New Music Champion by the American Composers Forum, Sarah Cahill—who was recently called “a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde” by The New York Times and “a brilliant and charismatic advocate for modern and contemporary composers” by Time Out New York—performs a program of pieces she has commissioned or have been otherwise dedicated to her, including music by John Adams, Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Meredith Monk, Ingram Marshall, Annea Lockwood, Phil Kline, and Samuel Adams.

Recent appearances include a concert at San Quentin of the music Henry Cowell wrote while incarcerated there, four performances at the San Francisco Symphony’s Soundbox, a residency at the Noguchi Museum, and concerts at Le Poisson Rouge and the Italian Academy in New York. She performs as a duo with violinist Kate Stenberg and has performed chamber music with the Alexander String Quartet, New Century Chamber Orchestra, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and many other chamber groups. Performance highlights for the 2017-18 season include the Interlochen Arts Festival, Mendocino Music Festival, the Cleveland Museum of Art, concerts in Tokyo and Fukuoka, Terry Riley’s Sri Moonshine series, and New Music Miami.

Sarah Cahill’s discography includes over twenty albums on the New Albion, CRI, New World, Tzadik, Albany, Innova, Cold Blue, Other Minds, Pinna, and Irritable Hedgehog labels. Her 2013 release A Sweeter Music (Other Minds) features musical reflections on war which she commissioned from composer-activists. In 2015, Pinna Records released her two-CD set of Mamoru Fujieda’s Patterns of Plants, a fusion of nature and technology created by identifying the musical patterns in the electrical impulses of plants. Cahill’s four-CD box set, Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley, was released in 2017 on the Irritable Hedgehog label and features Riley’s solo and four-hand works (with Regina Myers and Samuel Carl Adams) and eight world premiere recordings of commissioned works in honor of his 80th birthday.

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 monthly series of new music concerts at the new Berkeley Art Museum.

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

Sunday, September 9 2018 4:00 PM
Lynn Schugren

Lynn Schugren, piano
Made in America

Miriam Gideon Of Shadows Numberless
Mark Vance Points in Time San Francisco Premiere
Bruce Nalezny Poeme and Finale
Samuel Barber Sonata

Pianist Lynn Schugren will explore the eclectic American style with four major works. Of Shadows Numberless (1987) is a series of short movements, each inspired by fragments of lines from Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. A sophisticated and technically demanding work, it is full of luscious and impressionistic sound. Nevada County’s Mark Vance’s Points in Time, commissioned by Ms. Schugren and premiered in 2017 is a series of pieces evocative of events in the composer’s life, from views of glorious tulip fields in the Skagit Valley to the shock of the 9/11 attacks. Bay Area composer Bruce Nalezny’s Poeme (1988) was originally inspired by a dark poem by Spanish poet Jorge Manrique about death: a dramatic and powerful statement, followed by the virtuosic chase of his Finale. Samuel Barber’s Sonata, commissioned by the League of Composers in 1950 and premiered by Vladimir Horowitz, is a masterpiece of contemporary music. In this grand romantic sonata, full of emotion and longing, Barber uses the full orchestral range of the piano and presents many a technical challenge to the performer.

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

Sunday, September 16 2018 4:00 PM
Winnie Nieh, soprano
with Paul Dab, piano

Take refuge on the road to madness! Join soprano Winnie Nieh and pianist Paul Dab for a program on joy, seduction, love, loss and madness, featuring works by Purcell, Strauss, Ravel, the West Coast premiere of Richard Aldag’s Five Songs for Voice & Piano, and the world premiere (with piano) of Richard Festinger’s Love Wanders There and Winds of May. Winnie graduated from Harvard and received Associate diplomas from Trinity College London in piano, voice and violin. She has appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as in Germany, Canada, South Korea and Hong Kong. Paul graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2011 and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2014, and has studied at conservatories in Vienna, Austria and Glasgow, Scotland and participated in festivals in New York and North Carolina. Last season this duo delighted Bay Area audiences with two recitals, and Winnie tied for Second Place behind Joyce DiDonato in San Francisco Classical Voice’s poll for Best Vocal Recital 2016-17. Don’t miss this program and the chance to meet composers Richard Aldag and Richard Festinger. Please visit and for more information on the performers.

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

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...