SF Symphony

To twerk at the symphony: Tipping on the tightrope with Janelle Monae

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There was a moment at Janelle Monae's show at the SF Symphony last night when it looked as if the diorama of world-class musicians behind the diminutive person in black-and-white striped shoes, pompadour, and endless progression of tailored tuxedo jackets was a natural growth. If the trombone-and-oboe look isn't an every day occurance for Monae, she did not let on as the final moments of Prince's "Take Me With You" surged around her. The andro-android turned her back to the audience and almost subconsciously, began waving her arms, a sudden conductor. 

And then by the end of the next song the entire spangly gown crowd was on their pave-jeweled feet, twerking in the aisle. Maybe Monae can't always have a back-up symphony, but the Symphony should always have a Monae in front of it. Read more »

4 reasons that spending $150 on Janelle Monae tickets is not 100 percent ridiculous

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1. Her Thu/16 show is at the symphony It is! The show is at Davies Symphony Hall and features actual symphony musicians playing actual orchestral arrangements to back up android-andro chic Ms. Monae, whose set will include material from her new album even. She's dropping through the Chicago Symphony later this month as a last-minute stand-in for Aretha Franklin, so you can go to her SF gig and chortle about the Windy City getting our original orchestral arrangement sloppy seconds. This will be a wonderful chance to see the Symphony dames approximate Rocky Horror Picture Show, if Thursday night's fashion scene is anything like this episode of 106th and Park: Read more »

Against the grain

SF Symphony's American Mavericks festival returns with visionary rareties -- and a timely dose of oddball wonder

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The organ, the laptop, and 'Digital Loom'

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The SF Symphony's awesome-looking American Mavericks festival -- which will present a "wild side" of contemporary and modernist classical works not often heard on a Davies Hall scale (Meredith Monk! Jessye Norman singing John Cage!) -- kicks off next week with a host of edgy aural goodies. 

And this Sun/4, in a kind of pre-fest wallop, Quebecoise organist Isabelle Demers will take advantage of the enormous Davies pipes to play a number of neat pieces, including one by SF's electronic-adventurous Mason Bates, entitled "Digital Loom," (hear a sample here). "Digital Loom," from 2009, embodies Bates' signature fusion of techno-ambient effects, often laptop generated, with symphonic elements to create something not quite Sci-Fi, not quite rave, not quite Stravinsky at his most cosmic-colorful, but all quite cool.

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