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Nevertheless - Sacred & Profane - Composer David Shire - Scott & Zelda: The Beautiful Fools

Madeline Matuska in Nevertheless (center). Photo by Robbie Sweeny

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, host David Latulippe talks with choreographer Tanya Chianese, artistic director of the ka·nei·see | collective, and with Heather Arnett, leader of the Cat Call Choir, to discuss the reprise of Nevertheless, which surveys the field of gender-based harassment - from the subtle to the violent, in a marriage of song and dance, comedy and horror. 

Nevertheless was first produced in April 2018 and received universal praise from critics and was even recognized by the likes of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Dianne Feinstein. This updated version of Nevertheless features an expanded cast of 25 singers and dancers, performing 17 vignettes with new material and new voices exploring gender discrimination, harassment and sexual violence. 

Members of the Cat Call Choir will be performing some of their cat calls live in the studio. Nevertheless runs on March 7, 8 and 9 (8pm) and March 10 (2pm) at Z Space (450 Florida St.) in San Francisco. 

From chamber chorus Sacred & Profane, we talk with artistic director Rebecca Seeman about upcoming concerts as part of Elemental Forces, the choir’s 41st Season. Under the title The American Landscape: Traditional Music and Art of the United States, Sacred & Profane performs, among other things, selections from Folksong Mass by Japanese American composer Paul Chihara, arrangements of Amish folksongs by Mark Templeton, and African American spirituals arranged by Moses Hogan and Stacey Gibbs. 

Concerts are on March 8 - 10 at venues in San Francisco, Berkeley and Alameda.  The Alameda concert includes an exhibit on the theme of the American landscape with works by glass artist Kim Webster, textile artist George-Ann Bowers, painter Mi’Chelle Fredrick, mixed-media artists Åke and Leslie Grundits, and others. 

We talk with composer David Shire, who will be visiting San Francisco State University's College of Liberal and Creative Arts on March 14 and 15, to give master classes, and to coach students in musical theatre, performance, composition, libretto and score. Shire is an Academy Award and two-time Grammy winner and multiple Tony and Emmy nominee, who has composed prolifically for the theatre, films, television and recordings. 

On Broadway, Shire and lyricist Richard Maltby wrote the scores for the musicals Baby (Tony nominations for Best Score and Musical) and Big (Tony nomination for Best Score). Shire’s many feature film scores include Norma Rae (Academy Award for Best Song), Francis Coppola’s The ConversationAll the President’s MenThe Taking of Pelham 1-2-3Short CircuitThe HindenburgZodiac and Saturday Night Fever, for which he earned two Grammy Awards. 

Some of Shire’s most heralded works will be performed live by the composer himself on piano as well as by the Alexander String Quartet, SF State Brass Ensemble and theatre students. This free concert is on March 15  (7:30 - 9:30 pm) at the Creative Arts Building, Knuth Hall. Composer and organizer of Shire’s master class and concert, Steve Horowitz, joins the conversation.  

Open Air’s regular contributor and critic at large, Peter Robinson, reports on playwright Lance Belville's new play Scott & Zelda: The Beautiful Foolswhich opens April 12 at the Ross Valley players. The play traces the roots of The Great Gatsby and Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age novels and introduces the characters with whom he partied, from Hemingway to Groucho Marx. 

Also, a preview of the documentary film They Shall Not Grow Olddirected and produced by Peter Jackson, who used original footage of World War I from the Imperial War Museum's archives, most of it previously unseen, together with historical audio from the BBC and interviews with British servicemen who fought in the war. 

Plus, special contributor Rose Aguilar discusses Volta, by Cirque du Soleil, now through March 24 in San Jose, Under the Big Top at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. 

Open Air with host David Latulippe; heard live on Thursday, March 7 at 1pm. Listen now or anytime...