2019 Composition Contest Winner

Sarah Gibson's I prefer living in color is the winner of the 2019 Left Coast Composition Contest. Left Coast will perform the piece in the 2019-20 season. Sarah currently teaches at the University of Southern California and she is Associate Artistic Director of the HEAR NOW Music Festival of Los Angeles Composers.

Sarah Gibson is a Los Angeles based composer and pianist. Her music has been performed by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, New Fromm Players, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, among others. Currently the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Sound Investment Composer, her works have received recognitions such as the American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings and a Victor Herbert ASCAP award. Sarah is co-founder of the new music piano duo, HOCKET, lauded as "brilliant" by the LA Times' Mark Swed. She teaches at the University of Southern California, The Colburn Conservatory, and is Lead Teaching Artist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program alongside Artistic Director Andrew Norman.

Left Coast wins 2017-18 Best of the Bay!

Photo: Tenor Joe Dan Harper in Never was a knight… | Credit: Nick Benavides


We are honored to receive two wins in the San Francisco Classical Voice Best of the Bay contest:

Best New Music Ensemble of 2017-18
Best New Music Performance: “Death and a Knight

Congratulations to our outstanding runners-up, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and Volti in the Best New Music Ensemble category.

Read more about all the winners in the SF Classical Voice.

Thank you for your support!

Farewell Nick and Welcome Susan

Thank you for a wonderful 25th Anniversary Season! We’ve done so much: a tribute to Weinberg, sold out opera performances, Messiaen with Eric Zivian and Sarah Cahill, the Orpheus myth, and now Schoenberg’s Serenade. It has been my pleasure to be a part of this venerable organization the past three seasons. Time and time again Left Coast has reinvented itself by extending a hand to tradition while maintaining a laser focus on the future.

Left Coast isn’t done dreaming big, and we have a thrilling 26th season planned. We’ve worked very hard to keep subscription prices stable, even with rising costs. One of the best ways to support Left Coast is to subscribe early!

We need your help if we are to continue this momentum. If you appreciated our season, I ask you to please consider making a donation. There are many ways to get involved: we are always looking for volunteers, promotional partners, and we have a few openings on the board. Please come talk to me or Susan. You can also designate a large gift for a specific cause such as commissions, concert sponsorship, or education.

Finally, it is with a heavy heart that I announce this will be my last season. Although I will be pursuing other career opportunities, I am pleased to say that Left Coast is stronger than ever and poised for growth. Our series is firmly established in Berkeley, our subscriber numbers are up, we are consistently selling out performances, and our staff capacity has increased to match the demands of this esteemed ensemble. None of this would be possible without the enthusiasm of the musicians, board, staff, volunteers, subscribers, and of course donors.

Many of you have grown acquainted with Susan Thieme this year, our marketing and box office manager. I’m elated to announce that she has been chosen as our new managing director, effective June 1. She has exceeded all of our expectations because of her keen intellect and professional demeanor. Without her this season would not have been possible, and we didn’t know how badly we needed her until she arrived. This new role is well deserved, and I know she’ll take Left Coast to the next level.

I want to thank the musicians and board for the trust they placed in me, and especially Anna Presler and Will Schieber for their constant support in all of our new initiatives and visionary leadership as artistic director and board president. I’m also thankful they’ve invited me to be a part of the advisory board, so you won’t be rid of me so easily! I look forward to serving Left Coast in this capacity.

Nick Benavides

2018 Composition Contest Winner

Charles Peck's piano quartet  Sunburst is the winner of the 2018 Left Coast Composition Contest. Left Coast will perform the piece in the 2018-19 season. Charles currently teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is a doctoral candidate at Cornell University. Find out more about Charles at his website.

Peck describes his work as a two-movement work that explores the energy in sunlight. The first movement, titled Reflect, focuses on the frenetic, scattered motion of light waves. The music contains only a few short gestures, but it jumps to and between them at speed, as if it were following a ray of light over contrasting surfaces. Each gesture is imbued with that same, active motion, exemplified by the use of extreme ranges in the piano and tightly interlocked rhythms in the ensemble. Contrarily, the patient second movement, titled Absorb, acts as a solar-powered circuit. The music begins in the low register and breathes slowly while the circuit receives and stores energy. As the power accumulates, the electricity begins to hum, an effect that is personified by drones in the violin and viola. Finally, after flickering on and off, the movement climaxes with a powerful release of energy, followed by a steady, sequential descent in register as the circuit runs out of power.

2018-19 Season Announced!

Entering our 26th year of celebrating chamber music's past, present, and future, we're still marrying world premieres with old favorites and shining a deserved light on rare works from many eras.

Left Coast is thrilled to invite you to our 26th season. Season tickets are on sale now.

Set 1: Singing the Gamut

From John Deak's tongue-in-cheek Big Bad Wolf to arias from Bellini, Bachelet, and others, this program explores music that amplifies human emotions. Other works include Mario Davidovsky’s Festino, capturing the fun of the party, and Sheila Silver’s tender song cycle, On Loving.

Jon Deak BB Wolf for Double Bass
Mario Davidovksy Festino for Guitar, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass
Jonathan Favero New Work for Guitar, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass WORLD PREMIERE
Benjamin Britten Songs from the Chinese for Guitar and Voice
Sheila Silver On Loving
Olly Wilson Wry Fragments
Vincenzo Bellini Oh quante volte
Alfred Bachelet Chère nuit

Saturday, October 6, 2018, 7:30pm
The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley 

San Francisco
Monday, October 8, 2018, 7:30pm
SF Conservatory Recital Hall, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco

Get details 

Set 2: Volti + Left Coast Premieres    

Left Coast joins forces with acclaimed vocal ensemble Volti for three premieres, including Gregory Spears’ setting of texts by Thomas Merton and others. New works from Laurie San Martin and Addie Camsuzou feature the notable oboists Andrea Plesnarski and Tom Nugent.  

Benjamin Britten Phantasy Quartet, op.2
Addie Camsuzou New Work for Oboes and Strings WORLD PREMIERE
Laurie San Martin New Work for Vocal Ensemble and Two Oboes WORLD PREMIERE
Gregory Spears New Work for Vocal Ensemble and String Quartet WORLD PREMIERE

Sunday, November 18, 2018, 7:30pm
The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

San Francisco
Monday, November 19, 2018, 7:3pm
SF Conservatory Concert Hall, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco

Get details

Set 3: The Sound of Nature    

Left Coast presents works celebrating the natural world, including Evan Hause’s Fields, and George Crumb’s A Dog’s Life. And for the premiere of a concerto by Clarice Assad for two cellos, percussion, and flute, Left Coast is joined by a cello choir. Assad’s The Lumerians concerns water, climate change and the natural world.

Heinrich Biber Sonata Representativa in A Major
George Crumb Mundus Canis for Guitar and Percussion
Evan Hause Fields for Marimba
Kurt Rohde credo petrified for Two Cellos
Clarice Assad The Lumerians for Flute, Two Cellos, Percussion, and Cello Choir WORLD PREMIERE

San Francisco
Monday, January 14, 2019, 7:30pm
SF Conservatory Recital Hall, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco

Saturday, January 19, 2019, 7:30pm
Hertz Hall, University of California – Berkeley

Get details

Set 4: Bay Area Spotlight 

The rich middle voices of Jerome Simas' clarinet and Kurt Rohde's viola shine in new works by David Conte, Tina Tallon, Ellainie Lillios, and Peter Van Zandt Lane. Rebecca Clarke's luminous masterpiece, the Viola Sonata from 1921, completes the program.

Rebecca Clarke Sonata for Viola and Piano
Tina Tallon New Work for Viola and Electronics WORLD PREMIERE
Elainie Lillios New Work for Viola and Electronics WORLD PREMIERE
Peter Van Zandt Lane New Work for Viola and Electronics WORLD PREMIERE
David Conte Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

Sunday, March 3, 2019, 7:30pm
The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

San Francisco
Monday, March 4, 2019, 7:30pm
SF Conservatory Recital Hall, 50 Oak Street, San Francisco

Get details

Set 5: Dorothea & Artemisia

We focus on the art and milieu of Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi and Depression Era photographer Dorothea Lange, in two chamber operas with projected images that come to life. Laura Schwendinger’s new opera tackles Gentileschi’s struggles and triumphs as she battles inequality and reveals hidden stories. Christopher Stark’s micro opera explores the lives of migrants fleeing the Dust Bowl.

Christopher Stark From the Field WORLD PREMIERE
Laura Schwendinger Artemisia WORLD PREMIERE

San Francisco
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 7:30pm Z Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco
Sunday, June 2, 2019, 2:00pm Z Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco

Get details

Spring Residency at the Doug Adams CARe Gallery!

Left Coast will be the Ensemble-in-Residence for Spring 2019, offering open rehearsals, live performances, composer Q&As, classes on The Art of Listening, and a storytelling concert with Susan Strauss.

Get details