Over the last several years, under the direction of conductor and producer George Steel, the theater has become a center for innovative classical music performances, especially of contemporary and early music. In the former category, the centerpiece of the theater's programming has been its Composer Portraits, a series of evening-length showcases for 20th- and 21st-century composers.
This year's series includes two evenings of Ligeti, including his complete piano etudes; a celebration of Giacinto Scelsi's centennial; contemporary music by South Africa's Bongani Ndodana; and a concert of John Adams' work by new-music group Alarm Will Sound, as well as programs of music by George Anthiel, Frederic Rzewski, Bongani Luigi Dallapiccola, and Magnus Lindberg.
Composer Portraits will take the Adams and Ligeti programs to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; the Ligeti, Adams, and Lindberg events will also be seen at Hertz Hall at the University of California, Berkeley. The out-of-town performances mark the second straight year that the program has toured.
The theater will also launch a three-year series of commissioned new concertos for chamber orchestras with works by Julia Wolfe, John Musto, Ichizo Okashiro, and Benedict Mason.
The jazz series includes performances by pianists Mulgrew Miller, Eric Reed, and Cyrus Chestnut. Early music highlights include the Miller Theatre debut of viola da gambist Jordi Savall and a celebration of the 500th anniversary of Thomas Tallis's birth featuring the Tallis Scholars.