A swan song with strings: After an incredible four decades of playing and touring together, the members of the esteemed Emerson String Quartet, winners of nine Grammys and scads of other awards, are hanging up their bows. Their final tour includes an appearance at the Herbst Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday hosted by San Francisco Performances. Violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, who alternate in the first chair position, and violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist Paul Watkins have a program planned that samples works of four master composers. Henry Purcell’s Chacony in G minor, as arranged by Benjamin Britten, is on tap, as are Haydn’s String Quartet in G Major, Mozart’s Quartet in D minor and Beethoven’s Quartet in E minor. Tickets, $50-$75, are available at www.sfperformances.org and at 415-392-2545. To read our Pagransen interview with Drucker, click here.


Artist Shiva Pakdel's digital piece, “Torquiest Tiles,” is one of the 240 works on display at “Breaking Barriers: The Art of Iran” at the Sausalito Center for the Arts. Pakdel is the curator of the exhibition, which runs through April 23. (Shiva Pakdel)

Freebie of the week: So much of what we see, hear and read about Iran these days comes through news accounts, and little of the information is positive: reports of government repression; women defying Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s administration by refusing to wear hijabs, continued geopolitical hostilities with the U.S. and other Western countries. The steady stream of words and images centering on crackdowns and confrontations is enough to make one forget the Persian culture’s rich, centuries-old history full of intellectual and artistic achievements. A free exhibit in Marin County is here to remind us. “Breaking Down Barriers: The Art of Iran” at the Sausalito Center for the Arts features some 240 works by Iranian artists based around the world, including paintings, antiques and artifacts, ceramic items, photographs and more. Some are ancient, some are created by contemporary artists living in Iran and the U.S. As the museum puts it, the exhibit “intends to showcase a compelling sampling of the scope and range of Persian art and artists that helps transcend the constraints of ideological and cultural borders.” The exhibit, curated by Shiva Pakdel, runs through April 23. The museum is located at 750 Bridgeway and admission is free. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. Go to www.sausalitocenterforthearts.org.


Trombonist and composer Francisco Torres performs with the Stanford Jazz Orchestra April 14 as part of an all-day musical event presented by the Stanford Jazz Workshop. (Courtesy of Francisco Torres)

The joint will be jumpin’: If you’re a fan of big band jazz, Friday is your day. All day. And most of the music is free. That’s thanks to the Stanford Jazz Workshop, the renowned nonprofit dedicated to music education and appreciation, which brings together musicians, teachers and music enthusiasts in a dizzying variety of classes, gatherings and concerts. SJW turns 50 this year and to mark the milestone, the organization is hosting the inaugural SJW School Jazz Festival. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Stanford University’s Dinkelspiel Auditorium, 16 top school big bands will perform in an event that also includes a noon concert by a variety of SJW faculty musicians. The event is free. But the music doesn’t stop there. At 7:30 p.m., the Stanford Jazz Orchestra directed by Mike Galisatus takes the Dinkelspiel Auditorium stage for a concert featuring guest soloist Francisco Torrres, a top-flight Afro-Cuban trombonist and composer perhaps best known for his long collaboration with famed percussionist Poncho Sanchez. That concert costs $10 (free for SJW members and those under 17). More information and tickets to the evening show are available at stanfordjazz.org.


Hyunmin Rhee and Jenny Nguyen Nelson star in American Conservatory Theater's “Poor Yella Rednecks.” (Kevin Berne/American Conservatory Theater)

‘Redneck’ family values: In 2018, playwright Qui Nguyen debuted his play “Vietgone,” a stage romance about two Vietnamese refugees in Arkansas based on the story of his own parents. But if you’re thinking it’s a teary-eyed inspirational story about two immigrants sharing love amid the American dream, think again. The decidedly un-woke (and deliriously funny) comedy, set in the early 1970s, is laced with ethnic malapropisms and hillbilly slang, crazy fight scenes, off-color jokes and rapping. Oh, and puppets. Nguyen’s acclaimed writing career is full of this sort of thing. As co-director of the Vampire Cowboys stage company, Nguyen was a force in the birth of “geek theater” with such productions as “She Kills Monsters,” “Alice in Slasherland” and “Fight Girl Battle World.” (He also wrote the screenplays for hit films “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Strange World”). Now Nguyen is back with “Poor Yella Rednecks,” a sequel to “Vietgone” in which the central characters are married and trying to make a go of running a diner in the Arkansas community they still call home. Like “Vietgone,” “Rednecks” is getting its area premiere at American Conservatory Theater. Expect more of the fast-paced, off-color, entirely inappropriate and button-pushing humor and social commentary that has made Nguyen a young star in the theater world. The shows plays through May 7 at ACT’s The Strand theater, 1127 Market St., San Francisco. Tickets are $25-$60; go to www.act-sf.org. Read our review here.


Not your average nightclub: For nine years now, the San Francisco Symphony has been luring the hip and the curious to a fascinating series of late-night musical explorations in a cabaret-like setting replete with couches, ottomans, barstools and, yes, tasty cocktails. It’s called SoundBox, and this weekend’s iteration looks to be especially intriguing. Emmy Award-winning composer Nicholas Britell (and we can NOT get that tinkly score to HBO’s “Succession” out of our head) joins forces with director Barry Jenkins, whose 2016 film “Moonlight” captured the best picture Oscar, for a discussion of their collaborative creative process. In addition to “Moonlight,” Jenkins also directed “If Beale Street Could Talk” and the Amazon series “The Underground Railroad,” and Britell, who is one of S.F. Symphony conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s eight Collaborative Partners, supplied music for all of them. Screen projections and music played by symphony musicians will amplify their joint presentation, which takes place at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday in a cavernous (but acoustically expertly engineered) hall at the corner of Grove and Franklin streets. Doors open at 8 p.m. You can find tickets, $100, at www.sfsymphony.org/soundbox.

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