Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Further Changes of Venue: First Congregational Church Fire Edition

As anyone who attends or performs in classical music concerts in the East Bay must know by now, First Congregational Church of Berkeley, a much-loved performance venue with a thriving worship community, suffered a serious fire last week. One of the buildings on the campus has been condemned. The sanctuary and its musical instruments, including a most impressive organ, survived, but the extent of the damage to the building is not yet known.

Many performing organizations and presenters are affected by this, because they had concerts planned for this season.
  • New Century Chamber Orchestra
  • Volti / Left Coast Chamber Ensemble
  • Philharmonia Baroque
  • California Bach Society
  • Chora Nova
  • American Bach Soloists
  • Cal Performances
  • Chanticleer
  • San Francisco Chamber Orchestra
The San Francisco Early Music Society uses First Congo during the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition [of Early Music], which is held in alternate years. They will not be affected until 2018, but we do not yet know how long it will be until the church will be available for concerts and the Festival's ancillary events, some of which are also put on there.

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 4, 2017

American Bach Soloists is moving all of their winter and spring 2017 programs to First Presbyterian, which is diagonally across the street from First Congregational, at the corner of Channing and Dana in Berkeley. Here's their very gracious announcement:
As you may know, our Berkeley home, First Congregational Church, suffered extensive fire damage last fall and the groups who use the facility to perform concerts have been looking for temporary homes for the 2017 season. Many people, including the staff of First Congregational, had hoped to be back in the facilities by now, but that is not the case. So, for the 2017 winter and spring season, American Bach Soloists have moved their performances across the street to First Presbyterian Church (2407 Dana Street, Berkeley, CA). We have every hope that we will return to First Congregational in 2018!
We are grateful to First Presbyterian Church for opening their doors to us, we are especially supportive of the congregation and staff of First Congregational Church during this difficult period, and we are grateful to you for your understanding in this endeavor.

UPDATED: Monday, October 17, 2016

More changes of venue:

  • Chora Nova will perform their Sunday, November 20 program, including Haydn's Mass in Time of War, at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, Channing & Dana, diagonally across the street from FCCB. The concert is at 4 p.m. and also includes music by Mozart.
  • Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will perform on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley. Other Saturday concerts during the season will take place at First Presbyterian Church (see above). Sunday concerts originally scheduled for FCCB will take place at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church in Lafayette.

I have the first two venue changes in hand.
  • Volti / Left Coast will perform their Winges, Janáček, Lang, Türkmen program at 7:30, October 15, at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. This is diagonally across the street from First Congo.
  • Cal Bach will perform Bach's St. Matthew Passion at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall at 3:30 pm on October 9.
UPDATED: Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, twice. Thanks to Joshua Kosman for an addition and correction; thanks to Tod Brody for an addition.


Tod Brody said...

Add San Francisco Chamber Orchestra to the list of ensembles which uses First Congo regularly. Their first concert set was scheduled to have a performance there on Oct.30 -- no word yet on a replacement venue.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you, Tod! Updating and send this on to Joshua.

Anonymous said...

"First Congo"? I've never heard it called that. Sounds like it's located in Africa.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I hang around with more people who perform there than you do, so I've been hearing that nickname for the last 20 years.