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July 16: Pianist Sarah Cahill Performs Rarely-Heard Works by Women Composers at Old First Church - Hybrid In-Person / Livestream Concert

June 16, 2021 | By Maggie Stapleton
Jensen Artists

[Note: Photo by Miranda Sanborn available in high resolution at]

Press contact: Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists

Pianist Sarah Cahill Presented by Old First Concerts
Performing Music from The Future is Female 

Featuring Rarely-Heard Works by Women Composers Around the Globe Including
Frangiz Ali-Zadeh, Anna Bon, Madeleine Dring, Ági Jámbor, Hannah Kendall, Leokadiya Kashperova, and Zenobia Powell Perry


Friday, July 16, 2021 at 8pm PT – Limited Capacity In-Person Seating
Old First Church | 1751 Sacramento Street | San Francisco, CA 

General Admission In-Person Tickets: $25
Livestream Suggested Donation: $20
More information:

The Future is Female was truly a treat: a trip through time and place through a wonderful variety of classical styles.” – Chatham Lifestyle 

Sarah Cahill:

San Francisco, CA – On Friday, July 16, 2021 at 8pm PTSarah Cahill, described as “a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde” by The New York Times, returns to Old First Concerts to perform selections from her project, The Future is Female. This is a hybrid concert – seating is limited to 100 people at Old First Church (1751 Sacramento Street), and general admission is $25. The concert will also be available to watch online as a livestream with a suggested donation of $20. 

The Future is Female is a curation and performance project featuring more than sixty compositions by women around the globe, ranging from the 18th century to the present day. For this performance, Cahill presents an evening-length version of the project including many rarely-heard works by Baroque composer Anna BonLeokadiya Kashperova (best known as Stravinsky’s piano teacher), Ajerbaijani composer Frangiz Ali-Zadeh, American composer and civil rights activist Zenobia Powell Perry, with selections from Madeleine Dring’s Colour Suite and Hannah Kendall’s On the Chequer’d Field Array’d, a musical depiction of a chess game.

Perhaps most notably, Cahill will perform the Piano Sonata by Hungarian composer-pianist Ági Jámbor, who survived a harrowing escape from Nazi-occupied Europe and dedicated this work to the victims of Auschwitz. In preparation for this performance, Cahill has been working closely with Jámbor’s publication editor.

Cahill explains, “The score for Ági Jámbor’s Sonata says that it was a gift to John DesMarteau, MD, and he helped with the Sonata's publication. I figured he would have insights into the Sonata – the score doesn't even have a date when it was written. I saw that he was on LinkedIn and messaged him, and we set up a Zoom meeting. He lives in Washington DC. He told me the Sonata was written in 1949 – that was also the year her husband died, weakened by their ordeal and escape – and when he knew Jámbor she was already suffering from dementia, but pointed out passages in the music that represented tanks invading Hungary and citizens fleeing from them, and that the second movement is an elegy for victims of the Holocaust. I went through the whole piece with him, asking him about various spots, and he compared the published score with his Finale version (he has the manuscript somewhere, but needs to locate it). We spent an hour and a half together, and it means so much to work with him when he worked on this Sonata with Ági Jámbor!” 

Sarah Cahill’s full program on July 16, 2021:

Anna Bon: Sonata No. 6 (1757)

Leokadiya Kashperova: selections from Au sein de la Nature (1910)

Ági Jámbor: Sonata (1949)

Zenobia Powell Perry: Rhapsody (1960)

Madeleine Dring: excerpts from Colour Suite (1963)

Frangiz Ali-ZadehMusic for Piano (1989/1997)

Hannah Kendall: On the Chequer’d Field Array’d (2013)

With this physical manifestation of her lifetime dedication to supporting the artistic work of women, in The Future is Female Cahill illuminates works by women composers worldwide – Chinese, Azerbaijani, Afro-Cuban, African American, Czech, Lithuanian, Polish, and Venezuelan, among others – some who are alive and prolific and others who have passed but live on through their music. The San Diego Tribune describes Cahill as “a vessel through which musical ideas can pass, a communicator whose technique is put at the service of empathy and understanding.” Other recent and upcoming performances of The Future is Female include North Dakota Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Carlsbad Music Festival, Carolina Performing Arts, the University of Iowa, and the Barbican Centre.

Cahill’s recent and upcoming streaming speaking engagements have included a two-day discussion presented by the Boulanger Initiative, The Future is Female: In Conversation and Performance (watch online); a Piano Talk presented by the Ross McKee Foundation titled Challenging the Canon (watch online); a panel presented by American Composers Forum on Advocating for Gender Equity; three webinars presented by the San Francisco Symphony, including Five Composers You Should Know (Who Happen to be Women) (November 10); and At Home with Sarah Cahill a workshop presented by Amateur Music Network, where Cahill spoke about her life in new music and performed a short concert (watch online). 

Her previous streamed performances during the pandemic have included the Bang on a Can Marathon in June 2020, a concert presented by Harrison House in Joshua Tree as part of Cahill’s residency there (watch online); a Piano Break recital presented by the Ross McKee Foundation, featuring the world premiere of Regina Harris Baiocchi’s Piano Poems, inspired by poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks and Richard Wright (watch online); a faculty performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, featuring the world premiere of Up for two pianos by Riley Nicholson, performed with Regina Myers (watch online); as well as appearances streamed by Musaics of the BayOld First Concerts, SFSymphony , and Community School of Music and Arts.

About Sarah Cahill: Sarah Cahill, recently called, “a brilliant and charismatic advocate for modern and contemporary composers” by Time Out New York, has commissioned and premiered over sixty compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to Cahill include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Julia Wolfe, Yoko Ono, Annea Lockwood, and Ingram Marshall. Keyboard Magazine writes, “Through her inspired interpretation of works across the 20th and 21st centuries, Cahill has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of many of our greatest living composers.” She was named a 2018 Champion of New Music, awarded by the American Composers Forum (ACF).

Sarah Cahill has recently commissioned five new works for solo piano by composers Frederic RzewskiRobert PollockMary WatkinsRegina Harris Baiocchi, and Michelle Li. With violinist Kate Stenberg, she has commissioned composers Pamela ZRoscoe Mitchell, and Maija Hynninen; and with Regina Myers, she has commissioned Riley Nicholson’s Up for two pianos. 

Cahill enjoys working closely with composers, musicologists, and scholars to prepare scores for each performance. She researched and recorded music by prominent early 20th-century American modernists Henry Cowell and Ruth Crawford and commissioned a number of new pieces in tribute to their enduring influence. She has also premiered and recorded music by Leo Ornstein, Marc Blitzstein, and other 20th century mavericks. 

Cahill’s latest project is The Future is Female, a ritual installation and communal feminist immersive listening experience featuring more than sixty compositions by women around the globe, ranging from the 18th century to the present day, including new commissioned works. Featured composers include Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, Maria de Alvear, Galina Ustvolskaya, Franghiz Ali- Zadeh, Florence Price, Hannah Kendall, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Kui Dong, Meredith Monk, Vit´ezslava Kaprálová , Tania León, Fannie Charles Dillon, and many others. Cahill is performing this project in museums, galleries, and concert halls in current and future seasons. Recent and upcoming performances of The Future is Female include concerts presented by The Barbican, Carolina Performing Arts, Carlsbad Music Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bowling Green New Music Festival, North Dakota Museum of Art, and Mayville State University.

Cahill has worked closely with composer Terry Riley since 1997, when she commissioned his four-hand piece Cinco de Mayo for a festival at Cal Performances celebrating Henry Cowell’s 100th birthday – the first of six works she has commissioned from him. For Riley’s 80th birthday, Cahill commissioned nine new works for solo piano in his honor and performed them with several of Riley’s own compositions at (Le) Poisson Rouge and Roulette in New York, MIT, the North Dakota Museum of Art, and other venues across the country. Sarah Cahill has recently commissioned Frederic Rzewski to compose a substantial solo piano work in honor of Terry Riley’s upcoming 85th birthday.

Sarah Cahill also worked closely with Lou Harrison and has championed many of his works for piano. In 1997, Cahill was chosen to premiere his Festival Dance for two pianos with Aki Takahashi at the Cooper Union and worked with Harrison in rehearsals. She was also chosen to perform his Dance for Lisa Karon, discovered only a few years ago and not heard since its premiere in 1938, and she performed his Varied Trio, both piano concertos, and a number of solo and chamber works on her 2017 Lou Harrison tour celebrating his centennial year, with concerts in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Orlando, Miami, Hawaii, Tokyo and Fukuoka in Japan, and more. In fall 2019, she performed Lou Harrison's exuberant Concerto for Piano with Javanese Gamelan in two Berkeley performances. 

Cahill has performed classical and contemporary chamber music with artists and ensembles such as Jessica Lang Dance; pianists Joseph Kubera, Adam Tendler, and Regina Myers; violinist Stuart Canin; the Alexander String Quartet; New Century Chamber Orchestra; Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and many more. She also performs as a duo with violinist Kate Stenberg. 

Sarah Cahill’s discography includes more than twenty albums on the New Albion, CRI, New World, Tzadik, Albany, Innova, Cold Blue, Other Minds, Irritable Hedgehog, and Pinna labels. Her 2013 release A Sweeter Music (Other Minds) featured musical reflections on war by eighteen eloquent and provocative composer/activists. In 2015, Pinna Records released her two-CD set of Mamoru Fujieda’s Patterns of Plants, an extraordinary fusion of nature and technology created by identifying the musical patterns in the electrical impulses of plants. In September 2017, she released her latest album, Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley, a box set tribute to Terry Riley, on Irritable Hedgehog Records. The four-CD set includes solo works by Riley, four-hand works with pianist Regina Myers, and world premiere recordings of commissioned works composed in honor of Riley’s 80th birthday. The Wall Street Journal praised Cahill’s performance on the album, saying “Ms. Cahill offers fluid interpretations of works from Mr. Riley’s copious solo piano output, as well as four-hand piano pieces, which she and Regina Myers play with impressive unity and an ear for Mr. Riley’s chameleon-like style morphing.”

Sarah Cahill’s radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco. The program focuses on the relationships between classical music and new music, encompassing interviews with musicians and composers, historical performances, and recordings outside the mainstream. Cahill is on the piano faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband, video artist John Sanborn, and daughter. For more information, visit

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