Often called the best performance series west of the Hudson, Cal Performances consistently offers the highest quality presentations in dance, jazz, classical, and world music. It also sponsors author presentations. For art of this caliber we must thank perspicacious longtime director Robert Cole, who snared vocalist Cecilia Bartoli even before her voice had matured to its current nonpareil status, and stays atop the classical and world music scene with enviable savvy. Along with Bartoli, we've heard first peeps from Jonathan Lemalu, Ian Bostridge, Juan Diego Florez, and Salvatore Licitra. Other presenters we have heard and enjoyed this past season include Cesaria Evora, Sweet Honey in the Rock, John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Mercedes Sosa, Wynton Marsalis, Anne Sofie von Otter, Emanuel Ax, Musica Antiqua Köln, Tallis Scholars, Takács Quartet with Richard Stoltzman, Musicians from Marlboro, and the newest radio and Internet talk show celebrity, Al Franken. With the show outside the doors sometimes as colorful as the one you pay for, Cal Performances is a gem.