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A busy March weekend with diverse offerings

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The first full weekend in March is shaping up to be as busy as its predecessor. I continue to enjoy the fact that this city can offer such a diverse assortment of choices for those who take listening to music seriously. Nevertheless, I also try to do what I can to make sure that readers have a good sense of what their options are; so let me jump into enumerating the choices that listeners will have to make.

The options for Friday evening will appeal to rather different tastes. The ZOFO Duet of pianists Keisuke Nakagoshi and Eva-Maria Zimmerman, performing on a single keyboard, will be returning to the Old First Concerts series. Once again they will be presenting a program consisting entirely of premieres. Most important will be the world premiere of “Divertimento,” composed by Stevan Tickmayer on a ZOFO commission. Based on Bulgarian, Transylvanian, and Hungarian influences, this is an energetic score driven by the rhythmic eccentricities of its source material. There will also be two American premieres, both by foreign composers. The first of these, “Three Rhythmics,” is by New Zealand composer Jack Body. The other, “West Coast Point of View,” presents the reflections of Italian composer Francesco Di Fiore after his first visit to San Francisco ten years ago. (The composer will be present for this performance.) Finally, ZOFO will present the Bay Area premiere of Carl Vine’s sonata, having given this composition’s American premiere last month in Southern California.

This performance will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 7. Old First Concerts recitals take place in the sanctuary of Old First Church (1751 Sacramento Street, on the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue). Ticket prices are $17 for general admission, with a $14 rate for seniors, $5 for students and free admission for children under twelve. Tickets may be purchased in advance through the event page posted on the Old First Concerts Web site.

For those with a preference for an earlier century, violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock will be leading the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra from the Concertmaster’s Chair in a “European tour” of composers from the Baroque period. Two of the composers will be represented with “touring compositions” of their own. The program will begin with the music of the French composer Georg Muffat, who studied under Jean Baptiste Lully in Paris. His suite Nobilis Juventus (noble youth) was included in his Florilegium Secundum (second bouquet) collection and samples the musical styles of Span, the Netherlands, England, and Italy. This will be complemented by Georg Phillip Telemann’s Les Nations suite, which covers Turkey, Switzerland, Russia, and Portugal, at the end of the program. Other composers on the program will be Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Johann Schein, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, Joseph Umstatt, Johann Pisendel, and Johann Sebastian Bach (a string ensemble performance of the six-voice fugue from the BWV 1079 Musical Offering).

The San Francisco performance of this program will also begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 7. The venue will be the SFJAZZ Center, located at 201 Franklin Street on the northwest corner of Franklin Street and Fell Street. Tickets are priced from $25 to $93. They may be purchased in advance by calling City Box Office at 415-392-4400 or by visiting the event page on the City Box Office Web site.

This will also be the weekend when Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt comes to San Francisco to perform Bach’s BWV 1080, The Art of Fugue, in its entirety as part of the Shenson Piano Series of San Francisco Performances (SFP). As is the case with several events in the SFP season, her recital will be preceded by a Concert with Conversation event at the Community Music Center (CMC). This will provide Hewitt with an opportunity to preview some of the music she will play at the recital, share her thoughts about Bach, and entertain questions from the audience.

This Concert with Conversation will also take place on Friday, March 7; but it will begin at 6 p.m.. For those considering doing two things at once that evening, these events usually last about an hour. The event will take place in the CMC Capp Street Concert Hall at 544 Capp Street in the Mission. It is free of charge and open to the general public. However, due to the popularity of these presentations, early arrival is advised. The CMC Web site has an event page that provides additional background information.

The SFP recital will then take place on Sunday, March 9, at 7 p.m. It will be held in the SFJAZZ Center. Ticket prices are $38, $55, and $68; and they may be purchased through the event page on the SFP Web site. In addition there will be a special reception following the performance for those who donate at or above the Sponsor level. Those interested in attending can call 415-677-0326 for details.

The SFJAZZ Center will also provide the venue for the second concert in the SFP Jazz Series, which will be held the preceding evening. This will be a solo recital by pianist Fred Hersch. As is the case for most of the performances in this series, the program will be announced from the stage.

This event will take place on Saturday, March 8. It will begin in the SFJAZZ Center at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $30, $40, and $55; and they may be purchased through the event page on the SFP Web site.

There will also be two other concerts that venture a bit off the beaten path. One of these calls itself a “Family Concert for ALL Ages;” and it is presented by the community-based San Francisco Sinfonietta under the direction of Urs Leonhardt Steiner. This will be the first concert in the ensemble’s “Inside the Music” series, in which Steiner will lead the audience in an interactive examination of the inner workings of musical composition. The major work on the program will be Antonín Dvořák’s Opus 95 (“New World”) symphony in E minor. The program will also present the world premiere of “hachunchuba” by local composer Stoo Odom and a performance of Bach’s BWV 1043 concerto for two violins in D minor with soloists Jaymes Kirksey and the ten-year-old Kavi Subramanyan.

This concert will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 8. It will take place in the sanctuary of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner with Franklin Street). Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for seniors and children under the age of eighteen. These may be purchased online through an Eventbrite event page. There is also a special rate of $10 per ticket for groups of five or more. This is available by providing the discount code “SeniorGroup” after clicking the “Enter promotional code” on the Eventbrite page.

Those who wish to venture even further from the beaten path may recall my report last November of the International Low Brass Trio (ILBTrio) presenting music by the Guerilla Composer’s Guild. Not only will ILBTrio be featuring Guerilla Composers in the 1 p.m. slot of the Hot Air Festival taking place on Sunday, March 2; but also Saturday, March 8, will be the date of the Graduate Composition Recital by one of those composers, Eric Choate. Choate will present three brand-new works, one of which will be performed by the Friction Quartet.

This recital will take place on Saturday, March 8, in the Recital Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The venue is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. The performance will begin at 5 p.m. This concert will be free and open to the general public.

Finally, Sunday will be the date for the second concert in the 2014 season of the Music in the Mishkan chamber series organized by Music Director and violinist Randall Weiss. For this recital, Weiss will be part of a piano trio, whose other members will be cellist Victoria Ehrlich and pianist Marilyn Thompson. The major work on the program will be Franz Schubert’s D. 929 trio in E-flat major. However, in the interest of providing sharp contrasts, the program will open with the trio version of Paul Schoenfield’s “Café Music,” a zany recollection of the composer’s work as house pianist at Murphy’s steakhouse in Minneapolis, dished out in three movements with no shortage of Yiddishkeit. This will serve as a somewhat loopy overture for the performance of settings of Yiddish poetry by Mark Warshawsky, which will feature soprano Sharon Bernstein as guest artist.

This performance will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 9, and will last about two hours. As is the case with all concerts in the series, it will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. The performance will take place at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, located at 290 Dolores Street at the corner of 16th Street in the Mission. Single tickets cost $20 with a $15 rate for Members. Tickets may be ordered by calling the synagogue at 415-861-6932, or they may be purchased online through a secure event page managed by constantcontact.com.

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