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Choices for the beginning of April

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The first weekend in April will be another weekend of choices appealing to a variety of interests and tastes. Unfortunately, this will be one of those situations in which each event is a one-time-only affair, at least within the San Francisco city limits. So, as usual, I shall try to lay out the options in such a way that readers’ choices can be well considered.

The weekend will begin with the next free concert in the Morrison Artists Series of San Francisco State University. The featured artists will be the members of the Brentano String Quartet, who will be joined by violist Hsin-Yung Huang as a special guest. Together they will perform the world premiere of Felipe Lara’s viola quintet, completed last year, as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 516 quintet in G minor. The quartet performances will be Dmitri Shostakovich’s Opus 122 quartet in F minor (his eleventh) and two movements from the string quartet version of Joseph Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross.

This concert will take place in the McKenna Theatre of the SFSU Creative Arts Building at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 4. A pre-concert talk will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and further information may be obtained from 415-338-2467 or through the event page on the Creative State Web site. This Web page also has a hyperlink through which tickets may be reserved in advance. In addition the members of the Brentano String Quartet will participate in a free master class, which will take place earlier in the afternoon, running from 2:10 p.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held Knuth Hall, which is also in the Creative Arts Building.

At the same time on the other side of town, Philharmonia Baroque will present the final San Francisco concert in their 2013–2014 season. The “world tour” that Music Director Nicholas McGegan prepared for this season will conclude in Venice with a performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s only surviving oratorio, Juditha triumphans devicta Holofernis barbarie (Judith’s triumphant defeat of the barbarian Holofernes) based on the Book of Judith from the Apocrypha. All vocal soloists are female and will include soprano Dominique Labelle and mezzos Vivica Genaux, Cécile van de Sant, Diana Moore, and Virginia Warnken. The Philharmonia Chorale will be prepared by Director Bruce Lamott. McGegan will conduct and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will be augmented with rarely heard period instruments including the mandolin, gamba, viola d’amore, recorders, and chalumeaux.

The San Francisco performance of this concert will take place at the SFJAZZ Center (201 Franklin Street on the northwest corner of Fell Street) at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 4. Ticket prices are $25, $45, $65, $84, and $97. There is an event page for this concert on the Philharmonia Baroque Web site, as well as a Web page for purchasing tickets from City Box Office. City Box Office may also be reached by telephone at 415-392-4400.

A rather different offering from the Baroque repertoire will be held a short walk away at the same time at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). In February of 2013, violist Jodi Levitz gave a Faculty Artist Series recital in which she performed (on viola) half of the six solo cello suites by Johann Sebastian Bach: the second, third, and fourth (BWV 1008 in D minor, BWV 1009 in C major, and BWV 1010 in E-flat major). She also introduced her performance with some highly engaging introductory remarks involving not only instruments but also the composition of the music itself. This season she will complete her “Bach journey” with performances of BWV 1007 in G major, BWV 1011 in C minor, and BWV 1012 in D major.

This concert will also take place in the SFCM Recital Hall on April 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets for this performance are $20 for general admission and $15 for students, seniors, and Friends of the Conservatory. Tickets may be purchased online through a Click4Tix Web page or by calling the SFCM Box Office at 415-503-6275.

For “something completely different” Clarinet Thing will return that evening to the Old First Concerts series at Old First Church. This is a quartet led by Beth Custer and including Sheldon Brown, Harvey Wainapel, and Ben Goldberg, all quite capable of playing clarinets of all sizes (and, it turns out, shapes). While their “usual” genre is jazz, they play original compositions in a variety of styles, as well as arrangements of pieces by jazz musicians as diverse as Duke Ellington and Jimmy Giuffre.

Old First Concerts events take place in the Old First Church at 1751 Sacramento Street (on the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue). The Clarinet Thing gig will be held on Friday, April 4, at 8 p.m. General admission is $17 with a special $14 rate for seniors aged 65 and older and $5 for full-time students. These may be purchased through the event page on the Old First Concerts Web site. Further information may be obtained by calling 415-474-1608.

The following evening the SFJAZZ Center will host the final program on the Jazz Series for the 2013–2014 season of San Francisco Performances SFP. This will present pianist Brad Mehldau leading his trio, whose other members are Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums. Mehldau is accomplished as both a composer and an improviser; and, in the former category, Carnegie Hall commissioned him to create two new works for voice and piano, The Blue Estuaries and The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, which were given their world premiere performances by Renée Fleming in the spring of 2005. His SFP program will be announced from the stage.

This concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the SFJAZZ Center on Saturday, April 5. Ticket prices are $70, $50, and $30. Tickets may be purchased through the event page on the SFP Web site. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 415-398-6449.

SFP will then return to the SFJAZZ Center the following evening for the final season concert in their Guitar Series, presented in association with the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts. This will be a solo recital by Manuel Barrueco, a leader in his field as both a performer and an educator. For those interested in comparison, he will begin his program the same way that Levitz has planned to begin her viola recital, with Bach’s BWV 1007 solo cello recital. He has also prepared a selection of arrangements of five of the keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti. On the Hispanic side he will perform Joaquín Turina’s Opus 61 sonata and a selection of five pieces by Isaac Albéniz.

This concert will take place at 7 p.m. in the SFJAZZ Center on Sunday, April 6. Ticket prices are $50, $40, and $30. Tickets may be purchased through the event page on the SFP Web site. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 415-398-6449.

A few hours earlier, pianist Thomas Schultz will return to give an Old First Concerts recital. He has divided his program between the traditional and the modern. His program will begin with Franz Schubert’s D. 946 piano piece in E-flat major, followed by two works by Frédéric Chopin, the Opus 23 ballade in G minor and the Opus 40 fantasie in F minor. He will then turn to tradition as refracted by modernism with two of movements from Frederic Rzewski’s North American Ballads suite. The program will conclude with two recent pieces by the Korean composer Hyo-shin Na, “Near and Dear,” completed in 2012, and the earlier (2003) “Walking, Walking.”

This recital will again take place in the Old First Church at 1751 Sacramento Street. It will be held on Sunday, April 6, at 4 p.m. General admission is $17 with a special $14 rate for seniors aged 65 and older and $5 for full-time students. These may be purchased through the event page on the Old First Concerts Web site. Further information may be obtained by calling 415-474-1608.

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