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The third full weekend in March will bring several unconventional choices

San Francisco, the city that hosts an abundance of concerts
San Francisco, the city that hosts an abundance of concerts
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Usually, when I review the options for a weekend, they involve some combination of events that will appeal to “mainstream” tastes and those that depart down fascinating rivulets. The third full weekend in March, on the other hand, promises to be an adventurous time. Those with a taste for the unconventional may find that they have to make the hard choices this time. Here is a summary of the options currently available:

Israeli-born cellist Maya Beiser will be coming to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) for a two-night run. She has organized her program under the title All Vows, which is the usual English translation for “Kol Nidrei,” the Aramaic text chanted to begin the service for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement that concludes the Jewish celebration of the New Year. Inhabiting the space between fully composed and improvised music, Beiser will perform with a “rhythm section” consisting of Glenn Kotche on drums and Ryan Brown on bass. The selections on her program feature world premieres of four composers and three Bay Area premieres.

The first half of the program will present three of the world premieres. It will begin with a piece by Evan Ziporyn described as “a carefully curated set of ‘uncovers,’” basically a suite of exercises in rethinking the music of Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Janis Joplin, and Howlin’ Wolf. This will be followed by “Three Parts Wisdom” by Kotche, who is also drummer for Wilco, which interleaves cello solos with requirements for the cellist to play against pre-recorded cello tracks. The third world premiere will be “Hellhound” by David T. Little (also a drummer), which is also a rethinking of music from another genre, this time the Robert Johnson classic “Hellhound On My Trail.”

The final world premiere will begin the second half, a setting of the Kol Nidrei text by Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz. This will involve the cello playing against prerecorded sounds that involve the incantation of the text. This will be followed by the first Bay Area premiere, another rethinking of that same text by Michael Gordon entitled “All Vows.” The other two Bay Area premieres will be “Just Ancient Loops” by Michael Harrison, whose title refers to the harmonic relations that emerge from the use of just intonation, and Steve Reich’s “Cello Counterpoint,” composed for Beiser in 2003. All three of the Bay Area premieres will be performed in conjunction with the screening of original films by Bill Morrison.

All Vows will be given two performances in the YBCA Forum. The YBCA complex is located at 701 Mission, on the northwest corner of Third Street; and the Forum is across Third Street from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Both performances will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 21, and Saturday, March 22, respectively. Tickets are on sale at the door for $35 with a $5 discount for students, seniors, and teachers. If purchased in advance, tickets are only $30, with the same $5 discount. All tickets for YBCA members are $25 and are free for those with the YBCA:You pass. These performances also have their own event page, and advance reservations can be made by calling the box office at 415-978-2787 (ARTS). Information about membership is provided on the Support Web page of the YBCA Web site.

Earlier on Saturday, the New Esterházy Quartet will give the San Francisco performance of the fifth concert in their seventh season. The title of the concert is Vienna in the 19th Century, and the program covers music from 1803 to 1897. The program will begin with Joseph Haydn’s Hoboken III/83 quartet in D minor. This was his last string quartet; and only two movements were completed, an Andante grazioso followed by a Menuet. William Drabkin has “fleshed out” the score to a four-movement composition, and the New Esterházy Quartet will perform the Bay Area premiere of his efforts. This will be followed by another Bay Area premiere. Arnold Schoenberg composed his first string quartet in 1897 but never published it. This is very much “early Schoenberg,” securely expressed in the key of D major. While this piece has been recorded, the New Esterházy Quartet will be performing it on gut strings for the first time in the Bay Area. The second half of the program will be devoted entirely to another “last quartet,” Franz Schubert’s D. 887 in G major, composed in June of 1826.

The San Francisco performance of this program will take place on Saturday, March 22, at 4 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the intersection with Franklin Street). Tickets are $25 at the door with $20 for seniors, the disabled, and members of the San Francisco Early Music Society and $10 for students with proper identification. Except for student admission, which is only available at the door, tickets are available from a Brown Paper Tickets event page. Further information is available from the New Esterházy Quartet either from their Web site or by calling 415-520-0611.

That same Saturday will also feature the second concert in the 2014 Tangents Guitar Series. The performer will be Italian-born Nicolò Spera, performing on both six-string and ten-string guitars. Spera currently is Director of the Guitar Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he has prepared a program that is dedicated entirely to the music of Maurice Ohana, a leading French composer with an interest in microtonality, particularly through the influence of the Andalusian style of singing known as cante jondo.

Spera’s recital will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, in the Chapel of the Unitarian Universalist Society (1187 Franklin Street). Admission will be $15 with a special $10 rate for students with ID. Brown Paper Tickets has set up an event page for advance purchase. Further information about this and future concerts for the season can also be found at the Tangents Web site.

This will also be the evening of the next San Francisco performance in which the San Francisco Choral Artists (Magen Solomon, Artistic Director) will be joined by the Veretski Pass Klezmer trio of Cookie Segelstein, Joshua Horowitz, and Stuart Brotman. The title of the program will be Love, Loss, and Latkes. It will cover the repertoire of vocal music from Renaissance composers Sebastian de Vivanco and Thomas Weelkes to the recent work of Composer-in-Residence Benjamin Taylor and Composer-Not-in-Residence Kala Pierson.

The San Francisco performance of Love, Loss, and Latkes will take place at the St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church at 500 De Haro Street. It will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 22. Tickets are $30 at the door with discounts for advance purchase, seniors, and students. Tickets may be purchased in advance through an event page managed by Brown Paper Tickets.

The following afternoon cellist David Requiro will give the third concert in the San Francisco Performances (SFP) Young Masters Series. Requiro is a Bay Area native, and he made his reputation locally when he won the Irving M. Klein String Competition. He was also the First Prize winner of the 2008 Naumburg International Violoncello Competition. He has prepared a program of three sonatas for cello and piano. The composers, respectively, are Zoltán Kodály, Pierre Jalbert, and Frédéric Chopin. His accompanist will be Solon Gordon.

This concert will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 23, in the Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station). All single tickets are available for $40. These may be purchased through the event page for the recital on the SFP Web site. SFP may be reached at 415-398-6449 for further information.

That evening the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble will present Short Stories, the next concert in their 2013–2014 season. The highlight of the evening (and the basis for the title) will be the world premiere of “Reply to a Dead Man” by Laurie San Martin. Scored for chamber ensemble and speaker, this piece was inspired by a story of the same name by Walter Mosley. The program will begin with the winner of the 2013 national Rapido! Composition Competition. The winning composer was Charles Zoll; and his piece is entitled “Bailes encima del escritorio de nuestra juventud” (dances atop the school desks of our youth). The music integrates the jazz and classical genres and draws upon such Latin sources as flamenco and tango.

The San Francisco performance of this concert will be held on Sunday, March 23, at 7 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Tickets will be sold at the door for $30 general admission and $15 admission for those under the age of 35. Tickets may be purchased online at a Brown Paper Tickets event page.

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