There's a lot going on this month! Too much, from any realistic point of view; but attending live performances can't really be justified through realism. Of particular note, to me at least, are appearances by Meredith Monk at Other Minds, Matthias Goerne singing Winterreise at the Wilsey Center, and the Mark Morris Dance Group performing L'Allegro etc at Cal Performances. So I'll just sit here for a moment being grateful that I live in an area that offers such largesse – and then I was going to start complaining, because that is what I do, but you know what? I complain enough in the entries below. So up here I'll just radiate the Attitude of Gratitude, and down below I'll jab at weird start times that are inconvenient for working people and odd locations that are inconvenient for non-drivers and the irritations of general admission (rather than reserved seating) and being surrounded by people who think they're at a party when you wanted to be at a concert. I'll refrain from all that up here, and just bask in anticipatory pleasures. Enjoy your month!
Cutting Ball Theater presents Risk Is This. . . , its annual festival of new play readings; this year you can see all of what you love and none of what you hate by Phillip Howze on 11 - 12 March, My Home Is Where by Alex Johnson on 18 - 19 March, and Borealis by Bennett Fisher on 25 - 26 March.
Custom Made Theater presents Will Eno's Middletown, directed by Brian Katz, from 24 March to 23 April.
Will Eno is also taking the stage at ACT, which presents The Realistic Joneses, directed by Loretto Greco, from 9 March to 3 April.
42nd Street Moon presents The Boys from Syracuse, Rodgers & Hart's wonderful musical version of The Comedy of Errors, from 23 March to 17 April, at the Eureka Theater in San Francisco.
Cal Performances presents Yefim Bronfman in the second and third concerts of his three-concert survey of Prokofiev's piano sonatas, in the intimate confines of Hertz Hall. On 4 March you can hear sonatas 5, 6, and 7, and on 6 March you can hear sonatas 8 and 9. Bronfman performed the first four sonatas on 24 January; I attended that afternoon, and it was my first time hearing Bronfman – he's pretty remarkable, with a clear sound that can be both strong and refined. The hall was almost full that afternoon, so you should probably move quickly if you're interested in hearing these concerts.
The San Francisco Symphony presents Jeremy Denk in a solo recital on 20 March, performing works by Bach, Byrd, Bolcom, Joplin, Tatum, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Ives, Nancarrow, Lambert, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert.
San Francisco Performances presents Paul Lewis playing works by Schubert, Brahms, and Liszt on 8 March at Herbst Theater.
Sarah Cahill performs a free concert of music by Ruth Crawford, Pauline Oliveros, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Bunita Marcus on 20 March at the Central Library (2090 Kittredge Street) in Berkeley.
Cal Performances presents soprano Renée Fleming and pianist Olga Kern in recital (in Zellerbach Hall) on 5 March, performing works by Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Patricia Barber, and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
San Francisco Opera's Merola Program has two Schwabacher Debut Recitals this month in the new Wilsey Center: bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch with pianist John Churchwell on 6 March and baritone Efraín Solís with pianist Bryndon Hassman on 20 March.
Also at the Wilsey Center, presented by San Francisco Opera: baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Markus Hinterhäuser perform Schubert's Winterreise, along with videos by William Kentridge. That's 11 - 13 March, and I am happy to say it's reserved seating, not general admission. I am less happy to see that the Opera's (slow loading, clunky, uninformative, and generally horrible) new website offers assurance that there is a bar in the lobby and cupholders on the seats, because God forbid you might have to sit through an entire hour and twenty minutes of music without boozing it up during as well as before and after.
Volti will feature works by Robert Paterson as well as Mark Winges, David Lang, and Ingrid Stölzel on 11 March at St Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco and on 12 March at the Piedmont Center for the Arts in, of course, Piedmont (the latter is not a public-transportation-friendly venue).
Chora Nova performs Mendelssohn's Die erste Walpurgisnacht and Rheinberger's Mass in E Flat; that's 19 March at Grace Presbyterian in Walnut Creek and 20 March at First Congregational in Berkeley.
Sven Edward Olbash leads the Lacuna Arts Chorale in Rheinberger's Mass in E Flat, as well as short works by Heinrich von Herzogenberg and Arnold Schoernberg; that's at Star of the Sea Church on Geary Street on 18 and 19 March.
Cal Performances presents the Mark Morris Dance Group in the modern classic L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato. Handel's music will be performed by Philharmonia Baroque. If you've never seen this work, don't miss this chance! It runs 11 - 13 March in Zellerbach Hall.
Cal Performances presents Trajal Harrell's The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai on 18 and 19 March in Zellerbach Playhouse.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Cal Performances with three different programs, performed on 29 - 31 March and 1 - 3 April.
San Francisco Ballet presents Coppélia from 8 to 13 March and a double-bill of Dances at a Gathering and Swimmer from 16 to 22 March.
Cal Performances presents the Montreal Symphony in Zellerbach Hall on 26 March; Kent Nagano conducts Debussy's Jeux, Prokofiev's Piano Concerto 3 with soloist Daniil Trifonov, and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
Joshua Bell leads the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in the Classical Symphony of Prokofiev, the Violin Concerto 1 by Bruch (Bell will do double-duty as soloist), Elegy for Orchestra by Schumann (arranged by Britten), and the Beethoven 8; that's on 6 March, presented by the San Francisco Symphony.
Michael Morgan leads the Oakland Symphony in Cherubini's Requiem, the Beethoven 2, and the world premiere of Martin Rokeach's Piccolo Concerto with soloist Amy Likar; that's 18 March at the Paramount in Oakland.
San Francisco Performances presents the JACK Quartet in Georg Friedrich Haas's Quartet no 3, "In iij Noct.", which is an hour-long work performed in total darkness with the four musicians in different corners of the room. That's at the Strand Theater on 4 March. This is the opening concert in a new series called PIVOT, which SFP is branding as "for the culturally adventurous" – a category which apparently excludes people who have to work for a living, since the concert takes place at 11:00 PM on a Friday night. It also excludes people who don't drive, since BART will be shutting down around the time the concert lets out. In a final "give us your money and then you're on your own" touch, it's general admission. The Kronos Quartet's David Harrington will give a pre-performance talk at 10:00 PM. It is extremely awkward to have a talk before a concert with open seating – you have to get there extra early to get a good seat, whether you want to hear the talk or not; you have to remain seated during the talk (I generally stand until concerts start, since I have trouble sitting for long periods); people are milling around and coming in and out during the talk, because they are ruder than I am and don't realize they shouldn't do that. . . . just awkwardness. I'm complaining a lot here because this set-up seems indicative of a trend: works that are adventurous or unusual are staged at odd hours that are difficult for working people, in locations that are not friendly to non-drivers, with an emphasis on the social rather than artistic experience of the concert. I think there are a lot of assumptions being made about who would be interested in these concerts, and the algorithm is wrong because I would love to attend but, you know, being a non-driver who works for a living and is no longer 20 means it's just not possible.
On 30 March San Francisco Performances presents the third of the four Bridge to Beethoven concerts with violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Shai Wosner. This one presents the Beethoven Sonatas Op 30, No 1 in A Major, No 2 in C Minor, and No 3 in G Major, interspersed with new music by Andrew Norman that responds to the Beethoven works.
Earplay performs music by Donald Aird, Ursula Kwong-Brown, Herb Bielawa Shiuan Chang, and Stefan Wolpe at the ODC Theater on 14 March.
San Francisco Performances presents the Sean Jones Quartet in a couple of concerts: one is a recreation (with special guests Marcus Shelby and the Oakland Futures Trio) of a live recording Miles Davis made at the Black Hawk Jazz Club; there are two shows at the Strand Theater on 16 March; the other (program to be announced) is at Herbst Theater on 18 March.
Early / Baroque Music
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music presents Purcell's The Fairy Queen on 12 - 13 March. Performances are free but reservations are required.
Philharmonia Baroque offers a range of music from the cultural centers of baroque Europe, featuring works by Arne, Zelenka, Heinichen, Tartini, and Rameau; that's 2 March at First United Methodist in Palo Alto, 4 March at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and 5 and 6 March at First Congregational in Berkeley.
Magnificat, led by Warren Stewart, performs Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri, along with his cantata Fürwahr er trug unsere Krankheit (Surely He has borne our griefs); that's 18 March at First Presbyterian in Palo Alto, 19 March at St John's Presbyterian in Berkeley, and 20 March at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.
To celebrate Bach's birthday, American Bach Soloists is presenting organist Jonathan Dimmock in an all-Bach (surprise!) concert on 18 March at St Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco.
Modern / New Music
The Hot Air Music Festival takes place at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on 6 March, beginning at 10:30 AM and running to 9:30 PM. You can check out the full and very exciting-looking schedule here.
Curious Flights presents an evening of new music by both British and Bay Area composers; Simon Dobson, Samuel Adams, Mason Bates, Noah Luna, and Robert Chastain are featured. That's 19 March at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
The annual Other Minds festival takes place 4 - 6 March at the SF Jazz Center; you can find the full schedule here, but for me the most enticing concert is Meredith Monk on 6 March.
The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present warmth and darker by David Lang on 15 and 17 March and works by Gérard Grisey and Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri on 16 and 18 March; both concerts are at Z Space and be warned that both are "don't worry we'll be selling you booze" concerts.
The Center for New Music always has a full and fascinating schedule; some things this month that look particularly interesting are String Noise: The Book of Strange Positions on 2 March; Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble & Chartreuse on 6 March; pianist Lisa Leong playing works by Pierre Boulez, Luigi Nono, Jonathan Harvey, Amy Williams, Mei-Fang Lin, and Chris Arrell on 12 March; and Eine Kleine Henze Fest, featuring chamber works by Hans Werner Henze, on 26 March.
West Edge Opera presents the second in its Doppelgänger series of Famous Operas But Not The One You're Thinking Of: after last month's Paisiello's Barber of Seville, they now present Mascagni's La Bohème. You get two chances to hear it: a matinee on 20 March at Lisser Theater (Mills College in Oakland) and an evening performance on 22 March at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley.