SFCM Orchestra
The SFCM Orchestra performs in Hume Hall

Based on personal experience, I am certain of this: Attending student concerts — especially at the conservatory level — has only benefits, no liability.

Let me count the ways: Most of the programs are free. Your attendance provides invaluable experience for the performers. No need to “dress up.” These events usually provide the listener with a fresh encounter of both the people onstage and the music they perform. And there is great delight in saying, years later, “I knew him or her when … .”

Events range from chamber or solo performances to something huge (and still free), such as Gustav Mahler’s mighty Symphony No. 3 in D Minor, which the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra, conducted by Edwin Outwater and featuring mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, performs at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall. Online (free) advance reservations were required, but the event is sold out already.

Before looking at more of SFCM’s events, let’s see what’s happening at the UC Berkeley Department of Music across the Bay.

UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
David Milnes is music director of the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra

On Sept. 24, the same evening the Conservatory is busy with Mahler, Morrison Hall is the venue for a two-day conference under the title of “Contemporary Opera on Stage: Institutions and Visions,” all about last week’s world premiere of John Adams’s Antony and Cleopatra. The music department’s Mara Lane says the conference is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.

Participants in this contemporary opera conference include the composer, director and co-librettist Elkhanah Pulitzer, and opera scholars from across the country. Besides subjects such as site specificity, nonlinear storylines, improvisation, and the revision of canonical works, one group discussion asks, “Is it possible to reconcile ‘traditional’ opera production and donor funding with radical aesthetics and progressive politics?”

On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Music Director David Milnes, performs in Hertz Concert Hall. The program: Jessie Montgomery’s Coincident Dances, Ernest Chausson’s Poème, Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Metacosmos, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6. Tickets are $10 to $30.

Marika Kuzma, professor emerita and an expert on the subject, will give a lecture on Oct. 10 in 125 Morrison Hall on “Voices From Ukraine: An Exploration of Composers and Poets From the Mid-19th Century to the Present Day.”

Jazz student
SFCM’s Roots, Jazz, and American Music program plays a side-by-side concert at SFJAZZ

Back to San Francisco, the next two SFCM faculty recitals are by SF Symphony principal violist Jonathan Vinocour on Sept. 26 in the Barbro Osher Recital Hall, 200 Van Ness Ave., and by violist Dimitri Murrath on Oct. 17 in the Sol Joseph Recital Hall, 50 Oak St.

SF Ballet concertmaster Cordula Merks leads a Violin Studio Recital on Oct. 3 in Osher Recital Hall.

Catch the SFJAZZ and RJAM side-by-side concert on Oct. 6 in Joe Henderson Lab; tickets are $20, discount for students. This performances pairs select faculty from the Roots, Jazz, and American Music program at the Conservatory with young artists. The faculty cast includes the SFJAZZ Collective’s Warren Wolf, David Sánchez, Edward Simon, and Matt Brewer, along with luminaries Joshua Redman, Carmen Bradford, Julian Lage, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, Matt Wilson, and many others.

And the SFCM New Music Ensemble, conducted by Nicole Paiement, gives a concert on Oct. 7 in Osher Recital Hall, performing Rongrong Chen’s X Morceaux Mystérieux, David Conte’s Sinfonietta, Kenji Oh’s Tsunami, and Jacques Desjardins’ Songes d’une nuit d’hiver.