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Welcome to the first installment of our new classical best bets column, produced each week in partnership with Classical Voice of North Carolina. Here, you'll find the best Triangle classical music events, concerts and performances along with a guide to the readings and backgrounds for the shows.

Thursday, March 2

Duke Wind Symphony: Randy Reed, guitar, J. Randall Guptill, conductor. Program: Robert Ward: The Rolling Seventh March (written during WWII and edited for performance in 2005); David Holsinger: On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss; Frank Ticheli: Cajun Folk Songs; Percy Grainger: Themes from "Green Bushes"; and Lalo Schifrin (trans. Guptil): Concerto for Guitar and Wind Orchestra. Baldwin Auditorium, East Campus, Duke University, Durham. 8 p.m. Free. 660-3333 or music.duke.edu.

Guitarist Reed performs with the Duke Wind Symphony at Duke, where the free program includes wartime music by Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert War of Durham.

Friday & Saturday, March 3 & 4

N.C. Symphony: Brian Reagin, violin, Bonnie Thron, cello, and Grant Llewellyn, conductor. Program: Bach/Webern: Ricercare from "A Musical Offering"; Brahms: Concerto for Violin and Cello; Mozart: Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K.546; and Beethoven: Symphony No. 5. Meymandi Concert Hall, Raleigh. 8 p.m. 733-2750 or www.ncsymphony.org.

The North Carolina Symphony's new music director is making waves, and here's a chance to hear why--in a program that includes the sublime "Double" Concerto of Brahms, featuring two of the NCS's other stars.

Sunday, March 5

Richard Egarr, harpsichord (Mietke): Program: Bach: Goldberg Variations. Nelson Music Room, East Campus, Duke University, Durham. 3 p.m. Insights with Alexander Silbiger, Emeritus Professor of Music (Duke), at 2:15 p.m. $20, Duke students $5. 684-4444 or www.duke.edu/web/dukeperfs/index.html.

Early music enthusiasts will need no prompts from us to make tracks to hear one of the world's greatest harpsichordists, performing on one of Duke's outstanding historic instruments, but vocal music fans will likely venture up the quad....

Sunday, March 5

Choral Society of Durham Chamber Choir and Duke Chorale Chamber Choir with four pianos and percussion: Elizabeth Linnartz, Ellen Williams, Wade Henderson, Thomas Jaynes, Rodney Wynkoop, conductor. Program: Stravinsky: Les Noces (The Wedding) and Brahms: Zigeunerlieder. Baldwin Auditorium, East Campus, Duke University, Durham. 4 p.m. $15, full-time students free. 684-4444 or tickets.duke.edu; information: 660-3333 or music.duke.edu.

Monday, March 6

Duke Music: Joseph Robinson, oboe, Rebecca Troxler, flute, Fred Raimi, cello, Elaine Funaro, harpsichord, and others. Program: Chamber Music for winds. Nelson Music Room, East Campus, Duke University, Durham. 8 p.m. Free. 660-3333 or music.duke.edu.

The N.Y. Philharmonic's longtime principal oboist, who hails from Lenoir, has inked an agreement to serve as artist-in-residence at Duke for the next several years; here's an opportunity to hear him up close and personal, for free.

Recommended reviews and readings from the CVNC Web site

N.C. Symphony and Branford Marsalis Visit Carolina Theatre, by Ken Hoover

"On Thursday night, Feb. 16, at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, the North Carolina Symphony give the nearly full house an opportunity to hear some unusual and perhaps unfamiliar music but ending with a favorite roof-raiser. William Henry Curry was at the helm, and saxophonist Branford Marsalis was the guest soloist...." Read more at www.cvnc.org/reviews/2006/022006/Marsalis.html.

Branford Marsalis Plays Chamber Music with NCS Artists, by Timothy W. Holley

"Critically-acclaimed saxophonist Branford Marsalis performed in a chamber music concert with members of the N.C. Symphony in Kenan Recital Hall at Peace College on Sunday, Feb. 19. The program featured two works of Brazilian composer laureate Heitor Villa-Lobos and music by Adolf Busch and Johannes Brahms...." Read more at www.cvnc.org/reviews/2006/022006/Marsalis.html.

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