Chamber music often sounds best in small rooms, which is why Baroque musicians like to play intimate concerts inside homes. After living in Holland, where chamber music house concerts are common, cellist Tanya Tomkins decided to host similar events at her downtown Berkeley house. Since 2007, she and her partner Eric Zivian, a pianist, have hosted concerts at their home as part of Benvenue House Music, an organization that the two co-founded as a nonprofit affiliate of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music. The pair, also known as the Zivian-Tomkins Duo, presents eight concerts each year and has brought a number of internationally acclaimed musicians to their home, which can seat about forty people. The concerts also provide performance opportunities for young musicians participating in Benvenue House Music's two-year apprenticeship program. Visiting guest artists coach the apprentices, culminating in concerts that feature youth artists and established professionals together. Supporters can buy annual subscriptions or pay by donation for individual concerts. The atmosphere feels more casual than a typical professional theater, but the quality of the music is just as high — if not better, given the cozy living room setting.
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