"Bach & Brew?" How is that again?

At first glance, it would seem that the Oakland East Bay Symphony, by kicking off its first annual "Bach & Brew" fest on Saturday, is sponsoring a bit of irreverence toward that most revered of all classical music composers.

This probable merry affair will include an array of finger foods and beer provided by supporting members of the organization. Music for the "Bachanalia" will be Johann Sebastian's sublime Brandenburg concertos performed by symphony members.

According to history, combining all the aforementioned pleasures with the name of the great composer is not that irreverent after all. In addition to profound sacred works like his great B-minor Mass, numerous religious cantatas and complex keyboard and instrumental works, Bach also composed the "Coffee Cantata," BWV 211, which can be described as a comic chamber opera.

"The Oakland East Bay Symphony" kicks off it first "Bach and Brew" fest on Saturday.
"The Oakland East Bay Symphony" kicks off it first "Bach and Brew" fest on Saturday.

The "Coffee Cantata" likely premiered at Zimmermann's coffee house in Leipzig in the early 1730s. It deals with love, and the love of coffee, which was considered a bit disreputable at the time.

Full of humor and flippancy, its libretto, written by Christian Friedrich Henrici (nicknamed "Picander"), begins with a narrator, a tenor, admonishing the audience to "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" (Be still, stop chattering). Then 10 musical numbers follow, about a disgruntled father named Schlendrian (which translates as "Stick in the Mud") trying to get his daughter, Lieschen, to give up her disreputable coffee habit.

So, J.S. Bach will doubtless chuckle a bit when he looks down from his heavenly harpsichord onto the OEBS Bach & Beer fest.

Details: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Linden Street Brewery, 95 Linden St., Oakland; $25 for adults and $15 for designated drivers or those under 21; 510-444-0801, oebs.org.

CONTINUING TO CANTATA: It turns out that the cantata format is alive and well. Volti, a Bay Area choral group led by Robert Geary and specializing in contemporary music, will present two performances of a concert they're wryly calling "(Ch)oral Argument." The featured work will be a major new cantata by composer Ted Hearne and poet Jena Osman. (Hearne has been designated by the San Francisco Symphony as its "New Voices" Composer for its 2014-15 season.) Titled "Sound from the Bench," the piece, according to Hearne, stems from the question recently mulled over by the Supreme Court, "Can a corporation be human? If so, where does that leave you and me?" Hearne and Osman's work was inspired by the arguments the Citizens United organization used in their oral presentation before the Supreme Court.

Among the other works on the program will be a world premiere of "The Oath of Allegiance" by Melissa Dunphy, "Winging Wildly," a composition commissioned from the Bay Area's remarkable Kirke Mechem and Mechem's arrangement of "We Can Sing That," a work Geary describes as "a lighthearted tribute to what a chorus can do."

Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O' Farrell St., San Francisco; 4 p.m. Sunday at The Marsh, 2120 Allston St., Berkeley; $10-$25; voltisf.org.

HONORING CROWDEN: One of the Bay Area's greatest musical treasurers, The Crowden School in Berkeley, will present its 30th anniversary concert featuring a bevy of its past and present stars -- cellists Emil Miland, Bonnie Hampton and Deirdre Cooper; violinist Kenneth Renshaw; the Baumer String Quartet, consisting of Nathan Olson, Aaron Requiro, John T. Posadas and David Requiro; and the Crowden School Orchestra and Choruses. A final highlight of the program will be the world premiere of "Musica," a composition for unchanged voices and string orchestra composed by Crowden alumnus Samuel Carl Adams.

Details: 7 p.m. May 24, Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley; $15- $75; www.brownpapertickets.com/event/667690.

Contact Cheryl North at cherylnorth@hotmail.com.