Pianist Gloria Cheng will join the Santa Monica Symphony for its next concert of the 2011-12 season at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St.

The program will include Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, John Adams’ Eros Piano (with Cheng as soloist), and Richard Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration.

The following pre-concert events will also take place:

Santa Monica Ford Lincoln is offering test drives of five new cars and will donate $20 to the symphony for each drive. Free concert parking is available for the first 250 test drivers. The drives are scheduled from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the Civic Auditorium parking lot;

A lecture on the concert repertoire by UCLA professor of musicology Raymond Knapp will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the East Room; and

A performance by Elemental Strings, Santa Monica’s youth orchestra for fourth and fifth grade students, is scheduled at 7 p.m. on the main stage.

Founded in 2004 as a small orchestra for Santa Monica’s elementary school students, Elemental Strings has worked with over 275 young musicians in the past seven seasons. The program now includes two separate orchestras, sinfonia and chamber, and a teaching staff that includes educators and professional musicians from throughout the Los Angeles area.

“We at Elemental Strings have been thrilled to be invited to open for the Santa Monica Symphony both this and last season, and I hope by bringing our students to the concert, we can also help the symphony grow their audience base,” said Josephine Liu Moerschel, executive and artistic director of Elemental Strings.

Admission is free and no reservations or tickets are required.

Information, www.smsymphony.org.