With a population of only 750,000 people living in 49 square miles, San Francisco has a large and vibrant classical music scene far out of proportion to its size. In addition to its large-budget Opera, Symphony, and Ballet companies, San Francisco serves as the hub for numerous smaller organizations including chamber orchestras, choruses, and chamber ensembles. Many of these organizations give the same program in satellite concerts in the East Bay, Palo Alto, Marin County, and Contra Costa County on consecutive nights. In the wider Bay Area, Oakland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, the Peninsula, and Marin County each boast their own orchestras and community opera companies.
San Francisco hosts the largest non-academic presenting organization outside of New York, the largest budget new music ensemble in the country, and it is home to three full-time string quartets. UC Berkeley, Stanford, San Francisco State University, and the San Francisco Conservatory of music host music series. The city is also home to widely-regarded sacred music institutions including the Men and Boys Choir at Grace Cathedral and the strong music program at Congregation Emanu-el. The Bay Area has been called home by composers John Adams, Lou Harrison, Ernst Bloch, and Darius Milhaud. Also notable is the vibrant early music scene centered in Berkeley with the bi-annual Berkeley festival and the MusicSources collection of early keyboard instruments.
- (Thomas Busse)