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San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley, California

San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley: Classical Music

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)

San Francisco Classical Music: Classical Music Around San Francisco

Below are our San Francisco Classical Music recommendations, with information on location, admission, transportation/parking, ensemble/venue history and other points of interest in San Francisco Art.
 

American Bach Soloists

American Bach Soloists

Named “the best American specialists in early music” by the Washington Post, the American Bach Soloists (ABS) was founded in 1989 with the mission of introducing contemporary audiences to the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach through historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs. Since then, the ensemble’s repertoire has expanded to include masterpieces from the Baroque, as well as the Classical and Romantic eras, and beyond.

American Bach Soloists Information

Venues: Grace …more…

American Bach Soloists

American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy (San Francisco, CA)

(July 12 – July 22, 2012) American Bach Soloists music director Jeffrey Thomas leads the third annual ABS Festival & Academy in San Francisco’s Conservatory of Music. Enjoy this opportunity to hear the acclaimed American Bach Soloists along with the next generation of virtuosi in an eventful 10-day immersion in the music and culture of the Baroque. ...more...

Berkeley Festival and Exhibition

Berkeley Festival and Exhibition

The Berkeley Festival and Exhibition is a biennial early music festival that takes place in even-numbered years, usually over a week in June. Produced by Cal Performances in association with the Department of Music, University of California, Berkeley, the San Francisco Early Music Society, and Early Music America, the festival is largely performed at First Congregational Church and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, both in Berkeley. ...more...

Chanticleer

Chanticleer

The name refers to the “clear-singing” rooster in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and if you’ve ever heard the strikingly crisp vocals of the 12-member Chanticleer, you’ll appreciate the choice. Since its founding in 1979 by the late Louis Botto there is no period or style of music that Chanticleer hasn’t sung, and the dulcet-toned ensemble is also dedicated to supporting …more…

Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet

A prolific interpreter of new music for the string quartet — and winners of both the 2011 Avery Fisher Prize and the 2011 Polar Music Prize — the Kronos Quartet has commissioned more than 750 compositions and arrangements during its career of over 30 years. The quartet—comprised of violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler—have consistently collaborated with some of contemporary classical music’s most vital composers, including Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Osvaldo Golijov. ...more...

Midsummer Mozart Festival

Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco, CA)

(July 19 – 29, 2012) As the name might suggest, this festival, established in 1974 by Music Director George Cleve, presents only the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Featured works, performed by regional and guest artists, include selections from the operas Zaide and Idomeneo, the “Linz” Symphony [No. 36], and the Quintet for Piano and Winds. ...more...

Oakland East Bay Symphony

Oakland East Bay Symphony

The Oakland East Bay Symphony’s eclectic repertoire sometimes features more obscure composers such as Erwin Schulhoff and Mieczyslaw Weinberg alongside Beethoven, the contemporary composer Ned Rorem juxtaposed with Schubert and Brahms, or Dvorak paired with works by Filipino composers.  The orchestra is characterized by the spirit of openness that it displays toward the community—rehearsals are free and open to …more…

Peninsula Symphony

Peninsula Symphony

The current iteration of this 100+ member community orchestra began in 1949 as a confluence of the Sequoia Symphony and the Peninsula Symphony.  Among the myriad composers in the Peninsula repertoire, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Gershwin are frequently performed.

Each season, the ensemble presents cohesive programs that capitalize on the great diversity of composers within the classical canon. In addition to its …more…

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Founded in 1986, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performs music from the Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic eras on period instruments with close attention paid to the stylistic considerations of the time in which the piece was written.  The Philharmonia Chorale was founded in 1995 to collaborate with the orchestra in the performance of vocal works.  The Philharmonia’s concerts feature a …more…

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (SFCO)

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (SFCO)

Founded by conductor Adrian Sunshine, the first concert of the SFCO took place in April 1953 in Berkeley’s Hillel Foundation. The musicians in the early years were all members of the San Francisco Symphony, which was then a very part-time engagement. The name San Francisco Chamber Orchestra wasn’t used until 1957, when the orchestra made its “debut” at the University …more…

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

In 1917, local pianists Ada Clement and Lillian Hodghead opened the doors of the Ada Clement Piano School. Located in the remodeled home of Lillian’s parents, the school began with three pianos, four studios, two blackboards, and 40 students. Enrollment grew quickly and, recognizing the need for a music conservatory on the West Coast, the school became the San Francisco …more…

San Francisco Symphony (SFS)

San Francisco Symphony (SFS)

Founded in 1911 to help revitalize the city of San Francisco after the famous earthquake, the San Francisco Symphony has grown to international acclaim. Throughout its history, the SFS has presented more than 200 world premieres, commissioned more than 100 new works, and received 12 awards from ASCAP for adventurous programming and a commitment to American music. Today under …more…

Volti

Volti

The left coast counterpart to American Composers Orchestra, but for vocal music, Volti has been under the direction of Richard Geary since he founded the ensemble in 1979. Known as The San Francisco Chamber Singers until the mid-2000s, the group has steadily included more and more “new music” with each successive year. Volti has performed 43 world premieres and commissioned …more…