By Leah Garchik; April 5, 2012
"For Sunday's concert of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra in Berkeley, conductor Ben Simon raised his baton to begin a performance of Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. The orchestra, reports Judy Kunofsky, began playing Beethoven's Fifth. Simon "froze, appeared startled, then dropped to the floor in hysterics."
By Ken Iisaka; February 24, 2012
"Music Director Simon possesses a keen awareness of the voices and their distinct colors in the work, and he succeeded in teasing out various threads of different sizes, from the finest of the silks to the toughest of yarns."
By David Bratman; January 1, 2012
"The tiny orchestra, spitting out crisp attacks with plenty of bite, sounded like something three times its size as it thundered out Beethoven’s exclamations, which counted for all the more because of the pregnant hushes in between. … This was really the best free concert a listener was likely to get to in this new year, unless that listener attends other San Francisco Chamber Orchestra performances all of which are offered free of charge."
By Stephen Smoliar; December 31, 2011
"Simon delivered a performance that was rich in its varieties of achieving expression, ending the year with as compelling an account of Beethoven as had been experienced at Davies Symphony Hall last January."
By Stephen Smoliar; November 20, 2011
"Indeed the Handel performance ... was a model of balance with its interplay between the principal violins (Robin Sharp first, Debra Fong second) and cello (Robert Howard) against the remaining members of the string ensemble."
By Lisa Petrie; September 22, 2011
"The friendliest chamber music series around continues at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, hosted by San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Director Ben Simon. The goal of presenting in such a cool, casual venue is to un-stuffify and de-mystify classical music for the general music lover. One Monday night each month, amazing SFCO players perform for an hour, guests sip a cool beverage or munch on snacks and desserts, and people of all ages are welcome."
By Carolyn Donnell; April 20, 2011
"If you are looking for a family concert series, look no further."
By Jeff Kaliss; April 1, 2011
"The only solution was to scale it down to what we could put on our stage. But we didn’t want to make it 'Mahler Lite' or 'Stravinsky Lite.' This had to be the real piece, with different instruments." (Ben Simon)
By Rich Freeman; February 18, 2011
"The songs, the stories of each song, and the music was magnificent and magical. One could see the expressions on the faces and the fingers fast at work making beautiful sounds."
By Jessica Hilo; February 9, 2011
"Simon’s latest charge is to bring this enduring genre to the fore — an effort that he calls 'unstuffifying' classical music."
By Stephen Smoliar; May 8, 2010
"The solo quartet dominated the trio section of the menuetto, and conductor Benjamin Simon understood the importance of stepping aside until it was time for the orchestra to return. Simon's reading of the score was brisk, and his ensemble responded with crisp precision."
By Georgia Rowe; April 27, 2010
"Frank, who is composer in residence with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, often draws on Latin American musical forms. She doesn’t shy away from melody, and says she’s always surprised to hear herself described as an untraditional composer."
By Ken Bullock; March 9, 2010
"I don’t know if many people think of the mandolin as a serious instrument. I’m a violist myself; I understand neglected instruments. Nobody writes for viola! So I’m sympathetic to instruments that deserve their time in the sun." (Ben Simon)
"San Francisco Chamber Orchestra concerts induce uneasiness in the hearts of the jaded and the cynical. After all, they feature world-class players, renowned guest musicians, and top venues, at no cost whatsoever."
By Cheryl North; October 25, 2008
"SFCO is polished and high-quality like a number of other area ensembles, but it stands out in a very special way: All its concerts are free."