Julie Kanter Institutional Gifts Manager
Bill Beckerman Bookkeeper
Greg van der Veen Stage Manager
Benjamin Simon, Music Director
Ben has performed for audiences around the world as violist of the Naumburg Award-winning New World String Quartet, the Stanford String Quartet, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic Orchestras.
A native of San Francisco, Ben began his conducting studies in the Bay Area with Denis DeCouteau, continuing at Yale College and the Juilliard School with Otto Werner Mueller and at the Aspen Music Festival with Dennis Russell Davies. Ben has led orchestras and contemporary ensembles in the United States and Europe, and conducted performances for the theater as well as soundtracks for major motion pictures. He has taught at Harvard and Stanford Universities and has been a member of the music faculty at UC Berkeley since 1998.
Ben served as director of the Crowden School in Berkeley from 1999 to 2002, where he founded the popular chamber music series Sundays at Four. In 2002, he succeeded founding music director Edgar Braun at the SFCO, and in the same year he was appointed music director of the award-winning youth ensemble, the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. Although conducting takes the lion’s share of Ben’s time and energy, he can still be heard violing on the SFCO’s Classical at the Freight chamber music series in Berkeley and around the Bay Area with various friends and colleagues.
Kristen Steiner, Executive Director
After spending several years pursuing her passion for the performing arts from a variety of angles, Kristen brings with her a rich background in operations, development, and orchestral performance.
In early 2012, Kristen joined the team at YMTC (Youth Musical Theater Company) in Berkeley, becoming the organization’s first-ever operations manager. It was there that she successfully created and implemented a new set of systems and operational infrastructure for the rapidly growing company, including data collection and box office operations. In the same year, Kristen began working for composer John Adams, aiding in the management of his office, archives, and newly-established foundation. She has served as music librarian for both Vallejo Symphony and the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra, in addition to providing freelance library services to Berkeley Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and other major ensembles.
Kristen was the 2012-2013 recipient of Cal Performances’ Donor Stewardship Fellowship. She holds degrees in violin performance and in psychology from the University of California at Davis, where she studied with violinist Dan Flanagan.
Kristen first came to the SFCO in 2012 when she was named the orchestra’s operations coordinator. It was within this role that she actively familiarized herself with the organization, its mission, and its community. The SFCO’s board of directors appointed her executive director in June of 2013.
While performing has since taken a back seat to her arts admin post, Kristen enjoys playing both violin and viola with Berkeley Symphony and the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony as often as time allows.
Suzie Berndt, Operations & Education Coordinator