Main Stage Concerts

Admission Free!

Great music worth listening to. Classical masterpieces, unusual gems, and modern works offer a feast for your ears at every concert, while Maestro Simon’s engaging onstage talks help you connect more powerfully with the music.

Admission is free to all! Supporting members receive priority seating and priority entrance 60 minutes before concert time—please bring your membership card with you. Non-members may enter 45 minutes before concert time.

No pre-concert talks this season; we’re trying something a little different and hope you enjoy our new, audience-friendly format.


Joshua Roman, cello. Photo © Tina Su Jon Nakamatsu, piano. Photo © Christian Steiner Jared Pabilona, double bass Lewis Mahlmann Lilliputian Puppets

Up Next:

2013–2014 Main Stage Concert 4:
The Great Fugue

Benjamin Simon, conductor
with Robin Sharp, Stacey Pelinka & Laurie Camphouse, soloists
plus Stephen Malinowski & the Music Animation Machine

J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4
Ludwig van Beethoven: Grosse Fuge, Op. 133

Bach’s 4th Brandenburg is his happiest. Scored for solo violin, 2 solo flutes, and string orchestra, it ends with the most joyful fugue ever written. Beethoven’s “great fugue” was something different, an almost-crazy experiment in dissonance and disruption by the by-now completely-deaf composer. Called “repellent” and “incomprehensible” by his peers, Stravinsky considered it “an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever.” Hear the wonderful strings of the SFCO tackle this masterpiece, while you watch the incredible visual representations of the score produced by Stephen Malinowski’s Music Animation Machine projected onto a screen above the orchestra.

Apr. 25 • Fri. 8:00pm • San Francisco
Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes Street
Apr. 26 • Sat. 8:00pm • Palo Alto
First Palo Alto United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave.
Apr. 27 • Sun. 3:00pm • Berkeley
First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way



Earlier This Season:

2013–2014 Main Stage Concert 1:
The Masters

Benjamin Simon, conductor
with Joshua Roman, cello

Aaron Jay Kernis: Cello Concerto [Bay Area premiere]
Franz Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 100 in G Major (“Military”)

Modern master and Pulitzer Prize-winner Aaron Jay Kernis has written a new concerto, Dreamsongs, for rising star Joshua Roman, a “cellist of extraordinary technical and musical gifts.” Classical master Franz Josef Haydn’s 100th symphony is nicknamed the “Military” for the surprise appearance of a marching band in the midst of the slow movement. Witty and thoroughly original, this symphony shows “Papa Haydn” at the height of his creative powers.

Oct. 25 • Fri. 8:00pm • San Francisco
Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes Street
Oct. 26 • Sat. 8:00pm • Palo Alto
First Palo Alto United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave.
Oct. 27 • Sun. 3:00pm • Berkeley
First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way

2013–2014 Main Stage Concert 2:
The Virtuosi

Benjamin Simon, conductor
with Jon Nakamatsu, piano
and Jared Pabilona, double bass [2013-2014 Debut Artist]

W. A. Mozart: Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro, K. 492
Giovanni Bottesini: Double Bass Concerto No. 2 in B minor
Camille Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22

Bottesini and Saint-Saëns were great virtuosi, writing themselves solo works to promote their double careers as composers and performing artists. Bottesini was considered the Paganini of the double bass, bringing that unwieldy instrument a measure of respect. The Bay Area’s own Van Cliburn gold medalist, Jon Nakamatsu, makes his SFCO debut with Saint-Saëns’ brilliant second piano concerto; 17-year-old Jared Pabilona may very well be the next Bottesini— come and find out!

Dec. 29 • Sun. 3:00pm • San Francisco
Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes Street
Dec. 31 • Tue. 8:00pm • Berkeley
First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way
Jan. 1 • Wed. 3:00pm • Palo Alto
First Palo Alto United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave.

2013–2014 Main Stage Concert 3:
The Storytellers

Benjamin Simon, conductor
with Joel ben Izzy, narrator
plus the Lewis Mahlmann Lilliputian Puppets

Stephen Saxon: Luck vs. Wisdom [SFCO Commission & World Premiere]
Igor Stravinsky: L’Histoire du Soldat (“A Soldier’s Tale”)

Noted Bay Area narrative artist Joel ben Izzy returns to the SFCO with two timeless tales of adventure and sorcery. From Russian folklore comes the story of a soldier returning home from war, tricked by a devilish stranger into trading away his violin, and losing everything in the bargain—all accompanied by Stravinsky’s brilliant neoclassical music and the amazing puppets of the Lewis Mahlmann Lilliputian Players, led by puppetmaster Randal Metz. Oakland composer Stephen Saxon wrote the music for Luck vs. Wisdom, a tale in which these two gods argue over who is strongest, while the fate of a young man hangs in the balance.

Feb. 21 • Fri. 8:00pm • San Francisco
Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes Street
Feb. 22 • Sat. 8:00pm • Palo Alto
First Palo Alto United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave.
Feb. 23 • Sun. 3:00pm • Berkeley
First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way