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.

 

Airs and Dances

Benjamin Simon, conductor
Mayumi Hama and Chris Froh, marimbas

G. F. Handel Concerto Grosso in A minor, Op. 6 No. 4
Aaron Jay Kernis Musica Celestis
Astor Piazzolla Tango Suite
Laurie San Martin layover/overlay: Concerto for Two Marimbas and Chamber Orchestra [World Premiere]
Ottorino Respighi Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No. 3

Fri, Oct 24 8pm
Nourse Theater
275 Hayes St, San Francisco

Sat, Oct 25 8pm
First United Methodist Church
625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto

Sun, Oct 26 3pm
First Congregational Church
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

Four mallets are better than two! Come hear a pair of world-class marimbists tackle Laurie San Martin’s new double concerto and a sizzling duo by tango master Astor Piazzolla. This wide-ranging program opens with a stunning Baroque concerto by Handel and closes with Respighi’s brilliant reworking of beautiful Renaissance lute pieces, plus Pulitzer Prize winner Aaron Jay Kernis’ ethereal Musica Celestis, as we dance between heaven and earth.

The Classics

Benjamin Simon, conductor
Stephen Waarts, violin

W. A. Mozart Overture to Cosí fan Tutte, K. 588
Sergei Prokofiev Symphony No. 1 in D major, “Classical,” Op. 25
Felix Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

Wed, Dec 31 8pm
First Congregational Church
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

Thu, Jan 1 3pm
First United Methodist Church
625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto

Fri, Jan 2 8pm
Calvary Presbyterian Church
2515 Fillmore St, San Francisco

In the finest classical style, we raise our curtain with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s brilliant overture to the 1790 comedy Cosí fan Tutte. Sergei Prokofiev’s incandescent Classical Symphony gives the old form a modern twist, and Felix Mendelssohn, who adored Mozart above all others, brewed his own blend of sweetness and sophistication. The world’s most beloved violin concerto will be performed by the Bay Area’s rising superstar Stephen Waarts, our 2009 Debut Artist, who recently won first prize in the International Menuhin Competition.

Lara+Lara

Benjamin Simon, conductor
Lara Nie, mezzo-soprano
Lara Downes, piano

Maria Schneider Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories (2013) [West Coast premiere]
Robert Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54

Fri, Feb 20 8pm
Calvary Presbyterian Church
2515 Fillmore St, San Francisco

Sat, Feb 21 8pm
First United Methodist Church
625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto

Sun, Feb 22 3pm
First Congregational Church
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

Fresh from her success at our 2014 Gala, mezzo-soprano Lara Nie returns for the West Coast premiere of jazz leader Maria Schneider’s triple-Grammy-winning 2013 Stories, based on works by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, one of Brazil’s greatest poets. Also making her SFCO Main Stage debut is Bay Area pianist Lara Downes, “a magnetic force wrapped in flawless technique and a silken touch” (Musical Toronto). This Lara will perform the hauntingly beautiful Romantic piano concerto that Robert Schumann composed for his beloved wife, Clara.

The Romantics

Benjamin Simon, conductor
Sterling Elliott, cello [2015 Debut Artist and 2014 Sphinx Competition Winner]

Franz Schubert Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D. 821 (arr. Klug)
Johannes Brahms String Quintet No. 1 in F major, Op. 88 (arr. Simon)

Fri, Apr 24 8pm
Calvary Presbyterian Church
2515 Fillmore St, San Francisco

Sat, Apr 25 8pm
First United Methodist Church
625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto

Sun, Apr 26 3pm
First Congregational Church
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

Masterworks by the great Romantics Schubert and Brahms feature the virtuosic string players of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. Making his West Coast debut with these performances of Franz Schubert’s heart-wrenchingly beautiful “Arpeggione” Sonata is Sterling Elliott, a 14-year old cellist and honor student from Newport News, Virginia. Sterling is the 2014 junior division winner of the Sphinx Competition, organized by Sphinx—a Detroit-based nonprofit dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Johannes Brahms’ F major string quintet is a favorite of our musicians, so we’re expanding the quintet to 18 and letting all our wonderful players join in the fun!