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Concerts in San Francisco: Inside the Classical Music Scene

May 23, 2018

Concerts in San Francisco: Inside the Classical Music Scene

Classical Music Concert In San FranciscoWith so many different types of music in San Francisco and so many cultural activities to explore, it can be easy to forget that SF has an incredible classical music scene! Here’s your guide to classical concerts in San Francisco, plus other ways to listen to Wagner, Haydn, Stravinsky, Bach, and Chopin while living in the City by the Bay.

Classical Music on the Radio in San Francisco

The radio is your daily connection to classical music, whether you’re commuting in your car, working at your desk, jogging with headphones, or relaxing before bed. These are the best stations for classical music in San Francisco:

  • KDFC 90.3 FM: KDFC is the giant of classical music in San Francisco. They play classical music and opera day and night, with special programs such as Baroque by the Bay and Mozart in the Morning.

  • KALW 91.7 FM: With a wide variety of programming, classical music isn’t the only thing featured on this public radio station in SF, but it’s a big part. Their Open Air show hosts interviews with renowned conductors and live orchestras. Revolutions Per Minute plays classical and contemporary music on vintage vinyl records, and The Record Shelf discusses the lives and techniques of legendary classical composers while playing their music.

Live Classical Music in San Francisco

After listening to the greatest works of Beethoven and Bach on your radio all week, when the weekend comes, it’s time to go experience the magic of a live orchestra. Luckily, classical music concerts in San Francisco are easy to find if you know where to look. Here are the top venues for classical music:

  • San Francisco Chamber Orchestra: Sometimes, instead of hearing a full orchestra, it’s nice to focus on just a few instruments and enjoy the intimacy of a small venue. The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra plays free concerts of classical chamber music, usually in the Nourse Theater (275 Hayes Street), the First Congregational Church in Nob Hill (2345 Channing Way) and the First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto (625 Hamilton Avenue). They also have ticketed events at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in downtown Berkeley (2020 Addison Street).

  • Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra: This orchestra lets you travel into the past and hear classical music in its original form. They use instruments created in antique styles and play in the manner of the time period each classical work was composed. Their concerts are held at the Herbst Theatre in Civic Center (401 Van Ness Avenue).

  • San Francisco Symphony: The San Francisco Symphony is one of the best in the world. Music fans can experience the glory of classical music at the Davies Symphony Hall in Civic Center.

  • Midsummer Mozart Festival: This festival is all about Mozart! Performances are held around the Bay Area, with concerts in San Francisco taking place at the Florence Gould Theater in Outer Richmond (100 34th Avenue).

  • American Bach Soloists: This group hosts both a concert series that lasts from December through May and a summer music festival in July. In addition to Bach, they also perform the works of Handel, Vivaldi, and other greats. The festival and many of their seasonal concerts are held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (50 Oak Street).

San Francisco’s vibrant classical music scene is as good as any in the country. Check out these venues, festivals, and radio stations to hear some of the best music in history. Enjoy!


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Photo by Antonio Castagna


Suzy S.