Hayes Valley: Where Music’s in the Air

By Bob Barnwell

Did you know that there are at least 15 prominent music groups that perform or are headquartered in Hayes Valley? From the world renowned San Francisco Symphony, Opera and Ballet to the mentors and teachers of young musicians at the Conservatory of Music to the numerous choral groups, quartets, and chamber orchestras, every where you turn there is music.

The San Francisco Symphony is celebrating its 100th anniversary of providing world class performances to our city. Led by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, and Executive Director Brent Assink, the Symphony has numerous GRAMMY® Awards to its credit and offers performances year round at Davies Symphony Hall. They also run a world class Youth Orchestra with many performances throughout the year. Across the street at the War Memorial Opera House, the San Francisco Opera will be celebrating its 90th year in 2013. General Director David Gockley and Music Director Nicola Luisotti have programmed a full season of operas from contemporary to traditional, including works from local composers John Adams (Nixon in China) and Jack Haggie (Moby-Dick). Also performing in the Opera House the San Francisco Ballet celebrated 75 years in 2008. Led by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson and Executive Director Glenn McCoy, the Ballet just opened its 2012 season.

SFJAZZ will celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2013 by opening their permanent residence in Hayes Valley on Franklin at Fell. Founder and Executive Artistic Director Randall Kline and Executive Operating Director Felice Swapp will preside over a 700 seat auditorium and an additional ensemble room. A membership of 4,600 supports numerous performances by professional jazz musicians, as well as the SFJAZZ High School Allstars Orchestra and Combo.

If you want to be in the center of music in our area then stop by the Kanbar Performing Arts Center at 44 Page Street, which houses five different music organizations. The San Francisco Girls Chorus (owner of the building)has been around since 1978. The multiple GRAMMY® Award winner, led by Susan McMane, Artistic Director, Melanie Smith, Executive Director, and Beth Avakien, Chorus School Director, has over 350 members from all over the Bay Area. They have a Preparatory Chorus in which girls from 5-7 can join without audition. The four level Chorus School starts with age 7 and auditions for the school are open to girls ages 7-12. They may audition to the professional level performance, recording and ensemble at ages 12-18. They have over 40 girls performing with the Symphony and Opera.

On the top floor is the San Francisco Chapter of The Recording Academy, best known for the GRAMMY® Awards. This membership organization is led by Executive Director Michael Winger. They support the community through education, advocacy, and music preservation programs. Also at 44 Page is American Bach Soloists lead by Jeffrey Thomas, Artistic Director, and Don Scott Carpenter, Executive Director. They will be performing the St. Matthew Passion February 24-27 at various locations around the Bay Area. On the sixth floor, Chanticleer, an Orchestra of Voices, specializes in unaccompanied choral music of the Renaissance. Led by President and General Director Christine Bullin, Chanticleer has won two GRAMMY®s.

Another 44 Page Street group is the Cypress String Quartet. They started in 1996 and are continuing to celebrate their 15th anniversary. Cecily Ward (1st Violin), Tom Stone (2nd Violin), Ethan Filner (Viola), and Jennifer Kloetzel (Cello) perform throughout the Bay Area and in January, 2012 traveled to Oregon, New York and Belfast, Ireland. They do 40-60 concerts a year with their March 16, 2012: 13th annual Call and Response being performed at Herbst Theatre.

Also a GRAMMY® Award winner, the 241 member San Francisco Boys Chorus has trained young singers ages 5-18 since 1948. Led by Ian Robertson, Artistic Director, Claire Quinn-Duggan, Program Director and Margaret Nomura Clark, Training Chorus Director, the Boys Chorus believes the experience helps develop character and team work. In 2011, the Boys Chorus performed in over 41 productions in the Bay Area and toured to Russia, Denmark, Finland and Vancouver. Don’t miss their Annual Gala at the Ritz Carlton on March 3rd.

San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus headquartered at the LGBT Center and is lead by Teddy Witherington, Executive Director, and Dr Timonthy Seeling, Music Director. They were founded in 1978 and have over 300 singers, two small ensembles and an ambassador group. They have 30-40 performances a year and have produced 22 CDs.

The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with Nicholas McGegan as Musical Director and Michael Costa as Executive Director celebrates their 31st year in San Francisco. They perform music from the Baroque to Early Romantic period at the Herbst Theatre and other venues around the Bay Area.
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music at 50 Oak Street educates talented musicians from around the world. The President is Colin Murdoch and the Dean Mary Ellen Poole, PhD lead a school of 400 collegiate, 500 preparatory and 100 adult extension students. With over 500 performances a year, many of which are free, the Conservatory looks forward to celebrating its centennial in 2017.

The Church of the Advent of Christ the King at 261 Fell Street offers a Concert series every third Sunday of the month. Admission is by donation.

Truly Hayes Valley is ground zero for great music.

For more information:
SF Symphony: sfsymphony.org
SF Opera: sfopera.com,
SF Ballet: sfballet.org,
SFJAZZ: sfjazz.org,
SF Girls Chorus: sfgirlschorus.org,
GRAMMY®: grammy.com,
American Bach Soloists: americanbach.org,
Chanticleer: chanticleer.org,
Cypress String Quartet: cypressquartet.com,
SF Boys Chorus: sfbc.org,
Gay Men’s Chorus: sfgmc.org,
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra: philharmonia.org,
Conservatory of Music: sfcm.edu,
Church of the Advent: advent-sf