San Francisco Cultural Activities That You Can Enjoy
San Francisco has a world-class symphony, great theater and ballet, and fabulous museums. They’re all there waiting for you to enjoy. Walking is the best way to get around and actually feel the pulse of the city, so walk whenever you can! Here are some details to help you choose the way you want to spend your day. Be sure to get tickets and reservations early for any events you are interested in attending. Enjoy all that San Francisco has to offer!
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra brings great symphony music to the city of San Francisco. The performances of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra are held at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. The orchestra is known as one of the top five symphony orchestras in the United States.
Since 1909, with the exception of 1934-35, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra has brought many concerts to San Francisco each year. This symphony has the distinction of being the first in the nation to have its performances broadcast on the radio.
On October 7, 2012, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra will welcome Andras Schiff as its resident artist. Andras is from Hungary where he has denounced the political leadership of the country. He is trained as a classical pianist and his favorite musician is Bach.
Be sure to arrive early at the concerts. One hour before each concert, a notable musician gives a lecture. Many concert attendees report that they enjoy the concerts much more after hearing the lecture.
The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra offers an outstanding opportunity for both listeners and the youth ages 12 to 21 who participate from across the San Francisco bay area. These talented young people offer concerts across the communities especially for senior citizens and other children. They also give performances at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall at greatly reduced prices. The youth orchestra has also traveled to many international locations.
The 150 members of the San Francisco Symphony Choir are proud of their versatility. They are adapt at performing many styles of music and have won four Grammy awards. Most of their performances are given at the Davies Symphony Hall.
When you are visiting San Francisco, make sure to look for opportunities to hear these three outstanding groups.
San Francisco Ballet
The oldest ballet in America, the San Francisco Ballet has just completed its 79th successful year. The ballet season in San Francisco runs from New Year’s Day until Memorial Day. Plans are well underway for the 80th year of the ballet.
The first ballet ever performed by the San Francisco Ballet, then known as the San Francisco Opera Ballet, was Coppelia, first performed on Halloween in 1938. Two years later the San Francisco Opera Ballet introduced America to Swan Lake.
The San Francisco Opera Ballet was the first place in America that The Nutcracker was performed. The performance was only performed one time on Christmas Eve in 1944, but it started a tradition that would last until this day.The performances of The Nutcracker as performed by the San Francisco Ballet, the name was changed in 1951, was introduced to American television audiences in 1965. The War Memorial Opera House became the official home of the San Francisco Ballet in 1972.
Another wonderful ballet company in San Francisco is the Smuin Ballet. The ballet started in 1994 and has performed more than 40 works by Michael Smuin since then at its location at 44 Gough Street. Unfortunately, Michael Smuin passed away in 2007 from a heart attack at the early age of 59. The ballets produced by this company continue to get better each year. The troupe brings many world premieres to San Francisco each year.
Another fine ballet company in San Francisco is the Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Some love the Lines ballet and some protest that this dance company is considered ballet. The troupe produces a modern interpretation of the ancient art form of ballet. The troupe’s performances in San Francisco are held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts LAM Research Theater each October.
The Robert Moses’ Kin Dance Company performs at 3153 17th Street each June. This dance company uses dance to encourage the audience to ask many different questions about races, classes and gender. The troupe uses many different styles of dance including jazz, hip-hop and ballet often in the same performance.
Going to the ballet is a wonderful opportunity for those visiting San Francisco. Make your plans early to enjoy a performance while visiting the city!
San Francisco Opera
The second largest opera company in the United States is the San Francisco Opera. The company gives performances at the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. This center is one of the largest performing arts centers in the nation. The War Memorial has been home to the opera since 1932. The opera gives a free yearly performance in a city park and also gives a free yearly performance at AT & T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants.
The San Francisco Lyric Opera also gives opera performances at 3153 17th Street. This opera company is committed to giving performances in their original languages with English subtitles available. The smaller setting of this opera gives the audience a more intimate experience.
Pocket Opera is also based in San Francisco, California. This opera company is committed to giving affordable, accessible opera of the highest musicality for contemporary audiences. In order to accomplish this goal, they use minimal or no sets and minimal costuming. Performances of the Pocket Opera can be seen at 469 Bryant Street.
In nearby Livermore, opera-goers have the opportunity to hear the Livermore Valley Opera. The Livermore Valley Opera performs at the Bankhead Theater’s 500 seat auditorium. This opera is dedicated to helping young talent rise to the top of their careers. They rely on many volunteers to help this opera survive.
The Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute gives young people a summer opportunity to discover if they want to pursue opera as a career. Young people from around the country travel to attend this institute. The students have an opportunity to perform at several venues around San Francisco including the Magic Theater, San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Saint Monica’s Catholic Church. In addition to the performances, the institute brings top performers from around the United States to address the students. These lectures are open to the public.
In nearby San Rafael, California, is the Golden Gate Opera. This opera is committed to bringing operas that families will enjoy. Look for them to produce at least one outstanding opera each year. Many of the performers with Golden Gate Opera have enjoyed a successful opera career, but have chosen to move on to other venues. Therefore, the Golden Gate Opera is a labor of love for them.
Theaters in San Francisco
American Conservatory Theatre 415 Geary Street (415) 729-2228
Buriel Clay Theatre 762 Fulton Street (415) 292-1850
A List of Museums to visit and enjoy
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (415) 581-3500
American Bookbinders Museum (415) 671-2233
Antique Vibrator Museum (415) 974-8985
Beat Museum (415) 399-9626
Cable Car Museum (415) 474-1887
California Academy of Sciences (415) 379-8000
California Historical Society (415) 357-1848
California Palace of the Legion of Honor (415) 750-3600
Cartoon Art Museum (415) 227-8666
Chinese Historical Society of America Museum and Learning Center (415) 391-1188
Chinese Culture Center (415) 986.1822
Children’s Creativity Museum (415) 820-3320
Contemporary Jewish Museum (415) 655-7800
de Young Museum (415) 750-3600
Exploratorium (415) 563-7337
Fort Point National Historic Site (415) 556-1693
LGBT History Museum (415) 621-1107
Haas-Lilienthal House (415) 441-3000
International Museum of Art (415) 376-6344
Italian American Museum (415) 673-2200
The LAB (415) 864-8855
Long Now Museum & Store (415) 561-6582
Mechanical Museum (415) 346-2000
Mexican Museum (415) 202-9700
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (415) 821-1155
Mission Dolores (415) 621-8203
Musée Mécanique (415) 346-2000
Museo ItaloAmericano (415) 673-2200
Museum of Craft and Folk Art (415) 227-4888
Museum of Performance & Design (415) 255-4800
Museum of Russian Culture (415) 921-7631
Museum of the African Diaspora (415) 358-7200
National Japanese American Historical Society (415) 921-5007
NIKE Missle Site (415) 331-1453
North Beach Museum (415) 391-6210
Pacific Heritage Museum (415) 399-1124
The Presidio (415) 561-4323
Randall Museum (415) 554-9600
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! (415) 771-6188
San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery (415) 554-6080
San Francisco Fire Department Museum (415) 558-3546
San Francisco International Airport Museum (650) 821.6700
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (415) 447-5000
San Francisco Museum and Historical Society (415) 537-1105
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (415) 357-4000
San Francisco Museum of Craft & Design (415)773.0303
San Francisco Railway Museum (415) 974-1948
San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center (415) 621-6600
Society of California Pioneers (415) 957-1849
Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Café (415) 421-4112
SS Jeremiah O’Brien (415) 544-0100
USS Pampanito (415) 561-6662
Walt Disney Family Museum (415) 345-6800
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts (415) 551-9210
Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf (415) 202-0402
Wells Fargo History Museum (415) 396-2619
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (415) 978-2787
Take advantage of the culture, the history, and most of all, the food (the choices are never-ending)! Wander the streets and discover for yourself why people love San Francisco so much.