Free Pre-Concert Talks

Join us at Davies Symphony Hall one hour before select SF Symphony concerts for a free pre-concert talk! Inside Music talks are designed to enhance your enjoyment of the concert by providing insights into the works on the program—bringing you “inside” the music.

The music experts who give these talks bring different viewpoints and approaches to their conversations about the music. Some might explore why a composer wrote a particular piece of music, examining its social and historical context. Others might look at how a piece of music is constructed, guiding listeners through recorded excerpts of the works being performed.

Speaker Biographies

  • Alexandra D. Amati  

    Alexandra D. Amati holds a BA/MA in Slavic studies and philology from the Università degli Studi di Pisa (Italy), degrees in piano from the Conservatory of Music of Lucca (Italy), and an MA and a Ph.D. in musicology from Harvard University. She is Professor of Music in the Performing Arts Department at the University of San Francisco, and teaches at the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning at UC Berkeley.

    Dr. Amati-Camperi has published books and papers on Renaissance, operatic, and gender-related topics. She is currently writing a book about the presentation and treatment of women in opera. In addition to serving as a pre-concert lecturer for the San Francisco Symphony, she is a lecturer and program annotator for San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Bach Choir, and other organizations.

  • Scott Foglesong

    Scott Foglesong is Chair of Musicianship and Music Theory at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he has been a faculty member since 1978. Mr. Foglesong is on the faculty of the Fall Freshman Program at the University of California at Berkeley and the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at USF. A Contributing Writer to the San Francisco Symphony's program book, he also serves as Program Annotator for the California Symphony and he was previously program annotator for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Las Vegas Philharmonic, and the New Hampshire Music Festival.

    As a pianist, Mr. Foglesong has appeared with the Francesco Trio, Chanticleer, and members of the San Francisco Symphony. He was trained at the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied piano with Elizabeth Katzenellenbogen. At the San Francisco Conservatory, he studied piano with Nathan Schwartz, harpsichord with Laurette Goldberg, and theory with Sol Joseph and John Adams.

  • Peter Grunberg

    Peter Grunberg  is currently Musical Assistant to Michael Tilson Thomas. He has appeared as a piano soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, performed at the Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg, and Tanglewood festivals, and has collaborated in recital with such artists as Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, and Joshua Bell. He has conducted at the Moscow Conservatory, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and the Sydney Opera House. Previously, Mr. Grunberg was Head of Music Staff at the San Francisco Opera and also a principal collaborator on the Symphony's Keeping Score project.

  • James M. Keller

    James M. Keller the San Francisco Symphony's Program Annotator since 2000, also serves as Program Annotator of the New York Philharmonic, where in the 2008-09 season he was Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence. His book Chamber Music: A Listener's Guide was published by Oxford University Press in 2011 and is now also available as an e-book and in paperback.

    His many articles include contributions to Leonard Bernstein at Work: His Final Years, 1984-1990 (Amadeus Press), Leonard Bernstein: American Original (HarperCollins), George Crumb and the Alchemy of Sound (Colorado College Music Press), and the Encyclopedia of New York City (Yale University Press). He was a staff writer-editor at The New Yorker for ten years, and he was honored with the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for his writing in Chamber Music magazine, which he serves as Contributing Editor. He is critic-at-large for The Santa Fe New Mexican, the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi, and was curator of the exhibition Singing the Golden State, spotlighting historical popular music about California, which was on view throughout 2012 at the Society of California Pioneers in San Francisco before embarking on a statewide tour through 2014.

  • John R. Palmer 

    John R. Palmer completed his Ph.D. at UC Davis and has taught courses on the music of Wagner, Beethoven, Mahler, Mozart, and Verdi, as well as on popular music, cultural history, and writing. Mr. Palmer studied at the University of Vienna as the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and has since worked at the University of California at Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and San Francisco Opera. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Sonoma State University Department of Music, where he teaches courses on a variety of subjects and directs the Rock Collegium.

  • Laura Stanfield Prichard

    Laura Stanfield Prichard has been a regular lecturer for the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera since 1997, and she has presented lectures at the Banff Centre, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, and at conferences of the American Musicological Society, Music Library Association, MLA, Sonneck Society for American Music, and the American Musical Instrument Society. Educated at Yale University and the University of Illinois, she is a visiting researcher at Harvard and teaches music and theater history in Boston and Nashua, NH. She is the principal pre-concert speaker for Boston Baroque, Boston Opera Collaborative, the Masterworks Chorale in Boston and Berkshire Choral International, and a community engagement mentor/instructor for the New World Symphony in Miami and the Chicago Symphony. She was a finalist for the 2015 Pauline Alderman Award for outstanding writing on women and music.

    An alumna of Volti (San Francisco’s professional new music chorus) and a former assistant conductor to Vance George for the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, she taught music and dance for eight years at San Francisco State University and CSU-East Bay, where she was awarded the Professional Promise award and served as President of the Pacific Chapter of the College Music Society. Since 2003, she has served on the board of Choral Arts New England, singing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (the chorus of the Boston Symphony), the Boston Pops, and the New World Chorale. She directed the Sharing a New Song Chorus on televised concert tours of South Africa and Vietnam, and conducted the Yale Alumni Chorus in Moscow and the Netherlands. The Boston Musical Intelligencer sent her to Cuba in 2015 as a foreign correspondent, and she has reviewed concerts for them since 2010.

    Recent research includes invited lectures at Harvard, Oxford, and NYU, and conference papers in Saint Petersburg, Dublin, Honolulu, and Saint John's, Newfoundland on choral and ballet music. Her more than 300 translations of song and choral texts are available online through the LiederNet Archive. She contributed several entries to the Encyclopedia of Latin American Popular Music (2012), the landmark revision of the multi-volume New Grove Dictionary of American Music (2013), the forthcoming Music Around the World (2016), and the SAGE Encyclopedia Music and Culture (2017).

  • Elizabeth Seitz

    Elizabeth Seitz is currently the Music History Coordinator at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee where she received the 2019 Distinguished Faculty of the Year award. She received her Ph.D. from Boston University. She specializes in music at the turn of the twentieth century, though she has presented scholarly papers on a wide variety of subjects, from Schubert to Bach to Tito Puente to MTV. She has been a frequent lecturer at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Lyric Opera, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Rockport Chamber Music, Tanglewood, Road Scholar, and the New York Philharmonic. Her first murder mystery, Dissertation Most Deadly was published in 2004 and she is currently working on the sequel, Murder Most Melodious.

  • Peter Susskind

    A resident of San Francisco, Peter Susskind is a native Briton educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Royal College of Music in London. He is currently Executive Director of San Francisco’s Pocket Opera, and Artistic Advisor for the Noontime Concerts series at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral. Previously he was the music director and conductor of the South Bay Youth Orchestra and executive director of the Midsummer Mozart Festival. As a conductor, he has led many British groups including the English Chamber Orchestra at London's Royal Festival Hall and the London Mozart Players. He was assistant conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1984 to 1986 and music director and conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has also appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra's Sommerfest, and conducted concerts with the San Jose, Youngstown, Marin, and Honolulu symphonies, the conservatory orchestras of both Saint Louis and San Francisco, and the San Francisco Chamber Symphony. Abroad he has conducted the Prague Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic in Korea, and the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Musikverein in Vienna. He has also conducted the UC Berkeley Symphony and led the San Francisco Symphony in children’s concerts. A regular lecturer with San Francisco Opera, he has also given pre-concert talks for various Bay Area Music organizations, including the Cantabile Chorale and Stanford’s Lively Arts series.

THE PRELUDE SERIES: A Casual pre-Concert Discussion
For a select number of concerts each month, join us 45 minutes before the performance to take part in a free pre-concert discussion hosted in a casual, intimate lounge setting on the First Tier Lobby of Davies Symphony Hall. These events foster a lively exchange of ideas and are sure to illuminate your concert experience. Feel free to come with a drink or a bite to eat from our café, The Tuning Fork.

Program notes

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Jean Sibelius - Rakastava (The Lover)

Nico Muhly - Throughline

Ellen Reid - Fear / Release

Ludwig van Beethoven - Allegro con brio from String Quartet in F minor, Opus 95, Serioso

John Adams: Shaking and Trembling from Shaker Loops

Kev Choice - Movements

Enter the Pipa!

Shostakovich: Concerto No. 2 in G major for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 126​

Stravinsky: The Firebird

MTT: Street Song for Symphonic Brass

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