San Francisco Symphony Chorus

They come from all over the Bay Area, commuting into San Francisco from as far away as the Central Valley. Rehearsing up to three times a week and performing at least 26 times a season (in 2004, they will have performed 32 concerts), they sing texts in French, Russian, German and Italian, a task complicated enough to require the help of voice coaches and linguists. They are the 200 members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, making it one of the largest of its kind in this country. Even more remarkable is the fact that 170 of the choristers are volunteers.

What makes people dedicate themselves to a task such as this? Perhaps it is the prestige of being a member of a celebrated singing ensemble. Or perhaps, more fundamentally, it is the opportunity to take one’s voice and blend it in with a couple of hundred others that can’t be replicated in any other setting. Spark goes behind the scenes while the San Francisco Symphony Chorus rehearses and performs Gabriel Faure’s “Requiem” at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

More about the San Francisco Symphony Chorus
The San Francisco Symphony Chorus was established in 1972, created at the request of Seiji Ozawa, then the music director of the San Francisco Symphony. Louis Magor served as the chorus’s director during its first decade. In 1982, Margaret Hillis, from the Chicago Symphony Chorus, assumed the ensemble’s leadership, followed by Vance George in 1983 and then Ragnar Bohlin in 2007. Since then, they have sung under such conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Robert Shaw.

San Francisco Symphony
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
Phone: (415) 864-6000

San Francisco Symphony Chorus 6 August,2015Spark
  • Array
  • Array

Related Episodes


Delight in the sound of people making music together.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor