Wednesday, Sept. 22; Thursday, Sept. 23; Saturday, Sept. 25
The San Francisco Symphony inaugurates its fall season with Michael Tilson Thomas doing one of the things he does best — conducting Aaron Copland. The American composer's Quiet City and Organ Symphony (with Paul Jacobs on the hall's Ruffatti organ) comprise the heart of a program that starts with Parade by native San Franciscan Lou Harrison and concludes in spectacular fashion with Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony.
Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. 8 p.m. (2 p.m. on Sept. 23), $15-$140; 864-6000 or www.sfsymphony.org.
Friday, Oct. 15–Sunday, Oct. 17
Russian-American conductor Semyon Bychkov, who made a well-received appearance with the San Francisco Symphony last year, returns to conduct Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and William Walton's First Symphony. Pianist Kirill Gerstein is also on the program, performing Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Following the Oct. 15 performance, the symphony hall's lobby becomes a lounge for Davies After Hours, with smaller-scale musical acts that draw contemporary parallels to the night's program.
Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. 8 p.m. (2 p.m. on Oct. 17), $15-$140; 864-6000 or www.sfsymphony.org.
Monday, Oct. 25
In a program that traces the evolution of the string quartet in the 20th century, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble performs a masterpiece by Béla Bartók — 1917's String Quartet No. 2 — and premieres a new work by American composer Carl Schimmel. Terry Riley's austere G Song completes the evening.
The Green Room, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. 8 p.m., $15-$20; 642-8054 or http://leftcoastensemble.org. Additional performance Oct. 21 in Mill Valley.
Thursday, Oct. 28-Friday, Oct. 29
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts begins its multiyear celebration of the Kronos Quartet by hosting the iconic group's performance of Black Angels, written by George Crumb as a reaction to the Vietnam War. The S.F. debut of this staging is accompanied by young Iranian composer-pianist Sahba Aminikia's A Threnody for Those Who Remain, a work for strings and electronics inspired by the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.
Novellus Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third St.), S.F. 8 p.m., $30; 978-2787 or www.ybca.org.
Friday, Nov. 5
In its 30th anniversary season, Philharmonia Baroque takes on an appropriately momentous challenge with a presentation of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. This beloved work, resurrected from obscurity in the 1920s, anchors a program that also includes compositions by Corelli, Pergolesi, Durante, and Zavateri.
Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. 8 p.m., $25-$85; 392-4400 or www.philharmonia.org. Additional performances Nov. 6-7 in Berkeley, Nov. 9 in Atherton, Nov. 10 in Walnut Creek.
Friday, Nov. 5; Saturday Nov. 13; Thursday, Nov. 18; and Saturday, Nov. 20
A homegrown opera company that keeps getting better with each microscale performance, SF Parlor Opera will apply its shoestring staging and infectious enthusiasm to Puccini's Tosca — sung in the original language, as always. The hard-working young singers and convivial atmosphere make the company's performances consistently delightful.
1652 Hayes (at Lyon), S.F. 7 p.m., $25-$55; www.sfparloropera.org.
Thursday, Nov. 11-Saturday, Nov. 13
Rufus Wainwright continues his flirtation with classical musical forms (he already has an opera, Prima Donna, under his belt) with the world premiere of Five Shakespeare Sonnets, a song cycle commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony. His interpretations of Sonnets 10, 20, and 43 appear on his recent album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu; two more will make their debut in these performances. Wainwright shares the eclectic program with Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major (featuring Jeffrey Kahane as performer and conductor) and Kurt Weill's Second Symphony. Following the Nov. 12 performance, Wainwright and Kahane will participate in a casual Q&A with the audience.
8 p.m., $15-$140. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. 864-6000; www.sfsymphony.org.
Saturday, Nov. 20
Some classical violinists would take umbrage at being called fiddlers, but not composer Mark O'Connor. The New Century Chamber Orchestra presents three of his works with "Waltzing in Appalachia," one of which features O'Connor himself on violin. The program begins on a more traditional note with Bach's Goldberg Variations.
Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. 8 p.m., $29-$49; 392-4400 or www.ncco.org.