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S.F.’s Conservatory of Music

San Francisco Conservatory of Music's new recital hall
Photo caption
Trying out the conservatory’s recital hall .

The last orchestra concert at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Ortega Street hall was an exceptionally dramatic one. Viola players teetered at the brink of the small stage. The concertmaster’s right leg dangled over the boards. Audience members jammed the aisles. It’s the perfect time to go, everyone said. And so they did.

In September the 89-year-old conservatory moved into its new home, a 73,000-square-foot teaching and performance center that spreads over eight floors. The building, at 50 Oak Street in the Civic Center neighborhood, is just steps from the opera, symphony, and ballet.

The architecture combines old and new; a 1914 Italianate facade stands next to a glass-covered one. Inside, you’ll find a café, classrooms, two small performance spaces, and a 450-seat concert hall in a renovated Victorian ballroom. The variety suits an institution that sponsors more than 350 performances a year, many of which are free or inexpensive.

Upcoming events include a concert by the Bay Area–based Guarneri Jazz Quartet on November 27 and Hansel and Gretel performed by the Conservatory Opera on December 16 and 17. For more information, call (415) 503-6277 or visit

Photography by Sean Arbabi

This article was first published in November 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.