1140 Cowper St Palo Alto CA 94301 Sundays at 8:30am and 10:30am

Arts Alive at First Pres

First Presbyterian Church is a popular venue for concerts and other musical presentations.  Click here for more information about renting our facility. Here is a sampling of upcoming and recent musical events at our campus:


San Francisco Opera Guild, Peninsula Chapter

It’s A Wonderful Life

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
7:30 – 9:00pm in the Chapel

Librettist, Gene Scheer, who thrilled audiences with his discussion of his and Jake Heggie’s great opera Moby-Dick, returns to discuss their very different opera, It’s A Wonderful Life. If you know the movie well, you’ll know that seeing this story told again, with one or more of Heggie and Scheer’s special creative twists, will make another wonderful moment in your own wonderful life! Pre-talk reception includes hot beverages, cookies, and conversation with other early birds (and perhaps even with the speaker!). Tickets available at the door ($10 each), payable by cash or check only. For more information on the opera’s librettist Gene Scheer, as well as a full listing of other locations where you can hear his It’s A Wonderful Life preview, visit SF Opera or the facebook page.


Saturday, November 10
11:00am – 1:00pm in the Sanctuary  

San Francisco Opera’s dramaturg, Dr. Clifford (Kip) Cranna, will interview composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer about the making of their new opera, It’s a Wonderful Life, which will receive its west coast premiere at San Francisco Opera on November 17. After the interview, four singers will perform excerpts from the opera accompanied by Jake on the piano. A gala reception will follow with champagne, wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Maya Kherani, soprano (Clara) | Marnie Breckenridge, soprano (Mary Bailey) | Alex Boyer (Merola 2007), tenor (George Bailey/Uncle Billy) | Hadleigh Adams (Merola 2012), baritone (Harry Bailey/Mr. Potter)

Reservation deadline November 5

Contact: Judy Kahn at (650) 948-8881, or visit
SF Opera Guild for more information.

Photo Credit: Houston Grand Opera’s world premiere of It’s A Wonderful Life, by Karen Almond.


New Millennium Chamber Orchestra

Musical Mystery Tour

Sunday, October 28, 2018
4:00pm in the Sanctuary

The New Millennium Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director James Richard Frieman, will perform “A Musical Mystery Tour,” featuring music representing the unknown, the magical, and the mysterious.

The highlight of this autumnal concert is Edward Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36, more popularly known as the “Enigma Variations.” The theme and variations that musically describe many of Elgar’s acquaintances are based on a hidden “dark saying” which has not been definitively identified since the work was first performed in 1899.

This concert will feature other works inspired by magic and spirits, including Edvard Grieg‘s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” Charles Gounod‘s “Funeral March of a Marionette,” and Modest Mussorgsky‘s “A Night on Bald Mountain.”

The concert will also feature New Millennium’s Concertmaster Colyn Fischer in the delightfully spooky “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saens.

Click here to buy tickets, or you may purchase tickets at the door.


Albany Consort

Advent Lessons and Carols

Sunday, Dec 2, 2018
10:30 am in the Sanctuary

The First Pres Choir and the Albany Consort will lead a service of Advent Lessons and Carols on Sunday December 2 at the 10:30am service. The choir will sing Durante’s beautiful Magnificat accompanied by the Albany Consort. Francesco Durante lived from 1684–1755. His Magnificat was formerly attributed to the composer Pergolesi. The wonderful baroque ensemble the Albany Consort has performed at First Pres on numerous occasions. They will be led by Jonathan Salzedo on harpsichord and will be joined by 2 violins, 2 violas, cello, double bass, and continuo organ. Please come and join us for what promises to be a wonderful Advent Lessons and Carols Sunday on December 2!



San Francisco Early Music Society

Cappella SF
Neither from Heaven nor from Earth: Works of Schütz, Josquin, Couperin, and Allegri

Friday, November 30, 2018
8:00pm in the Sanctuary

Cappella SF has taken the choral world by storm in just four years, acclaimed both at home and abroad. “Neither from Heaven nor from Earth” sweeps the listener post tenebras lux, from darkness before Advent, embodied by Josquin’s Miserere, through Allegri and Couperin, to the light of Christmas with Schütz’s great Exequien and Magnificat. Bohlin’s roots in the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and in Swedish choral culture, including guest conducting with the Swedish Radio Choir, imbue the Cappella SF sound with amber luster, clarity and magical artistry.

CAPPELLA SF: Ragnar Bohlin, Director

Check the sfems website for tickets and information.




Age of Indulgence

Friday, March 2, 2018
8:00pm in the Sanctuary

Hear the unique music from the eve of an aesthetic revolution, daring, experimental works of the French Rococo. These pieces from the 1740s and 1750s don’t conform to our expectations about baroque music, but they’re not quite Classical either. Rather, they mix the humor and wit of early Haydn and Gluck, a little of C.P.E. Bach’s Sturm und Drang, and characteristically lush French harmonies together to create a truly unique sound. We will sample works by François-André Philidor, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and more.

LES DÉLICES: Debra Nagy, baroque oboe; Julie Andrijeski and Adriane Post, baroque violin; Emily Walhout, viola da gamba; Mark Edwards, harpsichord

Click here for more information or to buy tickets.




The Magnifick Consort of Four Parts—Fantasies, Suites and Sonatas for viol quartet

Friday, April 6, 2018
8:00pm in the Sanctuary

The second half of the 17th century witnessed the rise of violin-dominated chamber and orchestral genres, but the viola da gamba continued to inspire some of the most profound and astonishing music of early baroque. The viol consort’s increasing rarity seemed to invite the special attentions of some of the era’s finest composers, whose most daring and unusual musical ideas would find perfect expression in the intimately passionate sound-world of the viol ensemble. This concert features masterworks by three of these composers: the exquisite “Fantazias of four parts” by Henry Purcell, Matthew Locke’s “Magnifick consort of 4 parts,” and Giovanni Legrenzi’s lively and intense “Sonate à quatro viole da gamba.” Wildcat Viols explores this music’s kaleidoscopic variety of colors and moods with fearless depth and sensitivity.

WILDCAT VIOLS: Joanna Blendulf, treble viol; Julie Jeffrey, tenor viol; Annalisa Pappano, tenor viol; Elisabeth Reed, bass viol

Click here for more information or to buy tickets.