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:


Friday, January 11, 8:00PM, Church Sanctuary
Semper Phantasticus!
San Francisco Early Music Society Presents

Semper Phantasticus explores that most avant-garde mode of music-making among German composers of the 17th and early 18th centuries, with extravagant works for violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord. All three instruments are featured individually and in combination on this program, in sonatas by Dietrich Buxtehude and Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, two of best-known exponents of the “fantastical style,” alongside free works by August Kerzinger, Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, Johann Jakob Walther, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

ARS LYRICA HOUSTON CHAMBER PLAYERS: Matthew Dirst, Director; Elizabeth Blumenstock, baroque violin; Mary Springfels, viola da gamba; Matthew Dirst, harpsichord


Saturday, December 15 – Sanctuary – 8:00pm
Winter’s Gifts: Journeys
Performed by San José Chamber Orchestra
Conductors Barbara Day Turner and Daniel Hughes

A time honored tradition, “Winter’s Gifts” is a celebration of the season as told through the glorious voices of The Choral Project and the moving music of the San José Chamber Orchestra. Winter’s Gifts: JOURNEYS will include music by Gabriel Fauré, Anica Galindo, J.A. Kawarsky, Joshua Shank, Randall Thompson, Ola Gjielo and others, and a feature by clarinetist Asaf Ophir.

Conductors Barbara Day Turner and Daniel Hughes collaborate to create this very special concert which has become a Bay Area holiday tradition in the breathtaking acoustics of Mission Santa Clara de Asís and the beautiful sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto!


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!


Ragazzi Continuo

An English Christmas

Sunday, Dec 2, 2018
2:00 pm in the Sanctuary

Come join Ragazzi Continuo for An English Christmas , a jaunt through familiar sacred and secular texts, but presented as they are sung across the pond! Many carols that we know, love, or have heard (perhaps) a time too many have fresh and unknown melodies that are used in the English tradition. This program, inspired by tunes from the King’s College, Cambridge Lessons and Carols service, will take the audience on a tour through the Anglican canon, with selections including 15th century folk songs, the sweeping polyphony of the English Renaissance, World War I era carols and more!

Tickets are $25, with a $10 discount for students and seniors as well as an additional $5 discount if purchased ahead of time. Tickets for the Palo Alto concert can be found here
More concert times and information about Ragazzi Continuo can be found here


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, directed by Ragnar Bohlin, 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. Check the sfems website for tickets and information.


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.