What is the American Orchestra Forum?

The San Francisco Symphony’s American Orchestra Forum is a probing conversation about symphony orchestras in the 21st century. America’s leading conductors and musicians, culture and technology experts, and concerned citizens explore how today’s orchestras connect with their communities; how they balance creativity and innovation with artistic traditions and practices; and what orchestras can learn about changing audiences from looking outside their own field.

While the dialogue is ongoing, this website catalogs conversations that took place in San Francisco and online during the San Francisco Symphony’s 2011-12 Centennial Season.

Explore the Site

Discover and share these stimulating conversations in multiple formats: watch videos, listen to podcasts, access transcripts, read blog posts, and link to educational resources.

Learn More

The American Orchestra Forum was a major initiative during the San Francisco Symphony’s 2011-12 Centennial Season. The presence of seven of America’s leading orchestras — Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco — in San Francisco offered a unique opportunity to explore these topics using various formats and media. The Forum included three live public discussions in San Francisco (October 2011, March 2012, May 2012); four behind-the-scenes roundtable discussions with visiting orchestras; colalborations with academic and other organizations; Web-based interviews, blogging and exchanges; and podcasts that synthesized and disseminated the conversations across all platforms. Participants included music directors Michael Tilson Thomas, Gustavo Dudamel, and Alan Gilbert, along with scholars and thought leaders from within and beyond the classical music field.