Explore the activities below with your child(ren) before arriving at Symphony Center–they’re perfect for your car or train ride downtown!

LISTEN before the concert, using our Spotify playlist. Access the playlist below or at this link. You can listen to the tracks freely, or you can explore the activities below for an enhanced listening experience.

*Note that a free account is required to use Spotify.


Your child will see many different instrument families at the concert today. Show him or her these pictures of each instrument family before you arrive. After finding your seats at the concert, ask your child if he or she can identify any of the instrument families!


Edwin Outwater

  • Edwin is the Director of Summer Concerts at the San Francisco Symphony.
  • He has conducted the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Seattle Symphony, among many others.
  • Edwin conducted the world premiere of “The Composer is Dead” by Nathaniel Stookey and Lemony Snicket while he was Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony from 2001–2006.
  • Edwin Outwater was born in Santa Monica, California. He loves to read and earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in English literature.

Guest Artist SPOTLIGHT

Emily Graslie

  • Emily Graslie is Chief Curiosity Correspondent for The Field Museum, and the creator, host and writer for its educational YouTube series, The Brain Scoop.
  • Launched in January 2013, The Brain Scoop aims to share the research and collections work of natural history museums with a broad audience. To date, Emily and her team have created around 175 videos, which have been viewed more than 22 million times by passionate learners from all over the world.
  • Emily’s work has received numerous awards, and she is a 2018 member of the Forbes ’30 Under 30′ list in Education.
  • In addition to her love for science Emily is also involved in the arts and has been playing the violin since she was 8.
  • Her favorite piece to perform has been ‘Mars’ from The Planets by Holst with the Symphony Orchestra at the University of Montana.”


Gabriela Lena Frank

  • An American composer who was born in 1972. Her father is of Lithuanian and Jewish heritage and her mother is Peruvian and Chinese descent.
  • Frank’s music pulls from her multicultural background and showcases her fascination with identity.
  • Frank has traveled throughout South America and incorporates pieces of Latin American culture into her Western music, creating a truly one-of-a-kind style.
  • The Mestizo Waltz evokes the romancero tradition of popular songs and dances that mix influences from indigenous Indian cultures, African slave cultures and western brass bands.

Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1770.
  • Despite his young age, Beethoven’s talent allowed him to travel extensively for performances, and eventually, he was financially supporting his entire family.
  • Beethoven moved to Vienna, Austria, in his early twenties to study with the famous composer Franz Joseph Haydn.
  • In his late twenties, Beethoven began losing his hearing, which ended his performance career.
  • Some of Beethoven’s most revered works were written during the last fifteen years of his life, when he was completely deaf.

Bedřich Smetana

  • Smetana was a Czech composer whose music mimicked his country’s revolutionary spirit.
  • He was born in 1894 near Prague and was a naturally gifted composer, giving his first performance at the age of six.
  • Smetana was deaf for the last decade of his life, but continued to compose until his death in 1884.
  • The Moldau is the second of six symphonic poems in Má vlast (“my homeland”).
  • The Moldau tells the story of the Vltava River, which is the longest river in the Czech Republic.

Mason Bates

  • An American composer who was born in 1977 and grew up in Richmond, Virginia.
  • Bates received his PhD in composition from the University of California-Berkeley, and while working on his PhD, Bates worked as a DJ in San Francisco clubs.
  • He is one of the most-performed composers of his generation and is especially known for adding electronics to the standard orchestral instrumentation.
  • Bates has composed many notable works, including Alternative Energy, which was premiered in 2012 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti.
  • Desert Transport premiered at the Arizona Music Festival in 2011 and was inspired by a helicopter flight over the Arizona landscape.