Presto was formed in 2009 when The Stern Grove Festival contacted the San Francisco Opera and asked if they could create a children’s program for their summer festival. The opera forwarded the request on to Kristen Jones and Jennifer Ashworth, two teaching artists who saw a unique opportunity to create a new kind of opera program for children; one that would be fully interactive, and not explain opera, but would teach by doing. It was a huge success! Stern Grove then invited Presto to teach a summer camp program, and with an expectation of 30 or so children, we had more than 100 sign up. We were thrilled to hear classical songs gleefully performed by children who had never heard of opera before, and we began to dream bigger.
Shortly after this, Grace Cathedral commissioned Presto to write a family friendly and interactive Christmas program. Our first performance in 2011 had an audience of about 400 people, and we doubled audience size each year, continually adding more performances. By 2018 Presto was selling out multiple performances, and had added an Easter production, a Children’s Choir, and a Summer Camp.
Today Presto has moved into the San Francisco Unified School District, bringing our unique perspective and love of storytelling through music to a new group of children, letting them experience the thrill of a stage production, and foster growth in their confidence, courage, and independence.