James Conlon always ranks near the top of best American conductors lists, having conducted every symphonic and opera orchestra of note, and recorded a bazillion albums (and winning two Grammys along the way). He's currently the music director of the Los Angeles Opera, but makes it a point of visiting San Francisco regularly.

This week, Conlon will lead the SF Symphony in a piano concerto by Shostakovich with soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, a symphony by Tchaikovsky and a scherzo by Schulhoff. That last name shouldn't ring a bell unless you're a 20th music expert, and James Conlon wants that to change. Conlon has advocated on behalf of music from composers who were silenced by the Nazi regime in the 1930s — composers such as Korngold, Zemlinsky, or Erwin Schulhoff, a prolific Czech composer who died in an internment camp. This project is supported by the Orel Foundation to rediscover "suppressed musical treasures of the twentieth century."

We talked to James Conlon about his program and the demise of the other SoCal big opera house in San Diego.