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San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas announce 2013-14 concert programs, events and recordings

March 4, 2013

Public Relations
San Francisco Symphony
(415) 503-5474

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / March 4, 2013 updated June 18, 2013



·         Season highlights include a four-week celebration of the Benjamin Britten centenary, including MTT leading semi-staged performances of complete Peter Grimes and Four Sea Interludes with original co-commissioned video, and anniversary performances of War Requiem

·         Tilson Thomas conducts two weeks of programs pairing the music of Beethoven with Project San Francisco composer Mason Bates, to be recorded for SFS Media

·         Pianist Yuja Wang and composer Mason Bates are Project San Francisco artists

·         Pablo Heras-Casado leads two-week festival pairing music by Thomas Adès and Mendelssohn

·         SFS launches series of new music experiences with SFS musicians, composers, and artists in small, newly-created alternative space in Davies Symphony Hall

·         West Coast premiere of Zosha Di Castri’s new work Lineage to be performed as part of inaugural New Voices composer initiative

·         Season-long focus on J.S. Bach includes performances with pianist András Schiff, violinist Christian Tetzlaff, conductor Ton Koopman, and organist Martin Haselböck

·         SFS musicians Alexander Barantschik, Carey Bell, Mark Inouye, Robert Ward, and Peter Wyrick are featured as soloists; SFS Chorus 40th anniversary highlights major works from Bach to Britten

·         New season-long film series includes Halloween week of Hitchcock films with the world premiere presentation of Vertigo with live orchestral accompaniment, Disney’s Fantasia in Concert, Chaplin’s City Lights, and A Night at the Oscars

·         Distinguished guest conductors include Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Marek Janowski, Edwin Outwater, and Osmo Vänskä

·         Returning guest soloists include Emanuel Ax, Christine Brewer, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk, James Ehnes, Julia Fischer, Kirill Gerstein, Hélène Grimaud, Leila Josefowicz, Yo-Yo Ma, Audra McDonald, Garrick Ohlsson, Gil Shaham, Stuart Skelton, Toby Spence, Christian Tetzlaff, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Simon Trpčeski, Elza van den Heever, Yuja Wang, and Alisa Weilerstein

·         Debut performances with the Orchestra by Lionel Bringuier, Jaap van Zweden, Bogna Bartosz, Till Fellner, Rodney Gilfrey, Martin Helmchen, Claudia Huckle, Simone Lamsma, Tilman Lichdi, Audrey Luna, Klaus Mertens, Ann Murray, Sean Panikkar, Daniil Trifonov, Teresa Wakim, and Roderick Williams

·         Great Performers Series includes concerts by Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Yuja Wang, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic with Yuri Temirkanov, Kremerata Baltica with Gidon Kremer, baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and pianists Murray Perahia, Yuja Wang, Evgeny Kissin, and Katia and Marielle Labèque

·        MTT and Orchestra to record Mason Bates’ Alternative Energy and Liquid Interface; Grammy award-winning SFS Media label to release Beethoven recordings and John Adams’ Absolute Jest featuring St. Lawrence String Quartet

·         MTT leads Orchestra on tours of US and Europe, including concerts at Carnegie Hall and in London, Paris, Vienna, Prague, Geneva, Luxembourg, Dortmund, and Birmingham; soloists include Sasha Cooke, Jeremy Denk, Susan Graham, and St. Lawrence String Quartet

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – March 4, 2013 (UPDATED June 18, 2013) – The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) announced their 2013-14 season today, a slate of concerts, programs, and events that reflects their commitment to performing and recording core classical repertoire and new music by contemporary and emerging composers, presenting them side by side in in-depth explorations and creative settings. MTT continues his multi-year focus on performing and recording Beethoven, with three weeks of concerts pairing some of Beethoven’s infrequently performed works alongside two recent compositions by Bay Area composer and electronica artist Mason Bates.  In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, MTT leads three weeks of concerts, including a new semi-staged production of Peter Grimes, and Four Sea Interludes with original co-commissioned video.  MTT also conducts the Orchestra in major works by Antheil, Bartók, Berlioz, Brahms, Debussy, Ives, Steven Mackey, Mahler, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, and Shostakovich. Other high points of the season include Pablo Heras-Casado leading a two-week festival pairing the music of Felix Mendelssohn and Thomas Adès, with Adès performing, using common literary and musical inspirations as a theme, and a season-long focus on J.S. Bach with some of today’s foremost musical proponents of his music: Ton Koopman, András Schiff, and Christian Tetzlaff.  The Orchestra makes its first performances of works by Thomas Adès, Mason Bates, J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Dvořák, Ligeti, Lully, Mendelssohn, and Schulhoff; debuts a new season-long film series including the first live performances of the complete score of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, accompanying the film; and launches a series of immersive and informal musical events featuring SFS musicians, Bay Area-based and visiting composers, and visual artists. Other highlights of the SF Symphony’s eleven-month season are the West Coast premiere of Zosha Di Castri’s New Voices project commission and composer Mason Bates and pianist Yuja Wang returning as Project San Francisco artists. The Orchestra returns to Europe for a three-week tour in March 2014, and tours the U.S. in November 2013.  On its SFS Media label, the Orchestra releases recordings of music by Beethoven and John Adams’ Absolute Jest, and will record performances of music by Bates for future release.

Subscription ticket packages start at $186 (a six-concert package in the 2nd Tier) for the San Francisco Symphony’s 2013-14 season and are on sale now to renewing subscribers and the general public.  Compose-Your-Own packages of three concerts or more are also available. Tickets for individual 2013-14 San Francisco Symphony concerts will go on sale on July 22. Ticket information is available through the San Francisco Symphony Web site at, through the SFS Patron Services Office at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall box office, on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street in San Francisco. 


Michael Tilson Thomas marks his 19th season as Music Director with the SFS in 2013-14, and is currently the longest-tenured music director of any major American orchestra.  In 18 concert weeks this season, in Davies Symphony Hall and on tour in Europe and the U.S., MTT leads the Orchestra in a wide variety of programs and events that highlight his commitment to new and rarely performed music as well as providing audiences new context to core classical repertoire.

“One of the great rewards of a long partnership between a conductor and an orchestra is the opportunity to explore works old and new, by many composers,” said Michael Tilson Thomas.  “Just as we continue to examine the music of Beethoven and find new pathways into hearing his work, it is important to develop and support composers writing today, and treat new music in the way we treat music of the past—to revisit it over the years. This is part of developing creative partnerships with composers over the course of their careers, such as our continued explorations of the music of Bay Area composers John Adams and Mason Bates. Ongoing relationships with composers, present as well as past, are inseparable from our work together as musicians and open new dimensions in our music-making.”


The San Francisco Symphony’s 102nd season opens Tuesday, September 3, 2013, with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leading the Orchestra in its annual Opening Gala concert and celebration at Davies Symphony Hall. Soprano Audra McDonald performs selections from the classic American songbook, and the Orchestra offers a program of works by American composers including Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Antheil’s Jazz Symphony. The gala concert will be broadcast live on Classical KDFC 90.3/89.9/104.9 FM and The Orchestra’s All-San Francisco concert for San Franciscans served by local community groups takes place September 5, with Gershwin’s An American in Paris, and violinist James Ehnes joining MTT and the Orchestra in Barber’s Violin Concerto. MTT also conducts as James Ehnes and the Orchestra perform Barber’s Violin Concerto September 6, alongside Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Antheil’s Jazz Symphony.


The first SF Symphony performances of Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes (1945) are the culminating events in a four-week celebration of the English composer’s work and music, marking the centenary of his November 1913 birth. The celebration encompasses Britten’s works for opera, vocal music, a ballet score, and orchestral writing, and spans the prolific career of a composer, conductor and pianist who died in 1976 at the age of 63.   For the centenary, MTT will create a new semi-staged production of the complete Peter Grimes in June 2014, with tenor Stuart Skelton (Peter Grimes) and soprano Elza van den Heever (Ellen Orford) heading a cast of singers including baritone Alan Opie (Captain Balstrode), mezzo-sopranos Ann Murray (Auntie) and Nancy Maultsby (Mrs. Sedley), baritone Eugene Brancoveanu (Ned Keene), bass John Relyea (Mr. Swallow), and the SFS Chorus. Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes will be presented with original co-commissioned video by visual artist Tal Rosner (“Polaris”). In a second program, Britten’s work is paired with that of his colleague and close friend, Dmitri Shostakovich.  SFS Principal Horn Robert Ward is featured in Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (1943), with tenor Toby Spence in a program that includes Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15.  The Orchestra is joined by gamelan ensemble Gamelan Sekar Jaya in excerpts of music from Britten’s 1945 ballet The Prince of the Pagodas alongside Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with Gil Shaham. During the composer’s 100th birthday week in November 2013, Semyon Bychkov leads soprano Christine Brewer, tenor James Gilchrist, baritone Roderick Williams, the SFS Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir, and the Orchestra in Britten’s War Requiem (1962). Concertmaster Alexander Barantshik leads the Orchestra in Britten’s Simple Symphony for string orchestra during a week of January concerts.


MTT and the Orchestra continue their multi-season exploration of Beethoven with two concert weeks that pair some of his early and lesser-heard works alongside recent music by Bay Area composer and electronica artist Mason Bates, a frequent SFS collaborator and this season’s Project San Francisco composer. Bates’ music will be recorded live during these concerts for later release on SFS Media. Since Bates attended the first American Mavericks Festival in 2000, he and MTT have worked together in multiple settings, including with the SFS at Davies Symphony Hall (the SFS commissioned Mass Transmission in 2011 for its centennial season, part of the American Mavericks Festival,) on the American Mavericks Festival tour, and in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra project. In the Beethoven and Bates Festival’s first week, in January, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 is paired on a program with his Romances Nos. 1 and 2. Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik is featured as soloist in these infrequently performed works, and he performs Romance No. 1 for the first time with the Orchestra.  Mason Bates performs on electronica with the Orchestra in his Alternative Energy, performed in San Francisco by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the SFS centennial season.  In the second week, for the first time since 1998, the Orchestra and the SFS Chorus perform Beethoven’s complete Mass in C. Excerpts from Beethoven’s rarely performed music for King Stephen, including the Overture and selected choral movements, open the concerts, and Bates joins the Orchestra on electronica for performances of his Liquid Interface.

“I can always count on a trip to the SFS to shake up my musical reality. Whether it’s new music, old music, or some provocative combination of the two, I always leave with retuned hearing. Few institutions this large behave so adventurously. It's been wonderful to create several new works for MTT and the musicians, and I am deeply honored that pieces dear to me will be performed and recorded next season,” Bates said.

In the festival’s third week, in February, The B-Sides by Mason Bates opens the evening, again with Bates on electronica performing with the Orchestra. The SFS commissioned and premiered Bates’ The B-Sides in 2009. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, which the Orchestra recorded with MTT in 2010, also will be performed as part of the Beethoven and Bates Festival’s final week, and Gil Shaham is soloist in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

In addition to the Beethoven and Bates Festival weeks, in September, Emanuel Ax returns to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with MTT and the Orchestra; a recording of his live performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Orchestra was released on SFS Media in 2011. The Orchestra also performs Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, which it also recently recorded and issued on SFS Media, at Davies Symphony Hall and on tour in Carnegie Hall and in Champaign-Urbana, IL.


Canadian composer Zosha Di Castri was chosen last year as the first composer to have her work fostered, promoted and performed as part of New Voices, a new collaborative composer development initiative with the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, and publisher Boosey & Hawkes. The SFS presents and performs Di Castri’s new orchestral work Lineage in its West Coast premiere in September, following its world premiere in Miami in April 2013.  Her work will be performed by the Orchestra in Davies Symphony Hall and also at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. The New Voices project supports composers in developing their work in chamber and orchestral settings, preparing them for public performances, and promoting their music, with performances in Miami and San Francisco.  Di Castri’s chamber music piece Manif will be performed by SFS musicians in 2014.


MTT leads the Orchestra on tours of Europe and the U.S. during the 2013-14 season, performing the music of contemporary and maverick American composers including John Adams, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, and Steven Mackey alongside core classical repertoire by Mahler, Beethoven, Berlioz, Prokofiev, and Mozart. In March 2014, MTT and the Orchestra perform two weeks of concerts in the musical capitals of Europe, visiting London, Paris, and Vienna for two concerts each, as well as Prague, Geneva, Luxembourg, Dortmund, and Birmingham.  Tour repertoire reflects the diverse array of works from its Grammy award-winning SFS Media catalogue, including Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7; Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique; The Alcotts from Ives’ A Concord Symphony, orchestrated by Henry Brant; and the St. Lawrence String Quartet in John Adams’ Absolute Jest, a San Francisco Symphony co-commission.  Julia Fischer will join the Orchestra as soloist in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1. For Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 tour performances, the Orchestra is joined by local choruses including St. Paul’s Boys Choir and Women of the London Symphony Orchestra Chorus (London), Maîtresse de Radio France and Choeur des femmes de l’Orchestre de Paris (Paris and Geneva), Choeur symphonique de la Grande Région and Pueri cantores of the Luxembourg Conservatoire (Luxembourg), and Vienna Boys Choir and Women of the Wienersingakademie (Vienna).

In November 2013, the Orchestra performs four concerts on a U.S. tour to New York’s Carnegie Hall, Ann Arbor, MI, and Champaign-Urbana, IL. Repertoire includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with soprano Susan Graham (at Carnegie) and soprano Sasha Cooke (at Ann Arbor) and, at Carnegie and Champaign-Urbana, Steven Mackey’s Eating Greens, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 with Jeremy Denk, Copland’s Symphonic Ode, and Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, recently released on SFS Media.


The Orchestra’s recordings on its own Grammy award-winning SFS Media label continue to reflect the artistic identity of its programming, a commitment to the work of contemporary American composers alongside that of the core classical masterworks. In the 2013-14 season, MTT and the Orchestra record performances of the Beethoven and Bates Festival, including two works by Bay Area composer Mason Bates: Liquid Interface and Alternative Energy (the SFS-commissioned The B-Sides has been rescheduled and will be recorded in the 2014-15 season). Recorded during MTT and the Orchestra’s May 2013 Beethoven Festival, SFS Media will release John Adams’ Absolute Jest with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Absolute Jest was inspired by and based on fragments of Beethoven’s scherzos for string quartets and was co-commissioned by the SFS and premiered as part of its American Mavericks Festival last season.  Release dates for all recordings will be announced at a later date.


Among other highlights of MTT’s season are programs featuring visits by some of the most acclaimed and beloved soloists, returning to perform with the Orchestra:

·         MTT and the Orchestra perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 the week of September 18.

·         Pianist Yefim Bronfman performs Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with MTT and the Orchestra, along with Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3, in programs beginning Sept. 11.

·         Pianist Emanuel Ax joins MTT and the Orchestra the week of September 26 for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, in a program that includes Mahler’s Blumine and a selection of short pieces by Copland, Debussy, Delius, Grieg, and Rachmaninoff.

·         The week of February 27, MTT leads the Orchestra and soprano Sasha Cooke with the women of the SF Symphony Chorus and SF Girls Chorus in Mahler’s Symphony No. 3.

·         Cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins the Orchestra and MTT for one concert in February, performing Schumann’s Cello Concerto. MTT also leads Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and The Alcotts, from Ives’s A Concord Symphony, orchestrated by Henry Brant.

·         Christian Tetzlaff performs Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with MTT and the Orchestra the week of May 14. The program also includes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, and opens with Sibelius’ Lemminkäinen’s Return.

·         Pianist Yuja Wang joins the Orchestra the week of May 22 to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with MTT. The Orchestra also performs Debussy’s Images and Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest, Opus 18.


Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado leads a two-week festival in October pairing the music of English composer Thomas Adès with that of Felix Mendelssohn, performing music spanning four centuries. In a program inspired by William Shakespeare and Goethe, Heras-Casado conducts a cast of soloists including soprano Audrey Luna (Ariel), mezzo-soprano Charlotte Hellekant, and baritone Rodney Gilfrey in the Orchestra’s first performances of excerpts from Adès’ The Tempest. Luna sang the role at the Metropolitan Opera in 2012 under Adès’ direction. The program includes Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the first SFS performances of Die erste Walpurgisnacht.  The festival’s second program illuminates Mendelssohn and Adès’ mutual fascination with the Baroque, featuring the Orchestra’s first performances of Adès’ Three Studies from Couperin and Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Overture and Passacaille from Armide (1686). Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, Scottish, and Stravinsky’s neoclassical Violin Concerto, with soloist Leila Josefowicz, round out the program. Thomas Adès will perform two of his own works on a chamber music program with SFS musicians. Heras-Casado will also conduct the SF Symphony Youth Orchestra in rehearsal. Further details about the festival concerts and related activities will be announced at a later date.


MTT leads the Orchestra in a variety of commissions, premieres and first performances, including the first SFS performances of Mason Bates’ Liquid Interface and Alternative Energy; its first performances of Britten’s complete Peter Grimes, in a semi-staged presentation; and the West Coast premiere of New Voices composer Zosha Di Castri’s new work for orchestra, Lineage, an SFS co-commission.  Under Pablo Heras-Casado, the Orchestra makes its first performances of excerpts from Thomas Adès’ The Tempest and Three Studies from Couperin, as well as Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht and Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Overture and Passacaille from Armide. Ton Koopman leads the SFS in two first performances:  C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto No. 3 and J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 207a, Auf, schmetternde Töne der muntern Trompeten. With Charles Dutoit on the podium, the Orchestra and SFS Chorus debut Poulenc’s Litanies à la vierge noire (Litanies of the Black Virgin), in a program that features the Chorus on all three works. Former SFS Resident Conductor Edwin Outwater, now music director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, leads the Orchestra in the SFS premieres of Ligeti’s Concert Românesc and three of Dvořák’s Legends for Orchestra, Nos. 2, 6 and 10.  James Conlon, music director of Los Angeles Opera, joins the Orchestra for debut SFS performances of Schulhoff’s Scherzo from his Symphony No. 5. The Orchestra performs the world premiere of Bernard Herrmann’s full score for Hitchcock’s film Vertigo with a screening of the film, and the first SFS performances of Herrmann’s scores for Hitchcock!, an evening of excerpts from the master’s films. Sarah Hicks leads the Orchestra in a performance of the complete score of Fantasia with excerpts from the original and the 2000 Disney movies on the big screen.


MTT and the SFS are launching a new series of intimate and experimental musical evenings in a newly-created alternative space at Davies Symphony Hall. The events will be curated by innovative and forward-thinking composers, artists and musicians and will highlight members of the SFS. As a platform for musical ideas and passions of the participating artists, the series of ten events will offer explorations in program, format, technology, audience interaction, and curatorial elements. All events will feature SFS musicians in live performance with such composers as electronica artist and DJ Mason Bates (DJ Masonic), performing in and curating his Mercury Soul club event. Other performers and composers participating include Samuel Carl Adams, a Brooklyn composer and Bay Area native whose music combines elements of jazz, electronica, and classical influences; Nathaniel Stookey, the San Francisco-based composer and SFSYO alumnus who wrote the modern kids’ guide to the orchestra, The Composer is Dead, and Mahlerwerk; and New Voices composer Zosha Di Castri, who is writing a work for percussion as part of the project.  Programming is currently under development and full details will be announced this summer.


Pianist Yuja Wang and composer Mason Bates, two young artists championed by Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS, return as this season’s Project San Francisco resident artists, collaborating with the Orchestra in concerts, chamber music, lectures and education and community events.  Two works by Mason Bates –Alternative Energy and Liquid Interface – will be performed by MTT, Bates, and the Orchestra as part of a two-week festival pairing his music with Beethoven’s.  Bates’ works will be also recorded for release on SFS Media.  Since meeting at the original American Mavericks Festival in 2000, Bates and MTT have collaborated on a variety of projects, with the SFS, New World Symphony, and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.  His The B-Sides was commissioned by the SFS and premiered in 2009, and will be performed and recorded in the 2014-15 season. The SFS commissioned and played Bates’ work for chorus and electronica, Mass Transmission, on the 2012 American Mavericks Festival, performing with Bates on electronica both in SF and on its two-week all-American Mavericks national tour. Bates is also a collaborator with the SFS on its new, curated musical experiences in the newly-created alternative performance space at Davies Symphony Hall, and is a well-known DJ who hosts and curates Mercury Soul nightclub dates.

One of the world’s most dynamic artists, Yuja Wang first appeared with the SFS in 2006 as a soloist on its Chinese New Year concert and has returned to the SFS every year since her debut.  Most recently she joined MTT and the Orchestra on its acclaimed November 2012 tour of Asia. She joins the Orchestra to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with MTT, and also performs a solo recital of works by Prokofiev, Chopin, and Stravinsky. As part of the Great Performers Series, she joins the visiting Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Gustavo Dudamel in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Additional details of Bates’ and Wang’s Project San Francisco residencies will be announced at a later date.


The Orchestra continues its multi-year, in-depth exploration of the work and influence of J.S. Bach, featuring conductors and artists who bring a unique and historically informed perspective on the composer. Conductor Ton Koopman, one of the world’s preeminent Bach interpreters, begins a series of annual visits to the SFS to conduct the Orchestra in Bach and other Baroque repertoire. His May 2014 programs include works by father and son, J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 4 and Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51 and C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto No. 3 and Symphony in G major. SFS Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye is soloist in Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, along with soprano Carolyn Sampson, and Associate Principal Cello Peter Wyrick solos in C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto. In Koopman’s second week of concerts, the SF Symphony Chorus joins soloists soprano Teresa Wakim, mezzo-soprano Bogna Bartosz, tenor Tilman Lichdi, and bass Klaus Mertens with the Orchestra in J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 118, Cantata No. 207a, Auf, Schmetternde Tone der muntern Trompeten, and Missa Brevis (Kyrie and Gloria from Mass in B minor). Three renowned Bach interpreters are featured in solo recitals throughout the year. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs a program of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin.  András Schiff, in his second year of recital performances of works by Bach co-presented by the SFS and SF Performances, performs Bach’s Partitas Nos. 1-6, his celebrated 2009 recording of which is a milestone of the Bach discography. In Schiff’s final recital, audiences have the rare opportunity to hear two monumental works of the keyboard literature in one program: J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. Conductor and organist Martin Haselböck performs his Davies Symphony Hall solo organ recital debut, preceding Koopman’s concert weeks.


San Francisco Symphony principal musicians are featured in variety of solo turns with the Orchestra this season. Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik, Principal Clarinet Carey Bell, Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye, Principal Horn Robert Ward and Associate Principal Cello Peter Wyrick all will be featured soloists during the year.  Inouye is soloist on two successive concert weeks in April and May, with James Conlon in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra) and then with Bach specialist Ton Koopman in J.S. Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen.  Associate Principal Cello Peter Wyrick is soloist in C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto No. 3, also with Ton Koopman on the podium. Alexander Barantschik leads the SFS in a week of January concerts that include Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in D minor and Mozart’s Divertimento for Strings. Barantschik performs the Mendelssohn Concerto on the famed “David” Guarnerius violin. He is also soloist during the Beethoven and Bates Festival, in Beethoven’s Romances Nos. 1 and 2. In April, Carey Bell appears with Herbert Blomstedt in Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto. Principal Horn Robert Ward is soloist with Michael Tilson Thomas leading the SFS in Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings in June during its Britten Centenary Festival. 

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus, led by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2013-14 with a season of major works, first performances, and recordings. The Chorus is in the spotlight during many of the season’s artistic focal points, such as Britten’s Peter Grimes and Beethoven’s Mass in C and excerpts from King Stephen, with MTT on the podium; Bach’s Missa Brevis (Kyrie and Gloria) from Mass in B minor and the first SFS performances of both Bach’s Cantata No. 207a, Auf, schmetternde Töne der muntern Trompeten, with Ton Koopman; and Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht, with Pablo Heras-Casado. Semyon Bychkov leads the Orchestra and Chorus in Britten’s War Requiem the week of the 100th anniversary of his birth. With Charles Dutoit conducting, the Chorus is featured in the first SFS performances of Poulenc’s Litanies of the Black Virgin, as well as Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, and the first performances of Fauré’s Requiem since 2003. Also, with MTT on the podium, the women of the SFS Chorus perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin conducts the Chorus in December holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah.


The San Francisco Symphony’s 2013-14 season features some of the world’s most distinguished guest conductors, instrumentalists, and singers and many young, emerging artists. Returning for two-week engagements are SFS Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Charles Dutoit, Pablo Heras-Casado, and Ton Koopman. Returning to lead the Orchestra in a week of concerts each are James Conlon, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (conducting the orchestra for the first time since 1985), Marek Janowski, Edwin Outwater, and Osmo Vänskä. John Williams conducts in Williams and Spielberg: Maestros of the Movies, in his first SFS podium appearance in more than 10 years. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg joins Williams as a special guest host. Sarah Hicks leads the Orchestra in Fantasia in Concert, and Richard Kaufman conducts Chaplin’s music for his film City Lights as the movie is presented on the big screen. Constantine Kistopoulos conducts A Night at the Oscars.

Soloists familiar to Davies Symphony Hall audiences include violinists James Ehnes, Julia Fischer, Leila Josefowicz,  Gil Shaham, and Christian Tetzlaff; pianists Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk, Kirill Gerstein, Hélène Grimaud, Garrick Ohlsson, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Simon Trpčeski, and Yuja Wang; and cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Alisa Weilerstein.  Mason Bates performs on electronica.

Returning singers include sopranos Christine Brewer, Joélle Harvey, Audra McDonald, Carolyn Sampson, Elza van den Heever, and Katie van Kooten; mezzo-sopranos Sasha Cooke, Charlotte Hellekant, and Nancy Maultsby; tenors William Burden; James Gilchrist, Stuart Skelton, and Toby Spence; baritones Eugene Brancoveanu, Joshua Hopkins, and Alan Opie; bass John Relyea; and bass-baritone Shenyang.

Making their conducting debuts on the SFS podium are Lionel Bringuier, resident conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and  Jaap van Zweden, music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.  Joshua Gersen, winner of the prestigious 2011 Aspen Conducting Prize, and conducting fellow at the New World Symphony, where he is assistant conductor to MTT, is on the podium as the Orchestra performs Bernard Herrmann’s film scores for Psycho and Vertigo with the films, and also conducts the Orchestra in music to accompany Hitchcock! Greatest Hits. Constantine Kistopoulos also makes his conducting debut with the Orchestra, in A Night at the Oscars.

Debut artists appearing this season with the SFS include pianists Till Fellner, Martin Helmchen, and Daniil Trifonov; violinist Simone Lamsma; sopranos Audrey Luna and Teresa Wakim, mezzo-sopranos Bogna Bartosz  and Ann Murray; contralto Claudia Huckle; tenors Tilman Lichdi and Sean Panikkar; baritones Rodney Gilfrey and Roderick Williams, and bass Klaus Mertens.


András Schiff, the Symphony’s 2012-13 Project San Francisco resident artist and one of the world’s greatest interpreters of Bach, returns next season to continue his multi-year exploration of Bach keyboard works, with two October recitals. His solo programs of Bach’s Partitas 1-6 and Bach’s Goldberg Variations with Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations are co-presented by the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Performances.


Gustavo Dudamel leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in two concerts, one with pianist Yuja Wang performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. The Orchestra performs a work by Anders Hillborg and John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, in addition to Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Wang also performs a solo recital. Two other visiting orchestras perform in Davies Symphony Hall in 2013-14: the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, led by Yuri Temirkanov, and soloists pianist Denis Kozhukhin and violinist Vilde Frang, in programs of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Rimsky-Korsakov, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performs an all-Beethoven program led by Pinchas Zukerman, who is soloist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Gidon Kremer is featured in his Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra in a program of Britten, Shostakovich, and Mieczyslaw Weinberg.

Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Shostakovich and other Russian repertoire, violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs Bach, and pianists Murray Perahia and Evgeny Kissin perform solo recitals. Soprano Natalie Dessay performs in recital with pianist Phillipe Cassard. Pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque appear in a special concert of all-American repertoire: Philip Glass, Gershwin, and excerpts from Bernstein’s West Side Story with percussionists.


This season the San Francisco Symphony introduces a new film series, with live orchestral performances accompanying great films, starting Halloween week.  Among the presentations are four Alfred Hitchcock film events, including the first performances by an orchestra of the full Bernard Herrmann score of Vertigo accompanying the film screening. The Orchestra will perform Hermann’s score live to the classic thriller Psycho (Oct. 30), and also performs a program featuring essential scenes from Hitchcock’s body of work, Hitchcock! Greatest Hits, on Nov. 2. Joshua Gersen conducts, in his debut with the Orchestra. Organist Todd Wilson performs the music for Hitchcock’s The Lodger, a silent early classic, on Davies Symphony Hall’s magnificent Ruffatti organ. On four Saturdays throughout the season, beginning with Hitchcock! Greatest Hits, the Symphony performs live to accompany highlights from Oscar-winning movies in A Night at the Oscars; Chaplin’s score to City Lights (with music by Chaplin and Arthur Johnston), and Fantasia in Concert, with a soundtrack of Stravinsky, Bach, Dukas, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Ponchielli, and Schubert.


In the 2013-14 season, beginning in September, the San Francisco Symphony continues its four-concert, Thursday night series at Weill Hall in the new Donald and Maureen Green Music Center (GMC) on the campus of Sonoma State University. In the GMC season’s opening concert, MTT leads the Orchestra in Zosha Di Castri’s new co-commissioned work, Lineage; Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Yefim Bronfman, and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3. Later in the season, Semyon Bychkov leads the Orchestra in R. Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony; Alexander Barantschik performs Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and leads the Orchestra in Britten, Mozart and Piazzolla; and Charles Dutoit and Kirill Gerstein bring Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10. The Orchestra also performs two concerts at the Mondavi Center at the University of California at Davis. At UC Davis, Marek Janowski leads pianist Martin Helmchen in Schumann’s Piano Concerto in October, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, and Tilson Thomas conducts the Orchestra and Christian Tetzlaff in Sibelius, Bartók and Brahms in May.


Special events of the San Francisco Symphony’s 102nd season include a variety of family, heritage, and community concerts, including its annual Día de los Muertos Community Concert and the annual Lunar New Year Concert and Celebration.

The San Francisco Symphony performs a variety of free and low-cost family and community concerts throughout the year, offering the Bay Area the widest possible opportunity to hear and experience orchestral music. The Orchestra’s annual free summer concerts at Dolores Park and Stern Grove take place in July. The Orchestra also performs its annual low-priced All-San Francisco concert for San Francisco’s community groups, Community Deck the Hall Holiday Concert,  low-cost Concerts for Kids, and the Music for Families series. 

The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) performs three concerts under the direction of Wattis Foundation Music Director Donato Cabrera, beginning in November. The SFSYO also performs at the Bay Area Youth Orchestra Festival, held in January in Davies Symphony Hall, and its annual holiday performances of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with John Lithgow as narrator.

The Orchestra’s three organ recitals scheduled for 2013-14 include the Davies Hall recital debut of conductor/ organist Martin Haselböck (playing Bach), and the returns of Olivier Latry and Paul Jacobs. The musicians of the SF Symphony perform both classical and contemporary repertoire in more intimate groups in two annual chamber music series, with six concerts at Davies Symphony Hall beginning in October and four at the Palace of the Legion of Honor.


In its second century, the SF Symphony continues its commitment to bringing orchestral music and access to music to people at every age and life stage. The Symphony’s pioneering music education programs in San Francisco public schools serve students throughout their elementary and secondary years—grades 1-12.  Its Adventures in Music program in San Francisco’s public schools reaches every first through fifth grader with comprehensive music education experiences, making it possible for them to learn about music in the classroom. Launching in 2013 is a revitalized children’s music education website,, developed in conjunction with the UC Irvine Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds. For older students, the Instrument Training and Support program offers substantial support for every San Francisco public middle and high school with an instrumental music program. Through the SFS Youth Orchestra and performances on Bay Area college campuses, the SFS continues to offer connections to young adults.

For adults, the Symphony offers Community of Music Makers amateur music-making choral and instrumental workshops, giving people the opportunity to develop their musical skills onstage at Davies Symphony Hall with the support of the musicians, staff, and resources of the SF Symphony. For chamber musicians seeking rehearsal or performance partners, a convening website developed with San Francisco Classical Voice ( launched in 2012.


The San Francisco Symphony, widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the U.S., celebrated its centennial season in 2011-12. The Orchestra was established by a group of San Francisco citizens, music-lovers, and musicians in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, and played its first concert on December 8, 1911. Almost immediately, the Symphony revitalized the city’s cultural life. The Orchestra has grown in stature and acclaim under a succession of distinguished music directors: American composer Henry Hadley, Alfred Hertz (who had led the American premieres of Parsifal, Salome, and Der Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera), Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, the legendary Pierre Monteux (who introduced the world to Le Sacre du printemps and Petrushka), Enrique Jordá, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt (now Conductor Laureate), and current Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). Led by Tilson Thomas, entering his nineteenth season as Music Director, the SFS presents more than 220 concerts annually for an audience of nearly 600,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall and through national and international tours.

Since Tilson Thomas assumed his post as the SFS’s eleventh Music Director in 1995, he and the San Francisco Symphony have formed a musical partnership hailed as one of the most inspiring and successful in the country.  MTT’s tenure with the Orchestra has been praised for outstanding musicianship, innovative programming, highlighting the works of American composers, and bringing new audiences to classical music. In addition, the Orchestra has been recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in music education and the use of multimedia, television, technology, and the web to make classical music available worldwide to as many people as possible. MTT is currently the longest-serving music director among those leading major American orchestras, and the longest-tenured music director in San Francisco Symphony history.

In its centennial season, the orchestra reprised its acclaimed American Mavericks Festival of music by pioneering modern American composers, featuring the world premieres of four commissioned works in two weeks of concerts at Davies Symphony Hall and on a two-week national tour, including four performances at Carnegie Hall. Its annual Project San Francisco residencies focus on artists and composers in a variety of musical settings, and in 2013-14 spotlights pianist Yuja Wang and composer Mason Bates. The San Francisco Symphony regularly mounts special weeklong semi-staged productions with multimedia, hosted and curated by MTT.  In 2012-13 MTT and the SFS present specially staged performances of Grieg’s Peer Gynt and the first concert performances by an orchestra of the complete music from Bernstein’s West Side Story. Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra are dedicating multiple concert weeks in 2012-13 and 2013-14 to the in-depth exploration of music by Beethoven.

Since 1996, when Tilson Thomas led the Orchestra on the first of their more than a dozen national tours together, they have continued an ambitious yearly touring schedule that takes them to Europe, Asia and throughout the United States. In March 2014, the Orchestra and MTT make a three-week tour of Europe’s major capitals and musical centers. Their two-week November 2012 tour of Asia with pianist Yuja Wang included performances by the Orchestra in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, and Macau. They mounted a widely praised two-week national tour in 2012 with all- American Mavericks repertoire. In 2011, they made a three-week tour of Europe, culminating in Vienna performances of three Mahler symphonies to commemorate the anniversaries of the composer’s birth and death. Other touring highlights include a three-week 2007 European tour that featured two televised appearances at the BBC Proms in London and concerts at several other major European festivals.

The Orchestra’s recording series on SFS Media continues to reflect the artistic identity of its programming, including its commitment to performing the work of American maverick composers alongside that of the core classical masterworks. The San Francisco Symphony has recently recorded works from its American Mavericks Festival by Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and Edgard Varèse; John Adams’s Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine (2013 Grammy Award winner, Best Orchestral Performance); and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. In 2013, the Orchestra released its recording of its centennial season performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and John Adams’ Absolute Jest, an SFS co-commission, was recorded live in concert for release on SFS Media. Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra have recorded all nine of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies and the Adagio from the unfinished Tenth Symphony, and the composer’s works for voices, chorus, and orchestra for SFS Media. Their 2009 recording with the SFS Chorus of Mahler’s sweeping Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand, and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10 won three Grammy awards, including Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance. Other significant recordings include scenes from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, a collection of Stravinsky ballets, a Gershwin collection, and works of Copland, among others.  In addition to fifteen Grammy Awards, seven of them for the Mahler cycle, the SFS has won some of the world’s most prestigious recording awards, including Japan’s Record Academy Award and France’s Grand Prix du Disque.

Tilson Thomas and the SFS launched the national Keeping Score PBS television series and multimedia project in 2006, to help make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds.  The project, an unprecedented undertaking among orchestras, is anchored by eight composer documentaries, hosted by Tilson Thomas, and eight live concert films, and includes, an innovative website to explore and learn about music; a national radio series; documentary and live performance DVD and CDs; and an education program for K-12 schools to further teaching through the arts by integrating classical music into core subjects. To date, more than nine million people have seen the Keeping Score television series, and the radio series has been broadcast on almost 100 stations nationally. 

The San Francisco Symphony provides the most extensive education programs offered by any American orchestra today.  In 1988, the Symphony established Adventures in Music (AIM), a free, comprehensive music education program that reaches every first- through fifth-grade child in the San Francisco Unified School District. AIM marks its 25th anniversary in 2012-13. The SFS Instrument Training and Support program reaches students in all San Francisco public middle and high schools with instrumental music programs, providing coaching by professional musicians. The Symphony expanded its educational offerings in 2011-12 with Community of Music Makers, a program that supports amateur choral singers and instrumental musicians with professional coaching, rehearsals, and other learning opportunities. Launching in 2013 is a revitalized children’s music education website,, developed in conjunction with the UC Irvine Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds. The SFS also offers opportunities to hear and learn about great music through its programs Concerts for Kids, Music for Families, the internationally-acclaimed SFS Youth Orchestra, and annual free and community concerts.


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2013-14 SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY                                                            


The San Francisco Symphony receives support from over 10,000 individual donors and 150 partner institutions. We are especially grateful to the following major funders of our 2013-14 season:

Second Century Partners


Inaugural Partner

Wells Fargo

Official Partners

Emirates Airline

Official Airline

William Hill Estate Winery

Official Wine

Major Corporate Partners

Bank of America

Franklin Templeton Investments

HSBC Premier

Jones Day




Morrison & Foerster LLP

Public Funding

San Francisco Arts Commission

Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund

National Endowment for the Arts