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San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas announce programs and events of their 20th season together

February 24, 2014

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / February 24, 2014


SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY AND MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS ANNOUNCE PROGRAMS AND EVENTS OF THEIR 20th SEASON TOGETHER
 

  • Season-long focus on American composers with performances of more than 20 works and two new recordings
  • SFS launches SoundBox, a new experimental, alternative music performance space in Davies Symphony Hall. Series of ten events features MTT, SFS musicians, and composers in casual, interactive settings, and multimedia programs featuring state-of-the-art Meyer Constellation sound system
  • Three-week Beethoven Festival includes co-commissioned concert staging of Missa solemnis, concert performances of Fidelio with Nina Stemme and Brandon Jovanovich, and recreation of Beethoven’s legendary 1808 Vienna marathon concert
  • MTT/SFS 20th Anniversary Tour in November 2014 features concerts in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, Miami’s Arsht Center, Kansas City’s Kauffman Center and on college campuses in Ann Arbor and Princeton
  • Gala concert in celebration of Michael Tilson Thomas’s 70th Birthday
  • MTT and the SFS continue broadening the concert hall experience with array of events featuring added staging, sound and video design, multi-disciplinary collaborations, spoken word, and dance
  • SFS performs West Coast premieres of commissions by Cynthia Lee Wong and Zosha di Castri, new work by Samuel Adams
  • Popular Film Series features US concert premieres of The Godfather with the Orchestra and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with live organ
  • Orchestra’s Grammy-winning in-house media label, SFS Media, releases 3 new MTT/SFS recordings: albums of works by John Adams, Mason Bates, and Beethoven
  • Eight SFS musicians performing as soloists in concerts this season are: Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik, Associate Principal Second Violin Dan Carlson, Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye, Principal Bassoon Stephen Paulson, Keyboardist Robin Sutherland, Associate Concertmaster Nadya Tichman, Principal Viola Jonathan Vinocour, and Assistant Principal Cello Amos Yang
  • Conducting debuts by Thomas Adès and Christian Zacharias
  • Return engagements by Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Stéphane Denève, Charles Dutoit, Pablo Heras-Casado, Susanna Mälkki, Vasily Petrenko, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Juraj Valčuha, among others
  • Debut artists include Sa Chen, Yulia van Doren, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, Christian Gerhaher, Brandon Jovanovich, Igor Levit, Karita Mattila, Javier Perianes, Bonnie Raitt, Nina Stemme, and David Wilson-Johnson
  • Returning artists include Leif Ove Andsnes, Mason Bates, Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Gautier Capuçon, Cameron Carpenter, Jeremy Denk, Kirill Gerstein, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Garrick Ohlsson, Gil Shaham, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuja Wang, and Frank Peter Zimmermann
  • Great Performers Series presents leading artists and ensembles from around the world, including MTT conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, and performances by the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and solo recitals by Emmanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman, and Andràs Schiff. Sir John Eliot Gardiner leads the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir in a concert version of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo
     

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – February 24, 2014 – Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) celebrate 20 years together in the 2014-15 season. Acclaimed for their achievements in enriching and broadening the American orchestral experience, MTT and the Orchestra announced a new season today that celebrates the elements that have defined the 20 years of their partnership. The 2014-15 season builds on the ensemble’s commitment to perform and record music by American composers; present masterworks of the core repertory in reimagined, creative settings; engage in multi-year explorations of works by Mahler and Beethoven; and cultivate new audiences through media, technology and community-based programs.

Michael Tilson Thomas’s 20th season as Music Director offers an examination of American contributions to the symphonic repertory with works by American composers on nearly every subscription program. The season also celebrates the Symphony’s long-time creative relationships with Bay Area composers John Adams and Mason Bates, with premieres of their works and the release of two new CDs featuring SFS commissions of their work. MTT leads the Orchestra in 17 weeks throughout the 2014-15 season, which concludes with a three-week Beethoven Festival that features a semi-staged production of Missa solemnis, and concert performances of Fidelio, and a recreation of the historic 1808 Vienna Theater an der Wien “marathon” in which five of Beethoven works, including the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, had their premieres. In winter 2014, the SFS launches SoundBox, a new experimental, alternative music performance space in Davies Symphony Hall. In a series of ten eclectic late night events, SoundBox features MTT, SFS musicians and composers in casual, interactive settings in dialogue with the audience. A ten-concert US tour features performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, Miami’s Arsht Center, Kansas City’s Kauffman Center, and on the college campuses in Princeton and Ann Arbor. An array of the world’s top artists, conductors, and orchestras appear with the Orchestra and MTT during this 20th anniversary season including Anne-Sophie Mutter, Yuja Wang, Thomas Adès, and Nina Stemme. In January 2015, an unprecedented gathering of pianists perform together on the Davies Symphony Hall stage in celebration Michael Tilson Thomas’s 70th Birthday.

“From the very first time I worked with the musicians of the Orchestra more than 40 years ago and ongoing through my years as Music Director, it has been an honor and a joy to develop our relationship, and I’m constantly struck by their virtuosic and impassioned spirit,” says Michael Tilson Thomas. “Our personal approach to music making has grown over this time, and my affection and respect for their character and skill has never been stronger.”

“These two decades of music making with Michael Tilson Thomas have been full of creative innovation,” says Margaret Tait, longtime cellist with the Orchestra. “It has been loaded with repertoire which is genuinely American, and driven by the need to communicate profoundly with our audiences.”

“Michael has connected so many people with classical music in new ways,” says Sakurako Fisher, President of the San Francisco Symphony. “With this Orchestra, and in this community, he has always been able to think outside the box. Be it through interesting programs, conceiving staging elements, and using technology, or his passion for teaching and engaging young people in music, he has brought a sense of adventure and excitement to everything he does,”

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS’S 20th SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Leading the Orchestra in 17 concert weeks at Davies Symphony Hall and on tour, MTT celebrates two decades of artistic collaboration with the musicians of the SFS in a wide range of programs and events showcasing their signature mix of core masterworks alongside American premieres, commissions and rarely heard music, while creating new ways for audiences to connect with music and musicians.
 

20th SEASON OPENING NIGHT GALA WITH BONNIE RAITT, YUJA WANG, AND VIDEO INSTALLATION FOR STRAVINSKY’S CIRCUS POLKA

Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS begin the season with a signature MTT program at the special Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, September 3. Singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt, a longtime friend of MTT, makes her debut with the Orchestra performing selected works from the American songbook of her father, Broadway singer John Raitt. Yuja Wang, a young artist championed by MTT for nearly a decade, joins the Orchestra to perform Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Wang has performed with MTT and the SFS each year since her 2006 debut in the SFS Chinese New Year Concert and Celebration. A performance of Stravinsky’s Circus Polka, a ballet scored for 50 elephants, will feature a special video installation by Emily Eckstein. The program also includes excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ­-- a work which MTT and the Orchestra recorded in the first three months of his tenure as Music Director, and which won the SFS its first Grammy under MTT’s baton in 1996 -- as well as Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture, drawn from the same Shakespearean subject. The gala concert will be broadcast live on Classical KDFC 90.3/89.9/104.9 FM and streamed online kdfc.com. Proceeds from the Opening Night Gala benefit the Orchestra’s myriad community and education programs, which provide music education to more than 75,000 Bay Area school children each year.


BEETHOVEN FESTIVAL

In a nod to MTT and the Orchestra’s first summer Beethoven Festival together 25 years ago, the 2014-15 season concludes with an ambitious three-week exploration that offers audiences fresh perspectives on some of the composer’s most enduring works through staging and visual design. Each of the three concert weeks focuses on a major hallmark of the composer’s career: the extraordinary Missa solemnis, concert performances of Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio, and the famous 1808 Vienna Theater an der Wien marathon concert that introduced the world to five of the composer’s masterpieces, Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6, Fantasy in G minor, Ah! Perfido, the Kyrie, Gloria, and Sanctus from Mass in C major, and the Choral Fantasy.

The Festival begins June 10-13 with a new co-commissioned, semi-staged production of Missa solemnis conceived by Michael Tilson Thomas with director/designer Michael Levine and video designer Finn Ross. Soloists joining the Orchestra and SFS Chorus are soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-sopranos Sasha Cooke and Tamara Mumford, tenor Brandon Jovanovich, and bass-baritone Shenyang. “In Missa solemnis, Beethoven offers powerful musical ideas,” says Michael Tilson Thomas. “By using different musical forces, installations, and video, we hope to more powerfully reveal these many musical streams and the incredible impact of this work.” The new concert staging is a co-commission with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

On June 20, MTT and the SFS recreate a milestone of musical history: On a December evening in 1808, Beethoven rented Vienna’s Theater an der Wien and presented an extraordinary four-hour concert that premiered what are now some of his most integral and important works. The SFS recreates the same program in a special Davies Symphony Hall concert featuring his Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6, Piano Concerto No. 4 and Fantasy in G minor with pianist Jonathan Biss, Ah! perfido with soprano Karita Mattila, the Kyrie, Gloria, and Sanctus from Mass in C major, and the Choral Fantasy (with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.) Concerts on June 17, 18, and 19 feature selections from the marathon.

The 2014-15 season finale on June 25, 26 and 28 features concert performances of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. MTT and the SFS welcome an all-star roster of soloists that includes sopranos Nina Stemme as Leonore and tenor Brandon Jovanovich as Florestan.


SEASON-LONG FOCUS ON AMERICAN COMPOSERS

In celebration of American composers that shape and enrich the symphonic repertory, the San Francisco Symphony performs American works on nearly all of the MTT-led concert programs during the 2014-15 season. This focus revisits MTT’s emphasis on American composers during his first season as Music Director, which culminated in the groundbreaking American Festival in June 1996. The two-decade long MTT/SFS collaboration has taken audiences through two centuries of American music with frequent festivals, commissions, premieres, two American Mavericks festivals (2000 and 2012), and reaches to the present in championing some of America’s most aspiring and creative new voices.

More than 20 American works are featured in SFS programs this season:

  • Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue September 3 at the Opening Night Gala
  • Songs from the American songbook (featuring Bonnie Raitt) September 3 at the Opening Night Gala
  • The first SFS performances of Mason Bates’s Alternative Energy September 10-13 (to be recorded for release on SFS Media)
  • Brant’s Ice Field for organ and orchestra September 18-21
  • Foss’s Then the Rocks on the Mountain Began to Shout for a cappella chorus September 25-28
  • Ives’s Three Places in New England September 25-28
  • Arlen’s live orchestral accompaniment for The Wizard of Oz film with September 27
  • Steven Stucky’s Jeu de timbres October 10-12
  • Barber’s Adagio for Strings October 15-18
  • Feldman’s Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety October 22-24
  • Copland’s Appalachian Spring October 22-25
  • Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence in performances at Davies Symphony Hall November 8 and on the subsequent two–week United States tour (SFS co-commission)
  • Griffes’s The White Peacock November 29-30
  • John Adams’s Grand Pianola Music during the SFS’s week-long celebration of MTT’s 70th birthday January 16-18 (to be recorded for release on SFS Media)
  • West Coast premiere of a new work by Cynthia Lee Wong January 21-23 (SFS co-commission)
  • John Luther Adams’s The Light that Fills the World (chamber version) February 26-March 1
  • Ives’s The Unanswered Question March 5-7
  • John Adams’s Chamber Symphony April 9-12
  • Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal April 23-24
  • Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety May 7-10
  • Cage’s The Seasons and Renga (with video design and a special guest speaker, co-produced with New World Symphony and John Cage Trust) May 14-16
  • New work by Samuel Adams May 20-23
     

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS’S 70TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

On January 15, 2015, musicians of the Orchestra, SFS Chorus, and a lineup of some of today’s biggest keyboard artists gather on stage to celebrate Michael Tilson Thomas’s 70th birthday. The festive program honors his career as a conductor, pianist, and composer. The evening’s centerpiece features a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration of five of MTT’s keyboard colleagues, Yuja Wang, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Emanuel Ax, Jeremy Denk, and Marc-André Hamelin performing together in Liszt’s Hexameron for Piano and Orchestra. Additional programming and special guests will be announced at a later date. MTT’s week-long birthday celebration also includes concert performances of works by two composers MTT has long championed: Grand Pianola Music by John Adams and L’Histoire du Soldat by Stravinsky. Both works will be recorded for future release on SFS Media. Adams conducted a performance of Grand Pianola Music as part of the first American Mavericks festival in 2000.


US TOUR

In November, MTT and the SFS embark on a seven-city US tour, their 32nd together in two decades. In celebration of their 20th Anniversary season, MTT and the Orchestra return to some of their favorite venues, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, Miami’s Arsht Center, as well as the Kauffman Center in Kansas City, and university campuses in Ann Arbor and Princeton. The tour combines venues in which they performed together during MTT’s first tour as Music Director along with venues that have played significant roles in MTT’s career. Tour repertory includes Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence, (an SFS co-commission), Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (with Gil Shaham), Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (both Suite No. 2 and in complete performance with chorus), Mahler’s Symphony No. 7, and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1.
 

EXPANDING THE ORCHESTRAL EXPERIENCE: EXPERIMENTAL SPACE, STAGED PRODUCTIONS, VIDEO DESIGN, INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATIONS, DANCE, AND FILM

In their 20th season together, MTT and the SFS continue to realize their shared vision of broadening the orchestral experience in ways that offer new and seasoned audiences fresh perspectives, context, and connections to classical music and musicians through new formats, technology, and interdisciplinary collaborations. With the launch of a new performance space, video installations, staging elements, and the expansion of their Film Series, the 2014-15 season features many opportunities for listeners to discover--and rediscover--orchestral music in ways that offer new perspectives and context to live performances.


SOUNDBOX: SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY LAUNCHES EXPERIMENTAL PERFORMANCE VENUE BACKSTAGE AT DAVIES SYMPHONY HALL

In December 2014, MTT and the Orchestra debut a series of intimate musical evenings featuring San Francisco Symphony musicians at SoundBox, a new alternative performance space backstage at Davies Symphony Hall. The events, designed to encourage culturally curious newcomers to discover the classical music experience, will be curated by a variety of composers, artists, and musicians from the San Francisco Symphony family in casual, interactive settings with flexible seating and bar service. The series of ten events, most beginning at 9 pm, will explore a variety of program formats and audience experiences, and will incorporate audio visual elements and technology. All SoundBox events feature SFS musicians performing and interacting in a cabaret-style setting enhanced by a state-of-the-art Meyer Constellation sound system.

MTT and members of the SFS will present the inaugural SoundBox events on December 12 and 13, 2014 with an acoustic exploration of the historical sweep of classical music from Gregorian chants to the present day, showcasing the audio capabilities of the Meyer Constellation sound system, customizable to mimic a wide variety of acoustical settings with the flip of a switch. Other events feature explorations of California Counterculture (March 6 and 7), featuring music by composer Nathaniel Stookey and others led by conductor Edwin Outwater; the SF Symphony Percussion section in a journey (February 13 and 14) featuring percussion classics from the Western canon by Xenakis and others; to works influenced by musical traditions from around the globe, to an event curated by composer Samuel Adams (January 9 and 10) that draws from his experiences in electronic music, jazz, and field recording; and Revolutions in Music (April 9 and 10) featuring Spanish guest conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, whose late night SoundBox appearances follow his concerts on the main stage at Davies Symphony Hall. Tickets for individual SoundBox events will go on sale later in the year.


STAGING, DANCE, AND VIDEO INSTALLATIONS

Continuing their work in providing audiences new perspectives on core repertory, MTT and the SFS offer four weeks of concerts with added staging, dance, and video elements during the 2014-15 season. Video by designer and artist Emily Eckstein enhances Stravinsky’s Circus Polka during the SFS’s opening week of concerts September 3-6. Thomas Adès’s In Seven Days, described by the composer as “a concerto for piano with moving image” by video artist Tal Rosner will be conducted by the composer March 5-7. A performance of John Cage’s Renga on May 16 is a version realized by MTT as a musical biography of the composer, with video design, choreography, and narration (from Cage’s Lecture on Nothing.) The season-ending Beethoven Festival features a new co-commissioned, semi-staged production of Missa solemnis directed by Michael Levine and featuring video design by Finn Ross.


FILM SERIES

The SFS’s popular Film Series continues in the 2014-15 season, including a US premiere concert presentation of The Godfather score with film. The series offers a wide range of critically-acclaimed films projected above the Davies Symphony Hall stage with their powerful musical scores performed as live orchestral accompaniment. Opening on September 27 with the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz and its Academy Award-winning film score, the series also includes the US premiere of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather with live orchestral accompaniment of the film’s haunting score by Nino Rota. The Film Series also celebrates iconic choreography on March 28 with Gotta Dance!, highlighting choreographed scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Brigadoon, Madame Bovary,and An American in Paris, among others. The series closes on May 2 with a program saluting Chinese composer Tan Dun’s film scores, including his Oscar- and Grammy-winning score to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Zhang Yimou’s Hero, and Feng Xiaogang’s The Banquet. On Halloween Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will be accompanied by organ in the US Premiere of new music for the film.


MTT & SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY PREMIERES, COMMISSIONS, AND FIRST PERFORMANCES

A hallmark of Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s two decade partnership has been their commitment to developing lasting relationships with today’s leading composers alongside the development and support of emerging new voices. The 2014-15 season features 15 works new to San Francisco Symphony audiences, including co-commissions by Zosha di Castri and Cynthia Lee Wong. At home and on tour in November, the Orchestra will perform Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence, with the composer performing on laptop. The SFS co-commissioned the piece and performed its West Coast premiere in 2012. In May, the Orchestra offers its first performances of a new work from Adams. The 28-year-old Bay Area native will also participate in the new, experimental SoundBox series, held in the SF Symphony’s new informal backstage performance space at Davies Symphony Hall. MTT and the Orchestra perform a new work by New York City-based Cynthia Lee Wong, the most recent New Voices award recipient. New Voices is a program co-founded by MTT, the San Francisco Symphony, Boosey & Hawkes, and the New World Symphony to recognize new and emerging talent. As a New Voices composer, Wong receives commissions and professional development as well as the opportunity to workshop and premiere works with MTT at the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy. MTT conducts the West Coast premiere of Cynthia Lee Wong’s new work with the San Francisco Symphony in January 2015 in a program also featuring the music of Berg and Brahms. In February 2015 SoundBox concerts, members of the SFS perform the West Coast premiere of Zosha di Castri’s Manif. Di Castri was the Inaugural New Voices composer in 2013.

Audiences will hear 15 works performed by the SF Symphony and Chorus for the first time, including John Adams’s Chamber Symphony; John Luther Adams’s The Light that Fills the World (chamber version); Samuel Adams’s New Work; Thomas Adès’s In Seven Days (with video); Mason Bates’s Alternative Energy; Brahms’s Warum ist das Light gegeben Opus 74, no. 1; Cage’s The Seasons; Zosha di Castri’s Manif; Feldman’s Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety; Foss’s Then the Rocks on the Mountain Began to Shout; Cynthia Lee Wong’s New Work; Ravel’s L’Heure espagnole; Rota’s The Godfather score with film (US Premiere); Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Nyx; and Steven Stucky’s Jeu de timbres.


SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY RECORDINGS 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 those of the core classical masters. In the 2014-15 season, MTT and the Orchestra will record Mason Bates’s Alternative Energy to join his Liquid Interface and the SFS-commissioned The B-Sides in a recording next season, the first commercially available recording of Mason Bates’s orchestral works.

In celebration of the San Francisco Symphony’s three-decade artistic partnership with composer John Adams, they will release a recording of Adams’s Absolute Jest featuring the St. Lawrence String Quartet and his Grand Pianola Music in summer of 2015. MTT and the Orchestra commissioned Absolute Jest for its Centennial Season American Mavericks festival and will perform the work on its upcoming tour in Europe in March 2014.

In fall 2014 SFS Media continues its multi-year exploration of Beethoven with a release of the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Emanuel Ax and his Mass in C featuring the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, tenor William Burden, and bass-baritone Shenyang.


OTHER MTT CONCERT HIGHLIGHTS

Among other highlights of MTT and the SFS’s 20th anniversary season are programs that showcase composers and works that have become hallmarks of the SFS’s repertoire, as well as guest artists that share long and fruitful relationships with the Orchestra:

  • Organist and frequent SFS guest Cameron Carpenter joins MTT and the Orchestra September 18-21 for performances of Brant’s Pulitzer Prize-winning organ concerto Ice Field, which the SFS premiered in December 2001. This program also includes Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.
  • MTT leads concerts September 25-28 showcasing the SF Symphony Chorus and Director Ragnar Bohlin. The program includes Foss’s Then the Rocks on the Mountain Began to Shout and Ives’s Three Places in New England, with the second half devoted to music from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, J. Strauss, Jr.’s By the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz, Ligeti’s Lux aeterna, and R. Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra.
  • In anticipation of their national tour in November, MTT and the SFS perform two weeks of repertoire including Mahler’s Symphony No. 7, Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1, Samuel Adams’s Drift and Providence, and Ravel’s complete Daphnis et Chloé. Gil Shaham also joins the Orchestra for Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.
  • World-renowned pianist and longtime SFS friend Yefim Bronfman joins MTT and the Orchestra January 21-23 in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2. This program includes the West Coast premiere of an SFS co-commissioned work by New Voices composer Cynthia Lee Wong and Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra.
  • MTT leads the SFS and German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter February 26-March 1 in Brahms’s Violin Concerto in D major, the chamber version of John Luther Adams’s The Lights that Fills the World, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1.
  • Concerts May 7-10 offer Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with soprano Susanna Phillips.
  • MTT and the SFS celebrate the music of John Cage during the week of May 14-16, with performances of The Seasons. A May 16 program is highlighted by Cage’s large-scale, free-form improvisational work Renga, a version realized by MTT as a musical biography of the composer with video design, choreography, and narration (from Cage’s Lecture on Nothing.) In his first season as SFS Music Director, MTT performed Renga with members of the Grateful Dead in his ground-breaking American Festival.
  • May 20-23, Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik and Principal Violist Jonathan Vinocour serve as soloists in Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major for Violin and Viola. The program further highlights all of the SFS musicians with Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and a new work by Samuel Adams.
     

SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY MUSICIANS & SFS CHORUS

In a celebration of the longest and one of the most respected musical partnerships among major American orchestras, SFS musicians showcase their artistry by taking center stage throughout the season. MTT’s longtime SFS Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik and Principal Violist Jonathan Vinocour perform Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major for Violin and Viola May 17-23. Associate Concertmaster Nadya Tichman, Assistant Principal Cello Amos Yang, and Principal Bassoon Stephen Paulson perform in Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante in B-flat major, and Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye is soloist in Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major, all conducted by Ton Koopman in March. Barantschik leads the SFS and Principal Keyboard Robin Sutherland October 17-25 in concerts of J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 3 in D major, his Concerto No. 3 in D minor for Two Violins with Associate Principal Second Violin Dan Carlson, and Tchaikovsky’s Sextet in D minor for Strings, Souvenir de Florence.

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus, led by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, is highlighted in some of the most significant works of the choral/orchestral repertoire. MTT leads the chorus in performances of Ligeti’s beautiful and mysterious Lux aeterna, the first SFS performances of Foss’s Then the Rocks on the Mountain Began to Shout, and Ives’s Three Places in New England in September, and Ravel’s complete Daphnis & Chloé in November. Seasonal favorite Handel’s Messiah returns in December, and in February, Herbert Blomstedt shares the podium with Ragnar Bohlin in an all-Brahms choral concert. The SFS Symphony Chorus is featured prominently in the June Beethoven Festival in Missa solemnis, selections from his Mass in C major, Choral Fantasy, and concert performances of Fidelio.

The musicians of the SF Symphony perform a wide array of repertoire in intimate settings in an annual Sunday chamber music series, with concerts at the Florence Gould Theater at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, November 2 and December 14, 2014; March 8 and June 7, 2015; and six Sunday afternoon concerts throughout the season in Davies Symphony Hall.


GUEST ARTISTS AND CONDUCTORS

The San Francisco Symphony’s 2014-15 season features some of the world’s most distinguished guest conductors, instrumentalists, and singers as well as many young, emerging artists. Returning for two-week engagements are SFS Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, Charles Dutoit, Pablo Heras-Casado, and Ton Koopman. Returning to lead the Orchestra in a week of concerts each are Semyon Bychkov, Stéphane Denève, Bernard Labadie, Susanna Mälkki, Vasily Petrenko, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Juraj Valčuha. Making his conducting debut on the SFS podium is Thomas Adès who will lead the SFS premiere of his own piece, In Seven Days, with video installation by Tal Rosner. Christian Zacharias makes his conducting debut in a concert week that also features him as pianist, leading the orchestra from the keyboard.

Soloists familiar to Davies Symphony Hall audiences include violinists Joshua Bell, Janine Jansen, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Gil Shaham, and Frank Peter Zimmermann; pianists Leif Ove Andsnes, Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk, Kirill Gerstein, Benjamin Grosvenor, Garrick Ohlsson, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Peter Serkin, and Yuja Wang; cellist Gautier Capuçon; organists Jonathan Dimmock and Cameron Carpenter, who returns for a performance of Henry Brant’s Ice Field; and Mason Bates performs electronica in the SFS premiere of his orchestral work Alternative Energy.

Returning singers include sopranos Joélle Harvey, Susanna Phillips, Lydia Teuscher, and Dawn Upshaw; mezzo-sopranos Sasha Cooke, Isabel Leonard, Tamara Mumford, and Peabody Southwell; tenor Matthew Newlin; baritone Jean-Luc Ballestra; bass John Relyea; and bass-baritone Shenyang.

Artists making their debut with the SFS this season include pianists Sa Chen, Igor Levit, Javier Perianes; violinist Isabelle Faust; sopranos Yulia van Doren, Karita Mattila, Nina Stemme, tenors Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, and Brandon Jovanovich; and baritones Christian Gerhaher and David Wilson-Johnson. Beloved San Francisco singer-songwriter and guitarist Bonnie Raitt makes her debut with MTT and the SFS at the Opening Night Gala.


GREAT PERFORMERS SERIES AND SPECIAL CONCERTS

In honor of his 70th birthday, Michael Tilson Thomas leads concerts with the visiting London Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble he led as Principal Conductor from 1988 to 1995, and with whom he is now Principal Guest Conductor. He leads two programs in March with pianist Yuja Wang performing Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor and Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. The concerts include Four Sea Interludes from Britten’s Peter Grimes, a work by Colin Matthews, Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5.

Several visiting orchestras make their debut appearances at Davies Symphony Hall in the 2014-15 season. Iván Fischer conducts the Budapest Festival Orchestra in two concerts of music by Brahms and Mendelssohn, with Pinchas Zukerman as soloist in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. Myung-Whun Chung returns to Davies Symphony Hall to lead the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 and pianist Sunwook Kim in Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5, The Emperor.

Visiting orchestras returning to the Great Performers Series include Vladimir Jurowski who will lead the London Philharmonic Orchestra in two concerts with pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Rotterdam Philharmonic in their Davies Symphony Hall debut in two concerts with piano soloist Hélène Grimaud performing Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and the Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major. Pianist and leader Jeremy Denk appears with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields performing the Keyboard Concertos Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5 by J.S. Bach and repertoire by Stravinsky, Suk, and Dvořák. Leading period instrument orchestra, the English Baroque Soloists and their founder-conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner, present a concert version of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo with a cast of guest vocal soloists and the Monteverdi Choir.

The Great Performers Series offers recitals by pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Itzhak Perlman. The San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Performances co-present pianist András Schiff in two concerts of late works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert.

The San Francisco Symphony presents three organ recitals on its grand Ruffatti concert organ in the 2014-15 season: the debut of Canadian organist Ken Cowan, and the returns of Isabelle Demers and frequent guest Paul Jacobs.


COMMUNITY AND EDUCATION

COLLEGE CAMPUS CONCERTS

In the 2014-15 season the San Francisco Symphony builds on its commitment to bringing classical music to young people on college campuses around the Bay Area and across the US. The 2014-15 four-concert Green Music Center series at Weill Hall on the campus of Sonoma State University opens in October with Stéphane Denève conducting Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Isabelle Faust as soloist in Britten’s Violin Concerto. In February, Herbert Blomstedt conducts Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 in D with guest soloist Peter Serkin performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19. In spring, Pablo Heras-Casado continues his exploration of revolutionary moments in music conducting Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, Haydn’s Symphony No. 44, Mourning, and Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9, Jeunehomme featuring Igor Levit. MTT leads the orchestra in May in a program that includes Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik and Principal Violist Jonathan Vinocour as soloists in Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major for Violin and Viola.

The Orchestra performs two concerts at the Mondavi Center at the University of California at Davis. Christian Zacharias is conductor and piano soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor in October; and in April, Vasily Petrenko conducts Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12 in D minor, The Year 1917, with Sa Chen making her SFS debut in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor.

Ton Koopman will lead the San Francisco Symphony with a solo performance by Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye at the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University on March 19. Musicians of the Orchestra will perform a free chamber concert there on April 26.

While on tour in November MTT and the SFS return to perform on college campuses at Princeton University and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.


FREE CONCERTS / HERITAGE EVENTS / YOUTH ORCHESTRA

In its second century, the San Francisco Symphony continues to be a leading and vital cultural resource in the Bay Area, committed to serving its community. It 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 SFS performs annual free summer concerts this season at Civic Center Plaza and Stern Grove in July. The Orchestra also performs its annual low-priced All-San Francisco concert in September for San Francisco’s community groups, the Community Deck the Hall Holiday Concert during the Christmas season, its low-cost Concerts for Kids series for more than 30,000 children and teachers from all over Northern California, and the Music for Families series designed to introduce children and their parents to the wonders of live orchestral music. Special events of the San Francisco Symphony’s 103rd season include the annual Día de los Muertos Community Concert in November and the annual Lunar New Year Concert and Celebration in February.

The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra performs six concerts in Davies Symphony Hall during the 2014-15 season including its annual Peter and the Wolf holiday concerts, and a four-concert subscription series with a special “Bon Voyage” concert before its Summer 2015 European Tour, its tenth international tour. The Youth Orchestra is led by SFSYO Wattis Foundation Music Director and SFS Resident Conductor Donato Cabrera.


MUSIC EDUCATION AND CONNECTIONS FOR ALL AGES

The San Francisco Symphony is committed to bringing orchestral music and access to music to people of every age and life stage. The Symphony’s educational and community programs reach thousands of people of all ages throughout Northern California, touching a broad economic and cultural cross-section of the population. Its Adventures in Music (AIM) 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. 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. Redesigned in 2014 is the children’s music education website, www.sfskids.org, developed in conjunction with the UC Irvine Center for Software Research.

The Symphony’s Community of Music Makers program offers workshops that give amateur adult singers and instrumentalists 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.
 

ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY

The San Francisco Symphony, widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the US, celebrated its Centennial season in 2011-12. Led by Michael Tilson Thomas, who begins his 20th season as Music Director in 2014-15, the SFS presents more than 220 concerts annually, and reaches an audience of nearly 600,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall, through its multifaceted education and community programs, and on national and international tours.


ON-SALE DATES

Subscription ticket packages for the San Francisco Symphony’s 2014-15 season start at $186 (a six-concert package in the 2nd Tier, and are available on Tuesday February 25 at 10 am. Ticket information is available through the San Francisco Symphony web site at www.sfsymphony.org/subscribe, 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. Single tickets for individual 2014-15 San Francisco Symphony concerts will go on sale on Monday, July 21, 2014.


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2014-15 SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY MAJOR INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERS

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 supporting programs and events of the 2014-15 season:

Second Century Partners

Chevron - 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

Jones Day

Macy’s

Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc.

 Morrison & Foerster LLP

Public Funding

San Francisco Arts Commission

Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund

National Endowment for the Arts

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