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Michael Tilson Thomas, organist Cameron Carpenter, and the SF Symphony perform Henry Brant's Pulitzer Prize-winning Ice Field, September 18-21

August 20, 2014


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San Francisco Symphony
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Only the second performances by the SFS of Henry Brant’s Ice Field, written specifically for the Orchestra and the spatial elements of Davies Symphony Hall

Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 are also performed in these concerts

SAN FRANCISCO, August 20, 2014 – Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony are joined by guest organist Cameron Carpenter for four performances of Henry Brant’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Ice Field, September 18-21 at Davies Symphony Hall. The Orchestra also performs Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in these concerts. Ice Field has not been performed in San Francisco since its world premiere by MTT and the SFS in December, 2001, with the composer at the organ. Brant won a Pulitzer Prize for the work the following year in 2002. Henry Brant’s Ice Field is one of the more than 20 American works featured in the SFS’s 2014-15 season, Michael Tilson Thomas’s 20th as Music Director.

The full title of the piece, Ice Field: Spatial Narratives for Large and Small Orchestral Groups, indicates the nature of Brant’s “spatial” approach to composition. Ice Field was commissioned for the SFS by Other Minds, a San Francisco-based new music organization founded by composer Charles Amirkhanian. For Brant, “space,” created by the location of the instruments in the hall, is a crucial compositional element. Ice Field was devised to use the expressive spatial possibilities of Davies Symphony Hall, dividing the orchestra into various groups and positioning them in the organ loft, second tier, on stage, and in the side boxes, thus creating a multi-directional aspect to the sound for the listener. He also uses elements of improvisation in the composition. Of his spatial technique Brant has said, “I had come to feel that single-style music, no matter how experimental or full of variety, could no longer evoke the new stresses, layered insanities, and multi-directional assaults of contemporary life on the spirit.” In his spatial music he found a solution that he believed would “speak more expressively of the human predicament.”

Henry Brant (1913-2008), America’s pioneer explorer and practitioner of 20th Century spatial music, was born in Montreal in 1913 to American parents and began to compose at the age of eight. In 1929 he moved to New York where for the next 20 years he composed and conducted for radio, films, ballet and jazz groups, at the same time composing experimentally for the concert hall. From 1947 to 1955 he taught orchestration and conducted ensembles at The Juilliard School and Columbia University. At Bennington College, from 1957 to 1980, he taught composition; and every year he presented premieres of orchestral and choral works by living composers. For the last 27 years of his life, Brant made his home in Santa Barbara, California. MTT and the SF Symphony recorded Charles Ives' A Concord Symphony orchestrated by Henry Brant for SFS Media in 2010.

Organist Cameron Carpenter is a frequent guest of the SF Symphony since his debut on the organ series in 2010, appearing each subsequent season either in solo recital, in the Film Series, or with the Orchestra. His repertoire spans the complete works of J. S. Bach and Cesar Franck, to his hundreds of transcriptions of non-organ works, his original compositions, and his collaborations with jazz and pop artists. He is the first organist ever nominated for a Grammy® Award for a solo album. Carpenter received a Master’s Degree from The Juilliard School in New York in 2006, where he also began composing. The same year, he began his worldwide organ concert tours, giving numerous debuts at venues including Royal Albert Hall, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Melbourne Town Hall, Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, and many others. His first album for Telarc, the Grammy-nominated Revolutionary (2008), was followed in 2010 by the full length DVD and CD Cameron Live! Edition Peters became his publisher in 2010, beginning the ongoing release of his original works with Aria, Op. 1 (2010). His first major work for organ and orchestra, The Scandal, Op. 3, was commissioned by the Cologne Philharmonie and premiered on New Year’s Day 2011 by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie under the direction of Alexander Shelley.

Calendar editors, please note:


Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 2 pm
Friday, September 19, 2014 at 8 pm
Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 8 pm
Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 2 pm

Michael Tilson Thomas conductor
Cameron Carpenter organ
San Francisco Symphony

J.S. Bach                                 Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048
Henry Brant                             Ice Field
Tchaikovsky                             Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64

Audio Program Notes: Listen to a free podcast about Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64, hosted by KDFC’s Rik Malone. All podcasts are archived, and can be downloaded or streamed from and from the iTunes store.

Pre-Concert Talk: Elizabeth Seitz will give an “Inside Music” talk from the stage one hour prior to each concert. Free to all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before.

CD Signings: Cameron Carpenter will sign CDs in the Symphony Store immediately following the performance on Saturday, September 20.

Tickets: $15-$158.
Tickets are available at, by phone 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.

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The San Francisco Symphony receives support from over 10,000 individual donors and 150 partner institutions.

These performances of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 are made possible by the Athena T. Blackburn

Endowed Fund for Russian Music.

Emirates is the Official Airline of the San Francisco Symphony.

William Hill Estate Winery® is the Official Wine of the San Francisco Symphony.

San Francisco Chronicle / is the Official Media Partner of the San Francisco Symphony.

-- SFS--

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