MTT conducts John Adams' Scheherazade.2

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If you would like assistance purchasing tickets for patrons with disabilities, please call the box office at 415-864-6000.

2016-17 SeasonViolinist Leila Josefowicz brings her “wonderfully committed and ferociously intense” (The Guardian) playing to John Adams’ celebration of female strength, Scheherazade.2. Written for Josefowicz, her performance of the work recently garnered her a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. Then, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony perform the work for which they won their first Grammy together, Prokofiev’s exquisite Romeo and Juliet.

On Feb 22–24, arrive one hour early for a panel discussion with John Adams on feminism, gender, and sexuality in his works. Panelists include scholar Laura Stanfield Prichard, pianist/writer/producer Sarah Cahill, and Stanford University professor Adrian Daub. Feb 25, Prichard gives a pre-concert talk on Adams’ work one hour before the concert.

These concerts are part of a series of concerts celebrating Masters of American Music that are generously supported by David and Roberta Elliott.


San Francisco Symphony


John Adams



Selections from Romeo and Juliet


Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet

At a Glance

 2014 | 48 mins
The centuries-old tale of Scheherazade is about a beautiful woman newly married to a vengeful Sultan who vows to have each of his wives slain after their wedding night—his bloodthirsty habit intended as punishment meted out to all women for having once been deceived by a lover. But Scheherazade manages to outwit her husband by entrancing him each night with a new story that ends with a “cliff hanger,” thus playing on his curiosity. Composer John Adams says, “Every classical music listener is familiar with how she survives. But I wonder how many have stopped to ponder that the story itself is really quite horrifying. There is not much to celebrate here when one thinks that she is spared simply because of her cleverness and ability to keep on entertaining her warped, murderous husband.” An exhibit on Arabian Nights at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris prompted Adams to imagine what a contemporary Scheherazade might do to cope, and notable examples of women facing threats today came to mind. Adams felt there was no shortage of daily news to remind him of the ongoing oppression and abuse of women; it’s in this sense that Scheherazade.2 is an “updated version” of the original tale. Soloist Leila Josefowicz says that the writing for the soloist is particularly taxing but also fulfilling. She compares its demands to those of “an actress preparing for a very serious role. I thought of many strong women throughout the ages, women who have lived in real life as well as fictitious characters. They all gave me inspiration.” For her, “Scheherazade's character is a wise young woman, wise beyond her years. She was a very independent thinker who will not surrender her thoughts or ideas to any conventional beliefs. A lot of the piece is about her searching, longing, and finding out what she believes and thinks for herself . . . She stands out as a rebel.”

Music from Romeo and Juliet
 1936 | 45 mins
Romeo and Juliet, based on Shakespeare’s famous tale of the same name, is probably Prokofiev’s most loved score today. Michael Tilson Thomas has called this piece “a great lyrical symphonic epic, one in which Prokofiev used his unique gift for beautiful melody to give life to all the characters. Definite motifs are identified with those characters and also with specific emotions—emotions such as innocence, love, anger, jealousy, despair.” The excerpts we hear at these performances show how a great composer shaped character, communicated emotion, and captured the dramatic sweep of one of the world’s great love stories.

Jeanette Yu is Director of Publications at the San Francisco Symphony.





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  1. Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 8:00pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

  2. Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 8:00pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

  3. Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 8:00pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

  4. Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 8:00pm

    Davies Symphony Hall

If you would like assistance purchasing tickets for patrons with disabilities, please call the box office at 415-864-6000.

Pre- and post-show Events

John Adams: Celebrating 70 Years
Join John Adams, one of America's most admired and respected composers, and the San Francisco Symphony for a celebration of the composer's works. Learn More.

Inside Music, an informative talk by Laura Stanfield Prichard, begins one hour prior to concerts. Free to ticketholders. Learn More.

Program Support

Feb 24 presented in partnership with

SF Arts Commission