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Press Room

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES

Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 503-5474
publicrelations@sfsymphony.org

Jun 29, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY AND ESA-PEKKA SALONEN ANNOUNCE 2021–22 SEASON

HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and San Francisco Symphony Collaborative Partners perform and curate programs throughout the season
 

2021 OPENING WEEK CELEBRATIONS

  • Esa-Pekka Salonen and Collaborative Partner Esperanza Spalding join with Alonzo King LINES Ballet for Opening Week celebrations including Opening Night Gala and All San Francisco Concert

 

ORCHESTRAL SERIES

  • Esa-Pekka Salonen leads live and digital projects exploring the music of Igor Stravinsky, including semi-staged performances of Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms directed by Peter Sellars; Orchestral Series performances of The Rite of Spring and Violin Concerto, performed by Leila Josefowicz; and digital-only release of a new staged production of The Soldier’s Tale directed by Netia Jones
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen leads two weeks of Orchestral Series performances exploring the Greek myth of Prometheus, including Ludwig van Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus, with animations by Hillary Leben; Franz Liszt’s Prometheus; and Alexander Scriabin’s Prometheus, The Poem of Fire performed by pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the United States premiere of Collaborative Partner Bryce Dessner’s Violin Concerto, performed by Collaborative Partner Pekka Kuusisto
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Collaborative Partner Claire Chase in San Francisco Symphony premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Aile du songe
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the United States premiere of Hannah Kendall’s Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Béla Bartók’s Piano Concertos 1 and 3, captured for future audio release
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen leads Orchestral Series performances of works by John Adams, Ludwig van Beethoven, Unsuk Chin, Claude Debussy, Anders Hillborg, Hannah Kendall, Fang Man, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Olivier Messiaen, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Franz Schubert, Jean Sibelius, Steven Stucky, and Elizabeth Ogonek, among others

 

SPECIAL PRESENTATION

  • Collaborative Partner Julia Bullock performs a new version of History’s Persistent Voice, a program she created inspired by artwork and words penned by Black American artists and featuring the world premiere of two new San Francisco Symphony commissions

 

LIVE AND DIGITAL SOUNDBOX

  • Collaborative Partner Pekka Kuusisto curates and performs in live SoundBox performances co-curated with composer and developer Jesper Nordin
  • Collaborative Partners Claire Chase and Nico Muhly each curate and perform in digital-only SoundBox programs released on SFSymphony+ in Summer 2021

 

SIGNATURE MEDIA PROJECTS

  • SFSymphony+ release of György Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna, Ramifications, and Clocks and Clouds; conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and featuring visual artwork by media artist and director Refik Anadol
  • SFSymphony+ release of new staged production of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Netia Jones
  • Video capture for future broadcast and release of Opening Night Gala conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, featuring Collaborative Partner Esperanza Spalding and Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas

  • Four weeks of programming conducted by Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas, including Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, William Grant Still’s Patterns, and Michael Tilson Thomas’s Notturno
  • World premiere of Concerto for Trombone, written and performed by San Francisco Symphony Principal Trombone Timothy Higgins
  • Featured soloists include Gautier Capuçon, Demarre McGill, and Yuja Wang

San Francisco Symphony Conducting Debuts and Returning Conductors

  • San Francisco Symphony Orchestral Series debuts by nine visiting conductors: Gustavo Gimeno, Giancarlo Guerrero, Klaus Mäkelä, Michael Morgan, Perry So, Ruth Reinhardt, Daniel Stewart, Nathalie Stutzmann, and Xian Zhang
  • Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, San Francisco Symphony Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, Karina Canellakis, Gustavo Dudamel, Christoph Eschenbach, Ton Koopman, and Simone Young return to conduct the San Francisco Symphony

Guest Artists Perform with the San Francisco Symphony

  • Alonzo King LINES Ballet, J’Nai Bridges, Claire Chase, Aaron Diehl, Pekka Kuusisto, Demarre McGill, Víkingur Ólafsson, Esperanza Spalding, Wu Wei, and Melody Wilson, among others, make San Francisco Symphony Orchestral Series debuts
  • Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Yefim Bronfman, Gautier Capuçon, Leila Josefowicz, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Daniil Trifonov, Yuja Wang, and Alisa Weilerstein, among others, return to perform with the San Francisco Symphony

Recitals: Great Performers Series and Spotlight Series

  • Soloists and ensembles presented by the Great Performers Series include Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Joshua Bell, Ray Chen, Hélène Grimaud, Sheku Kanneh-Mason with Isata Kanneh-Mason, Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, Itzhak Perlman, and Yuja Wang
  • Collaborative Partner and classical singer Julia Bullock performs History’s Persistent Voice with members of the San Francisco Symphony
  • Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke performs How Do I Find You with pianist Kirill Kuzman, a program of 17 world premieres written for Cooke during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • New Spotlight Series features San Francisco Symphony recital debuts by pianist Drew Petersen, violinist Randall Goosby with pianist Zhu Wang, violinist Noa Wildschut with pianist Elisabeth Brauss, and cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing with pianist Minhye Choi

SoundBox

  • Eighth season of experimental SoundBox series features four live programs, curated by drummer and producer Quentin Baxter, composer and conductor Jamie Man, Collaborative Partner and violinist Pekka Kuusisto with composer and developer Jesper Nordin, and composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey

Premieres and Commissions

  • World premiere of San Francisco co-commission Song of the Flaming Phoenix (火凤凰的笙音), a new concerto for sheng written by Fang Man, performed by Wu Wei, and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen
  • World premiere of John Corigliano’s Saxophone Concerto, a San Francisco Symphony commission performed by Timothy McAllister and conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero
  • World premiere of San Francisco Symphony commission Concerto for Trombone, written and performed by San Francisco Symphony Principal Trombone Timothy Higgins and conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas
  • World premieres of new San Francisco Symphony commissions by Camille Norment and Cécile McLorin Salvant, alongside works by Tania León, Allison Loggins-Hull, Jessie Montgomery, Carolyn Yarnell, and Pamela Z performed by Julia Bullock in History’s Persistent Voice
  • World Premieres of 17 new works for voice and piano performed by Sasha Cooke and Kirill Kuzmin in How Do I Find You
  • United States premiere of San Francisco Symphony co-commission Bryce Dessner’s Violin Concerto, performed by Pekka Kuusisto and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen
  • West Coast premieres of Unsuk Chin’s Subito con Forza, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, and San Francisco Symphony co-commission Piano Concerto by Mason Bates, performed by Daniil Trifonov and conducted by Ruth Reinhardt
  • San Francisco Symphony Orchestral Series premieres of works by John Adams, Lili Boulanger, Unsuk Chin, Anna Clyne, Antonio Estévez, Adolphus Hailstork, Anders Hillborg, Hannah Kendall, Texu Kim, Zhou Long, Jimmy López, Fanny Mendelssohn, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Elizabeth Ogonek, Younghi Pagh-Paan, Astor Piazzolla, Florence Price, Kaija Saariaho, Carlos Simon, William Grant Still, Steven Stucky, Lotta Wennäkoski, and Takashi Yoshimatsu, among others
     

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen today announced plans for the Orchestra’s 109th season—the first complete performing season since Salonen’s tenure as Music Director began in 2020. Shaped by the dynamic partnership and shared vision of Esa-Pekka Salonen, San Francisco Symphony’s eight Collaborative Partners, and the Orchestra and Chorus, the 2021–22 Season reflects a spirit of collaboration, experimentation, and renewed dialogue through live music.

“The 2021–22 Season we announce today is a reflection of the ingenuity, resiliency, and creativity of Esa-Pekka, our Collaborative Partners, our Orchestra and Chorus, and of our Bay Area community,” said San Francisco Symphony CEO Mark C. Hanson. “The 220-plus concerts that comprise the new season are rooted in our mission to reimagine how people everywhere engage with music in deep and meaningful ways, and are shaped by the kind of flexible thinking and inclusive collaboration that have been key to everything we have achieved together throughout the pandemic year that is now behind us. We eagerly anticipate the start of this new season, where we will showcase the unique voices of our Music Director and Collaborative Partners through projects across varied concert formats and digital mediums; collaborate with conductors and soloists who have both never before stepped on our stage and those we welcome back with great enthusiasm; explore new works and works new to us alongside timeless classics; and most importantly join together as performers and audiences to share profound musical experiences.” 

“The past year has been anything but typical, but the musicians, administration, operations team, and Collaborative Partners have more than risen to the task,” said San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen. “Now we have to come to terms with another challenging prospect: that there is no getting back to ‘normal’ unless we attempt to redefine what it means. The new ‘normal’ for us must be to push boundaries and explore the world around us with openness and curiosity. It’s up to us to make sure that this place is one where the act of creating art in one another’s presence continues to feel as precious and irreplicable as it has in the last year, while simultaneously reaching those previously out of reach through digital channels. I have complete faith that this organization will make that a reality.”

 

Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and San Francisco Symphony Collaborative Partners

Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen joins with the San Francisco Symphony and eight Collaborative Partners from a variety of cultural disciplines to perform and curate unique and powerful programs throughout the season, ranging from large-scale Orchestral Series concerts, one-of-a-kind recitals, and experimental SoundBox shows, to visual and technology-driven digital projects and live-to-digital concert film capture and broadcast. The San Francisco Symphony’s Collaborative Partners comprise composer and pianist Nicholas Britell; classical singer and curator Julia Bullock; flutist, educator, and creator of new and experimental music Claire Chase; composer, guitarist, and co-founder of The National Bryce Dessner; violinist, musical director, and artistic trailblazer Pekka Kuusisto; composer and multi-faceted collaborator Nico Muhly; artificial intelligence entrepreneur and roboticist Carol Reiley; and jazz bassist, vocalist, and undefinable artist Esperanza Spalding.

2021 Opening Week Celebrations
The San Francisco Symphony kicks off its 2021–22 Season with a celebratory opening week of performances conducted by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and featuring Collaborative Partner Esperanza Spalding and the San Francisco-based contemporary ballet company Alonzo King LINES Ballet. The program, which will be performed three times—for the All San Francisco Concert (September 30), the Opening Night Gala (October 1), and the first Orchestral Series concert of the season (October 2)—includes John Adams’ Slonimsky’s Earbox, Alberto Ginastera’s Estancia Suite, featuring choreography by Alonzo King and dancers from LINES Ballet, and Silvestre Revueltas’ Noche de encantamiento from his film score La noches de los Mayas. The program culminates with singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding performing songs by Wayne Shorter with the San Francisco Symphony. The 2021 Opening Week concerts will be filmed for broadcast; details to be announced at a later date.

On October 1, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony present the Re-Opening Night Gala in Honor of Sakurako & William Fisher. The evening’s festivities begin with the opening night concert, followed by an elegant gala dinner and dancing at San Francisco’s City Hall, as well as an after-party on Grove Street open to all ticket holders. Proceeds from the event benefit the Symphony’s education and community programs.

The annual All San Francisco Concert honors local social service and neighborhood organizations, in recognition of and gratitude for the work these groups do to serve and enrich the lives of Bay Area citizens. Attendees include volunteers and employees from a broad range of organizations such as La Casa de las Madres, Women’s Audio Mission, First Exposures, and the Youth Law Center, among many others. This year’s All SF concert on September 30 is guided by an advisory committee made up of local community and nonprofit leaders.

Esa-Pekka Salonen Conducts Four Orchestral Series Weeks in October
Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen begins the 2021–22 Season leading four weeks of Orchestral series concerts spanning a wide variety of music and featuring three Collaborative Partners: Claire Chase, Pekka Kuusisto, and Bryce Dessner. October 7–9 Salonen conducts a program including the San Francisco Symphony premieres of Hannah Kendall’s Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama and Unsuk Chin’s Graffiti alongside Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

October 14–17 Salonen conducts a program featuring Collaborative Partner and flutist Claire Chase making her Orchestral Series debut in the San Francisco Symphony premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Aile du songe. The program also includes Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques performed by pianist Jeremy Denk, as well as Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and La Mer. October 21–23 Salonen leads a program marking the United States premiere of a new San Francisco Symphony commission—Collaborative Partner Bryce Dessner’s Violin Concerto, performed by fellow Collaborative Partner Pekka Kuusisto. The program also includes Ludwig van Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 2 and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5.

October 28–30 Salonen conducts the San Francisco Symphony premiere of Anders Hillborg’s Kongsgaard Variations in a program also featuring Richard Strauss’s Symphony for Winds and culminating with Yefim Bronfman performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

SFSymphony+ release of Ligeti Project, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and featuring visual artwork by Refik Anadol
Released on SFSymphony+ in October 2021, Esa-Pekka Salonen leads a new digital performance of music by György Ligeti, including the composer’s Lux Aeterna, Ramifications, and Clocks and Clouds performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus. Released on SFSymphony+, the Ligeti project features visual artwork by media artist and director Refik Anadol. Full details about 2021–22 Season content on the San Francisco Symphony’s digital streaming service SFSymphony+ will be announced at a later date.

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts The Creatures of Prometheus featuring visuals by Hillary Leben, and Prometheus, The Poem of Fire performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet
In February and March 2022, Esa-Pekka Salonen leads two weeks of Orchestral Series concerts focused on the Greek myth of Prometheus. February 24, 26, and 27 feature the San Francisco Symphony premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s full The Creatures of Prometheus, with narrator and featuring a new visual treatment by animator Hillary Leben, marking her first collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony.

March 3–5, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performs Alexander Scriabin’s Prometheus, The Poem of Fire, in a modern-day exploration of sound-color synesthesia reimagining the concept of the clavier à lumières (color organ), an instrument Scriabin invented for this piece. The concert opens with Franz Liszt’s Prometheus, and also includes music from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Castor and Pollux and the world premiere of Song of the Flaming Phoenix (火凤凰的笙音), a new concerto for sheng by Fang Man, co-commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony along with the Toulmin Foundation and performed by Wu Wei.

Collaborative Partners curate and perform in SoundBox
Collaborative Partner and violinist Pekka Kuusisto curates and performs in a live SoundBox program February 25–26, alongside composer and developer Jesper Nordin. The program features the first performances of part of a new work that Nordin is writing for Kuusisto, as well as other works for solo violin. Now in its eighth season, SoundBox is the San Francisco Symphony’s innovative concert series for culturally curious audiences.

Collaborative Partners Claire Chase and Nico Muhly also each curate and perform in digital SoundBox programs that will be released in Summer 2021. On July 8, SFSymphony+ releases Claire Chase’s SoundBox: Metamorphoses, which includes performances of Kaija Saariaho’s Terrestre, conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni; Pauchi Sasaki’s Sanagi; and Excerpts from Marcos Balter’s Pan with members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus. August 12 marks the SFSymphony+ release of Nico Muhly’s SoundBox: Focus, which includes performances of Inti Figgis-Vizueta’s Inbhir; Meredith Monk’s Fat Stream, arranged by Muhly; Muhly’s This is the Record of John from Gibbons Suite and Motion; and the world premiere of Flux by Lukáš Janata, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and featuring choreographer and dancer Emma Lanier.

Esa-Pekka Salonen leads multiple projects exploring music of Igor Stravinsky: Orchestral Series performances of The Rite of Spring and Violin Concerto; new semi-staged productions of Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms directed by Peter Sellars; and digital-only staged production of The Soldier’s Tale directed by Netia Jones
Throughout the 2021–22 Season, Esa-Pekka Salonen leads a variety of performances of music by Igor Stravinsky. March 10–12, Salonen conducts Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Violin Concerto, performed by Leila Josefowicz. June 10–12, Salonen leads a new semi-staged production of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, alongside a new semi-staged production of the composer’s Symphony of Psalms. Esa-Pekka Salonen’s first semi-staged production with the San Francisco Symphony, Oedipus Rex is conceived by director Peter Sellars and Salonen, and features tenor Sean Panikkar in the title role, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges as Jocasta, bass-baritone Willard White as Creon/Messenger/Tiresias, dancer Laurel Jenkins, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus under the direction of Ragnar Bohlin.

Also in June 2022, SFSymphony+ will release a digital-only performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale in a new staged production by director, designer, and filmmaker Netia Jones. Full details about 2021–22 Season releases on the San Francisco Symphony’s digital streaming service SFSymphony+ will be announced at a later date.

Julia Bullock’s History’s Persistent Voice
May 17, the San Francisco Symphony presents a new iteration of Collaborative Partner Julia Bullock’s History’s Persistent Voice, a program she first developed during her residency at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Inspired by an exhibition of artwork and words penned by Black American artists from the southeastern United States, the program incorporates traditional songs by those enslaved and new instrumental and vocal compositions performed by Julia Bullock and San Francisco Symphony musicians. This mixed media concert explores how oppressed voices across generations use various forms of human expression to realize liberation and freedom. The San Francisco Symphony presentation of History’s Persistent Voice includes four works commissioned or co-commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony—world premieres of new works by Camille Norment and Cécile McLorin Salvant, and West Coast premieres of works by Pamela Z and Jessie Montgomery; as well as West Coast premieres of works by Tania León, Allison Loggins-Hull, and Carolyn Yarnell.  

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts final weeks of the 2021–22 Season
The 2021–22 San Francisco Symphony Season culminates with two weeks of performances led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen. June 16–19, the Orchestra performs Luciano Berio’s Quattro versioni originali della ‘Ritirata Notturna di Madrid’ di. L. Boccherini, Jessie Montgomery’s Strum, Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome, and Béla Bartók’s Piano Concertos 1 and 3, both performed by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and recorded for future audio release. June 23–25, Salonen conducts the San Francisco Symphony premieres of Steven Stucky’s Radical Light and John Adams’s Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?, performed by Víkingur Ólafsson in his San Francisco Symphony debut. The program, and the season, concludes with Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5.

Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas
Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) conducts the San Francisco Symphony in four concert programs, featuring artists and composers who reflect the essence of his remarkable 25-year legacy as the Orchestra’s music director. On November 12–14, MTT leads the Orchestra in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Three German Dances, K.605, Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, and Tilson Thomas’s own Notturno—featuring Principal Flute of the Seattle Symphony Demarre McGill in his San Francisco Symphony Orchestral Series debut. Concerts on November 18–20 feature the world premiere of a new Concerto for Trombone composed and performed by San Francisco Symphony Principal Trombone Timothy Higgins, the San Francisco Symphony premiere of William Grant Still’s Patterns, and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. On January 20–22, MTT leads the Orchestra in Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2, performed by cellist Gautier Capuçon. On January 27–29, MTT and the San Francisco Symphony perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with pianist Yuja Wang.

San Francisco Symphony Conducting Debuts and Returning Conductors
The San Francisco Symphony’s 2021–22 Season features an exciting lineup of international guest conductors bringing fresh and unique perspectives to the podium as they make their San Francisco Symphony Orchestral Series debuts. Debuting conductors include Gustavo Gimeno, Music Director of Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director of the Nashville Symphony, Music Director of the Wrocław Philharmonic at the National Forum of Music in Poland, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Portugal; Klaus Mäkelä, who currently serves as Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and will assume the role of Music Director of Orchestre de Paris in September 2022, in addition to serving as Principal Guest Conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Turku Music Festival; Music Director of the Oakland Symphony and first curator of the San Francisco Symphony’s CURRENTS video series Michael Morgan; Perry So, who made his debut under San Francisco Symphony auspices in 2020 conducting the annual Chinese New Year concert; Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony Daniel Stewart; Ruth Reinhardt, who previously served as Assistant Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Nathalie Stutzmann, Chief Conductor of the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra starting in the 2021–22 season; and Xian Zhang, Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Guest conductors returning to conduct the San Francisco Symphony in the 2021–22 Season include Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, who served as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony from 1985 to 1995; Director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus Ragnar Bohlin; newly appointed Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra Karina Canellakis; Music and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel; Principal Conductor of Konzerthausorchester Berlin Christoph Eschenbach; Founder and Director of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir Ton Koopman; and Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne Simone Young.

Guest Artists Perform with the San Francisco Symphony
Guest artists making their San Francisco Symphony Orchestral Series debuts include bandoneon player Daniel Binelli; sopranos Michelle Bradley and Rachele Gilmore; mezzo-sopranos J’Nai Bridges and Melody Wilson; tenor Mario Chang; flutists Claire Chase and Demarre McGill; pianists Aaron Diehl and Víkingur Ólafsson; dancer Laurel Jenkins; violinist Pekka Kuusisto; pipa player Wu Man; saxophonist Tim McAllister; jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding; sheng player Wu Wei; and bass-baritone Christian Pursell.

Returning guest artists include pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk, Jan Lisiecki, Javier Perianes, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Daniil Trifonov, and Yuja Wang; mezzo-sopranos Jennifer Johnson Cano and Leah Wool; cellists Gautier Capuçon and Alisa Weilerstein; violinists Vilde Frang, Leila Josefowicz, and Christian Tetzlaff; baritone Rod Gilfry; tenors Sean Panikkar and Nicholas Phan; director Peter Sellars; and bass-baritone Willard White.

Great Performers Series and Spotlight Series
Soloists and ensembles presented by the Great Performers Series include the Academy of St Martin in the Fields led by Joshua Bell, Ray Chen, Hélène Grimaud, Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata Kanneh-Mason, Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, Itzhak Perlman, and Yuja Wang. On January 30, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke performs How Do I Find You with pianist Kirill Kuzman, an original recital program comprised of seventeen world premieres written for Cooke during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New in the 2021–22 Season, the San Francisco Symphony’s Spotlight Series features ascendant artists in their Davies Symphony Hall debuts. Soloists presented by the Spotlight Series include pianist Drew Petersen, violinist Randall Goosby with pianist Zhu Wang, violinist Noa Wildschut with pianist Elisabeth Brauss, and cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing with pianist Minhye Choi.

In a special presentation on May 17, Collaborative Partner and classical singer Julia Bullock performs History’s Persistent Voice with members of the San Francisco Symphony.

SoundBox
The San Francisco Symphony’s groundbreaking SoundBox series returns for an eighth season with four programs curated by Quentin Baxter, Jamie Man, Collaborative Partner Pekka Kuusisto and Jesper Nordin, and Tyshawn Sorey, featuring performances by guest artists and members of the San Francisco Symphony, accompanied by unique video projections and lighting design. Launched in 2014 as an experimental, late-night concert series for culturally curious audiences, SoundBox is known for continuously pushing the envelope with adventurous programming, innovative design, and multimedia elements. SoundBox performances take place in a warehouse-like rehearsal space adjacent to Davies Symphony Hall, enhanced by a Meyer Constellation Sound System, which can alter the space’s acoustics to accommodate a variety of musical styles and ensembles, providing ultimate versatility.

The 2021–22 SoundBox series kicks off with performances on December 17–18, curated by drummer, composer, educator, and producer Quentin Baxter; followed by a program curated by composer and conductor Jamie Man, on January 13–14. San Francisco Symphony Collaborative Partner and violinist Pekka Kuusisto curates the February 25–26 SoundBox program alongside composer and developer Jesper Nordin, with the program featuring the first performances of part of a new work that Nordin is writing for Kuusisto. The final SoundBox performances of the season take place March 25–26, curated by composer, multi-instrumentalist, and professor of composition at the University of Pennsylvania Tyshawn Sorey.

Premieres and Commissions
The San Francisco Symphony’s 2021-22 Orchestral Series features world premiere performances of works commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, including a new Concerto for Trombone composed and performed by San Francisco Symphony Principal Trombone Timothy Higgins in concerts conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas on November 18–20; John Corigliano’s Saxophone Concerto performed by saxophonist Tim McAllister in concerts conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero on April 7–9; and Fang Man’s Song of the Flaming Phoenix (火凤凰的笙音) for Sheng and Orchestra, performed by Wu Wei and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen on March 3–5. Co-commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and the Toulmin Foundation, Fang Man’s new work is part of the Women Composers Readings and Commissions program, an initiative of the League of American Orchestras, in partnership with American Composers Orchestra.

U.S. premieres include Hannah Kendall’s Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen on October 7–9; Bryce Dessner’s Violin Concerto, co-commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Southbank Centre in London, performed by violinist Pekka Kuusisto in concerts conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, on October 21–23; and Anna Clyne’s Sound and Fury, conducted by Daniel Stewart on November 24 and 26–27. West Coast premieres include Unsuk Chin’s Subito con Forza, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno on November 4–5 and 7; and Mason Bates’s Piano Concerto, a San Francisco Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra co-commission, conducted by Ruth Reinhardt and featuring pianist Daniil Trifonov, on June 2–5.

The 2021–22 Season includes many more San Francisco Symphony premieres of works never before performed by the Orchestra, including John Adams’s Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?, Lili Boulanger’s D’un soir triste, Unsuk Chin’s Graffiti, Antonio Estévez’s Mediodía en el Llano, Adolphus Hailstork’s An American Port of Call, Anders Hillborg’s Kongsgaard Variations, Texu Kim’s Bounce!!, Zhou Long’s The Rhyme of Taigu, Jimmy López’s Perú Negro, Fanny Mendelssohn’s Overture in C major, Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s Primal Message, Elizabeth Ogonek’s Sleep & Unremembrance, Younghi Pagh-Paan’s NIM, Astor Piazzolla’s Sinfonía Buenos Aires, Florence Price’s Piano Concerto and Symphony No. 3, Kaija Saariaho’s Aile du songe, Carlos Simon’s Amen!, William Grant Still’s Patterns, Steven Stucky’s Radical Light, Lotta Wennäkoski’s Helsinki Variations, and Takashi Yoshimatsu’s The Age of Birds.

On January 30, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke performs How Do I Find You with pianist Kirill Kuzman, featuring seventeen world premieres written for Cooke during the COVID-19 pandemic. Songs on the program include “Altitude” by Timo Andres, “After the Fires” by Lembit Beecher, “Risk Not One” by Matt Boehler, “Everything Will Be Ok” by Chris Cerrone, “Spider” by John Glover, “The Hazelnut Tree” by Gabriel Kahane, “Where Once We Sang” by Jimmy López, “A Bad Case of Kids” by Andrew Marshall, “Self-Portrait with Disheveled Hair” by Missy Mazzoli, “Inward Things” by Nico Muhly, “Dear Colleagues” by Rene Orth, “Masks Used to be Fun” by Frances Pollack, “That Night” by Hilary Purrington, “The Work of Angels” by Huang Ruo, “Listen” by Kamala Sankaram, “How Do I Find You?” by Caroline Shaw, and “Still Waiting” by Joel Thompson.

On May 17, Collaborative Partner Julia Bullock performs History’s Persistent Voice, a program of original works written by seven Black American female composers, featuring four San Francisco Symphony commissions: new works by Camille Norment and Cécile McLorin Salvant, in their world premiere performances, and West Coast premieres of works by Pamela Z and Jessie Montgomery’s Five Freedom Songs. The program also includes West Coast premieres of Tania León’s Green Pastures, Allison Loggins-Hull’s Mama’s Little Precious Thing, and a new work by Carolyn Yarnell. History's Persistent Voice was originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s performance series MetLiveArts. 

Film Series
The 2021–22 Film Series, which features the San Francisco Symphony performing the live accompaniment to iconic films as they are projected on a large screen above the stage, includes Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 featuring music by James Horner conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos; Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future with music by Alan Silvestri conducted by Nicholas Buc; and The Matrix, directed by the Wachowskis and featuring Don Davis conducting his own score. Additional film presentations include Richard Curtis’s Love Actually with music by Craig Armstrong conducted by Thiago Tiberio; Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, with music by Mark Knopfler conducted by Sarah Hicks; Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, featuring David Newman conducting Thomas Newman’s score; and Chris Columbus’s Home Alone featuring music by John Williams.
 
Special presentations include Buster Keaton’s silent film The General, featuring musical accompaniment by organist Cameron Carpenter, on March 27, and Get Happy: A Judy Garland Centennial Celebration, an event commemorating the life of Judy Garland with the San Francisco Symphony and guest artists performing works from her legendary songbook, accompanied by rare performance footage, intimate home movies, cherished photographs, and interviews projected live-to-screen, on June 29.

San Francisco Symphony Chorus
One of America’s most distinguished choruses, the 150-member San Francisco Symphony Chorus is known for its precision, power, and versatility. Led by Director Ragnar Bohlin, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus is featured in a variety of live and digital concert programs throughout the 2021–22 Season, including performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; György Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna and Clocks and Clouds; George Frideric Handel’s Messiah; Johannes Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody, Nänie, Gesang der Parzen, and Schicksalslied; Jack Perla’s arrangements of “Give Me Jesus,” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” and “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord”; and semi-staged productions of Igor Stravinsky’s opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex and his Symphony of Psalms.

Lunar New Year Celebration
On February 5, the San Francisco Symphony presents the 22nd annual Lunar New Year Concert and Banquet. An elegant and colorful celebration, festivities begin with a pre-concert Festival Reception open to all ticket holders and featuring an array of entertainment and activities, such as lion dancing, Chinese calligraphy, “lucky” red envelopes, and complimentary desserts, wine, and tea bars. The San Francisco Symphony concert performance highlights vibrant Asian traditions through Eastern and Western repertoire and multimedia presentations. Tickets can be purchased separately for the Banquet, which follows the concert. Proceeds from the Banquet benefit the Symphony’s education and community programs.

Music for Families and San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra
The San Francisco Symphony provides unique opportunities for children, families, and young adults to engage with classical music through programs like Music for Families and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. The 2021–22 Music for Families series, designed to bring children together with their parents to engage with classical music through interactive themed performances, includes concerts on February 19, conducted by Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser; April 9, featuring the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and led by Daniel Stewart; and May 7, with Akiko Fujimoto conducting. The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, led by Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra Daniel Stewart, provides a tuition-free orchestral experience of pre-professional caliber to talented young musicians from the greater Bay Area. The Youth Orchestra presents four concerts in the 2021–22 Season, with performances on November 21, December 12, March 6, and May 22.

On Sale Dates
Subscription packages for the San Francisco Symphony’s 2021–22 season go on sale Tuesday, June 29 at 10am and can be purchased online at www.sfsymphony.org/subscribe or by phone at (415) 864-6000. For additional details and questions visit www.sfsymphony.org/subscribe.  

For a limited time, patrons have the option to get 2 additional Orchestral Series concerts free when buying a Davies Symphony Hall 5-concert or more subscription package; 4 additional Orchestral Series concerts free when buying a 10-concert or more package; or 8 additional Orchestral Series concerts, an additional seat upgrade, and 2 complimentary drink vouchers when subscribing to 18 or more concerts. Offer ends July 30, 2021.  

Single tickets for individual 2021–22 concerts will go on sale August 31, 2021. 

Click here to access the 2021-22 Season Press Kit, which includes a PDF of this press release, the 2021-22 Concert Calendar and Season-at-a-Glance, and downloadable images.
 
[To view and download the full PDF version of this press release, click the Download PDF link]