Press Room


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

(415) 503-5474
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Sep 29, 2019


November 2 2pm Concert features Jacomo Bairos leading the San Francisco Symphony in music by Gabriela Lena Frank, Silvestre Revueltas, and Ernesto Lecuona, plus musical ensemble Monsieur Periné joins the SFS for performances of their original compositions

Local artists, community groups, and Latin American cultural partners join the SF Symphony to celebrate the Día de los Muertos tradition through lobby art installations beginning October 16

Group discounts available; children 17 and under pay half price for concert seating

As part of the Día de los Muertos festivities, the SF Symphony presents two screenings of Disney and Pixar’s animated film Coco, performing the score live to picture, November 1 and 2 at 7:30pm

SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) presents its 12th annual Día de los Muertos Community Concert led by conductor Jacomo Bairos on Saturday, November 2 at 2pm in Davies Symphony Hall featuring works by Gould, Lecuona, Frank, Copland, and Revueltas, and a performance by the Latin Grammy Award-winning band Monsieur Periné, which joins the SFS for the second half of the concert. Día de los Muertos is a holiday observed annually in Mexico and throughout the Americas to celebrate life and to remember and honor departed loved ones. Traditionally, colorful altars are built and decorated with unique ofrendas (offerings) for the deceased to welcome their spirits to the realm of the living, marigold flowers are laid out to guide the spirits to their ofrendas, and calaveras (skulls) are painted with bright colors to encourage celebration rather than mourning. Presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Día de los Muertos celebration also includes lobby art, pre-concert live music, and activities guided by bilingual docents that immerse the audience in the holiday’s rich cultural traditions.

Click here to watch a video about the Symphony’s Día de los Muertos celebrations.

As part of the annual Día de los Muertos celebration, the San Francisco Symphony performs Disney and Pixar’s animated film Coco, inspired by the Día de los Muertos holiday, live to picture on November 1–2 at 7:30pm with Emil DeCou conducting Michael Giacchino’s Grammy Award-nominated score. Based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich, who co-directed the film with Adrian Molina, the 2017 Academy Award-winning smash hit stars a music-loving boy who makes a dazzling journey to the Land of the Dead, where he seeks the help of his ancestors to return him to his family in the land of the living and reverse their ban on music.

Conductor Jacomo Bairos and the San Francisco Symphony open the November 2 concert at 2pm with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Morton Gould’s Rhumba from Latin American Symphonette, a work based on Latin American and Caribbean dance rhythms and popular forms that feature a variety of Latin percussion instruments. Conga from Latin American Symphonette is performed later on in the program, as well as Gould’s arrangement of prolific Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s Gitanerías. The program continues with two works by Berkeley-born composer Gabriela Lena Frank, Jungle Jaunt from Three Latin-American Dances for Orchestra and selections from Día de los Muertos, and Aaron Copland’s El Salón México. Copland was inspired to compose this work after visiting Salón Mexico, an enormous dance hall in Mexico City, during a trip with fellow composer Carlos Chávez who would later conduct the Orquesta Sinfónica de México in the work’s premiere. Frank’s Jungle Jaunt opens with a nod to Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, soon shifting to fast harmonies and rhythms inspired by pan-Amazonian dance forms. Her selections from Día de los Muertos are folkloric works that reference the preparation for and the arrival of the dead. This is followed by the San Francisco Symphony’s first performance of Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas’ symphonic poem Janitzio, named for a small fisherman’s island in Lake Pátzcuaro, where on Día de los Muertos candle-lit boat processions make their way to the island and then to Janitzio's church and cemetery, remaining there for the night for a large festive vigil. In the second half of the program, the SFS is joined by internationally renowned musical ensemble Monsieur Periné for a special set featuring the ensemble’s original compositions, which explore the cultural roots of diverse Latin American sounds by fusing them with jazz, pop, and swing. Named Best New Artist of the Year at the 2015 Latin Grammy Awards, the group is wrapping up an exciting year featuring two international tours and several Grammy nominations for their latest album “Encanto Tropical.” Dancers from Casa Círculo Cultural are featured throughout the concert, adding their unique flair to the SF Symphony’s Día de los Muertos celebration.

Portuguese-American conductor Jacomo Bairos is the Amarillo Symphony’s 17th Music Director, and Co-Founder and Artistic Director for Miami-based Nu Deco Ensemble, an eclectic chamber orchestra designed for the 21st century. In the 2018–19 season, Bairos made subscription debuts with the Boston Pops, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, where he was Principal Tuba from 2004–2007. He continued his relationships with the Atlanta and Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestras, where he collaborates with the American Composers Orchestra’s Earshot program to curate new performances and mentor emerging composers. He also continued his relationship with the National Symphony Orchestra, where he directs their critically-acclaimed DeClassified Series, the In Your Neighborhood Initiative, and multiple Pops programs. He has commissioned and premiered over 40 new works from composers and artists such as Mason Bates, Kishi Bashi, Adam Schoenberg, Magda Ginnouku, Chris Rogerson, and Andy Akiho. Bairos has created interactive programs and concerts such as Amarillo’s Class Act and SymphonyKids and its Young Composers initiative, Nu Deco Ensemble’s Imagine Series, and Carnegie Hall’s Link-Up Program which annually enriches the lives of tens of thousands of children. Bairos is a graduate of the conducting programs at the Peabody Institute and Aspen Music Festival, as well as a graduate from the Julliard School as an accomplished and award-winning tubist. In addition to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Bairos has performed, toured, and recorded with the New York Philharmonic as well as with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cincinnati, and Seattle.

Monsieur Periné is one of the fastest growing Latin American bands, whose style fuses Latin American sounds with jazz, pop, and swing. The Colombian stars released their first album “Hecho a Mano” in 2012, and their 2015 follow-up album “Caja Musical” precipitated their Latin Grammy Award for Best New Artist in the same year. Their latest album “Encanto Tropical,” released via Sony Music in May 2018, earned several Latin Grammy nominations in 2018 including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year for “Bailar Contigo,” and was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award in the Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album category. Rolling Stone included “Bailar Contigo” in the 20 Best Latin Singles of 2018, and the song has more than 40 million total streams across the Americas and Europe. Monsieur Periné’s 2018 international tour included sold-out performances at New York’s Highline Ballroom and Mexico City’s Teatro Metropolitan, and the group is currently wrapping up its La Sombra world tour, which included performances at major music festivals including Bonnaroo, San Francisco Jazz Festival, and Lollapalooza Chile.

Beginning at 1pm on November 2, guests can enjoy art and activities in the colorfully decorated Davies Symphony Hall lobbies. Attendees will be greeted by “Catrines y Catrinas,” the iconic image of Día de los Muertos celebrations, in colorful dresses inspired by the film Coco—presented by Casa Círculo Cultural of Redwood City. Guests can participate in face painting, coordinated by Angélica Guerrero, and a Coco guitar photobooth. The Mexican Museum will set up children's activities, including making paper skull masks, Día de los Muertos bookmarks, paper flower headbands, and Coco paper guitars, on the Second Tier. Renowned San Francisco musicians La Familia Peña-Govea will perform Latin-American festive music on the First Tier, and Bay Area artist Irma Ortiz will demonstrate her process of creating decorated sugar skulls in an interactive exhibit. Bilingual docents will be stationed at each altar and installation.

Art installations and altars built by local artists honor the living and the deceased. Curated by Martha Rodríguez-Salazar, this year’s installations feature works by artists including Adrián Arias, Casa Círculo Cultural, Fernando Escartiz, Anna Lisa Escobedo, Verónica Félix, and a traditional ofrenda presented by The Mexican Museum in collaboration with the General Consulate of Mexico in San Francisco. Guests are invited to bring objects, photos, and offerings to contribute to the community altars.

Peruvian artist Adrián Arias presents "O Mito," an installation dedicated to Brazilian composer, guitarist, and singer Joao Gilberto in the shape of a giant guitar growing roots into the ground, symbolizing Gilberto’s legacy as one of the creators of the Bossa Nova.

Casa Círculo Cultural decorates Davies Symphony Hall windows with oversized, articulated skeletons made of wood, created in the style of 19th century Mexican engraver José Guadalupe Posadas, together with enormous guitars inspired by Disney and Pixar’s Coco. The Redwood City organization also shares a collection of twelve Day of the Dead-themed paintings made by their art students.

Mexican sculptor Fernando Escartiz brings two of his pieces to the Davies Hall lobbies: an archway at the main staircase inspired by Alebrijes, the fantastical animals created by Mexican artisan Pedro Linares; and his original installation featuring papier-mâché figures of San Francisco Symphony musicians, guest conductor Jacomo Bairos, and the two lead members of Monsieur Periné, who will be performing at this year's Día de los Muertos Community Concert.

California artist Anna Lisa Escobedo creates "Rest in Peace," an interactive urban altar that pays respect to the people who have passed away due to gang violence of inner-city life. This interactive installation offers an opportunity for patrons to leave messages for their departed loved ones.

Verónica Félix presents "From the Incan Empire to the Global Citizen" which portrays her Ecuadorian tradition of paying tribute to the deceased with dolls made of bread and includes one of her large art pieces made using pure beeswax, inspired by the Inca textiles. The installation also includes an interactive element.

The Mexican Museum pays homage to the Día de los Muertos holiday with a traditional ofrenda to the memory of two renowned Mexican artists whose mythological work emerged from indigenous imagination: Francisco Toledo (1940-2019), represented by the symbols of fire and kites, and Pedro Linares (1906-1992), represented by The Tortilla Maker from The Mexican Museum’s collection.

The Symphony Store in the main Davies Hall lobby partners with Nativa, Lumily, and Irma Ortiz to offer a Día de los Muertos pop-up shop during the event. Nativa is a San Antonio-based Fair Trade Company that specializes in handmade items crafted by artisans all over Mexico, featuring clothing, home décor, and specialty items. Founded by Giovanna Mantilla, Lumily is an ethical brand that partners with small scale artisans in Guatemala, Mexico, and Thailand to curate a collection that reflects sustainability, relationships, and hope. The Symphony Store will also sell Irma Ortiz’s decorated sugar skulls that will be on display in the lobby before the concert. To celebrate the season, the Symphony Store will carry these items from October 17–November 3.

On November 2 at 11am, the Symphony’s San Francisco League presents four VIP Lunch options starting at $275 in the Green Room at the War Memorial Veterans Building, a block from Davies Hall in San Francisco’s historic Civic Center district. Proceeds from the lunch support the Symphony’s myriad artistic, community and education programs. The Lunch Package includes premium concert seating, a 3-course seated lunch starting at 11am with wine provided by Frias Family Vineyard, a tequila pull and silent auction, a sneak peek of the “Catrines y Catrinas,” and other Día de los Muertos surprises. The family-friendly VIP Lunch packages also include children’s activity tables and a lively Catrina procession to Davies Hall. Children’s packages are available for ages 17 and under at a reduced price. The lunch will conclude by 1pm so that guests may enjoy the pre-concert lobby activities. Call the Volunteer Council for details at (415) 503-5500 and purchase tickets on the Symphony’s website at

Casa Círculo Cultural is a vibrant, grassroots, multidisciplinary art organization dedicated to creating cultural programming reflective of the experiences of the Latino communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. This year, they perform for the tenth time at the San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos Community Concert.

The mission of The Mexican Museum is to voice the complexity and richness of Latino art and culture throughout the Americas, and to engage and facilitate dialogue among the broadest public. Through educational programs and exhibitions, The Mexican Museum provides public access to art and ideas that reflect the Mexican, Mexican-American, and Latin American experience. 

The mission of The San Francisco Arts Commission is to invest in an arts community where all artists and cultural workers have the freedom, resources, and platform to share their stories, regardless of race. The San Francisco Arts Commission believes that art is critical to shaping neighborhoods and the urban environment and for fostering social change to confront and resolve the inequities of the past and present to move towards a more equitable future.

[To download the full PDF version of this press release, click the link at the top]

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