Nov 6, 2023SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Symphony’s 2023 holiday season, November 30–December 23, 2023, features an array of festive programs, including performances of traditional Christmas classical music, family-friendly events, holiday-themed film presentations, and a star-studded lineup of guest artists. Throughout December, the lobbies of Davies Symphony Hall are transformed into a holiday wonderland, complete with towering trees decorated with handmade ornaments made by children and volunteers from local schools and nonprofit community organizations.
Visit sfsymphony.org/holidays for the full season lineup.
Deck the Hall (December 3)
Deck the Hall, a beloved family holiday tradition, brings the festive spirit to Davies Symphony Hall December 3 with two kid-friendly matinee performances at 11am and 3pm. Conducted by the San Francisco Symphony’s Resident Conductor of Engagement and Education Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, this annual holiday children’s concert and celebration features a lively array of musical performances from Symphony musicians and special guests. This year, the one-hour program highlights the talented young singers of the San Francisco Boys Chorus and the Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco in holiday classics, and features students from the San Francisco Ballet Training Program in selections from Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Also joining the Symphony for Deck the Hall is a quartet from the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, performing an arrangement of “Joy to the World”; klezmer ensemble Kugelplex, performing a Yiddish version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”; the all-female Mariachi ensemble Mariachi Bonitas de Dinorah Klinger, performing a selection of holiday mariachi melodies; and cast members from Presidio Panto Players’ production of Sleeping Beauty, performing a selection of holiday songs. The concert ends with a holiday singalong complete with costumed characters.
To make the experience even more memorable, guests can purchase a VIP Package that includes premium concert seating, a preconcert VIP celebration, and other perks. Deck the Hall is chaired by Rachel Fishman and planned with the help of the San Francisco Symphony Junior Committee League, led by Junior Committee President Phoebe Schreiber. Proceeds from this event support Deck the Hall Community Day, which takes place this year on December 4 and invites 3,500 children from public programs to this holiday concert free of charge, providing many of them with their first opportunity to visit a concert hall and hear a live orchestral performance. Proceeds provide additional support for the Symphony’s many artistic, education, and community programs.
The Louise M. Davies Foundation is Deck the Hall’s Presenting Partner. Bank of America is Supporting Partner, and the J.C. Kellogg Foundation and the Levchin Family are Community Impact Partners.
Cirque Nutcracker (December 5–6)
On December 5–6, Los Angeles-based theatrical circus company Troupe Vertigo join the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Ming Luke for an awe-inspiring, family-friendly Cirque Nutcracker set to music from Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. Troupe Vertigo’s acrobats, jugglers, and high-flying aerialists take to the stage—and above it—for a gravity-defying performance of circus feats that heighten the fantastical journey Clara takes in The Nutcracker.
Handel’s Messiah (December 8–9)
On December 8–9, conductor Jonathan Cohen leads the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in performances of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, featuring soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, tenor Nicholas Phan, bass Michael Sumuel. Cohen makes his Orchestral Series debut with these performances. Handel’s Messiah was an instant classic after its 1742 premiere and has been a holiday tradition around the world ever since. Through a dramatic series of arias, recitatives, and choruses, Handel offers a musical meditation on Christ’s birth, life, and resurrection—and his message of redemption.
SF Symphony Youth Orchestra performs Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with Tom Kenny (December 10)
On December 10, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra presents its annual performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s timeless musical fable Peter and the Wolf, conducted by Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra Daniel Stewart and featuring Tom Kenny as narrator. Kenny is an actor, voice artist, and comedian most well-known for voicing the title character of Nickelodeon’s hit TV show SpongeBob SquarePants. The program opens with Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival, followed by selections from Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. After Peter and the Wolf, Stewart and the Youth Orchestra invite the audience to join them in a festive singalong of popular holiday tunes.
The Youth Orchestra’s performance of Peter and the Wolf is an annual holiday favorite and has been a regular part of the Orchestra’s season since 1985. Past narrators have included Richard Dreyfuss, John Lithgow, Bobby McFerrin, Rita Moreno, Kathy Najimy, Linda Ronstadt, Sharon Stone, W. Kamau Bell, SF Symphony Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas, and the late Leonard Nimoy and Robin Williams, among many other lauded actors, comedians, musicians, and public figures.
A Merry-Achi Christmas (December 10)
On December 10, Mariachi Sol de México® de José Hernández returns to Davies Symphony Hall for a festive musical tribute to Mexico’s Christmas traditions, performing Mexican and American holiday favorites in A Merry-Achi Christmas. The San Francisco Symphony does not appear in this performance.
The Colors of Christmas (December 13–14)
On December 13–14, The Colors of Christmas returns to Davies Symphony Hall for two evenings of pop hits and holiday favorites performed by vocalists Oleta Adams, Peabo Bryson, Jennifer Holliday, and Ruben Studdard with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. Gail Deadrick conducts the program. The Colors of Christmas was a holiday staple from 1993 to 2015 and made a welcome return to the San Francisco Symphony’s winter schedule last season.
Holiday Gaiety with Peaches Christ & Edwin Outwater (December 15)
On December 15, the SF Symphony presents Holiday Gaiety—a festive holiday variety show co-emceed by conductor Edwin Outwater and San Francisco drag sensation Peaches Christ. The adult-themed program features a star-studded lineup including drag performer Bianca Del Rio, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race; vocalist Dylan Mulvaney; mezzo-soprano and aerialist Nikola Printz; vocalist Renée Lubin; drag artist Sister Roma of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; dancers Rory Davies and Michael Phillis from the cast of Baloney, San Francisco’s gay all-male revue; and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Please be advised this show may contain adult content and explicit language.
Holiday films: The Nightmare Before Christmas (November 30 & December 1), Love Actually (December 16), and Home Alone (December 22 & 23)
The holiday season includes screenings of three holiday-inspired films, featuring the San Francisco Symphony performing the scores live to picture as the films are projected onto a large screen above the stage. On November 30–December 1, Sarah Hicks conducts the Orchestra in director Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, which was produced by and conceived of Tim Burton and features music by Danny Elfman. On December 16, Thiago Tiberio conducts the SF Symphony in a special 20th-anniversary presentation of Richard Curtis’ Love Actually with music by Craig Armstrong. On December 22–23, Joshua Gersen conducts the San Francisco Symphony, Pacific Boychoir, and Ragazzi Boys Chorus in performance of Chris Columbus’ Home Alone, featuring John Williams’ iconic score.
Holiday Brass (December 20)
On December 20, members of the San Francisco Symphony brass, percussion, and timpani sections, conducted by Edwin Outwater, present a mix of classical and popular holiday favorites in Holiday Brass.
A Charlie Brown Christmas—Live! (December 20–23)
On December 20–23, A Charlie Brown Christmas—Live! returns to Davies Symphony Hall with conductor Lawrence Loh leading the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in four performances that bring the classic Christmas animated TV special to life. The presentation features Vince Guaraldi’s delightful score, an animated backdrop, as well as singers, actors, and dancers that embody Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts characters.
The program opens with a select of holiday favorites performed by Loh, the San Francisco Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, including Edward Pola and George Wyle’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, John Debney’s Elf Suite, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with dancers and narrator Michael Covert, and more.
[To view or download the full PDF version of this press release, click DOWNLOAD A PDF]