Press Room


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

(415) 503-5474
[email protected]

Jan 3, 2020


January 9–12 concerts feature the world premiere of Michael Tilson Thomas’ Meditations on Rilke performed by Artist-in-Residence mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny; selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn; Berlioz’s Overture to Benvenuto Cellini; and Ravel’s La Valse

On January 16–18, MTT leads the Orchestra in the West Coast premiere of SFS-commissioned Fountain of Youth by Julia Wolfe; Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll; Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra; and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 featuring pianist Emanuel Ax

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) leads the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) in two multi-faceted programs this January at Davies Symphony Hall. On January 9–12, Artist-in-Residence mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny are featured in the world premiere performances of Michael Tilson Thomas’ song cycle Meditations on Rilke, a musical setting of lyric poems by German modernist Rainer Maria Rilke, alongside selections from Mahler’s setting of German folk poems Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Tilson Thomas comments on his new composition: “These Meditations on Rilke are reflections of the many moods the poems suggest. The motives and harmonies of these pieces have been with me for years, decades. This approach to music as a kind of lifelong journal, or confessional companion, was what my father, and as I now have learned, my grandfather, and even my great grandfather, experienced. Meditations on Rilke is based on motives that recur, recombine, and morph differently in each song.” Rounding out the program, MTT conducts the SFS in Berlioz’s Overture to Benvenuto Cellini and Ravel’s captivating La Valse.

On January 16–18, MTT leads the SFS in the West Coast premiere of Fountain of Youth, an SFS Co-commission by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Julia Wolfe—famed for her melding of folk, rock, and classical idiomsThe work was first performed in April, 2019 by the New World Symphony in Miami, with MTT conducting. The concerts also feature world-renowned pianist Emanuel Ax kicking off the Symphony’s Beethoven250 celebrations with performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Well known as a Beethoven virtuoso, Emanuel Ax is featured on two SFS Media recordings with MTT and the SFS—Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, released in 2015, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, released in 2011. The program concludes with Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Berg’s spellbinding Three Pieces for Orchestra—recorded and released on the SFS Media label in 2017. Click here to learn more about the Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra recording.

From January 9 through June 31, there will be an informative lobby display on the First Tier of Davies Symphony Hall titled MTT25. The exhibit celebrates Michael Tilson Thomas' twenty-five years as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony through text, photos, archival items, and video components.

About the San Francisco Symphony

The San Francisco Symphony is widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the U.S. Under the artistic direction of Michael Tilson Thomas since 1995, the Orchestra is a leading presence among American orchestras at home and around the world, celebrated for its artistic excellence, creative performance concepts, active touring, award-winning recordings, and standard-setting education programs. In December 2018, the San Francisco Symphony announced Esa-Pekka Salonen as its Music Director Designate. Salonen will begin his appointment as the SFS’s 12th Music Director in September 2020, at which time Michael Tilson Thomas will become the Orchestra’s first Music Director Laureate, following his remarkable 25-year tenure as Music Director.

The San Francisco Symphony presents more than 215 concerts and presentations annually for an audience of nearly 500,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall and through its active national and international touring. A cornerstone of the organization’s mission, the San Francisco Symphony’s education programs are the most extensive offered by any American orchestra today, providing free comprehensive music education to every first- through fifth-grade student in the San Francisco public schools, and serving over 100,000 children, students, educators, and families annually. The SFS has won such recording awards as France’s Grand Prix du Disque and Britain’s Gramophone Award, as well as 15 Grammy Awards. In 2004, the SFS launched the multimedia Keeping Score on PBS-TV and the web. In 2014, the SFS inaugurated SoundBox, a new experimental performance venue and music series located backstage at Davies Symphony Hall. SFS radio broadcasts, the first in the nation to feature symphonic music when they began in 1926, today carry the Orchestra’s concerts across the country.

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

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