Press Room


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

(415) 503-5474
[email protected]

Oct 22, 2021


Concert features Enluis Montes Olivar conducting the San Francisco Symphony in music by Arturo Márquez, Astor Piazzolla, Inocente Carreño, José Pablo Moncayo García, and Carlos Chávez, plus vocalist Flor Amargo ‘La Reina del Barrio’ performing her own songs

Local artists, community groups, and Latin American cultural partners join the SF Symphony to celebrate Día de los Muertos through lobby art installations and pre-concert activities

VIP ¡FIESTA! Packages include a post-concert auction, cocktail reception, and seated dinner

Click here to access the Online Press Kit, which includes PDFs of this press release in English and Spanish, artist headshots, and images from past SF Symphony Día de los Muertos celebrations.

Oprima aquí  para acceder al Kit Publicitario en Línea, el cual incluye PDFs de este comunicado de prensa en inglés y español, retratos de artistas e imágenes de pasadas celebraciones del Día de los Muertos con la Sinfónica de San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Symphony presents its 14th annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration, featuring a concert program of traditional and contemporary Latin American music, preceded by a festive array of family-friendly activities and followed by the Fiesta fundraiser, on Saturday, November 6 at Davies Symphony Hall. The concert program includes music by Arturo Márquez, Astor Piazzolla, Inocente Carreño, José Pablo Moncayo García, and Carlos Chávez, conducted by Enluis Montes Olivar, and features vocalist Flor Amargo ‘La Reina del Barrio’ performing a selection of her own songs. Every year leading up to the Symphony’s Day of the Dead celebration, the lobbies of Davies Symphony Hall are transformed with immersive art installations and altars built by local artists to honor the living and the deceased. Guests are encouraged to arrive an hour prior to the concert to enjoy the art installations, family activities, sugar skulls, street procession and live music, and everyone is invited to bring objects, photos, and offerings to contribute to the interactive altars. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling the SF Symphony box office at 415-864-6000, or by visiting the box office located on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.

Curated by longtime SF Symphony collaborator Martha Rodríguez-Salazar, this year’s Día de los Muertos celebration is based on the Aztec legend of Xóchitl and Huitzilin. Rodríguez-Salazar, who has curated the SF Symphony’s Día de los Muertos event since its inception fourteen years ago, comments on her vision for this year, “We will present an exhibit based on an Aztec legend that tells us about a young couple named Xóchitl and Huitzilin who offered flowers to the sun god Tonatiuh every day. When Huitzilin was summoned to war and died in battle, Xóchitl was so distraught she begged Tonatiuh to reunite her with her beloved. The god transformed her into a marigold flower and Huitzilin came to her in the form of a hummingbird. There is a belief in Mexico that when you see a hummingbird and it comes close to you, it is because the soul of your beloved is visiting you and bringing you a loving message.”

Día de los Muertos Concert is presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Fiesta Reception & Dinner is made possible in part thanks to the generous support of Presenting Sponsors Pamela Rummage Culp and Sharon and David Seto.

Conductor Enluis Montes Olivar and the San Francisco Symphony open the November 6 concert with Arturo Márquez’s Conga del Fuego Nuevo, followed by a performance of John Adams’ arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Todo Buenos Aires featuring SF Symphony Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik as soloist. Rounding out the first half of the concert are Inocente Carreño’s Margariteña and José Pablo Moncayo García’s Huapango. Opening the second half of the concert, and closing the purely orchestral part of the program, is Carlos Chávez’s Xochipilli, a work that honors the prince of flowers, Xōchipilli. Enluis Montes Olivar comments, “The celebration of our day invites us to reflection, but it also invites us to the celebration. Remembering with love and joy our most loved ones who now take care of us from other spaces is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful objectives to commemorate on this date.” Singer and songwriter Flor Amargo ‘La Reina del Barrio’ joins the San Francisco Symphony for the remainder of the concert, performing Julio Jaramillo’s Nuestro juramento as well as her own songs including Busco a alguien, Tú y yo, Tiempo, and La Cumbia de la muerte. Dancers from Casa Círculo Cultural are featured throughout the concert, adding to the immersive experience of the SF Symphony’s Día de los Muertos celebration with their vibrant presence and unique performances.  

Venezuelan conductor Enluis Montes Olivar made his debut at the age of eleven conducting the Orchestra and Choir of his native Guanare in 2007. He began formal orchestral conducting studies with Teresa Hernández in 2011. José Antonio Abreu likewise assumed an important role in his training, making him part of the academic training program for young musicians, teachers, and conductors in El Sistema. He was musical director of the Franco Medina Youth Symphony Orchestra between 2014 and 2017 and the Lara Children’s Symphony Orchestra in 2015. He was also assistant conductor of the Lara Youth Symphony between 2016 and 2017. In a magnificent tribute to the late José Antonio Abreu, on April 7, 2018, Enluis Montes Olivar led the largest orchestra and choir in the world, totaling 10,771 musicians, who performed a concert of varied repertoire at Caracas's Polyhedron Arena. In May 2019, Mr. Montes Olivar was invited by Gustavo Dudamel to be part of the Dudamel Conducting Fellowships program during the 2019–20 season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and made his debut at the Hollywood Bowl conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in July 2021. Enluis Montes Olivar is currently a collaborator of the Directorate of Orchestral and Choral Management of El Sistema, and he also studies at the El Sistema Orchestral Conducting School and the Inocente Carreño Itinerant Music Conservatory, sponsored by the HILTI Foundation, and at the Simón Bolívar Music Conservatory, under the tutelage of Pablo Castellanos and Dick van Gasteren. This Día de los Muertos performance marks his San Francisco Symphony debut.

Flor Amargo is a Mexican singer, pianist, and multi‐instrumentalist. She is more than just music, colors, shapes, laughs, dancing, singing—everything as a whole describes her. Emma Mayte Carballo Hernández, better known as Flor Amargo, was born in the State of Mexico. At age six she began studying piano, thanks to her mother, and at twelve she made her first song called “La Vida Loca.” She studied classical piano at the National Conservatory of Music and psychology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico; she has taught music therapy classes for more than fifteen years. She is a former participant of the first season of La Voz México. Her music incorporates genres such as katartic pop—involving sounds and rhythms from pop and cumbia melodies—to classical piano or folk music. In 2004, she started giving concerts all around Mexico, alongside artists such as Rubén Albarrán (Cafe Tacuba), Paquita la del Barrio, Ana Bárbara, Eugenia León, Mon Laferte, Ramon Ayala, Alejandro Sanz, Carlos Vives, Sonora Santanera, Sonora Dinamita, and Lila Downs. Her songs have been featured in the soundtrack of the popular Netflix series La Casa de las Flores and she also has a popular Facebook channel. In 2010 she released her first album Carrusel with OCESA‐Seitrack, and she is currently promoting her second album Cristal Mirror, which is sold only on digital platforms.

Alexander Barantschik, occupant of the Naoum Blinder Chair, began his tenure as San Francisco Symphony Concertmaster in September 2001. Former concertmaster of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, he has also collaborated in chamber music with André Previn, Antonio Pappano, and Mstislav Rostropovich. Born in Russia, Mr. Barantschik attended the Saint Petersburg Conservatory and went on to perform with the major Russian orchestras, including the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic. His awards include first prize in the International Violin Competition in Sion, Switzerland, and in the Russian National Violin Competition. Since joining the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Barantschik has led the Orchestra in several programs and appeared as soloist in concertos and other works by a vast array of composers. He is a member of the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he teaches graduate students from around the world in a special concertmaster program. Through an arrangement with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Mr. Barantschik has the exclusive use of the 1742 Guarnerius del Gesù violin.

Beginning at 1pm on November 6, guests can enjoy art and activities in the colorfully decorated Davies Symphony Hall lobbies. Attendees will be greeted by and have an opportunity to take photos with “Catrines y Catrinas,” the iconic image of Día de los Muertos celebrations, presented by Casa Círculo Cultural of Redwood City. This organization will also present a procession on Grove Street accompanied by drummers of award-winning community art group Loco Bloco. Bay Area artist Irma Ortiz will demonstrate her process of creating decorated sugar skulls in an interactive exhibit. The Mexican Museum will have two activities for all of the family: paper flower and skull mask making. Bilingual docents stationed at each altar and installation will help guide and immerse the audience in the holiday’s rich cultural traditions.

The VIP Fiesta Día de los Muertos fundraising event, held by the SF Symphony’s San Francisco League and chaired by Sharon Seto, follows the concert with continued celebrations at the War Memorial Veterans Building a block from Davies Symphony Hall. The Fiesta includes a cocktail reception, auction, and seated dinner in the Veterans Building Green Room. The evening concludes with a celebratory dance party! Presenting Sponsors of ¡Fiesta! Día de los Muertos are Pamela Rummage Culp and Sharon and David Seto. VIP Fiesta Packages start at $300 and can be purchased online at or by phone at 415-503-5351. Proceeds from the event support the San Francisco Symphony’s myriad artistic, community, and education programs.

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 Acción Latina and Calixto Robles, El Colectivo del Rescate Cultural, Colette Crutcher, Casa Círculo Cultural, Fernando Escartiz, The Mexican Museum, and Irma Ortiz. Guests are invited to write messages for two of the interactive altars.

Acción Latina, an organization dedicated to building healthy and empowered Latinx communities in the San Francisco Bay Area through cultural arts, community media, and civic engagement, nominated artist Calixto Robles to participate in this year’s Día de los Muertos celebration with the SF Symphony. His piece Altar and Tapete de Levantada honors healthcare workers and first responders who have been on the front lines during the pandemic. This sand painting and altar installation is inspired by the ancient Oaxacan tradition of honoring our dead ones, with the “tapete” or rug traditionally made on the ninth day after the passing of a dear one at the house of the family of the deceased and taken to the grave of the departed the following day. Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Robles has developed a unique aesthetic that blends native traditions with the vibrancy of San Francisco culture, particularly inspired by Latino culture in the Mission district. 

El Colectivo del Rescate Cultural presents an exhibit of multiple printed banners made in Sinaloa, Mexico. The banners depict the nine stages to which the soul traverses to reach Mictlán (the Land of the Dead), according to Aztec tradition, and they have been showed at El Colectivo’s annual San Francisco Day of the Dead Ritual Procession. On November 2, El Colectivo hosts a virtual Day of the Dead event via Facebook Live featuring a lecture by the Mexican curator Cecilia Sánchez Duarte, Director of the Museum of Modern Art of Mazatlán.

Colette Crutcher presents an interactive altar titled Volver (Return). This installation features a marigold sculpture and draws on the belief that the spirits of the dead return in the form of hummingbirds to visit their loved ones, drawn to the marigold flowers. The artist provides an opportunity for guests to participate by writing their thoughts on paper petals to be arranged at the base of the flower.

Casa Círculo Cultural decorates Davies Symphony Hall windows with eight oversized wooden masked skulls, painted in the style of Mexican nineteenth century engraver José Guadalupe Posadas, as well as images of marigolds and hummingbirds for the middle window imitating stained glass, which will be illuminated from inside so as to be seen at night. Casa Círculo Cultural also presents the artwork of young students and their parents from their art classes in Redwood City, and a photo op on the 1st Tier.

Mexican sculptor Fernando Escartiz brings three of his pieces to the Davies Hall lobbies: Xóchitl y Huitzilinan archway which depicts the legend of Xóchitl and Huitzilin; Orchestra in the Clouds—an installation featuring papier-mâché figures of San Francisco Symphony musicians, Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor Enluis Montes Olivar, and singer Flor Amargo; and Eternal Notesan installation honoring the life of late SF Symphony Principal Keyboards Robin Sutherland.

The Mexican Museum pays homage to the Día de los Muertos holiday with a traditional ofrenda to the memory of the victims of the pandemic. The altar showcases folk art pieces by artists including Josefina Aguilar, Chavez Morales, Álvaro de la Cruz, Antonio de la Cruz, Duranton, Dania Elisa, Crystina G., Nicolás de Jesús, Mario Komeru, Carlomagno Pedro Martínez, Silvia Martínez, Luis Palomino, and Humberto Spindola, whose work is committed to preserving Mexico’s cultural identity by commemorating the Day of the Dead, using traditional techniques such as painting on amate (bark paper), ceramics, carved wood, and papier-mâché.

Irma Ortiz was born in the state of Querétaro, Mexico and has been a Bay Area resident for more than thirty years. Her family has maintained the Mexican traditional arts and crafts traditions from many generations, and she learned from them the art of sugar skull making and the creation of altars for the Día de los Muertos. She enjoys demonstrating what she knows of her culture and has passed on her craft knowledge to her daughters and grandchildren. Ms. Ortiz has been demonstrating her sugar skull art at the San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos Celebration since 2011.

Acción Latina is a nonprofit organization founded in 1970 dedicated to building healthy and empowered Latinx communities in the San Francisco Bay Area through cultural arts, community media, and civic engagement. The organization documents and celebrate the diverse cultural history of Latinx communities by publishing the award-winning bilingual newspaper El Tecolote and producing rich cultural arts programs such as the historic social justice concert Encuentro del Canto Popular, the community-curated arts experience Paseo Artístico, and the Juan R. Fuentes Gallery.

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 marks their eleventh time performing at the San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos celebration.

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 in the United States. 

This year El Colectivo del Rescate Cultural celebrates forty years of producing the annual San Francisco Day of the Dead Ritual Procession. Their 2019 procession attracted more than one million participants and spectators, making it one of the largest cultural arts events in the continental US. They join this year’s San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos celebration in collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco, and the Cultural, Arts & Tourism Institute of the State of Mazatlán, Mexico.

The Loco Bloco Arts Department at The Jamestown Community Center promotes San Francisco youth’s healthy transition into adulthood by engaging them in the creation and performance of music, dance, theater and other arts rooted in Afro-Latinx traditions.

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.


Concert takes place at Davies Symphony Hall, located at 201 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco CA 94102.

Health & Safety 
The San Francisco Symphony requires proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 for everyone ages 12 and up entering Davies Symphony Hall. Audience members under age 12 must show proof of a negative COVID-19 (PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event or antigen [rapid] test taken within 24 hours of the event). These protocols are in accordance with policies enacted by the City and County of San Francisco and follow the advice of the San Francisco Symphony Health & Safety Task Force. Details about health and safety protocols at Davies Symphony Hall can be found here

[To view the full bilingual press release, click on  DOWNLOAD A PDF]

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