Jan 19, 2021Click here to access the Online Press Kit, which includes downloadable guest artist headshots, behind-the-scenes production images, and helpful information about SFSymphony+.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen today announced the launch of a new on-demand streaming service, SFSymphony+ (SFSymphony Plus), and programming details for Spring and Summer 2021. The new membership-based service, which launches on February 4, will feature exclusive original digital content, including all-new SoundBox programs and CURRENTS episodes, as well as other special projects to be released on a rolling basis. The service will also offer select content free of charge, including previously released programs, newly recorded chamber music performances, and the SF Symphony’s 2021 Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox. SFSymphony+ memberships are on sale now via sfsymphonyplus.org.
San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen: “I'm very proud of what we have achieved with SFSymphony+. The challenge with digital programming is to create something that has its own identity, an essential uniqueness that allows it to function as a self-contained piece of art. And to achieve that, it’s not enough just to capture a great performance by strong musicians, or even to have interesting programming. Instead, every member of the organization—on the performance level, on the production level, on the administrative level—needs to be working in harmony, drawing upon one another’s talents and strengths. What we’ve created for SFSymphony+ could not have been realized in a traditional live setting. My hope, once live performances do resume, is that we can sustain the dialogue between digital and live performance to create something that audiences will find compelling and valuable—not only in the Bay Area, but across the world.”
San Francisco Symphony CEO Mark C. Hanson: “The launch of SFSymphony+ represents the exciting next step in the San Francisco Symphony’s evolution, as we further broaden our local and global reach through the release of new bespoke digital content designed specifically for virtual audiences. Building on the successes of programs we developed over the Summer and Fall, this slate of new digital concert events showcases the talents of our musicians alongside Esa-Pekka Salonen, our Collaborative Partners, and a wide array of composers, collaborators, designers, and directors. This season’s SFSymphony+ programming further expands the Symphony’s experimental SoundBox concept, explores rich intersections between musical cultures, and offers the potential to engage with more people than ever before through a worldwide digital medium. As we look ahead to the future, SFSymphony+ will be a vital element of the Symphony’s identity, complementing our live performance activity and opening new avenues for innovation, exploration, and accessibility.”
Priced at $120 for the entire season (February 4—August 31, 2021), SFSymphony+ memberships provide exclusive access to premium original San Francisco Symphony digital content, including seven new SoundBox programs, five new CURRENTS episodes, and other special projects to be announced. Access to individual SoundBox and CURRENTS episodes can also be purchased for $15 per episode. Premium episodes range 30 to 55 minutes in duration and remain available for on-demand streaming indefinitely after purchase.
SF Symphony donors who have contributed $250 or more this season and all 2020-21 Season subscribers automatically receive a complimentary membership for SFSymphony+ (February–August 2021). Memberships are available for sale now at sfsymphonyplus.org.
SFSymphony+ will also feature content available for all to enjoy free of charge, without requiring a log-in. This includes the Symphony’s 2021 Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox on February 20 and newly-recorded chamber music performances by SF Symphony musicians. Previously released programs, including Throughline: San Francisco Symphony—From Hall to Home, the Día de los Muertos, and Deck the Hall virtual celebrations, and the first four episodes of CURRENTS, will also be available for free on SFSymphony+.
SFSymphony+ is available now for browser-based streaming worldwide via sfsymphonyplus.org and coming soon to app and TV services (Apple TV, Amazon FireTV, Chromecast, Roku, smart TVs), smartphones, and tablets.
Complimentary SFSymphony+ memberships are available for members of the media. Please email email@example.com to request free access.
An FAQ document covering a variety of topics and questions about the SFSymphony+ platform is available for your reference here.
Seven SoundBox programs curated by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Julia Bullock, Destiny Muhammad, Nico Muhly, and Claire Chase
The San Francisco Symphony’s groundbreaking SoundBox series returns for a seventh season in 2021, in a new digital format with eclectic programs curated by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Julia Bullock, Destiny Muhammad, Nico Muhly, and Claire Chase. The new video series features performances by members of the San Francisco Symphony and guest artists, unique video projections created by Adam Larsen and Yee Eun Nam, and lighting design by Luke Kritzeck. There will be seven SoundBox programs, released once a month February through August (with the exception of June), each going live on the Thursdays listed below at 10am PST.
SoundBox was launched in 2014 as an experimental, late-night concert series for culturally curious audiences. The series is known for continuously pushing the envelope with adventurous programming, innovative design, and multimedia elements. Live 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. This season’s digital SoundBox programs continue to explore new possibilities of the concertgoing experience in the digital realm—some filmed and recorded in the same rehearsal space, utilizing the Meyer Constellation Sound System, and others on the Davies Symphony Hall stage.
Kicking off the series on February 4, SF Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen curates and conducts an evocative program titled Nostalgia, featuring works composed in the last decade including Freya Waley-Cohen’s Conjure, Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for Violin, and Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte. On March 11, SF Symphony Collaborative Partner and soprano Julia Bullock presents a program titled Lineage—an audio and visual snapshot of how lineage can inform, influence, impact, and express itself in a musical context. Bullock’s SoundBox program, originally scheduled to take place last Spring and postponed due to the pandemic, has been adapted from live performance to a digital format. Bullock comments, “SoundBox is an invitation for musicians to share their artistic interests, and to have them realized in an immersive visual space. Whatever ignites a person’s artistic interests is unique to that individual, but it’s often a reflection of where they have come from and encapsulates where that person envisions themselves going. In short, it has something to do with acknowledging one’s lineage and allowing those influences to be consciously connected.” In addition to curating the program, Bullock performs her signature rendition of Nina Simone’s “Revolution” and joins members of the SF Symphony and Chorus in performances of Nina Simone’s “Images,” fellow Collaborative Partner Esperanza Spalding’s “Little Fly,” Aruán Ortiz’s “Mompouana,” selections from Francis Poulenc’s Rapsodie Nègre, and Ricky Ian Gordon’s Litany. Other works on the program include J.S. Bach’s Invention No. 13 in A minor featuring pianist Sarah Cahill, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s “Plain Blue/s” from Blues Forms, George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, selections from Elizabeth Ogonek’s In Silence and Orpheus Suite (after Rilke), and Hildegard von Bingen’s O frodens virga. In an in-depth interview published recently, KQED comments, “Bullock’s superpower lies in reaching across centuries and continents, and feeling into the love, yearning and loss at the core of the human experience.”
SoundBox continues on April 15 with Patterns, a program exploring minimalism in music, curated and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, with performances by SF Symphony musicians and pianist Elizabeth Dorman. Featured works include Steve Reich’s Clapping Music, the world premiere of Salonen’s new work Saltat sobrius—based on Perotin’s Sederunt principes, Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, and a performance of Terry Riley’s In C featuring Esa-Pekka Salonen on the toy piano with an audience participation component. Harpist and jazz vocalist Destiny Muhammad curates the May 27 SoundBox program, joined by drummer Leon Joyce, Jr., bassist Ron Belcher, and SF Symphony musicians in performances of music by Ambrose Akinmusire, Mary Lou Williams, William Grant Still, and Arthur Cunningham, and featuring Muhammad’s own composition “Hope on the Horizon,” arranged by Matt Wong for harp, voice, and string quartet. Following are two programs curated by San Francisco Symphony Collaborative Partners—Claire Chase on July 8 and Nico Muhly on August 12. Nico Muhly’s SoundBox program features choreographer and dancer Emma Lanier and includes performances of Inti Figgis-Vizueta’s Inbhir; Muhly’s Motion, and his arrangements of Orlando Gibbons’s “See, See the Word is Incarnate” and Meredith Monk’s Fat Stream, and the world premiere of a new work by Lukáš Janata. The final SoundBox program of the season, curated by Esa-Pekka Salonen, will be released August 26.
Five CURRENTS episodes exploring Indian Classical, American Indian, Zimbabwean, Persian, and Klezmer musical cultures
The CURRENTS video series launched in July 2020 continues in 2021, exploring the intersections of classical music with varied musical cultures and illuminating the connections and ways that cultures influence each other and evolve together. Each of the five new video episodes will be curated by a guest artist bringing their unique expertise and knowledge of a particular musical culture, featuring performances by those guest artists alongside members of the San Francisco Symphony.
The CURRENTS series returns on February 18 with a program exploring the relationship between classical and Indian musical cultures, curated by tabla player and composer Zakir Hussain. Hussain joins Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath and musicians of the SF Symphony in performances of his own compositions Sands of Time and Bichhua, arranged by Neelamjit Dhillon and Chris Votek. The program also features Laya-Jam, composed by Hussain’s father, Alla Rakha, a renowned Indian tabla player who specialized in Hindustani classical music and was largely responsible for introducing tabla to western audiences. In this sound journey for percussion ensemble, Hussain brings his knowledge as an Indian classical master working in the western world to traditional music of his past. On April 1, composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate curates a program exploring the intersection of classical and American Indian musical cultures, featuring performances of his own compositions, as well as music by Rochelle Chester and Louis W. Ballard; the May 6 episode focuses on the music of Zimbabwe, curated by members of the Chinyakare Ensemble who specialize in traditional Zimbabwean music and dance; on June 17, CURRENTS dives into Persian music, featuring composer and multi-instrumentalist Mohammad Nejad as curator; and the final CURRENTS episode of the season on July 29 looks at Klezmer musical culture and is curated by chromatic button accordion, cimbalom, and piano player Joshua Horowitz and Veretski Pass.
Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox
On February 20, the San Francisco Symphony presents its annual Chinese New Year celebration, now in its twenty-first season and, for the first time, in a virtual format. The Symphony’s Chinese New Year event is an elegant and colorful celebration of the Lunar New Year, featuring a program of traditional folk music and works by Asian composers and drawing upon vibrant Asian traditions, past and present. The program will be available free on SFSymphony+ and broadcast on NBC Bay Area at 4pm on February 20; the program will rebroadcast February 20 at 7pm on UChannel TV, February 27 at 4pm on NBC Bay Area, and KTSF 26 on February 21 & 27 at 3:30pm.
Hosted by acclaimed Bay Area actor-director Joan Chen, this season’s virtual program focuses on themes that coordinate with the Year of the Ox—prosperity, unity, and growth. Works featured on the program include Chen Yi’s “Romance of Hsiao” and “Ch’in” from Romance and Dance, Zhou Long’s Chinese Folk Songs, Julian Yu’s “Flower Riddle” and “Dry Boat Dance” from Chinese Folk Song Suite, Yao-Xing Chen’s Gallop of Warhorses, Yuan-Kai Bao’s “Little Cabbage” from Chinese Sights and Sounds, and Wenying Wu’s arrangement of the traditional tune Tajiks Festival. Performances feature conductor Ming Luke, Bay Area erhu player Tao Shi, yangqin player Wenying Wu, pianist Samantha Cho, and members of the San Francisco Symphony.
For an elevated experience, guests are invited to upgrade to a VIP Sponsor Package. Sponsor benefits include access to an exclusive VIP virtual experience created by Blueprint Studios, featuring special guests and musical surprises, prior to and immediately following the concert event, and a themed “Spring Celebration Kit” by McCalls Catering, home-delivered to pair with this concert event. Sponsors of the Chinese New Year celebration support the San Francisco Symphony’s myriad artistic, education, and community programs, and allow the Symphony to provide this virtual event free of charge and accessible to all. For more information or to purchase a VIP Sponsor Package, please call 415-503-5351 or visit sfsymphony.org/cny.
Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox is co-chaired by Tiffany Chang and Nanci Nishimura and made possible through the generosity of Presenting Sponsors John & Sherry Chen and Margaret Liu Collins & Edward B. Collins. The event is presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Chamber music performances featuring San Francisco Symphony musicians will be released on SFSymphony+ free of charge. These performance videos will be added to the platform on a rolling basis, with videos available for a limited time and cycled out as new ones are added.
The first set of chamber performance videos will be released on February 4, with the launch of SFSymphony+. These will include performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Trio No. 3 in G major, Opus 9, no.1, Shinji Eshima’s Bariolage, Andrés Martin’s Synchronicity, and Florence Price’s Five Folksongs in Counterpoint.
Video Capture at Davies Symphony Hall
Helping to make these intricate video productions possible is a new Panasonic 4K Robotic Camera System, featuring 12 cameras, two telescoping camera stands, and a Tecnopoint robotic slider. With the Green Room at Davies Symphony Hall converted into a state-of-the-art video suite, the Panasonic Camera System gives the ability to capture high-quality video in three spaces simultaneously—the Davies Symphony Hall stage, SoundBox, and an additional small studio space in the building.
About SFS Media
SFS Media is the San Francisco Symphony’s award-winning in-house media production company and label, launched in 2001. SFS Media captures, records, and releases audio and audio/visual material reflecting the Orchestra’s restless creativity and commitment to leading-edge production standards, and showcasing the vibrant and inclusive musical communities it serves. From audio recordings released in 5.1 surround-capable SACD, 24-bit, and DSD Studio Master digital formats to unique concert capture video programs streamed on the Orchestra’s new streaming service SFSymphony+, SFS Media has been on the forefront of production and distribution among the world’s leading orchestras for 20 years. SFS Media productions and recordings have garnered multiple Grammy, Emmy, and Peabody Awards and include Throughline: From Hall to Home; MTT25: An American Icon; the CURRENTS video series; and a new digital SoundBox series; as well as the San Francisco Symphony’s national public television series and multimedia project Keeping Score and its seven-time Grammy Award winning Mahler Project. Other video recordings of the San Francisco Symphony available from SFS Media include A Celebration of Leonard Bernstein: Opening Night at Carnegie Hall 2008 and San Francisco Symphony at 100—the centennial season’s Opening Gala live concert video paired with a documentary about the Symphony’s history, which won a Northern California Emmy Award for “Historical/Cultural Program or Special” in 2012.
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