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San Francisco Symphony Film Series returns for a second season, with six films accompanied by live music

August 27, 2014


Public Relations
San Francisco Symphony
(415) 503-5474



Popular series includes the U.S. concert premiere of the score of The Godfather by Nino Rota

 The Wizard of Oz, Gotta Dance! Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy, and Home Alone feature live orchestral accompaniment, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with live organ completes the season

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 27, 2014)The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) continues its popular Film Series in the 2014-15 season, offering a wide range of critically-acclaimed films projected above the Davies Symphony Hall stage with their powerful musical scores performed as live orchestral accompaniment. The series opens September 27 with The Wizard of Oz and its Academy Award-winning film score, in celebration of the film’s 75th Anniversary year. December 12 & 13 the SFS is joined by over 150 children’s voices for the holiday favorite Home Alone with score by John Williams. The U.S. premiere of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather with live orchestral accompaniment of the film’s haunting score by Nino Rota follows, January 9-10. A celebration of iconic choreography on March 28, Gotta Dance! Great Moments of Dance in Film highlights choreographed scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Brigadoon, Madame Bovary, and An American in Paris, among others. The series closes on April 25 with a program saluting Chinese composer Tan Dun’s film scores, including his Oscar- and Grammy-winning score to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Zhang Yimou’s Hero, and Feng Xiaogang’s The Banquet. On Halloween, a restoration of the 1920 black & white film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will be accompanied by the improvisations of Todd Wilson on Davies Symphony Hall’s mighty Ruffatti organ. The series follows the sold out inaugural series in 2013-14 which presented a week of Hitchcock films, A Night at the Oscars, Charlie Chaplin’s silent film City Lights, and selections from Disney’s classic Fantasia films.

More About the Films

The 2014-15 series opens on September 27, with Constantine Kitsopoulos conducting The Wizard of Oz. Now celebrating its 75th anniversary year, the film’s songs were written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Edgar “Yip” Harburg and incidental music by Herbert Stothart. The team won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow” as well as Best Original Score. Television rebroadcasts beginning in 1956 made it the most viewed film in history, and solidified its place as “culturally significant,” named so by the Library of Congress. The producer of the live concert version is John Goberman with original orchestrations reconstructed by John Wilson and Andrew Cottee.

Following his Halloween appearance in 2013, organist Todd Wilson returns on October 31 to the Ruffatti organ in Davies Symphony Hall for a second film concert, improvising the organ accompaniment to the silent horror film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, based on the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Actor John Barrymore leads in the stage role that garnered him critical acclaim in this restored version of the 1920 silent film, with co-star Nita Naldi.

December 12 & 13, the family-friendly and holiday-themed film, Home Alone, features a rousing score by John Williams. Guest conductor Sarah Hicks leads The SF Symphony with guests The Ragazzi Boys Chorus, the San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus singing the traditional carols on the soundtrack along with William’s own composition “Somewhere in my Memory.”

Conductor Justin Freer brings us the US premiere of The Godfather Live on January 9 & 10, just one month after its world premiere in London. The arrangement re-incorporates all of the film’s original music including Al Martino’s on-screen vocal solo in “I Have But One Heart”, traditional Italian folk music and jazz standards, previously not available. With stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, the 1972 film about the Corleone crime family is recognized as one of the greatest movies ever made. Composer Nino Rota is known for his work with directors Fellini and Visconti. His score for The Godfather was ranked fifth in the American Film Institute's list of the best scores ever written.

Following his successful appearance in the SFS’s 2013-14 film series, conductor Joshua Gersen leads the Orchestra in Gotta Dance! Great Moments of Dance in Film. The compilation features clips from classics like Brigadoon, An American in Paris, Madame Bovary, 2001: A Space Odyssey showcasing the choreography from famous dance scenes and the original music that inspired them.

Notable contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun ultimately won critical acclaim through his film scores. He won an Academy Award and a Grammy Award for the score to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), the music from which is included in Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy along with Zhang Yimou’s Hero, and Feng Xiaogang’s The Banquet. Conductor Damian Iorio appears for the first time with the Orchestra.

About the Performers and Conductors

American composer/conductor and trumpeter Justin Freer (The Godfather) was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA. He has written music for world-renowned trumpeters Doc Severinson and Jens Lindemann and continues to be in demand as a composer and conductor for various genres from orchestral literature to chamber music. Freer has served as composer for several independent films and writes motion picture advertising music for some of 20th Century Fox Studios’ biggest campaigns. He has been recognized with numerous grants and awards from organizations including ASCAP, BMI, the Society of Composers and Lyricists and the Henry Mancini Estate. As a classical record producer he has worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Neville Mariner, conductor, and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Carl St. Clair, conductor, on recordings of Paul Chihara’s orchestral works. Freer is the Founder and President of CineConcerts, a company dedicated to the preservation and concert presentation of film, TV and media music set to picture. His upcoming conducting engagements include appearances with the orchestras of London, Chicago, Sydney, St. Louis, Dublin, Melbourne and Pittsburgh in performances of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Gladiator and The Godfather.

Joshua Gersen (Gotta Dance!) made his conducting debut at age 11 with the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra in Bridgeport, CT, and his professional conducting debut five years later, when he led the Greater Bridgeport Symphony in a performance of his own composition, A Symphonic Movement.  He is currently the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Conducting Fellow of the New World Symphony, where he serves as the assistant conductor to Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas, and leads the orchestra in various subscription, education, and family concerts.  He is also the Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony, a post he began in September 2012. Mr. Gersen is a graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller. Beyond his conducting interests, Gersen is also an avid composer. He has had works performed by the New Mexico Symphony, Greater Bridgeport Symphony, and frequently with the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra. He has conducted several world premieres and collaborated with established composers such as John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Steven Mackey and his teacher Michael Gandolfi.

Noted in the New York Times as part of "a new wave of female conductors in their late 20's through early 40's,” conductor Sarah Hicks (Home Alone) has secured her place in "the next generation of up-and-coming American conductors.” In October of 2009 she was named Principal Conductor, Pops and Presentations of the Minnesota Orchestra; in addition to conducting most Pops and Special Presentations, she concurrently holds the position of Staff Conductor of the Curtis Institute of Music. She has collaborated with diverse artists, from Jaime Laredo and Hilary Hahn to Josh Groban, Smokey Robinson and Sting. Sarah Hicks was born in Tokyo and raised in Honolulu, HI. Trained on both the piano and viola, she was a prizewinning pianist by her early teens. She received her BA from Harvard University in composition and an Artists' Degree in conducting from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Otto-Werner Mueller.  Her AIDS Oratorio was premiered in May of 1993 and received a second performance at the Fogg Art Museum the following December. Hicks has been a frequent guest conductor for San Francisco Symphony pops concerts since she first conducted trumpeter Chris Botti’s performances with the Orchestra in 2009. She conducted Singin’ in the Rain on the 2013-14 Film Series, and Pixar in Concert in the Summer Series of 2014.

Constantine Kitsopoulos (Wizard of Oz) Constantine Kitsopoulos has made a name for himself as a conductor whose musical experiences comfortably span the worlds of opera and symphony, where he conducts in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Royal Albert Hall, and musical theater, where he can be found leading orchestras on Broadway.  Kitsopoulos is in his eighth year as Music Director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and continues as General Director of Chatham Opera, which he founded in 2005. He serves as Music Director of the Festival of the Arts BOCA, an extraordinary multi-day cultural arts event for South Florida, and was most recently appointed Artistic Director of the OK Mozart Festival, Oklahoma's premier music festival, where he led his second session in June of 2014. Kitsopoulos maintains a busy opera schedule. In recent seasons, he has led annual productions at the Indiana University Opera Theater of Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore (2013/14), Verdi’s Falstaff (2012/13), and Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge (2011/2012). .Kitsopoulos conducted A Night at the Oscars in the SFS inaugural film series.

Damian Iorio (Tan Dun’s Marshall Arts Trilogy) completed violin studies in Britain and the US before becoming a member of the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. He studied conducting in St Petersburg and was appointed Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Murmansk where he became the catalyst in the subsequent success and growth of the orchestra. He has guest conducted major orchestras of Europe in London, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia and more, and has conducted operas at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Bonn Opera, Norwegian Opera and others in Italy and Russia. Iorio also enjoys working with youth orchestras in Europe and he is Music Director of the National Youth String Orchestra of Great Britain.

Todd Wilson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) is head of the organ department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Director of Music and Worship at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio.  Wilson has been heard in concert in many major cities throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. He is Curator of the E.M. Skinner pipe organ at Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, and House Organist for the newly-restored Aeolian organ at the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio. Wilson was previously director of music and organist at the Church of the Covenant in Cleveland for nineteen years, and from 1989 through 1993 he was Head of the Organ Department at Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music. Prior to these positions, he served as organist and choirmaster of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, New York. Wilson appeared on the 2013-14 SFS film series accompanying the silent film, The Lodger.

Calendar editors, please note:

Tickets are available at the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office (on Grove Street between Van Ness and Franklin), online at and by phone at 415-864-6000.

All performances are at Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.


Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 8 pm

Constantine Kitsopoulos conductor
San Francisco Symphony

Arlen, Herbert, Stothart The Wizard of Oz film with live orchestral accompaniment

Tickets: $43-$158


Thursday, October 31, 2014 at 8 pm

Todd Wilson organ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde film with live organ accompaniment

Note: the San Francisco Symphony does not appear in this performance.

Tickets: $20-$65


Sarah Hicks, conductor
San Francisco Symphony
Ragazzi Boys Chorus
San Francisco Boys Chorus
San Francisco Girls Chorus

John Williams Home Alone film with live orchestral accompaniment

Tickets: $25-$80


Friday, January 9, 2015 at 8 pm
Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 8 pm

Justin Freer conductor
San Francisco Symphony

Rota The Godfather film with live orchestral accompaniment [US Premiere]

Tickets: $58-$181


Joshua Gersen conductor
San Francisco Symphony

Gotta Dance! Selections from Brigadoon, Singin’ in the Rain, Madame Bovary, An American in Paris, and 2001: A Space Odyssey film clips with live orchestral accompaniment

Tickets: $43-$158


Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8 pm

Damian Iorio conductor
San Francisco Symphony

Tan Dun Selections from Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonThe Banquet, and Hero with live orchestral accompaniment 

Tickets: $43-$158

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