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MTT and the SF Symphony welcome the 2015-16 season with the Opening Gala on Thursday, September 24 at Davies Symphony Hall

September 16, 2015


Public Relations
San Francisco Symphony
(415) 503-5474



Stage and screen actor Kelsey Grammer, baritone Nathan Gunn, and soprano Alexandra Silber join the opening celebrations in a performance of Broadway classics

Gala concert is preceded by a complimentary wine reception in Davies Symphony Hall and concludes with an after-party open to all ticketholders

MTT and the SFS round out Opening Week with concerts September 25-26 featuring pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2

SAN FRANCISCO, UPDATED SEPTEMBER 16, 2015 — Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) kick off the 2015-16 season with the Opening Gala on Thursday, September 24 in Davies Symphony Hall. Stage and screen actor Kelsey Grammer, baritone Nathan Gunn, and soprano Alexandra Silber join MTT and the Orchestra in an evening that pays homage to classic Broadway musicals. Nathan Gunn performs selections from the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue, and Grammer and Silber perform the roles of Professor Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. The concert opens with MTT conducting Respighi’s Roman Festivals.

Kelsey Grammer has previously performed the role of Professor Higgins in a concert version of My Fair Lady with the New York Philharmonic. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times said of Grammer’s performance, “Mr. Grammer’s graceful and witty performance really should not have been a surprise. Clearly relishing Higgins’s gift for colorful invective, Mr. Grammer…never lost his way in the tricky terrain of the songs.” In 2010, Kelsey Grammer made his Broadway musical debut in a revival of La Cage aux Folles; he was subsequently nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. He most recently starred on Broadway in Finding Neverland.

Opening Gala celebrations begin prior the concert with a complimentary wine reception at 7pm in the Davies Symphony Hall lobby, free to all ticketholders. Following the Gala concert, all guests are invited to keep the festivities going at a lively after-party in the Tent Pavilion, which includes entertainment from DJL!, Foreverland, and The Sam Chase, and complimentary drinks and food from an array of local San Francisco establishments, such as Alta, Cadence, The Beer Hall, Sutro’s at the Cliff House, Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio, and more.

Formal dinner packages are available for four separate dinners prior to the concert. The Patrons’ Dinner consists of a 5pm cocktail reception in the Davies Symphony Hall Lobby and a 6pm dinner in the Tent Pavilion. The Symphony Supper and Symphonix Dinner Party take place in City Hall’s Grand Rotunda and North Light Court, respectively, and begin with a joint cocktail reception in the South Light Court. The Wattis Room Dinner begins with the 5pm cocktail reception in Davies Symphony Hall with the Patrons’ Dinner guests, and a 6pm dinner in the Wattis Room. Décor and lighting design for the Tent Pavilion, City Hall, Grove Street, and Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall is provided by Blueprint Studios and GotLight, respectively. All dinners are catered by McCall Associates.

Proceeds from the Opening Gala benefit the Orchestra’s myriad community and education programs, which provide music education to more than 75,000 Bay Area school children each year.

The 2015 Opening Gala is chaired by Dagmar and Natasha Dolby. Ann Paras serves as the Wattis Room Dinner Chair, and the Symphony Supper is co-chaired by Nancy Greenbach and Mary Sky. Brianna Haag and Clarissa Nicolasia co-chair the Symphonix Dinner Party, and the Gala After-Party is chaired by Libby Leffler and David Saxe.

Wells Fargo is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 Opening Gala. Additional support is provided by Patrons’ Dinner Sponsor Kaiser Permanente and Valentino, sponsor of the Gala After-Party. The Gala guest artists are generously underwritten by Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem.

Kelsey Grammer has excelled at the highest level in theater, television, and film as an actor, producer, and director. He has won five Emmy Awards, three Golden Globes, and a SAG Award and has received an unparalleled 16 Emmy nominations, eight Golden Globe nominations, 16 SAG nominations, and one Tony nomination. An initial role as Dr. Frasier Crane on "Cheers" developed into the cornerstone of the Juilliard-trained actor’s career. Grammer played the celebrated character in three different television series (“Cheers,” "Wings" and "Frasier") over a span of 20 years, tying the record for longest-running television character.

In 2012 Grammer was honored with his most recent Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Mayor Tom Kane in the Starz drama “Boss,” in which he starred and was executive producer. Grammer starred in La Cage aux Folles on Broadway in 2010, for which he earned him a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. In 2015 Grammer returned to the Broadway stage to star in Finding Neverland, produced by Harvey Weinstein and directed by Diane Paulus.  He will reprise the role again in 2016. He will next be seen in Brian Klugsman’s romantic drama Baby, Baby, Baby. In 2016 he will be heard in the adventurous and comedic animated film Bunyan and Babe. On television, Grammer was most recently seen in The National Geographic Channel’s historical drama miniseries “Killing Jesus.” Other recent television includes FX Network’s comedic series “Partners.”

In 2014, Grammer appeared in five films: Paramount’s fourth installment of the Transformers film series, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Twentieth Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, Lionsgate’s The Expendables 3, Screen Gems’s Think Like a Man Too, and Millennium Entertainment’s Reach Me. In spring 2014, he was also heard lending his voice as the Tin Man in Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, which was nominated for Best Feature at the 2013 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, prior to its 2014 release.

Baritone Nathan Gunn has made a reputation as one of today’s most exciting and in-demand performers. He has appeared in internationally renowned opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, Paris Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Theater an der Wien, Teatro Real in Madrid, and the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. This past season, Gunn returned to the Metropolitan Opera for a new production of The Merry Widow, the Theater an der Wien for The Pearl Fishers, and the Houston Grand Opera as the title role in Sweeney Todd. Upcoming engagements include the premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain at the Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia and the premiere of Jake Heggie's Great Scott at the Dallas Opera and the San Diego Opera. Gunn has sung leading lyric baritone roles and appeared in several world premieres in many of the most renowned opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, Paris Opera, and Bayerische Staatsoper. Also a distinguished concert performer, Nathan Gunn has appeared regularly with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also presented recitals in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, London, and Brussels. Gunn has recently ventured outside the standard opera repertoire with appearances in performances of Camelot and Carousel with the New York Philharmonic (both broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances) and Showboat at Carnegie Hall and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Nathan Gunn’s recording of Billy Budd with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra won the 2010 Grammy Award. Other recordings include his solo album, Just Before Sunrise, Rogers & Hammerstein’s Allegro, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and his debut album, American Anthem. He is currently the Director of the American Repertoire Council at the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He is also a professor of voice at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and is General Director of the Lyric Theater @ Illinois.

Soprano Alexandra Silber starred as Maria in the San Francisco Symphony’s 2013 concert performances of West Side Story, the recording of which was subsequently nominated for a Grammy. This past year, she made her play-writing debut with Dutch Kills Theatre and The Hangar Theatre, both of whom produced her adaptations of Greek tragedies Antigone and Trojan Women. She most recently played Eliza Dootlittle in My Fair Lady to critical acclaim at The Muny in St. Louis opposite Anthony Andrews, directed by Marc Bruni. Silber was born in Los Angeles and grew up outside Detroit. She graduated from Interlochen Center for the Arts with a Young Artist Award and continued her training at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. She garnered the Faculty Student of the Year award just days before her West End debut as Laura Fairlie in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White. Silber made her feature film debut in Stephen King's 1408, before portraying Hodel in The Sheffield Crucible’s 2007 production of Fiddler on the Roof, and its subsequent West End production. She made her New York theater debut portraying The Young Wife in the Transport Group’s Revival of Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again, for which she was nominated for a Drama League Award. Silber debuted two solo cabaret performances at Feinstein’s in New York, and was part of Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Series at The Kennedy Center in December 2011. In April 2013 she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the American Symphony Orchestra.


The opening week of the 2015-16 season concludes with two concerts in Davies Symphony Hall on September 25-26. MTT once again leads the SFS in Respighi’s Roman Festivals, along with Ravel’s Menuet antique, Rossini’s Overture to La Scala di seta, and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with guest pianist Daniil Trifonov.

Pianist Daniil Trifonov has garnered critical acclaim around the world since winning First Prize at both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions in 2011 at the age of 20. The Financial Times says of his playing, “What makes him such a phenomenon is the ecstatic quality he brings to his performances…Small wonder every western capital is in thrall to him.” Trifonov made his SFS debut in January 2014, performing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with Osmo Vänskä. Trifonov opened the 2014-15 season with the Seattle Symphony, making his debut with the Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, which he also performed on his Japanese tour with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev. For his debuts with the Atlanta and Dallas Symphony Orchestras, and returns to the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, he performed the Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1. He played the composer’s second concerto with the Vienna Symphony; the third with Washington’s National Symphony and London’s Philharmonia; and the “Paganini Variations” with the Atlanta Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, and Toronto Symphony. Also in 2014-15, Trifonov joined the Cleveland Orchestra for Shostakovich’s first concerto, and played Chopin with the Philharmonia Orchestra. With a solo recital program of Bach, Beethoven, and Liszt, he toured a host of key venues, including London’s Royal Festival Hall, the Théatre des Champs Elysées in Paris, Tokyo’s Opera City, Barcelona’s Palau de la Musica, and New York’s Carnegie Hall, for the third consecutive year. Trifonov also returned to Carnegie Hall’s main stage with the culmination of a nine-city U.S. recital tour with Grammy Award-winning violinist Gidon Kremer.



Thursday, September 24 at 8pm

Michael Tilson Thomas conductor
Kelsey Grammer vocalist
Nathan Gunn vocalist
Alexandra Silber vocalist
San Francisco Symphony

Respighi                                   Roman Festivals
Rodgers & Hammerstein         Selections from Carousel and South Pacific
Lerner & Loewe                        Selections from My Fair Lady               


Cocktail Reception for Patrons’ Dinner and Wattis Room Dinner, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall Lobby

Cocktail Reception for Symphony Supper and Symphonix Dinner Party, South Light Court - City Hall


Patrons’ Dinner, Tent Pavilion

Wattis Room Dinner, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall

Symphony Supper, Grand Rotunda - City Hall

Symphonix Dinner Party, North Light Court - City Hall


Complimentary wine reception for all concert guests, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall


Gala Concert, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall


After-party for all concert guests, Tent Pavilion and Grove Street

Formal dinner packages begin at $425 and include a 5pm cocktail reception, 6pm dinner, the after-party in the Tent Pavilion and on Grove Street, and premium seating for the concert. Dinner packages are available by contacting the Volunteer Council at (415) 503-5500 or online at

Concert tickets are $170 and $300 and include a complimentary pre-concert wine reception, as well as access to the after-party in the Tent Pavilion. These tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 415-864-6000, at, or at the box office located on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.


Friday, September 25 at 8pm
Saturday, September 26 at 8pm

Michael Tilson Thomas conductor
Daniil Trifonov piano
San Francisco Symphony

Ravel                            Menuet antique
Chopin                         Piano Concerto No. 2
Rossini                        Overture to La Scala di seta
Respighi                      Roman Festivals

Tickets are $15-$158 and are available at, by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office, on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street in San Francisco.

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Wells Fargo is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 Opening Gala.

Kaiser Permanente is the sponsor of the 2015 Opening Gala Patrons’ Dinner.

Valentino is the sponsor of the 2015 Opening Gala After-Party.

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem are the underwriters of the Gala guest artists.

Opening Gala production partners are Blueprint Studios, Got Light,
Michael Hensley Party Rentals, McCalls Associates, and Patina Catering.

The All San Francisco Concert is underwritten by Wells Fargo.

The September 25-26 concerts with Daniil Trifonov are sponsored by Franklin Templeton Investments.


The San Francisco Symphony receives support from over 10,000 individual donors and 150 partner institutions.

Emirates is the Official Airline of the San Francisco Symphony.

San Francisco Chronicle/ is the Official Media Partner of the San Francisco Symphony.