ZHANG CONDUCTS DVOŘÁK’S NEW WORLD SYMPHONY

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Artists

Xian Zhang

Conductor

San Francisco Symphony

program

Primal Message [San Francisco Symphony Premiere]
Nokuthula Ngwenyama
Piano Concerto [San Francisco Symphony Premiere]
Florence Price
Symphony No. 9, From the New World
Antonín Dvořák

performances

Davies Symphony Hall

Thu, May 5, 2022 at 2:00PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Sat, May 7, 2022 at 7:30PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Sun, May 8, 2022 at 2:00PM

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If you would like assistance purchasing tickets for patrons with disabilities, please call the box office at 415-864-6000.

THESE CONCERTS ARE SPONSORED BY THE ATHENA T. BLACKBURN ENDOWED FUND FOR RUSSIAN MUSIC

THESE CONCERTS ARE GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY ANDY AND TERI GOODMAN

THURSDAY MATINEE CONCERTS ARE ENDOWED BY A GIFT IN MEMORY OF RHODA GOLDMAN

Event Description

In his New World Symphony, Antonín Dvořák recounts his impressions of America and nods to the music he heard there, without straying too far from his Czech roots. Led by conductor Xian Zhang, the program includes two SF Symphony premieres: Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s deeply heartfelt Primal Message for percussion, harp, and strings, and Florence Price’s Piano Concerto, which deftly packs a broad emotional range into its single-movement span, featuring acclaimed jazz and classical pianist Aaron Diehl.

For more information, including full program notes, visit the San Francisco Symphony’s digital program book platform at sfsymphony.encoreplus.app or text “SFS Concert” to 55741.

At A Glance

Nokuthula Ngwenyama is a composer and violist. Her piece Primal Message is a tribute to the Arecibo message, in which 186 seconds of interstellar radio waves sent a friendly greeting toward the M13 globular cluster. Ngwenyama imagined what a “primal message” between worlds might sound like.

Florence Price is enjoying renewed interest that befits her long-overlooked achievement. A graduate of Boston’s New England Conservatory, she flourished as a composer after moving to Chicago in 1927. She wrote about 300 works, ranging from songs and piano pieces to concertos and four symphonies, the first of which was premiered in 1931 by the Chicago Symphony—the first symphonic work by an African-American woman ever performed by a major American orchestra. Her Piano Concerto in One Movement, hailed at its premiere for “thematic substance rich in syncopated and spiritual colors,” includes allusions to African-American traditional music. It packs into its span the essentials of a late-Romantic concerto: a dramatic opening, a lyrical center portion, and a buoyant, syncopated conclusion.

Antonín Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony was the first in the series of works the composer wrote during his sojourn in the United States. He was interested in American music, and he later noted that he tried to reproduce the essence of Native American and African-American songs in his works of this period. Dvořák’s subtitle, From the New World, has invited all manner of speculation, and, buoyed by Dvořák’s own allusions, musicologists have found in its melodies echoes of such undeniably American tunes as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
After notes by Nokuthula Ngwenyama and James M. Keller

Concert Extras

Pre-Concert Talk: Join us for an informative “Inside Music” talk from the stage with Sarah Cahill. Free to all ticketholders, these talks begin one hour before the May 5, 7-8 performances. Doors open 15 minutes before.

Off-The-Podium: A post-concert audience Q&A session with moderator Sarah Cahill will be presented from the stage immediately following the concert on May 7. Free to all ticket holders.