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San Francisco Symphony


Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama [San Francisco Symphony Premiere, U.S. Premiere]
Hannah Kendall
Graffiti [San Francisco Symphony Premiere]
Unsuk Chin
Symphony No. 7
Ludwig van Beethoven


Davies Symphony Hall

Thu, Oct 7, 2021 at 7:30PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Fri, Oct 8, 2021 at 7:30PM

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Davies Symphony Hall

Sat, Oct 9, 2021 at 7:30PM

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

Event Description

Esa-Pekka Salonen and the SF Symphony present a program where the friction between powerful viewpoints yields brilliant musical discoveries. Hannah Kendall’s Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama takes inspiration from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artwork Tuxedo while referencing the complicated legacy of Western exploration and colonialism. Then, Unsuk Chin’s Graffiti paints a musical picture that’s wild, refined, free, and mysterious. The program concludes with Ludwig van Beethoven’s triumphant Seventh Symphony whose emotional center is the second movement, the heartrending Allegretto. Hear music sparked by artwork and come early to watch a live painting by The Writerz of Doom inspired by the program. 

At a Glance

Composer Hannah Kendall notes, “Tuxedo: Vasco deGama takes its title from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic 1982–83 artwork Tuxedo…His reference to Vasco da Gama (written as ‘Vasco de Gama’), the first European to voyage to Asia by sea, offers a commentary on exploration and the seeds of globalization and multiculturalism: two important themes in the context of the year 2020.”

Unsuk Chin’s early training in electronic music enlarged her conception of sounds she might apply to acoustic orchestral music. In her three-movement Graffiti, she says, “one can hear allusions to a manifold of styles, which are juxtaposed in a kaleidoscopic manner.” Chin cites Street Art as a stimulus for this piece. The opening movement, “Palimpsest,” is a musical analogy to inscriptions on walls that do not entirely obscure what was written or painted beneath them, and the second movement employs multiphonic woodwind tones that may sound electronic but are not.

Richard Wagner described Ludwig van Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony as representing “the essence of the dance.” The work includes many moments of real abandon. A semi-slow introduction, the largest ever heard in any symphony at the time of its premiere and still one of the largest, defines great harmonic spaces. There is no slow movement. Instead, the famous second-movement Allegretto is relaxed only by comparison with what comes before and after. The symphony’s finale is one wild unharnessing of sound.

After notes by James M. Keller, Hannah Kendall, and Michael Steinberg

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

Concert Extras

Hear music sparked by artwork and come early to watch a live painting by The Writerz of Doom inspired by the program.

Pre-Concert Talk: Elizabeth Seitz will give an “Inside Music” talk from the stage one hour prior to the October 7-9 performances. Free to all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before.

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