It’s 2014-15 and the San Francisco Symphony is again in a celebratory mood. And why not? It’s Michael Tilson Thomas’ 20th season as Music Director and 70th birthday. Both orchestra and conductor let their hair down in a fun-filled, star-studded MTT 70th birthday concert. There are new artistic peaks to scale, however, as MTT and the Symphony launch the innovative SoundBox series and cap off the season with an immersive Beethoven festival.
Brant’s Ice Field, an SFS Media release recorded in 2014
SoundBox: Adventure Comes Home
As 2014 draws to a close, buzz begins building about a mysterious San Francisco Symphony project coming soon. What is this “SoundBox”? A new club? A concert series? An experimental art venue? A laboratory of innovation? SoundBox turns out to be all that, and more. Debuting in December 2014, SoundBox proves that the future is here, now, in San Francisco. The venue is intimate, with a flexible cabaret-style atmosphere enhanced by theatrical lighting and integrated video design. Curated by MTT and leading musicians and thinkers, each program is anchored by a single artistic theme. The astoundingly wide-ranging repertory (made possible thanks to a state-of-the-art customizable Meyer Constellation sound system) showcases SF Symphony musicians in new and unexpected ways. With lines stretching around the block from the get-go, SoundBox is San Francisco’s hottest ticket.
The classical music establishment has been wringing its hands for years, trying to figure out how to attract younger audiences. They can stop now. Michael Tilson Thomas has found the solution...The crowd—a decidedly younger mix than the usual Symphony audience—was right at home with the casual vibe.”
Beethoven…with a twist
In a nod to MTT and the Orchestra’s first summer Beethoven festival together 25 years prior, the 2014-15 season concludes with an ambitious three-week exploration that offers audiences fresh perspectives on some of the composer’s most enduring works. Each of the concert weeks focuses on a major hallmark of the composer’s career: the extraordinary Missa solemnis in a radical semi-staged production conceived by Michael Tilson Thomas; concert performances of Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio with soprano Nina Stemme and tenor Brandon Jovanovich in the lead roles; and a re-creation of the “marathon” Vienna Akademie concert of December 1808, in which several important Beethoven works, including the Fifth and Sixth symphonies, had their premieres. It’s a sublime deep-dive into this most canonical of composers.
Eliot Lev (violin)
Samuel Adams: Radial Play
Violinist Gil Shaham was the featured soloist on the November 2014 National Tour
Kansas City, MO, Music Hall
Ann Arbor, MI, Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan
Cleveland, OH, Severance Hall
Boston, MA, Symphony Hall
Princeton, NJ, McCarter Theatre
New York, NY, Carnegie Hall
Miami, FL, Arsht Center for the Performing Arts