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History of Female Conductors at the San Francisco Symphony

June 24, 2019

Female Conductors who have led the San Francisco Symphony


Antonia Brico in 1940, 10 years after she became the first woman to conduct the San Francisco Symphony, leading a popular concert held at the massive Civic Auditorium during the Summer Symphony Series. Ms. Brico, a native of Oakland, had studied at UC Berkeley and then in Germany under Charles Muck. At the time, she was attracting attention as the founding director of New York Women’s Symphony.

Antonia Brico
1930 Summer Series
August 26, 1930 at the Civic Auditorium – Dvořák Symphony No. 7; Wagner The Flying Dutchman, Overture; Sigisimund Stojowsky Symphonic Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra (with the composer at the piano); R. Strauss Don Juan.

Winifred Baker
1969 Summer Series
July 26, 1969 at the Civic Auditorium – Borodin Prince Igor, Polovtsian Dances; Wagner Tannhäuser, Finale; Mussorgsky Boris Godunov, Prologue and Coronation Scene; J. Strauss Jr. Die Fledermaus, Act III; songs by Victor Herbert, and more.
*Arthur Fiedler and Winifred Baker both conducted this program. 

1977 Summer Series
July 16, 1977 at the Civic Auditorium – Mozart Eine kleine Nachtmusik; J. Strauss Act III from Die Fledermaus, and more.
*Mitch Miller and Winifred Baker both conducted this program

Helen Quach
1975 Special Concert / Pension Fund Concert

December 14, 1975 at the War Memorial Opera House – Beethoven Symphony No. 8 in F major; Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite; Rossini L'Italiana in Algeri, Overture.

Sarah Caldwell
1976-77 Subscription Series

February 9, 11, 12, 1977  at War Memorial Opera House & February 10 at UC Berkeley – Debussy Nocturnes; Debussy Printemps, Suite symphonique; Poulenc La Voix humaine with soprano Phyllis Curtin.

Catherine Comet
1989-90 Subscription Series
March 15-17, 1990 – Stravinsky Danses concertantes for Chamber Orchestra; Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 1 in A minor for Cello and Orchestra; Fauré Pavane, Opus 50; Bizet Symphony in C major.

Thea Musgrave
1984-85 Subscription Series
January 2-4, 1985 at Davies Symphony Hall – Thea Musgrave Concerto for Viola and Orchestra
*Musgrave conducted only this piece (her own composition) on the program, Edo de Waart conducted the other half of the concert.

Marin Alsop
1989 Subscription Series / Beethoven Festival
June 22, 1989 at Davies Symphony Hall - Copland El Salón México
* Alsop was one of 4 conductors, including MTT, for this program

1999 Summer Series
July 22, 1999 at Davies Symphony Hall – Copland El Salón México; Wagner Die Walküre; Ride of the Valkyries; Holst The Planets, Jupiter; Fantasy on Bizet's Carmen for Violin and Orchestra; Mussorgsky A Night on Bald Mountain; and more

July 25, 1999 at Davies Symphony Hall –  R. Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra, Opus 30, Introduction, Sunrise; Jerry Goldsmith Star Trek: First Contact, End Title Music from the film; James Horner Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan, Music from the film; Holst The Planets, Mars; Holst The Planets, Jupiter; and more

Iona Brown
1989-90 Subscription Series
March 21-22 and 24-25, 1990 at Davies Symphony Hall – J.S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto Nos. 2 & 5; J.S. Bach Concerto in D minor for Oboe Violin and Orchestra; J.S. Bach Overture No. 3 in D major
*Brown served as both violinist and conductor on this program

1990-91 Subscription Series
April 25-28, 1991 at Davies Symphony Hall – Schoenberg Transfigured Night, Opus 4; Mozart Serenade No. 7 in D major
*Brown served as both violinist and conductor on this program

1991-92 Subscription Series
November 6-10, 1991 at Davies Symphony Hall – J.S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major; J.S. Bach Concerto No. 3 in D minor for Two Violins, Strings, and Continuo; Vivaldi The Four Seasons, Opus 8, nos.1-4
*Brown served as both violinist and conductor on this program

1993-94 Subscription Series
November 3-6, 1993 at Davies Symphony Hall – Haydn Symphony No. 43 in E-flat major [SFS Premiere], Mercury; Arvo Pärt Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten [SFS Premiere]; Britten Serenade for Tenor Solo, Horn, and Strings
*Brown served as both violinist and conductor on this program

Anne Bryant
1993 Holiday Series

December 5, 1993 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire

Lorraine Vaillancourt
1993 Wet Ink Festival

April 24, 1993 at Davies Symphony Hall – Pauline Oliveros Inside/Outside/Space/Is; Kaija Saariaho Lichtbogen

Gail Deadrick
1994 Holiday Series
December 19, 1994 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire
1995 Holiday Series
December 16, 1994 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire
1997 Holiday Series
December 16, 1994 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire
1999 Holiday Series
December 13, 1999 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire
2013 Special Concert
November 25, 2013 at Davies Symphony Hall – Natalie Cole with the San Francisco Symphony

Diane Louie
1998 Holiday Series
December 14, 1998 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire
2000 Holiday Series
December 18, 2000 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire
2001 Holiday Series
December 17, 2001 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire
2002 Holiday Series
December 16, 2002 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire
2003 Holiday Series
December 15, 2003 at Davies Symphony Hall – Holiday repertoire

Apo Hsu
2000 American Mavericks Festival
June 16, 2000 at Davies Symphony Hall – Cage Dance/4 Orchestras
* Apo Hsu was one of four conductors, including MTT, to lead this piece on the program

2000-01 Opening Gala
September 20, 2000 at Davies Symphony Hall – Mozart Notturno for Four Orchestras
* Apo Hsu was one of four conductors, including MTT, to lead this piece on the program

Keri-Lynn Wilson
2001 Summer Series
July 26, 2001 at Davies Symphony Hall – Tchaikovsky Marche slave; Copland Fanfare for the Common Man; Stravinsky The Firebird Suite, and more

JoAnn Falletta
2005 Summer Series
July 21, 2005 at Davies Symphony Hall – Piazzolla Aconcagua, Concerto for Bandoneón; Enrico IVOblivión from the film; Ginastera Estancia Suite, and more.

Jane Glover
2006-07 Subscription Series
December 21-23, 2006 at Davies Symphony Hall – Handel Messiah

2011-12 Subscription Series
May 1-3, 5, 2012 at Davies Symphony Hall – Handel Water Music, Suite No. 3 in G major; Bach Brandenburg Concerto Nos. 2, 3, 6; Handel Music for the Royal Fireworks

2014-15 Subscription Series
December 18-20, 2014 at Davies Symphony Hall – Handel Messiah

2018-19 Subscription Series
December 14-15, 2018 at Davies Symphony Hall – Handel Messiah

Carolyn Kuan
February 24, 2007 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
February 10, 2008 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
February 8, 2009 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
February 27, 2010 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
January 29, 2011 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
February 11, 2012 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall

Elizabeth Schulze
2008 Holiday Series
December 19, 2008 at Davies Symphony Hall – Broadway repertoire


Alondra de la Parra conducts the San Francisco Symphony in the annual Día de los Muertos Concert in 2017. Credit: Brandon Patoc.

Alondra de la Parra
November 1, 2009 Día de los Muertos Concert at Davies Symphony Hall

July 2010 Summer Series at Davies Symphony Hall
July 22, 2010 – Ellington New World a-Comin'; Copland Old American Songs, Grofé Grand Canyon Suite
July 23, 2010 – Glinka Ruslan and Ludmila, Overture; Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3 in D minor for Piano and Orchestra; Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition
July 24, 2010 – John Adams Short Ride in a Fast Machine; Copland Three Latin-American Sketches, Paisaje Mexicano and Danza de Jalisco; Ives The Unanswered Question; Copland Lincoln Portrait; Ives Variations on America; Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue; and others

July 25, 2010 Dolores Park Concert 

November 4, 2017 Día de los Muertos Concert


Sarah Hicks conducts the San Francisco Symphony in 2014’s Pixar in Concert.

Sarah Hicks
2009-2013 Summer Series’ at Davies Symphony Hall
July 11-12, 2009  – Chris Botti with the San Francisco Symphony
June 3, 2010 – Chris Botti with the San Francisco Symphony
July 14, 2011 – Chris Botti with the San Francisco Symphony
July 5, 2012 – Smokey Robinson with the San Francisco Symphony
July 28-29, 2012 – Pixar in Concert
August 2-3, 2012 – Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to the Beatles
July 28, 2013 – Disney in Concert
August 1-2, 2013 – Jerry Garcia: Symphonic Celebration
August 4, 2013 – Music from the Movies

2013 Holiday Series’ at Davies Symphony Hall
December 6-7, 2013 – Singin' in the Rain [film with live accompaniment]
December 11, 2013 – Dianne Reeves and the San Francisco Symphony

2014 Summer Series at Davies Symphony Hall
May 31-June 1, 2014 – Fantasia Live in Concert [film with live accompaniment]
July 17-20, 2014 – Pixar in Concert

2014-2018 Film Series’ at Davies Symphony Hall
December 12-13, 2014 – Home Alone [film with live accompaniment]
July 16-18, 2015 – Star Trek [film with live accompaniment]
July 18, 2015 – Back to the Future [film with live accompaniment]
March 23, 2016 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial [film with live accompaniment]
July 16-17, 2016 – Ratatouille [film with live accompaniment]
December 9-10, 2016 – Singin' in the Rain [film with live accompaniment]
June 2-3, 2017 – Casablanca, Music for the film [film with live accompaniment]
April 4-5, 2018 – Batman, Music for the Film [film w/ live accompaniment]

2018-2019 Summer Series’ at Davies Symphony Hall
July 18-22, 2018 – Star Wars: A New Hope [film with live accompaniment]
July 19, 2019 – Out of this World A celebration on the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Susanna Mälkki
2011-12 Subscription Series
April 27-28, 2012 at Davies Symphony Hall – Grisey Modulations, for Thirty-Three Musicians; Prokofiev Concerto No. 3 in C major for Piano and Orchestra; Sibelius Symphony No. 1 in E minor

2014-15 Subscription Series
November 29-30, 2014 at Davies Symphony Hall – Griffes Roman SketchesThe White Peacock; Bartók Concerto No. 3 in E major for Piano and Orchestra; Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D major

2015-16 Subscription Series (2 weeks)
October 15-18, 2015 at Davies Symphony Hall – Mussorgsky Khovanshchina, Prelude; Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 in A minor for Violin and Orchestra; Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major

October 22-24, 2015 at Davies Symphony Hall – Jukka Tiensuu Alma III: Soma; Chopin Concerto No. 1 in E minor for Piano and Orchestra; Sibelius Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major

2016-17 Subscription Series
June 9-11, 2017 at Davies Symphony Hall – Stravinsky Scherzo fantastique; Beethoven Concerto No. 1 in C major for Piano and Orchestra; Stravinsky Le Sacre du printemps

2017-18 Subscription Series
June 7-9, 2018 at Davies Symphony Hall – Tchaikovsky Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra; Kaija Saariaho Laterna Magica; Scriabin The Poem of Ecstasy


Mei-Ann Chen conducts the San Francisco Symphony in the annual Chinese New Year Concert in 2016. Credit: Moanalani Jeffrey.

Mei-Ann Chen
February 2, 2013 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
February 21, 2015 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
February 13, 2016 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
February 4, 2017 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
February 16, 2019 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall

Xian Zhang
February 24, 2018 Chinese New Year Concert at Davies Symphony Hall


Conductor Simone Young made her San Francisco Symphony debut in April 2019 and returns to conduct R. Strauss’ Metamorphosen and Act I of Wagner’s Die Walküre in November 2019. Credit: Klaus Lefebvre.

Simone Young
2018-19 Subscription series
April 18 -20, 2019 at Davies Symphony Hall – Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte; Ravel Concerto in G major for Piano and Orchestra; Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite

2019-20 Subscription Series
November 14-16, 2019 at Davies Symphony Hall – R. Strauss Metamorphosen: Study for Twenty-Three Solo Strings; Wagner Die Walküre, Act I

Gemma New
2019 Summer Series / Frost Amphitheater Series
July 10, 2019 at Stanford’s Frost Amphitheater – Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin; Tchaikovsky Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra; Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E minor

July 13-14, 2019 at Stanford’s Frost Amphitheater – Ravel Shéhérazade, Three Poems for Voice and Orchestra on Verses by Tristan Klingsor; Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in D minor

Karina Canellakis
2019-20 Subscription Series
October 24-26, 2019 at Davies Symphony Hall – Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1; Shostakovich Symphony No. 7