Michael Tilson Thomas 1

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) today announced programs and details of the San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) 2010-11 season. Engaging local and global audiences with its exciting and innovative brand of music-making, the Orchestra’s 99th season features its trademark blend of adventurous programs, residencies by acclaimed artists and composers, international tours of Europe’s most prestigious festivals and musical capitals, and reaching new audiences with award-winning media and education projects.

The Orchestra’s 2010-11 Project San Francisco composer and artist residencies celebrate the work of composer John Adams and pianist Yuja Wang in a variety of performances and educational settings. The Orchestra will celebrate the 2010-11 Gustav Mahler anniversaries in performances both at home and abroad, on PBS Television through a new season of Keeping Score, and on disc in the final release of its Grammy Award-winning Mahler cycle. Highlights of the SF Symphony’s 99th season also include two European tours, with residencies at the Lucerne Festival and a rare four-concert appearance in Vienna; two world-premiere commissions and 18 SFS premieres; and a 33-week season of exciting programming reaching audiences in new and creative ways. Continuing one of the orchestral scene’s most successful and inspired artistic partnerships, Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony in seventeen weeks of concerts at home and abroad, in programs pairing works of the core classical repertoire with works new to or rarely heard by Davies Symphony Hall audiences.

  • Orchestra’s 99th Season Offers Trademark Mix of Engaging and Adventurous Programs,
  • Award-Winning Media Projects, International Touring, and Community and Education Initiatives
  • Project San Francisco Artist and Composer Residencies Feature Composer John Adams and Pianist Yuja Wang
  • Season Includes World-Premiere SFS Commissions by Avner Dorman and Rufus Wainwright
  • SFS Celebrates 2010-11 Mahler Anniversaries with Keeping Score PBS Broadcasts, Release of Orchestral Songs CD on SFS Media & Performances of Mahler Symphonies in
  • SF and European Musical Capitals
  • Michael Tilson Thomas Opens the Season Tuesday, September 7 with Gala Concert Featuring
  • Soprano Jessye Norman and Leads Orchestra in 17 Weeks During Season
  • Orchestra to Perform Twenty Concerts on Two European Tours in Twelve Cities, including Residencies at the Lucerne Festival and Four-Concert Vienna Residency
  • Distinguished Roster of Artists and Conductors Includes the SFS Debuts of
  • Pablo Heras-Casado, Ton Koopman, Kirill Karabits, Carlos Kalmar and Rufus Wainwright, and the Return of James Conlon, Kurt Masur, Joshua Bell, Hélène Grimaud,
  • Anne Sofie von Otter and Leonidas Kavakos
  • Orchestra to Perform 20 SF Symphony Premieres and 14 Works by American Composers
  • Great Performers Series and Special Concerts Feature Visits by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with
  • Zubin Mehta, Lang Lang, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and Yuri Temirkanov, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and the Mutter-Bashmet-Harrell Trio


Project San Francisco, the SFS’ multi-faceted composer and artist residency program, brings some of today’s most acclaimed musicians and composers to San Francisco to collaborate with the SFS in concerts, chamber music, lectures, and in education and community events.  In the 2010-11 season, composer John Adams and pianist Yuja Wang, two artists with significant ties to the San Francisco Symphony, join the SFS for the second season of Project San Francisco.  Part of the Orchestra’s Centennial Initiatives, Project San Francisco celebrates the creative spirit while deepening connections between SFS guest artists, the Orchestra, and its community.


For two weeks in December 2010, Project San Francisco spotlights the work of renowned American composer and Bay Area resident John Adams, continuing his strong relationship with the Orchestra that innovated the composer-in-residence model with his appointment nearly three decades ago.  Project San Francisco will present two of John Adams’ SFS commissions and an all-Adams chamber music concert featuring members of the SFS.  As Phyllis C. Wattis Composer-in-Residence, Adams will conduct the Orchestra in his San Francisco Symphony commission El Niño, a multilingual retelling of the Nativity story composed for the celebration of the millennium, at Davies Symphony Hall December 2-4.  These concerts will feature sopranos Dawn Upshaw and Jessica Rivera, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, countertenors Daniel BubeckBrian Cummings, and Steven Rickards, bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu, and the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus. The San Francisco Girls Chorus also performs. The SFS performed the 2001 U.S. premiere of El Niño, which it co-commissioned, in a staged performance under the baton of Kent Nagano.

During the second week of Adams’ Project San Francisco residency, December 8-11, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas will lead the Orchestra in Adams’ 1985 SFS commission Harmonielehre. The composition was inspired by a dream Adams had in which he was driving across the Bay Bridge and saw an oil tanker on the surface of the water abruptly turn upright and take off like a rocket. The SFS performed the world premiere of Harmonielehre in March 1985 under the direction of then-Music Director Edo de Waart, who conducted it again in October 1988. Michael Tilson Thomas led the Orchestra in Harmonielehre during his first season as SFS Music Director in December 1995, and then again in February 2000, both at home at Davies Symphony Hall and on tour with the Orchestra in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles.

One of America’s most admired and respected composers, John Adams was appointed contemporary music adviser to the San Francisco Symphony in 1979.  He was the Orchestra’s composer-in-residence between 1982 and 1985, and his tenure helped set the precedent for composer residencies at orchestras around the world. The creative relationship between the SF Symphony and John Adams has been extraordinarily productive: since 1981 the SFS has performed 21 of his works, six of which were SFS commissions. The Orchestra has performed six world premieres of Adams’ music and four U.S. premieres, including the March 2007 U.S. premiere of his opera A Flowering Tree, a San Francisco Symphony co-commission. The Orchestra has commissioned Adams to write a work for its centennial season in 2011-12.


In June 2011, as part of Project San Francisco’s 2010-11 Artist-in-Residence program, 23-year-old Yuja Wang joins MTT and the SFS for a series of performances with orchestra and in chamber music settings, and educational activities for music students. Led by MTT, Wang will perform Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Orchestra June 16-19.  As part of the residency, Wang also performs a June 14 chamber music concert with musicians of the Orchestra and a recital June 21 at Davies Symphony Hall.

In the few short years since her 2006 debut with the SF Symphony in the annual Chinese New Year concert, Yuja Wang has established herself as a star on the international stage. She has already performed with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, as well as in recital, chamber music, and festival settings around the globe. An exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon, Wang’s 2009 debut recording, Sonatas & Etudes, was nominated for a Grammy® Award in the Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra) and was named Best Debut Album of 2009 by International Piano magazine. Gramophone magazine named Wang the Classic FM Gramophone Awards 2009 Young Artist of the Year.  Her second album, Transformation, which includes works by Stravinsky, Scarlatti, Brahms, and Ravel, will be released in April 2010. During the 2009-10 season she performed on an 11-city U.S. tour with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra led by Long Yu, and also performed with the Russian National Orchestra conducted by Patrick Summers during the orchestra’s 20th Anniversary U.S. tour. Wang also performs with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado in Beijing, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Spain and in London, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. In the summer of 2010, Wang returns to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Verbier Festival.

After her 2006 SFS debut, Yuja Wang returned later in the year to perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major under the baton of Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas in the SFS’s All San Francisco Community Concert. Since then, she has performed with the Orchestra each year, most recently with MTT in May 2009, performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2. She was also a soloist in the April 2009 performance by the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, led by Tilson Thomas at Carnegie Hall.


The 2010-11 season encompasses two anniversary years sparking worldwide retrospectives of the music of Mahler: 2010 is the 150th anniversary of Mahler’s birth, and 2011 marks the 100th year of Mahler’s death.  The SFS and Michael Tilson Thomas, among the world’s leading interpreters of Mahler’s music, will play a significant role in  the global commemoration of Mahler, through concerts, extensive media projects, and prominent international tour performances.

MTT/SFS – Mahler in San Francisco

Beginning May 5, MTT conducts the Orchestra in three all-Mahler programs featuring Mahler Symphonies No. 9, 2, and 6. Soprano Karina Gauvin and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke are soloists with the SF Symphony Chorus for Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection.


As acclaimed interpreters of the music of Mahler, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have been invited to perform Mahler in some of Europe’s leading music capitals for their anniversary celebrations.  The Orchestra will give performances of Mahler Symphonies Nos. 2, 5, 6, and 9 in two tours throughout Europe, including the centerpiece: a rare four-concert engagement at the famed Vienna Konzerthaus, as part of the city’s commemoration of the Mahler anniversaries.  For complete tour details, see page 12.


Keeping Score, the San Francisco Symphony’s acclaimed national media project designed to make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds, launches its third television season on PBS in the spring of 2011 with a focus on the life and music of Gustav Mahler. In addition to PBS documentaries and live performance videos, the third season of Keeping Score includes an interactive online experience at keepingscore, a new series of national radio programs, and an education program that provides professional development for K-12 teachers, enabling them to integrate classical music into core subjects.  To date, over six million people in the U.S. have seen the Keeping Score television series, with international broadcasts across Europe and Asia. The Peabody Award-winning Keeping Score radio series has been broadcast on almost 100 stations nationally.   Full details of Season Three of Keeping Score will be announced at a later date.


The San Francisco Symphony’s acclaimed Mahler recording cycle, launched in 2001 on its own SFS Media label, comes to a close this season with the release of Mahler’s Songs for Orchestra in September 2010. Songs for Orchestrafeatures the SFS performing Rückert Lieder with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, led by Michael Tilson Thomas. Baritone Thomas Hampson and the Orchestra contribute performances of Songs of a Wayfarer (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen) and selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn to the release. Rückert Lieder and Songs of a Wayfarer (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen) were both recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall during the September 2009 Mahler Festival. Thomas Hampson recorded songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn with MTT and the Orchestra at Davies Symphony Hall in May 2007.

The SFS Media Mahler cycle has won seven Grammy Awards, including three for Best Classical Album. Most recently, in January, its September 2009 release of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10 garnered three Grammys in the categories of Best Classical Album, Best Choral Performance, and Best Engineered Classical Album. The cycle has sold over 130,000 recordings. All SFS Media recordings are available on hybrid SACD from the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall and online at sfsymphony as well as other major retailers. The recordings can also be purchased as MP3s from iTunes, Emusic, Rhapsody, and other digital outlets. SFS Media recordings are distributed by Harmonia Mundi in the U.S. and Avie internationally.


As an integral part of the Orchestra’s Centennial Initiatives, the SFS in 2010-11 offers two world premiere performances of new works commissioned by the SFS.  Vocalist and composer Rufus Wainwright will perform his new Five Shakespeare Sonnets with the Orchestra November 11-13. Jeffrey Kahane conducts Wainwright’s SFS debut.

Canadian-American singer-songwriter Wainwright, born in New York to folk singers Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III in 1973, has had a diverse career in pop music as well as on screen, appearing as an actor and singer, scoring films, and writing music for ballet and dance. Wainwright’s first opera, Prima Donna, premiered at the Manchester International Festival in 2009 and opens in London in April 2010. Wainwright’s new recording All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, a reference to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 43, is set for an April 5 release. The record contains three Shakespeare sonnets, selected from 24 pieces of music that Wainwright wrote for a Berliner Ensemble production directed by Robert Wilson in Berlin last year. Also included is Les Feux D’Artifice T’Appellant, the final aria from Prima Donna.

The world premiere of Israeli composer Avner Dorman’s work Uriah, an SFS commission, will be led by conductor David Robertson January 26-28. At 25, Dorman became the youngest composer to win Israel’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Award.  The same year, he won the Golden Feather Award from ACUM (the Israeli Society of Composers and Publishers). Dorman’s work has been performed by the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. He holds a doctorate in music composition from The Juilliard School.

In addition to the two world premieres, the 2010-11 season features 18 works never before performed by the SFS.  Michael Tilson Thomas leads the Orchestra in compositions by American composers Morton Feldman (Rothko Chapel) and Duke Ellington (“Come Sunday,” “Heaven,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”). Tilson Thomas will also lead first performances of works by two Latin American composers, Revueltas’ Sensemayá and Villa-Lobos’ Ciranda das sete notas, the latter featuring Principal Bassoon Stephen Paulson. The Orchestra also performs Berg’s Three Pieces from Lyric Suite and Debussy’s Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra with pianist Jean-Frédéric Neuburger.

In his SFS debut, Pablo Heras-Casado leads the Orchestra in its first performances of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12, The Year 1917, and its first performances ever of the music of Hungarian composer György Kurtág, his Grabstein für Stephan.  Jeffrey Kahane leads the SFS in its first performances of Kurt Weill’s Symphony No. 2. Peter Oundjian leads the first SF Symphony performances of Christopher Rouse’s The Infernal Machine, and pianist David Greilsammer performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto Nos. 5 and 8 with the Orchestra, led by Bernard Labadie. Kirill Karabits conducts the Orchestra in Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s Elegie, written in 2002. These are the first SFS performances of Silvestrov’s music. Carlos Kalmar conducts the Orchestra in its first performances of Schnittke’s Moz-Art à la Haydn, and Ton Koopman leads from the podium in C.P.E. Bach’s Symphony in G major. Yan Pascal Tortelier leads the Orchestra and violinist Vadim Gluzman in the first SFS performances of Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto.


The San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas open the 2010-11 season on Tuesday, September 7 with their 99th Season Opening Gala concert, featuring soprano Jessye Norman performing Copland’s In the Beginning with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and songs by Duke Ellington, including “Come Sunday,” “Heaven,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Sophisticated Lady,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing”).  The gala program also includes Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, and Suite No. 2 from Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé.

Other highlights of MTT’s sixteenth season as Music Director include:

  • MTT leads the Orchestra in three weeks of concerts highlighting SFS musicians as featured soloists. From September 22-25, English horn player Russ deLuna and Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye are soloists in Aaron Copland’sQuiet City. Also on the program is Lou Harrison’s Parade, written for and dedicated to Michael Tilson Thomas, and Copland’s Organ Symphony with Paul Jacobs. The week of September 29, MTT and the Orchestra perform an all-French program, including the first SF Symphony performances of Debussy’s Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra. Principal Clarinet Carey Bell is the soloist in Debussy’s Première Rapsodie for Clarinet. The Orchestra also performs Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole and scenes from Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette. The music of Latin American composers and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 highlight the week of October 7. Led by MTT, Principal Bassoon Stephen Paulson is featured soloist with the Orchestra in the first SFS performances of Villa-Lobos’ Ciranda das sete notas.  These are also the Orchestra’s first performances of Revueltas’ Sensemayá. Edgar Varèse’s Amériques (revised version) completes the program.
  • Principal Viola Jonathan Vinocour and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus are featured in Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel, for viola, celesta, percussion, soprano, alto and choir, which the Orchestra will perform under MTT the week of February 23. The Orchestra and Chorus also perform Mozart’s Requiem in D minor for the first time during the regular season since 1991.
  • Michael Tilson Thomas leads the Orchestra the week of December 8 in Project San Francisco concerts. Project San Francisco composer John Adams’ Harmonielehre, Henry Cowell’s Synchrony, and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 (featuring Gil Shaham) are on the program.  For more on Project San Francisco, see p. 2.
  • Beginning May 5, MTT conducts the Orchestra in three all-Mahler programs featuring Symphonies No. 9, 2, and 6. Soprano Karina Gauvin and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke are the soloists, and the SF Symphony Chorus also performs in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection.
  • Pianist Yuja Wang, the featured Project San Francisco artist for 2010-11, joins the Orchestra and MTT to perform Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 June 16-19.
  • Tilson Thomas conducts the Orchestra in their first performances together of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis June 23-26. The soloists are soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Katarina Karnéus, tenor Gregory Kunde, and bass Ain Anger, with the SF Symphony Chorus.
  • In November, MTT leads two concert weeks featuring the music of Brahms, Strauss, Schubert, and Berg. Beginning November 17, MTT conducts Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and Four Last Songs (Vier letzte Lieder), with soprano Elza van den Heever. Schubert’s Music from Rosamunde opens the program. The week of November 24, Thanksgiving week, Yefim Bronfman joins the Orchestra for performances of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, and the Orchestra performs his Academic Festival Overture. The first SFS performances of Berg’s Three Pieces from Lyric Suite complete the program.
  • Mezzo-soprano Anne Sophie von Otter joins the Orchestra beginning March 3 for selected songs by Grieg and Nielsen. MTT and the Orchestra also perform Hindemith’s Concert Music for String Orchestra and Brass together for the first time.
  • Other major works of the standard repertoire MTT will conduct include Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, the subject of the Symphony’s Keeping Score television series pilot, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7, and Brahms’ Serenade No. 1.


The San Francisco Symphony offers an in-depth exploration this season of the music of Beethoven, presenting and performing a wide selection of the composer’s symphonies, concertos, and chamber music. Michael Tilson Thomas leads the Orchestra and SF Symphony Chorus in their first performances together of Missa solemnis in June, with soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Katarina Karnéus, tenor Gregory Kunde, and bass Ain Anger. In October, the Orchestra also performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 under MTT’s baton. Visiting conductor Marek Janowski conducts two all-Beethoven weeks, in January and February, including the composer’s Symphonies No. 1, 2 and 4; the Triple Concerto with violinist Chee-Yun, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and pianist Jeremy Denk; and his Piano Concerto No. 3, with Juho Pohjonen in his San Francisco Symphony debut. The Orchestra also performs the Leonore Overture No. 3 under Janowski.

In April, conductor Peter Oundjian leads Jonathan Biss and the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor. With the Dresden Staatskapelle in October, pianist Rudolf Buchbinder performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. The Mutter-Bashmet-Harrell Trio, with violinist Anne Sophie Mutter, violist Yuri Bashmet, and cellist Lynn Harrell, in November performs an all-Beethoven program, including the String Trio in C minor, the Serenade in D major for Violin, Viola and Cello, and the String Trio in E-flat major.

The Orchestra also performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in Europe this season, in Lucerne in September 2010 and in Vienna, Paris, and Prague in May 2011.


The San Francisco Symphony welcomes several of today’s most distinguished and accomplished conductors to its podium as guests with the Orchestra. Among them:

  • John Adams [see John Adams: Project San Francisco, p. 2].
  • October 21-24 the SFS welcomes back the Music Director of Los Angeles Opera and the Ravinia Festival James Conlon, to conduct Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and three works by Dvořák: CarnivalOverture, In Nature’s Realm, and the Othello Overture. Joshua Bell will join Conlon and the SFS to perform Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 at these concerts.
  • Canadian conductor and Music Director of the Toronto Symphony, Peter Oundjian returns to the SFS April 28-30 to lead the Orchestra in its first performances of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Christopher Rouse’s The Infernal Machine. Jonathan Biss will be soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 3 rounds out the concert program.
  • 32-year-old Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado makes his SFS debut October 28-30, leading the Orchestra in its first performances of both György Kurtág’s Grabstein für Stephan and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12, The Year 1917. Alice Sara Ott makes her debut with the Orchestra to perform Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The Orchestra also performs Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave Overture during these concerts.
  • Acclaimed for his interpretations of Beethoven, Artistic Director of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin Marek Janowski leads the Orchestra in two all-Beethoven programs. January 20-23 he conducts the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 and his Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring the SFS debut of Juho Pohjonen. Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 is also on the program. Janowski returns February 2-5 with Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 1 and 2 and his Triple Concerto in C major, featuring Chee-Yun on violin, Alisa Weilerstein on cello and pianist Jeremy Denk.
  • November 11-13 Jeffrey Kahane leads the Orchestra and vocalist Rufus Wainwright in the world premiere of Wainwright’s SFS-commissioned work Five Shakespeare Sonnets. Kahane is currently the Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Renowned as both a pianist and a conductor, Kahane will perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major in these concerts. The Orchestra will also perform Kurt Weill’s Symphony No. 2 for the first time.
  • Conductor Carlos Kalmar makes his SFS debut November 3-5, leading the Orchestra in Orff’s Carmina burana featuring soprano Joélle Harvey, tenor Nicholas Phan, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Also performing are the Crowden School Chorus and the Pacific Boychoir. Kalmar will also lead the Orchestra in its first performances of Schnittke’s Moz-Art á la Haydn. Haydn’s Symphony No. 97 completes the program. The Uruguayan-born Austrian is the Music Director of the Oregon Symphony and of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.
  • Ukrainian-born conductor Kirill Karabits makes his SFS debut January 6-9 at age 34, leading the Orchestra in Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor featuring Hélène Grimaud and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. The Orchestra will also perform Valentin Silvestrov’s Elegie for the first time.
  • Dutch conductor Ton Koopman returns to Davies Symphony Hall for the first time since 1996, when, as part of the Symphony’s Great Performers Series, he led the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, which he founded in 1979. He makes his debut with the SFS February 9-12 leading performances of Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 2 featuring Mario Brunello, Schubert’s Symphony No. 5, and the first SFS performances of C.P.E. Bach’s Symphony in G major.
  • Kurt Masur returns to the SFS podium March 10-12 to lead an all-Mendelssohn performance of the composer’s Symphony No. 4 and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Soloists include soprano Susannah Biller and narrator Itay Tiran, both making their SFS debuts, as well as the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
  • January 13-15 Yan Pascal Tortelier conducts the SFS in Mussorgsky’s Prelude to Khovanschina, and Prokofiev’s Scenes from Romeo and Juliet. Vadim Gluzman joins the Orchestra in these concerts for its first performances of Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto. Tortelier is Principal Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.
  • Charles Dutoit returns to the SFS April 14-17 to lead the Orchestra in Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Henri Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain, featuring cellist Gautier Capuçon. Swiss conductor Dutoit is the Chief Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Principal Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • April 7-9 Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä directs the Orchestra in Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 2, A London Symphony, and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor featuring SFS Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik. Vänskä is the Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra.
  • David Robertson returns to the SFS podium January 26-28 for a program that features the world premiere of Avner Dorman’s SFS commission Uriah.  Also at these concerts, Leonidas Kavakos performs Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, and the Orchestra performs his Symphony No. 1 and Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

·         Russian-American conductor Semyon Bychkov returns to the SFS October 14-17 to lead performances of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin and British composer Sir William Walton’s Symphony No. 1. Pianist Kirill Gerstein performs Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini at these concerts.
·         Bernard Labadie leads the SFS in all-Mozart concerts February 17-19. These performances will include Symphonies Nos. 25 and 33 and the first SFS performances of Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 5 and 8 featuring David Grielsammer, who makes his SFS debut in these concerts. Israeli pianist and conductor Greilsammer won the Young Musician of the Year prize at the French Music Awards in 2008, and followed it by performing the complete Mozart Sonatas in a one-day marathon in Paris. Labadie founded and is Music Director of the chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy and the choir La Chapelle de Québec.


The San Francisco Symphony’s 2010-11 season features 15 guest soloists making their SFS debuts, including pianists David Greilsammer, Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, Alice Sara Ott, and Juho Pohjonen; violinist Arabella Steinbacher; cellist Mario Brunello; sopranos Susannah BillerIngela Bohlin, and Karina Gauvin; mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims; bass Ain Anger; bass-baritones Jonathan Lemalu and Shenyang; vocalist Rufus Wainwright; and narrator Itay Tiran.

The 31 guest artists returning to perform with the SFS during the 2010-11 season include: pianists Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk, Kirill Gerstein, Hélène Grimaud, Yundi Li, and Yuja Wang; violinists Joshua Bell, Vadim Gluzman, Leonidas Kavakos, Gil Shaham, and Chee-Yun; cellists Gautier Capuçon and Alisa Weilerstein; organist Paul Jacobs; sopranos Christine Brewer, Joélle Harvey, Elza van den Heever, Jessye Norman, Jessica Rivera, and Dawn Upshaw; mezzo-sopranos Sasha Cooke, Michelle DeYoungKatarina KarnéusKelley O’Connor, and Anne Sofie von Otter; and countertenors Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Steven Rickards; and tenors Gregory Kunde and Nicholas Phan.


SFS Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt leads the Orchestra for two weeks in March 2011, in Dvořák’s New World Symphony and with soloist Arabella Steinbacher in her SFS debut in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 March 24-26.  From March 30 through April 2 Yundi Li joins Blomstedt and the Orchestra for Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The Orchestra also performs Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 in these concerts.

March 16-20 SFS Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin leads the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in Bach’s Mass in B minor featuring soprano Ingela Bohlin, mezzo-sopranos Abigail Nims and Kelley O’Connor, tenor Nicholas Phan, and bass-baritone Shenyang. Bohlin, the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists perform the same program March 17 at the University of California-Davis’ Mondavi Center.

A number of San Francisco Symphony musicians will be featured soloists when MTT conducts in the 2010-11 season.  From September 22-25, English horn player Russ deLuna and Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye solo in Copland’s Quiet City. SFS Principal Clarinet Carey Bell will be featured in Debussy’s Première Rapsodie for Clarinet September 29-October 3, and Principal Bassoon Stephen Paulson is soloist in the first SFS performances of Villa-Lobos’ Ciranda das sete notas October 7-9.  SFS Principal Viola Jonathan Vinocour will be featured in Feldman’s Rothko Chapel when MTT conducts the Orchestra’s first performances of the work February 23-26. SFS Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik will perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor with guest conductor Osmo Vänskä leading the Orchestra April 7-9.

SFS musicians will also appear in the 2010-11 Chamber Music Series, with six Sunday matinee concerts in Davies Symphony Hall and four at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra Music Director Donato Cabrera leads the Youth Orchestra in six concerts, including three concerts of diverse orchestral repertoire in Davies Symphony Hall, and three December concerts of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, two at Davies Symphony Hall and one at Flint Center in Cupertino.


The San Francisco Symphony Chorus, in its fourth season under SFS Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, performs in seven SFS concert weeks and one special choral concert.  Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the Chorus in three programs, with repertoire including Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, and Beethoven’s Missa solemnis.  Michael Tilson Thomas also leads the group in Copland’s In the Beginning at the Opening Gala.  Guest conductor Carlos Kalmar leads the ensemble in Orff’s Carmina buranaJohn Adams leads the group in his El Niño, and Ragnar Bohlin conducts the Chorus in Bach’s Mass in B minor.  Bohlin will also conduct the spring chorus concert in May, with repertoire to be announced.


The San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas perform two European tours during the 2010-11 season, with residencies at some of Europe’s most prestigious festivals and in music capitals around the Continent. In September 2010, the Orchestra returns to the acclaimed Lucerne Festival for a three-concert residency.  These Orchestra concerts with MTT cap its three-year Lucerne Festival residency and include performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5; Berlioz’ Les Nuits d’été (with soprano Susan Graham) and Roman Carnival Overture; Copland’s Organ Symphony, featuring organist Paul Jacobs; Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2; Berg’s Violin Concerto with Christian Tetzlaff; and the Overture to Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer.  The Orchestra’s Lucerne Festival residency began in 2006 with three concerts and continued with three more in September 2007, including performances of Mahler’s Symphonies No. 7 and 8.   The SFS also performs two concerts in Italy.  In Milan, Susan Graham joins MTT and the Orchestra for Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été, and the Orchestra performs his Roman Carnival Overture, as well as Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and Daphnis et Chloé, Suite 2. In Turin, MTT leads the Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Wagner’s Overture to Der fliegende Holländer.

In May 2011, the Orchestra and MTT return to Europe for three weeks, their longest tour of the Continent since 2003. The primary musical focus is the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. MTT and the Orchestra perform 15 concerts in nine cities, beginning May 19 in Prague. A historic highlight of the tour is a rare four-concert engagement in Vienna’s Konzerthaus, with Tilson Thomas leading the Orchestra in performances of Mahler’s Symphonies No. 2, 6, and 9.  Violinist Christian Tetzlaff once again performs on tour with the Orchestra, in the violin concertos of Berg and Mendelssohn. The Orchestra performs two concerts each at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional de Musica, and Smetana Hall in Prague.  MTT and the Orchestra also perform in Brussels; Luxembourg; Essen, Germany; Barcelona; and Lisbon. In addition to the Mahler symphonies, and the Berg and Mendelssohn violin concertos, tour repertoire includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Henry Cowell’s Synchrony.

For its performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, the Orchestra is joined by some of Europe’s outstanding choral groups. In Vienna, the Orchestra is accompanied by the Wiener Singakademie chorus, and in Paris, by the Choeur de Radio France. The Gulbenkian Choir performs with the Orchestra in Lisbon. The Orféon Donostiarra performs in Madrid, and the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno performs with the Orchestra in Prague.


The San Francisco Symphony’s 2010-11 season offers a twelve-concert Great Performers Series and several special concerts with some of the world’s most lauded and accomplished musicians, orchestras and conductors.  The series begins on October 24 with the Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestra and pianist Rudolf Buchbinder in a concert featuring music by Beethoven and Brahms.  In November, the SFS presents pianist Murray Perahia in recital.  Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, violist Yuri Bashmet, and cellist Lynn Harrell perform an all-Beethoven recital as the Mutter-Bashmet-Harrell Trio in November.  In January, pianist Lang Lang returns to Davies Symphony Hall to perform in recital.  Russian baritoneDmitri Hvorostovsky and pianist Ivari Ilja are featured in a recital in February.  Later that month, conductor Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra visit San Francisco to perform two concerts featuring music by Beethoven, Haydn, Mahler, and Webern.  Pianist Yefim Bronfman performs a recital with music by Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Chopin in March.  Later that month, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and conductor Yuri Temirkanovperform two concerts of works by Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich, and Brahms.  Cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins the ensemble for one performance and pianist Nikolai Lugansky for the other.  In April, conductor Josep Ponsleads The National Orchestra of Spain and pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque in a concert featuring music by Falla, Joan Albert Amargós, Stravinsky, and Ravel.  The Great Performers Series concludes on June 21 with a recital featuring pianist Yuja Wang.

Violinist Itzhak Perlman performs a recital in January. In addition, the San Francisco Symphony presents several special concerts, including a Halloween night screening of the 1920 silent classic film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with organistDennis James providing haunting accompaniment; a celebration of Mexican music and culture at the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Family Concert in November, conducted by SFS Assistant Conductor Donato Cabrera; and the annual Chinese New Year Concert & Celebration in January. The SFS also presents several holiday concerts, including the Colors of Christmas pop/R&B concerts with guest vocalists and the Orchestra, and the return of the New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. Complete details of the Orchestra’s holiday concerts will be announced at a later date.


The San Francisco Symphony continues its performances for patrons in the South Bay during the 2010-11 season, with a five-concert subscription series at the Flint Center in Cupertino. The acclaimed SFS Youth Orchestra will also perform its annual holiday concert Peter and the Wolf at the Flint Center in December.  Conductor Semyon Bychkov, the SFS, and pianist Kirill Gerstein open the South Bay Classical Series on October 14 with a program of Ravel, Rachmaninoff, and Walton.  Other conductors featured in the series include David Robertson and Osmo Vänskä, and the SF Symphony debut of Ton Koopman. Violinist Leonidas Kavakos, cellist Mario Brunello, and SFS Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik also appear.  The SFS has performed at Cupertino’s Flint Center since 1971.


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony perform two concerts at the Mondavi Center at University of California, Davis this season. The first concert is an all-French program on September 30, featuring pianist Jean-Frédéric Neuburger as soloist in Debussy’s Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra, and SF Symphony Principal Clarinet Carey Bell in the composer’s Première Rapsodie for Clarinet. Also on the program are Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole and selected scenes from Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette. The Orchestra and the SF Symphony Chorus return March 17 to perform Bach’s Mass in B minor under the baton of conductor Ragnar Bohlin, Chorus Director. Soloists include soprano Ingela Bohlin, mezzo-sopranos Abigail Nims and Kelley O’Connor, tenor Nicholas Phan, and bass-baritone Shenyang. The San Francisco Symphony had the honor of performing the inaugural concert at the Mondavi Center when it opened in 2002, in a program of Strauss, Bartók, Wagner, and Michael Tilson Thomas’ Urban Legend, and has performed there four times since.


The San Francisco Symphony continues its Sunday Organ Series during the 2010-11 season, featuring the mighty Ruffatti organ in Davies Symphony Hall.  The three-concert series features organists Olivier Latry in November, Paul Jacobs in January, and Jane Parker-Smith in April.  The Ruffatti organ is the largest concert-hall organ in North America and was handcrafted in Padua, Italy.  This customized concert pipe organ boasts 8,264 pipes ranging in size from a ballpoint pen to over 32 feet tall, with a façade measuring 1600 square feet.


The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO), led by Wattis Foundation Music Director Donato Cabrera, celebrates its 30th anniversary season in 2010-11.  The Youth Orchestra, beginning its second season with Cabrera on the podium, performs three Sunday matinee concerts on October 31, March 13, and a 30th anniversary concert on May 22.  The Youth Orchestra will also perform its annual Peter and the Wolf holiday concerts in Davies Symphony Hall and at the Flint Center in Cupertino. Members of the SFSYO range between the ages of 12 and 20. The Orchestra is internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s finest ensembles of young musicians.


Praised by The New York Times as “a music education powerhouse” and by The Wall Street Journal as “the industry standard,” the San Francisco Symphony’s education programs offer a vital cultural resource in the Bay Area.  Committed to serving its community in meaningful and lasting ways, the SFS reaches thousands of people of all ages throughout Northern California with its educational and community programs, touching a broad economic and cultural cross-section of the population. The Adventures in Music program, which serves as a national model for music education, provides in-school music experiences to every child in grades 1-5 in San Francisco’s public elementary schools, as well as a special concert by the Orchestra in Davies Symphony Hall.  The SFS Youth Orchestra, celebrating its 30th season in 2010-11, has achieved an international reputation for excellence.  Music for Families features the San Francisco Symphony in a series of weekend matinee concerts specially designed for children and their families to learn about music together.  Concerts for Kids makes live orchestral music available to more than 35,000 children each year throughout Northern California.  Other programs such as the Instrument Training and Support Program and the web sites SFSKids.com and KeepingScore reach young instrumentalists, students of all ages, teachers, and adults, providing access to and engagement with music of the highest quality.


The San Francisco Symphony performs a number of free concerts for music lovers in neighborhoods around the Bay Area.  On September 24, the Orchestra performs a free noontime concert at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, and, in the summer of 2011, performs free concerts in Dolores Park and Stern Grove. The annual All-San Francisco concert for more than 100 community organizations returns in September, and the SFS presents its annual Community Deck the Hall Concert in December.

Monica Turner
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.