New San Francisco Symphony Chorus ’Twas the Night Christmas concerts,The Snowman animated children’s film with live orchestral accompaniment, performances of John Adams’ El Niño Nativity oratorio, Liza Minnelli singing standards and favorite holiday chestnuts, four performances of Handel’s Messiah, and the elegant New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball are highlights of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS)’s holiday concert lineup at Davies Symphony Hall for 2010.
Starting with celebrated composer John Adams conducting the San Francisco Symphony in El Niño December 2-4 and ending with the festive New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball to welcome 2011, the San Francisco Symphony offers a wide variety of festive, memorable celebrations and concerts for the entire family to enjoy during the 2010 holiday season.
San Francisco Symphony musicians and special guests perform two Deck the Hall family concerts of seasonal and holiday music on December 5, followed by entertainment and arts and crafts for children. Also on December 5, American songstressLiza Minnelli performs standards and holiday songs accompanied by bandleader Billy Stritch and her quartet. Mariachi Sol de México de Jóse Hernàndez brings Mexican and traditional Christmas favorites, including songs commemorating the Day of Virgin of Guadalupe, to Davies Symphony Hall December 12.
The Colors of Christmas concerts return to Davies Symphony Hall as vocalists Peabo Bryson, Stephanie Mills, Ben Vereen, and Oleta Adams present Christmas songs and their own pop hits on December 13, 14, and 15. SF Symphony Chorus Director and conductor Ragnar Bohlin leads soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Tove Dahlberg, tenor Benjamin Butterfield, bass Robert Gleadow, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah on December 15 at the Flint Center in Cupertino and December 16, 17, and 19 at Davies Symphony Hall. The Grammy®-award winning Blind Boys of Alabama appear in their Go Tell It on the Mountain holiday concert December 19 with blues/soul songstress Ruthie Foster. Ragnar Bohlin leads soprano Lisa Vroman, organist Robert Huw Morgan, and members of the Orchestra brass section and Chorus in three new ’Twas the Night Christmas concerts, featuring favorite Christmas songs and sing-alongs, December 22, 23 and 24.
In addition to the Deck the Hall concerts December 5, the Symphony’s holiday lineup includes several concerts particularly suited for children and families to attend together, with special half-price tickets for children 17 and under. On December 11 at Davies Symphony Hall and December 12 at the Flint Center in Cupertino, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform its ever-popular Peter and the Wolf concerts, with conductor Donato Cabrera leading the Orchestra in the classic children’s favorite and other pieces specially programmed for the holidays. New this season is the 26-minute animated children’s film The Snowman, screened December 18 with live accompaniment by the San Francisco Symphony, also led by Cabrera. The lobby of Davies Symphony Hall will be transformed for the holidays into an evergreen wonderland with towering trees, each one uniquely decorated by local schools and community groups.
Tickets for all San Francisco Symphony holiday concerts are on sale now through www.sfsymphony.org/holiday, by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall box office on Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue.
JOHN ADAMS CONDUCTS HIS EL NIÑO, A NATIVITY ORATORIO
December 2, 3 and 4 at 8:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall
The Symphony’s Project San Francisco trains the spotlight on the work of renowned American composer and Bay Area resident John Adams, who has had a close relationship with the Orchestra since his appointment as its first composer-in-residence nearly three decades ago. Adams will conduct the Orchestra in a new production of his San Francisco Symphony co-commission El Niño, a multilingual retelling of the birth of Jesus, at Davies Symphony Hall December 2-4. Sopranos Dawn Upshaw (Dec. 2 & 4) and Jessica Rivera (Dec. 3), mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, countertenors Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Steven Rickards, bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu, the Grammy® Award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus perform.
DECK THE HALL CHILDREN’S HOLIDAY CONCERT AND PARTY
December 5 at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall
The San Francisco Symphony’s annual Deck the Hall event celebrates the holiday season with a magical stage show designed for children ages three to ten. Inaugurated 30 years ago by the late Louise M. Davies, this holiday classic is a Symphony tradition. Deck the Hall will take place on Sunday, December 5 at 11:00 a.m., with a second performance at 3:00 p.m. The post-show party in the lobbies includes a variety of entertainment, arts and craft activities for children, and refreshments.
LIZA MINNELLI and her quartet
December 5 at 8:00 p.m.
The one and only Liza Minnelli performs a holiday concert of American standards and songs of the season, as well as selections from her newest record, Confessions. Minnelli will be accompanied by Billy Stritch and her quartet in her only Bay Area appearance. She has been touring and performing with orchestras in cities throughout the U.S. and Europe. Minnelli recently appeared in the film Sex and the City 2. Liza returned triumphantly to Broadway in 2008 with Liza’s at the Palace …,for which she won her fourth Tony Award. She recreated the show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where her performance was filmed for a public television special and DVD. The show’s cast recording was nominated for a Grammy Award.
PETER AND THE WOLF
San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra
December 11 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall
December 12 at 3:00 p.m. at the Flint Center, Cupertino
Conductor Donato Cabrera leads the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra in three performances of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. The orchestra performs December 11 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in Davies Symphony Hall and on December 12 at 3 p.m. at the Flint Center in Cupertino. A special guest narrator will be announced. In addition to Peter and the Wolf, the Orchestra will also perform festive holiday songs that the whole family will enjoy singing along to. Tickets may also be purchased to a party before the 12/12 Flint Center performance, with arts and crafts, family entertainment, and refreshments. Details are available through the SF Symphony Volunteer Council at (415) 503-5500.
MARIACHI SOL DE MÉXICO DE JÓSE HERNÀNDEZ
December 12 at 8:00 p.m. in Davies Symphony Hall
The 14-piece Grammy-nominated ensemble Mariachi Sol de México de Jóse Hernàndez returns to Davies Symphony Hall for a colorful celebration of Mexico’s Christmas traditions and the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Mariachi Sol de México has performed with artists including Selena, Juan Gabriel, Jose Feliciano, Luis Miguel, Vikki Carr, Rocio Durcal, Lucha Villa, Maria Conchita Alonso, Paloma San Basilio, Emilio Navaira, Lola Beltran, Vicente Fernandez, The Beach Boys, and Willie Nelson. The music of Mariachi Sol de México has been heard on the soundtracks of Sea Biscuit, The Old Gringo, American Me, Don Juan de Marco, Disney’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, A Million to Juan, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. They have recorded more than a dozen CDs, including the Latin Grammy-nominated Tequila con Limón and the 25th Anniversario Jóse Hernàndez y Su Mariachi Sol de México, also nominated for a Grammy Award.
COLORS OF CHRISTMAS
December 13, 14 and 15 at 8:00 p.m. in Davies Symphony Hall
Peabo Bryson, Stephanie Mills, Ben Vereen, and Oleta Adams celebrate at the annual Colors of Christmas concerts with the San Francisco Symphony, performing traditional Christmas favorites and their individual hits. Bryson’s soft-rock/R&B hits include the Top 10 hit “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again” and the Grammy® Award-winning “Beauty and the Beast” (with Celine Dion) and “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)” with Regina Belle. Vereen has had a 35-year career as a vocalist, and stage and screen performer. His most recent touring stage shows are a tribute to the music of Sammy Davis Jr. and “Brooklyn to Broadway.” On Broadway, Vereen has appeared in Wicked, Fosse, I’m Not Rappaport, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin, Grind, Jelly’s Last Jam and A Christmas Carol. For his performance in Pippin, he won both the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for “Best Actor in a Musical.” Soul/R&B/gospel vocalist Oleta Adams, who has been nominated for four Grammy awards, recently released her eighth recording, “Let’s Stay Here.” She produced the disc and wrote eight of its 10 songs. She has toured worldwide with Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, Michael Bolton, and Luther Vandross. Stephanie Mills scored a career success with her performance on Broadway as Dorothy in The Wiz, and has had huge hits in R&B, pop and disco, including “Home,” “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” “Pilot Error,” “I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love,” and a cover of “If I Were Your Woman.” The performers are joined by the First A.M.E. Oakland Mass Choir, and Herman Jackson conducts the Orchestra.
December 15 at 8:00 pm at the Flint Center in Cupertino
December 16-17 at 7:30 p.m. and December 19 at 2:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall
The Grammy® Award-winning SF Symphony Chorus, conducted by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, is joined by soloists Kiera Duffy, soprano; Tove Dahlberg, mezzo-soprano; Benjamin Butterfield, tenor; and Robert Gleadow, bass, and the San Francisco Symphony in performances of Handel’s Messiah oratorio. These are the Chorus and Orchestra’s first performances of Messiah since 2007.
December 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall
This charming animated 26-minute film (Dianne Jackson, 1982) tells the tale of a young boy’s friendship with a snowman. The Orchestra performs the score to this family-friendly movie, led by Resident Conductor Donato Cabrera with the Pacific Boychoir. After the movie, hear Christmas favorites performed by the Orchestra, including Vince Guaraldi “Christmas Time is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.The audience is invited to sing along with Pacific Boychoir and the Orchestra to “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”
BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA
December 19 at 8:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall
Inspired by gospel, blues, and authentic country music, the Grammy® Award-winning Blind Boys of Alabama perform songs from their uplifting Go Tell it on the Mountain CD, as well as seasonal favorites. The group is comprised of vocalists Jimmy Carter, Bishop Billy Bowers, and Ben Moore, plus Eric (Ricky) McKinnie on drums, Joey Williams on lead guitar, and Tracy Pierce on bass. Recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music, The Blind Boys have earned praise for their remarkable interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favorites to contemporary spiritual material by acclaimed songwriters such as Curtis Mayfield, Ben Harper, Eric Clapton, Prince, and Tom Waits. They have been honored by The Grammys and The National Endowment for the Arts with Lifetime Achievement Awards, inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and won five Grammy® Awards over the course of a career that spans more than 60 years. The Blind Boys of Alabama formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. The group performed for nearly 40 years almost exclusively on the black gospel circuit, playing in churches, auditoriums, and even stadiums across the country. Special guest is the acclaimed soul/blues singer Ruthie Foster, who opens the concert.
’TWAS THE NIGHT
December 22-23 at 7:30 p.m. and December 24 at 2:00 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall
This special Christmas concert, new this year, offers conductor and SF Symphony Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin leading soprano Lisa Vroman, organist Robert Huw Morgan, members of the San Francisco Symphony brass section, and members of the SFS Chorus in beloved Christmas carols and favorite childhood Christmas songs, plus an audience sing-along. The program includes such traditional favorites as “Good King Wenceslas,” “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “The First Nowell,” “O Holy Night,” and sing-alongs “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “Deck the Halls.” Complimentary beverages will be served.
NEW YEAR’S EVE MASQUERADE BALL WITH THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY
Doors open and pre-concert entertainment begins at 8:00 p.m.
Orchestra concert begins at 9:00 p.m.
Ring in the New Year at the city’s most elegant celebration, the New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball with the San Francisco Symphony. The December 31 event stars the San Francisco Symphony, conductor and violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky, soprano Katie van Kooten, and the period dancers of Dance Through Time. The Orchestra performs polkas, waltzes, and dances. Beginning at 8 p.m., before the 9 p.m. Orchestra concert, The Martini Brothers entertain and perform their “swingin’ cocktail music” in the Davies Symphony Hall lobby. Celebrate after the Orchestra concert with complimentary sparkling wine, desserts, and savories. Guests are invited to dance on stage to The Peter Mintun Orchestra as the clock strikes midnight, 2,011 colorful balloons cascade from the ceiling, and the crowd welcomes in 2011. Tainted Love performs covers of favorite 1980s dance hits in the First Tier lobby.
Special pre-concert dinner packages include an elegant buffet supper with wine in the Wattis Room at Davies Symphony Hall, special surprises, party favors, and live entertainment. The Wattis Room dinner package ($155) also includes complimentary parking in the Performing Arts Garage and sparkling wine and desserts in the Wattis Room at intermission. A special three-course Italian dinner package with a glass of wine at Caffé Delle Stelle ($105) on Hayes Street also includes special party favors, complimentary parking in the Performing Arts Garage, and admittance to the Wattis Room for sparkling wine and desserts at intermission. Call the Davies Symphony Hall box office for more details on the special pre concert dinners at (415) 864-6000, or visit sfsymphony.org.