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• Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS celebrate landmark birthdays of iconic American Maverick composers John Adams (70), Steve Reich (80), and the Lou Harrison centennial with dedicated concert weeks and special events.

• Semi-staged performances of Mahler’s Das klagende Lied with new staging conceived by Michael Tilson Thomas, directed by James Darrah with video design by Adam Larsen, featuring soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and baritone Brian Mulligan.

• SFS commissions and premieres include the world premiere of Bright Sheng’s “Overture” to Dream of the Red Chamber, the U.S. premiere of Robin Holloway’s Europa and the Bull for tuba and orchestra, and the West Coast premiere of Michael Tilson Thomas’s new work Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind for mezzo-soprano and orchestra.

• American Mavericks program led by MTT features his new work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, as well as Antheil’s Jazz Symphony with video and dancers, and music by Ives and Harrison.

• MTT and the SFS offer new Discovery Concert that uses conversation, musical examples, and video to examine Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, culminating in a full performance of the work.

• Opening Night Gala performance with Renée Fleming and Susan Graham performing American and Italian songs and a tribute to Steve Reich.

• Performance of Berlioz’s massive choral symphony Roméo et Juliette, featuring the SF Symphony Chorus, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, tenor Nicholas Phan, and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni.

• Orchestra’s eighth tour of Asia includes concerts in Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Osaka, and Tokyo with pianist Yuja Wang. The Orchestra’s annual performances in Carnegie Hall feature cellist Gautier Capuçon and works by Cage, Bartók, Mahler, and Shostakovich.

• Orchestra’s Grammy-winning in-house record label SFS Media releases two MTT/SFS albums this season: an all-Debussy recording featuring La Mer, Jeux, and Images, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 paired with Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra.

• SF Symphony principal musicians take center stage: Principal Oboe Eugene Izotov, Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye, Principal Tuba Jeffrey Anderson, and Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik featured in concerts throughout the year.

• SF Symphony first performances include works by John Adams, Allegri, Glinka, Gnesin, Haydn, Hindemith, Robin Holloway, Marcello, Mussorgsky, Rossini, Schreker, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Verdi.

• Conductor Christian Reif begins tenure as Resident Conductor of the SFS and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the SFS Youth Orchestra.

Great Performers series welcomes orchestras from around the world, including the Berlin, Los Angeles, China, Saint Petersburg, and Warsaw Philharmonics, the Prague Philharmonia, and the Danish National Orchestra; pianists Lang Lang, Murray Perahia and András Schiff, and violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Itzhak Perlman present solo recitals.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – February 29, 2016 – Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) today announce their 2016-17 season. Presenting an 11-month season of more than 200 concerts at Davies Symphony Hall and around the world, MTT and the SFS build on their landmark 21-year artistic partnership, one characterized by wide-ranging programs that champion masterworks of the core repertory and deepen their longstanding relationships with contemporary composers.  In the new season, MTT and the SFS also continue their commitment to evolve the traditional concert experience through a variety of semi-staged productions and multi-disciplinary performances, and to be accessible to audiences around the globe through recordings, media projects, and high-profile tours.

Figuring prominently in the 2016-17 season are birthday celebrations for three longtime artistic collaborators of the SFS: John Adams (70th), Steve Reich (80th), and Lou Harrison’s centennial. Other highlights include a new, semi-staged production of Mahler’s Das klagende Lied conceived by MTT; performances of Berlioz’s massive choral symphony Roméo et Juliette; commissions and premieres of new works by Bright Sheng, Robin Holloway, and Michael Tilson Thomas; two new recordings on SFS Media; the third season of experimental SoundBox programs; and two high-profile tours of Asia and the Eastern U.S.

“My relationship with both the Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony audience deepens with each passing year,” says Michael Tilson Thomas. “I relish the trust that we have established with our audience that allows us to offer new perspectives, new ideas, new context, for both old and new music.  No less is the trust that the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony and I have in each other, that allows us to take the necessary risks to offer those new and fresh musical ideas.”

Leading the Orchestra in 18 concert weeks at Davies Symphony Hall and on tour in Asia and the East Coast, MTT continues to cultivate the more than two-decade partnership he has developed with the musicians of the SFS and their audience, creating new ways for the audience to engage with and connect to the music through staging and multi-disciplinary performances, along with interactive and informative explorations of works close to his heart as well as with artists and composers he has championed for decades.

Michael Tilson Thomas begins his 22nd season with the Orchestra at the Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, September 7, with longtime friends and artistic collaborators Renée Fleming and Susan Graham.  The two acclaimed superstars of the opera world perform a program of Italian and American songs, including pieces written by MTT.  The Orchestra’s 105th opening also pays special tribute to Steve Reich’s 80th birthday with a performance of the composer’s Three Movements. Other works on the Gala program are Rossini’s Overture from William Tell and the Ballet Music from William Tell, a first performance for the SFS.

The Gala concert will be broadcast live on Classical KDFC 90.3/89.9/104.9 FM and streamed online at Proceeds from the Opening Night Gala benefit the Orchestra’s myriad artistic, community and education programs, which provide music education to more than 75,000 Bay Area schoolchildren each year.

The 2016-17 season celebrates three important anniversaries for composers that define the American Maverick musical spirit: John Adams’s 70th birthday, Steve Reich’s 80th birthday, and Lou Harrison’s centennial.

The SF Symphony honors John Adams’s 70th birthday in a special two-week celebration of his music in February 2017.  One of America’s most admired and respected composers, John Adams has had a strong relationship with the San Francisco Symphony for more than 35 years: He was appointed contemporary music advisor to the San Francisco Symphony in 1979 and composer-in-residence between 1982 and 1985, a tenure which helped set the precedent for composer residencies at orchestras around the world. The creative partnership between the SF Symphony and John Adams has been extraordinarily productive: Since 1981 the SFS has performed 29 of his works, seven of which were SFS commissions.  Two works receive their first SFS performances in Adams’s 70th birthday season. First, Joanna Carneiro conducts The Gospel According to the Other Mary on February 16-18. Carneiro led the staged premiere of the work with the English National Opera in the 2014-15 season. The performance features mezzo-soprano Kelly O’Connor as Mary Magdalene, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford as Martha, and Jay Hunter as Lazarus. On February 22-25, MTT and the SFS present the first SFS performances of Scheherazade. 2, featuring violinist Leila Josefowicz. Scheherazade. 2 was written specifically for Josefowicz, who performed the world premiere in March 2015. The two-week celebration is part of a California-wide tribute to John Adams that includes a slate of performances and events in partnership with Cal Performances, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boosey & Hawkes, and other performing arts organizations.

“The San Francisco Symphony’s special relationship with John Adams has been incredibly fruitful,” says Michael Tilson Thomas. “John’s emergence as a composer has been an important part of our orchestra’s history and emergence on the international scene.  I’ve always enjoyed conducting his vital music, and look forward to celebrating John and his music this year.”

A pioneer of the 1960’s Minimalist movement, Steve Reich’s Bay Area musical influences were developed at Mills College and the famed San Francisco Tape Music Center.  Since discovering Reich’s music soon thereafter, MTT has championed the avant-garde composer’s works for more than four decades with numerous performances and recordings.  Now, in celebration of his 80th birthday, MTT and the SFS feature Steve Reich’s works in multiple concert programs at the beginning of the 2016-17 season.  MTT begins his tribute to the maverick composer at the Orchestra’s Opening Gala with performances of the composer’s Three Movements. Subsequent concerts on September 9-10 feature that work alongside Reich’s Double Sextet performed by contemporary chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird side-by-side with SFS musicians. Double Sextet will be a first SFS performance.

On Sunday, September 11, MTT conducts and hosts a special birthday celebration in honor of Steve Reich’s extraordinary musical contributions. Members of the SFS will be joined by special guest artists and ensembles with whom Reich has developed strong relationships. The event is hosted by the SFS in partnership with a number of Bay Area organizations with strong ties to Reich. Additional details will be announced at a later time.

“Steve has given us so much joy in music,” adds Michael Tilson Thomas.  “I first heard his music in the 1960s and at the time I was taken aback because it was so different than any of the avant-garde music I had known or performed.  When I first took his music to Carnegie Hall in the 70s, the audience booed.  Forty years later, his work is beloved and on our Opening Gala program.  To see his music take this journey and cross the bridge from jeers to core repertory for adventurous American orchestras is gratifying to say the least.  And a half century later, his notes still sound fresh.”

MTT presents an American Mavericks program June 23-25 in a special tribute to Lou Harrison’s centennial that includes the composer’s Suite for Symphonic Strings. Harrison’s Suite for Symphonic Strings was premiered in 1961, and includes material from the composer’s previous 25 creative years. The suite combines Asian influences with traditional Western forms. Longtime Aptos resident and co-founder of the Cabrillo Festival, Lou Harrison is one of the grand masters of Bay Area composers and enjoyed a personal and artistically vibrant relationship with both MTT and the SF Symphony. MTT commissioned Harrison to write a work that would be the first he would conduct as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony in 1995.  The June 23-25 program celebrates innovative thinking in American music with Harrison’s close friend Charles Ives’s From the Steeples and the Mountains and The Unanswered Question, and Antheil’s Jazz Symphony, which features choreography and video elements. Also on the program is the West Coast premiere of Michael Tilson Thomas’s own Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, MTT’s setting of Carl Sandburg’s poetic saga about civilization and fate. Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind features mezzo-soprano Measha Brueggergosman—who performs the world premiere of the work with MTT at the New World Symphony in April 2016—and includes original video design.

A special concert celebrating Lou Harrison’s music will be offered in SoundBox in April 2017.  The fascinating multi-disciplinary program will celebrate his music and his interests in linking Asian and Western musical styles and instruments.

“When Lou passed away twelve years ago, he left behind an amazing legacy of adventurous music,” says Michael Tilson Thomas. “Lou was a mystic and a visionary in the truest sense of the word and a great friend.  Lou’s music has great rhythmic vitality but also great melodies, melodies that really soar.  This program honors his visionary legacy in many ways.”

For more than 20 seasons, Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS have been at the forefront in creating original staging for works of the symphonic and operatic repertory in a symphony hall.  From The Flying Dutchman, Peter Grimes, Peer Gynt, and West Side Story, to last season’s Missa solemnis, MTT continues to explore new ways to provide context for core masterworks with visionary choreography, lighting, and imagery. On January 13-15, the MTT and the SFS continue this innovative approach with a semi-staged production of Mahler’s Das klagende Lied conceived by MTT.

“Much like the production of Missa solemnis last year, my goal is to take listeners through the beautiful intricacies of this work, using video, lighting, and other elements to peel back the layers of music,” adds Michael Tilson Thomas. “These elements will serve to illuminate every facet of Mahler’s music, and it is my hope that the audience walks away having had a deeper, more inspiring experience than they might have had otherwise.”

The cast for Das klagende Lied features soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and baritone Brian Mulligan. MTT joins forces with stage director James Darrah and video designer Adam Larsen, with whom he has partnered for a number of semi-staged productions, including Peer Gynt, Peter Grimes, and Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien.  The all-Mahler program also includes the composer’s Blumine and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) with Sasha Cooke.

The 2016-17 season introduces a new Discovery Concert event on September 18, in which MTT continues his multi-season examination of Beethoven’s music with a unique presentation of one of the composer’s most famous works, Symphony No. 5. The special event will include discussion, musical examples, video, and a full performance of the work to conclude the exploratory evening. Other multimedia events in the 2016-17 season include video accompaniment to John Cage’s The Seasons on March 23-26, and MTT’s American Mavericks program on June 23-25, which features video projections for Tilson Thomas’s Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, as well as video and dance elements for Antheil’s Jazz Symphony.

MTT and the SF Symphony and Chorus close out the 2016-17 season June 28-July 1 with Berlioz’s large-scale choral symphony Roméo et Juliette, widely regarded as one of Berlioz’s finest, most comprehensive, and detailed works. It has been more than thirteen years since MTT and the SFS last performed Roméo et Juliette.  These performances welcome back mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, as well as tenor Nicholas Phan and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni.

“Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette is one of the most beautiful and emotional works ever written,” Michael Tilson Thomas says. “But it is also one of the most challenging to perform, simply because of its simultaneously immense and intricate nature. It takes a great deal of trust and understanding between the conductor, orchestra, chorus, and soloists to unravel the many layers of this work in a way that results in a powerful experience for the audience. With our incredible SF Symphony and Chorus and the incomparable talent of Sasha, Nick, and Luca, I look forward to bringing this monumental piece to life.”

For more than 20 years, a hallmark of Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s programming has been the championing of today’s leading composers through long-term commitments to commission, premiere, and record their works. Highlights on the Davies Symphony Hall stage in the 2016-17 season include commissions and premieres of music by Bright Sheng, Robin Holloway, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

On September 28-October 1, MTT and the San Francisco Symphony perform the world premiere of Bright Sheng’s “Overture” to Dream of the Red Chamber, a concert suite derived from Sheng’s new opera by the same name, which will have its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera on September 10. The opera is based on a story written by 18th-century Qing Dynasty author Cao Xueqin, considered one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. Dream of the Red Chamber features an English-language libretto by the composer and playwright David Henry Hwang, winner of the 1988 Broadway Tony Award for Best Play for M. Butterfly.

The “Overture” is a San Francisco Symphony commission, and will also be performed in Korea, Taiwan, China, and Japan on the Symphony’s tour of Asia in November 2016.

Several works by MTT will be performed in the 2016-17 season, beginning with Agnegram (November 2-4), a piece for orchestra written in 1998 as a 90th birthday tribute to longtime Symphony supporter Agnes Albert. The Orchestra will also perform Agnegram on its Asia tour in November 2016. On June 23-25, MTT and the SFS present the West Coast premiere of Tilson Thomas’s Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, which receives its world premiere in April 2016 at the New World Symphony. It is a raucous and humorous song cycle setting of Carl Sandburg’s poem of the same name. In addition to mezzo-soprano soloist, Measha Brueggergosman, the work calls for chamber orchestra, a “bar band,” backup singers, and video projections. MTT describes the piece as his “light-hearted take on the end of the world.”

English composer Robin Holloway has enjoyed an extensive relationship with Michael Tilson Thomas, who first conducted and recorded Holloway’s Third Concerto for Orchestra with the London Philharmonic in 1997. MTT and the SFS have commissioned and premiered four previous works by Holloway: Clarissa Sequence (1998); 2004’s En blanc et noir, an orchestration of a Debussy work for two pianos that the Orchestra performed on tour in the U.S. and Europe; the Fourth Concerto for Orchestra (2007); and an orchestration of Debussy’s C’est l’extase for soprano and orchestra, which received its world premiere with Renée Fleming in January 2013.

Europa and the Bull is a concertante for tuba and orchestra, featuring Principal Tuba Jeffrey Anderson as soloist in the work’s first SFS performance March 23-24. The work was co-commissioned with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, who gave the world premiere with tuba soloist Robin Haggart and conductor Andrew Manze in October 2015. Robin Holloway says of the work, “This concertante for tuba and orchestra, composed in mid-late 2013, was initially inspired by my love of the noble solo instrument that is usually confined to roaring or brooding at the bottom of the brass section, plus admiration for some outstanding players of it when a rare moment of exposure reveals, as well as sheer power, their powers of cantabile and eloquence…Its inspiration is the tale familiar from Ovid and other antique poets, then taken up by painters throughout the ages, of Jupiter’s lustful hankering for the beautiful nymph Europa: his wooing her in the form of a bull, his plunging off with her into the turbulent ocean.”

Additional highlights of Michael Tilson Thomas’s concert weeks include:

– September 14-17: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Haydn’s Symphony No. 69, Laudon, and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 3.

– September 22-24: All-Italian program that includes a selection of Italian arias featuring star tenor Michael Fabiano, Berio’s Sinfonia for Eight Solo Voices and Orchestra (featuring vocal ensemble Swingle Singers), Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in C minor with Principal Oboe Eugene Izotov, and Verdi’s Te Deum.

– September 28-October 1: In addition to Bright Sheng’s “Overture” to Dream of the Red Chamber, MTT and the SFS perform Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite and Le Chant du rossignol. Yuja Wang joins the Orchestra in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1, also featuring Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye.

– October 27-30: MTT is joined by the Pacific Boychoir for the first SFS performances of Allegri’s Miserere. The program also includes Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 with guest artist Rudolph Buchbinder.

– November 2-4: In addition to MTT’s Agnegram, the orchestra performs Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Yuja Wang.

– March 1-4: MTT leads the first SFS performances of Gnesin’s The Jewish Orchestra at the Ball of Nothingtown, along with Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with Gautier Capuçon, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, Pathétique.

– March 23-26: Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and John Cage’s The Seasons with video projections. While the March 23-24 performances present the U.S. premiere of Robin Holloway’s Europa and the Bull with Principal Tuba Jeffrey Anderson, the March 25-26 concerts feature violinist Nicola Benedetti performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

– March 30-April 2: Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10.

MTT and the SFS embark on their fourth tour of Asia together (and the SF Symphony’s eighth overall) November 9-22, 2016, performing ten concerts in Seoul, Korea (November 9-10); Tainan and Taipei, Taiwan (November 11-12); Shanghai, China (November 15 and 17); Beijing, China (November 18); Osaka, Japan (November 20); and Tokyo, Japan (November 21-22). Pianist Yuja Wang will join the Orchestra on tour, performing Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1—which also features SFS Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye in a solo role—and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Pianist Dong-Hyek Lim will perform the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 in Seoul, Korea. The tour showcases the SFS’s newly commissioned work by Chinese composer Bright Sheng, “Overture” to Dream of a Red Chamber. Other concert repertoire includes Michael Tilson Thomas’s own Agnegram, Stravinsky’s Le Chant du rossignol and The Firebird Suite, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7. The concert in Tokyo on November 22 will be broadcast live on radio and recorded for delayed television broadcast. San Francisco audiences will have the opportunity to preview this music at DSH in concerts September 28-October 1 and November 2-4.

In 2017, the Orchestra embarks on an East Coast tour, performing concerts in Chapel Hill, North Carolina April 4-6 and two concerts at New York City’s Carnegie Hall April 7-8.   Cellist Gautier Capuçon joins MTT and the SFS in Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1. Additional tour repertoire includes John Cage’s The Seasons, Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Adagio from Symphony No. 10.

In 2016, for the first time on SFS Media, MTT and the SFS will release a recording of Debussy works, featuring La Mer, Jeux (both recorded live in January 2013), and Images (recorded live in May 2014).

In spring 2017, SFS Media will release a recording of Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra (recorded January 2015), alongside Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 (recorded live in September 2011). These recordings follow SFS Media’s most recent release, Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra (March 2016).

In December 2014, MTT and the SFS launched SoundBox, an alternative performance space backstage at Davies Symphony Hall that hosts ten intimate musical evenings with San Francisco Symphony musicians in a casual, nightclub setting. MTT and SFS musicians work with composers and curators to create multidisciplinary programs that explore music from around the world and across the centuries.  Writer Alex Ross notes in The New Yorker, “Like many American orchestras, the San Francisco Symphony is seeking to diversify its offerings and capture the attention of a younger audience. With SoundBox, it has hit on a winning formula.” Performances are scheduled December 9-10, January 20-21, February 10-11, March 10-11, and April 14-15, with programs curated by MTT, SFS musicians, composer Mason Bates, and others. The April 14-15 SoundBox performances will showcase Lou Harrison’s music in honor of his centennial. Individual SoundBox programs and on-sale dates will be announced later in the 2016-17 season.

The SFS’s popular Film Series now enters its fourth year in the 2016-17 season with Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, featuring the music of J. Strauss, R. Strauss, Ligeti, and others. The SFS Chorus joins the Orchestra for three live performances conducted by Brad Lubman October 13-15. On January 7-8, the Orchestra performs the Leonard Bernstein score from 1954 crime drama On the Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan. The film garnered 12 Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Marlon Brando and Best Director for Kazan. Raiders of the Lost Ark, directed by Steven Spielberg with music by John Williams, makes its swashbuckling debut on the SFS Film Series April 14-15. The iconic Casablanca (released in 1942) directed by Michael Curtiz with music by Max Steiner will be performed on June 2-3.

SFS musicians take center stage throughout the season in Davies Symphony Hall, at chamber music venues around the Bay Area, and in SoundBox. At Davies Symphony Hall, Principal Oboe Eugene Izotov offers the first SFS performances of the Marcello Oboe Concerto September 22-24. Izotov was SFS Associate Principal Oboe from 1996-2003 and began his principal role in the 2015-16 season after similar positions at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera. Audiences have not heard him as soloist at Davies Symphony Hall since 2002. Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye takes on a solo role in the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 with pianist Yuja Wang September 28-October 1, before performing the work on the Orchestra’s Asia tour November 9-22. Principal Tuba Jeffrey Anderson is soloist in an SFS co-commissioned work by Robin Holloway, Europa and the Bull, playing the first US performances on March 23-24. On May 31-June 1, Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik leads and performs Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and is joined by Principal Trumpet and featured soloist Mark Inouye in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2.

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus, led by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, is featured this season in Verdi’s Te Deum September 22-24 with MTT; the October 13-15 screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, led by conductor Brad Lubman; Handel’s Messiah, led by Patrick Dupré Quigley in his SFS conducting debut December 15-17; the semi-staged productions of Mahler’s Das klagende Lied led by Michael Tilson Thomas January 13-15; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt February 1-3; the John Adams 70th birthday celebration February 16-18 in the composer’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary, led by conductor Joana Carneiro; Berlioz’s Requiem May 4-6 with Charles Dutoit; and with Michael Tilson Thomas leading Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette June 28-July 1. The Chorus additionally performs a special concert conducted by Ragnar Bohlin on April 7 that includes Orff’s Carmina Burana with two pianos, percussion, and children’s chorus.

The musicians of the SF Symphony perform a wide array of repertoire in intimate settings for the Sunday Chamber Music series, and in concerts at the Florence Gould Theater at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor October 16, December 4, February 5, and May 7. Sunday afternoon Chamber Music concerts take place in Davies Symphony Hall on October 23, January 29, February 19, March 19, April 30, and May 29. Chamber music program details will be announced at a later date.

The San Francisco Symphony’s 2016-17 season features some of the world’s most distinguished guest conductors, instrumentalists, and singers, as well as many young emerging artists.

SFS Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt and Charles Dutoit—both longtime friends of the Orchestra—return for two-week engagements. Both conductors also celebrate milestone birthdays this coming season: Herbert Blomstedt celebrates his 90th birthday, while Charles Dutoit celebrates his 80th.

Returning to lead the Orchestra in a week of concerts each are Roberto Abbado, Lionel Bringuier, James Gaffigan, Pablo Heras-Casado, Marek Janowski, Fabio Luisi, Susanna Mälkki, Vasily Petrenko, and Juraj Valčuha. SFS Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik returns as leader and soloist.

Making conducting debuts on the SFS podium are Joana Carneiro, Manfred Honeck, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, and Patrick Dupré Quigley.

Soloists familiar to Davies Symphony Hall audiences include pianists Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Rudolph Buchbinder, Igor Levit, Garrick Ohlsson, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Yuja Wang; violinists Alexander Barantschik, Joshua Bell, Nicola Benedetti, Leila Josefowicz, Simone Lamsma, Gil Shaham, and Arabella Steinbacher; and cellists Gautier Capuçon and Alisa Weilerstein. Wind soloists are SFS Principal Tuba Jeffrey Anderson, Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye, and Principal Oboe Eugene Izotov. Returning vocalists include sopranos Renée Fleming, Joélle Harvey, and Susanna Phillips; mezzo-sopranos Measha Brueggergosman, Sasha Cooke, Susan Graham, Tamara Mumford, and Kelley O’Connor; countertenors Daniel Bubeck and Brian Cummings; tenors Michael Fabiano, Paul Groves, and Nicholas Phan;  baritones Matthias Goerne and Brian Mulligan; and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni.

Artists making their debut with the SFS this season include pianist Denis Kozhukhin; violinist Veronika Eberle; soprano Lauren Snouffer; countertenors Anthony Roth Costanzo and Nathan Medley; tenors Jay Hunter Morris and Zachary Wilder; and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn.

Special appearances by visiting orchestras returning to Davies Symphony Hall include the Berlin Philharmonic with conductor Simon Rattle; the China Philharmonic led by Yu Long with violin soloist Julian Rachlin; the Danish National Orchestra with conductor Fabio Luisi in two programs with violinist Arabella Steinbacher and soprano Deborah Voigt; Gustavo Dudamel leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Emmanuel Villaume leads the Prague Philharmonia Orchestra with cellist Gautier Capuçon; Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Yuri Temirkanov, violinist Sayaka Shoji, and pianist Garrick Ohlsson; and conductor Jacek Kaspszyk makes his Davies Symphony Hall debut with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and pianist Yulianna Avdeeva.

The 2016-17 season offers recitals by pianists Lang Lang, Murray Perahia, and András Schiff, and violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Itzhak Perlman. The San Francisco Symphony’s organ recital series welcomes Vincent Dubois, James O’Donnell, and Wayne Marshall for concerts on the grand Ruffatti concert organ.

In its second century, the San Francisco Symphony continues to be a vital resource in the Bay Area, committed to serving its community as a leading cultural partner. It performs a variety of free and low-cost family and community concerts throughout the year, offering the Bay Area the widest possible opportunity to hear and experience orchestral music. The SFS performs annual free summer concerts at the Stern Grove Festival on Sunday, July 9 and Sunday, July 16 at the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27. The Orchestra also performs its annual low-priced All-San Francisco concert in September for San Francisco’s community groups, the Community Deck the Hall Holiday Concert during the Christmas season, its low-cost Concerts for Kids series for more than 30,000 children and teachers from all over Northern California, and the Music for Families series designed to introduce children and their parents to the wonders of live orchestral music. Special events of the San Francisco Symphony’s 105th season include the annual Día de los Muertos and Lunar New Year celebrations in November and February, respectively.

At the beginning of the season, the San Francisco Symphony welcomes Christian Reif as its new Resident Conductor and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the SFS Youth Orchestra. In his position, Reif will lead the internationally acclaimed SFS Youth Orchestra and serve as Resident Conductor of the SFS, assisting Michael Tilson Thomas and several guest conductors with subscription concerts, touring, semi-staged productions, recordings, and other special projects. In addition, he will conduct the San Francisco Symphony in selected Concerts for Kids, Adventures in Music, and Music for Families concerts, which annually draw more than 26,000 young people and their families from throughout the Bay Area to Davies Symphony Hall.

Christian Reif made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in September 2015 conducting the West Coast premiere of Ted Hearne’s Dispatches, following the work’s world premiere at the New World Symphony (NWS) in Miami. He is completing his second season as the Conducting Fellow with the NWS, where he also serves as cover conductor for MTT. “Christian has impressed me with his fine conducting of remarkably versatile repertoire as well as his dedicated mentoring of young musicians,” says Michael Tilson Thomas. “I know he will be an ideal addition to our San Francisco Symphony team.”

The SFSYO performs three concerts in Davies Symphony Hall during the 2016-17 season as well as its annual Peter and the Wolf holiday concerts.

The San Francisco Symphony is committed to bringing orchestral music and access to music to people of every age and life stage. The Symphony’s educational and community programs reach thousands of people of all ages throughout Northern California, touching a broad economic and cultural cross-section of the population. Its Adventures in Music (AIM) program in San Francisco’s public schools reaches every first through fifth grader with comprehensive music education experiences, making it possible for them to learn about music in the classroom. For older students, the Instrument Training and Support program provides every San Francisco public middle and high school band and orchestra program with professional coaching and music supplies. Through the SFS Youth Orchestra and discounted ticket program and outreach to Bay Area college campuses, the SFS continues to offer connections to young adults., the Symphony’s free online educational resource specially created to serve children, adults, families, teachers, and schools, continues to offer opportunities to learn about music through interactivity, animation, and game-based learning. has now reached more than five million users and averages 1,500-2,000 visits per day. The Symphony’s Community of Music Makers program offers workshops that give amateur adult singers and instrumentalists the opportunity to develop their musical skills onstage at Davies Symphony Hall with the support of the musicians, staff, and resources of the SF Symphony.

Subscription packages for the San Francisco Symphony’s 2016-17 season go on sale at 10 am on Monday, March 7 at, (415) 864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office, located on Grove Street between Franklin and Van Ness. Additional information about subscription packages and season highlights is available prior to the on-sale date at

Single tickets for individual 2016-17 concerts will go on sale Monday, July 18.

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The San Francisco Symphony receives support from over 10,000 individual donors and 150 partner institutions. We are especially grateful to the following major funders supporting programs and events in the 2016-17 season:

Second Century Partners
Chevron – Inaugural Partner
Wells Fargo

Official Partners
Emirates Airline – Official Airline

Major Institutional Partners
Franklin Templeton Investments
Jones Day
Koret Foundation
Morrison & Foerster LLP

Public Funding
San Francisco Arts Commission
Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund
National Endowment for the Arts

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