The San Francisco Symphony embarks on its centennial season. // © 2011 San Francisco Symphony
The San Francisco Symphony celebrates its centennial in 2011-2012 and, last month, it announced its concert programs and the full season event calendar for the orchestra’s milestone year. Presenting an ambitious 11-month season of concerts, programs and events; expanded education programs; and centennial media initiatives, the Orchestra’s 100th season celebrates the orchestra and its vibrant role in its community as an artistic leader and civic institution.
Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra will break new ground with a two-week American Mavericks Festival of music from the composers that defined 20th-century American music. The Orchestra performs concerts including three world premiere commissions, from modern masters John Adams and Meredith Monk and classical/electronica composer Mason Bates, both in San Francisco and on a national tour. Thomas will lead the Orchestra in works from the first year of the San Francisco Symphony’s history, including Debussy’s complete music for the mystery play “Le martyre de Saint Sebastien,” incorporating video and multimedia. Thomas and the Orchestra also perform a semi-staged production of Bartok’s “Duke Bluebeard’s Castle” (1911), Stravinsky’s “Petrushka,” also written in 1911, and a week of semi-staged concerts of music from early San Francisco.
Other major program highlights are two Project San Francisco artist and composer residencies, with violinist Joshua Bell and composer Bates; performances of Thomas Ades and Tal Rosner’s new San Francisco Symphony co-commission “Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra,” also with video; and the U.S. premiere of a new co-commissioned work from Sofia Gubaidulina. The Orchestra’s 2011-2012 centennial season will also feature an unprecedented concert series of six of the most distinguished major American orchestras: Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and The Philadelphia Orchestra, performing two concerts each.
Thomas will conduct the Orchestra in 18 weeks of concerts, including the American Mavericks tour. In addition to the American Mavericks world premieres and first San Francisco Symphony performances during the festival of works by Morton Feldman and John Cage, he leads the first Orchestra performances of Ligeti’s “Violin Concerto,” with Christian Tetzlaff. Other first San Francisco Symphony performances include works by Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Schreker and C.P.E. Bach. Major works of the classical canon Thomas conducts are Brahms’ “Ein deutsches Requiem”; Mahler’s “Symphony No. 3”; Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6, Pastoral” and “Symphony No. 9”; Brahms’ “Symphony No. 1” and his “Piano Quartet No. 1” in G minor, orchestrated by Schoenberg.
The San Francisco Symphony plans expanded music education programs during its centennial season and beyond, including instrument training support for San Francisco public middle and high schools and an amateur music-making program for adults — unique events celebrating the period of the symphony’s founding, and a variety of media projects that explore the living heritage of the Orchestra, its music and its role in the community, including a book, a documentary film and new online experiences.
“In marking the Orchestra’s first hundred years, this season is the moment to define what this Orchestra will be for its next hundred,” said John D. Goldman, president of the San Francisco Symphony. “We celebrate the role our Symphony plays, not just in the lives of those who enjoy our distinctive brand of music-making here at home, but in sharing this great art form with the world and in celebrating its impact on all of our communities.”
Subscription ticket packages for the San Francisco Symphony’s 2011-2012 centennial season are on sale now.