San Francisco Symphony, born over the ashes of the Great Quake of 1906, has a distinguished past, a robust present and a promising future – all of which will be in play as the orchestra prepares for its 2011-12 centennial season.
Preliminary plans were announced in Davies Symphony Hall today by Executive Director Brent Assink, while Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas tried to participate, but was barely audible, suffering from a sore throat.
The coming season will be his 17th, equaling the record tenure of the legendary Pierre Monteux. Full plans for the season will be announced on March 1.
"In marking the orchestra's first hundred years," said SFS President John D. Goldman, "This season is the moment to define what this orchestra will be for its next hundred."
The organization – with its $63 million operating budget, annual audience of nearly half a million, and staff of 250 – has a major economic, as well as artistic and educational presence, in The City.
Contributions from individuals and companies, led by Bank of America, Chevron and Wells Fargo, are covering the considerable extra expense of special centennial programming.
In a historical bow to The City, there will be an unprecedented tour to San Francisco by all the country's major orchestras. They include: the 168-year-old New York Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert; 120-year-old Chicago Symphony, directed by Riccardo Muti; the 111-year-old Philadelphia Orchestra with Charles Dutoit and the 110-year-old Boston Symphony, led by James Levine.
Also scheduled to perform are the Cleveland Orchestra, 92, under the baton of Franz Wesler-Möst; and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, 91, with Gustavo Dudamel.
The visiting orchestras bring classics and new commissioned works by prominent composers such as Thomas Ades, Mason Bates, Elliott Carter (himself 102), Enrico Chapela, Anna Clyne, Magnus Lindberg and Kaija Sariaaho.
In addition to Davies Hall concerts, the centennial celebration also features expanded music education programs to San Francisco public schools; formation of a new Community Music Program to foster amateur music-making; and festivities including the opening gala and free outdoor concerts.
Semi-staged concerts will celebrate the music of early San Francisco, from the Gold Rush on. MTT will be joined by former music directors Edo de Waart (1977-1985) and Herbert Blomstedt (1985-1995), leading concerts.
The acclaimed 2000 American Mavericks Festival returns, from March 8-17, and it includes commissioned works from John Adams and Bates. The festival features Jessye Norman, Meredith Monk, Jeremy Denk, Emanuel Ax and the St. Lawrence String Quartet, among others.
IF YOU GO
Where: Davies Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
When: September 2011 through June 2012
Tickets: On sale starting March 1
Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org/100