S.F. Symphony touts choral works, new music in 2013-14 

click to enlarge Longtime leader: San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas is beginning his 19th year in the post. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Longtime leader: San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas is beginning his 19th year in the post.

A  highlight among San Francisco Symphony’s 2013-14 exciting season offerings, announced today, is a semi-staged production of Benjamin Britten's majestic opera "Peter Grimes.”  
Conducted by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, the cast features four internationally acclaimed Merola-Adler program veterans, including tenor Stuart Skelton in the title role.
 The season, which opens with a gala Sept. 3 and closes with "Peter Grimes” in June 2014, celebrates Britten on the centennial of his birth features with varied concerts: "Four Sea Interludes" with an original video on June 28; the mighty War Requiem, conducted by Semyon Bychkov and featuring soprano Christine Brewer in November; excerpts from "The Prince of the Pagodas," and Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, with Robert Ward, the orchestra's principal horn, also in June.
The programming makes great use of the S.F. Symphony Chorus, directed by Ragnar Bohlin, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
At a season announcement luncheon last week, President Sakurako Fisher said the symphony plans to keep “pushing the envelope in terms of being more adventure-oriented in our programming, and to think more outside the box."
Given the upcoming schedule, it doesn’t appear that the organization will return to tradition-bound years of former music director Herbert Blomstedt.
Executive Director Brent Assink, himself a composer, described how the symphony continues to offer "the great gift of music, giving us deep and long-lasting relationships."
That solid foundation was tested recently by the tragic sudden death of principal oboist William Bennett, followed by the brilliant cohesion of conductor and musicians in performances of Bruckner's Symphony No. 7.
MTT, 68, also boasts long-running musical relationships:  40 years with the London Symphony Orchestra, 25 years since he established the New World Orchestra in Miami, and 39 years since he first conducted the S.F. Symphony. He became music director here in 1995.
MTT praised John Mangum, director of artistic planning, calling him an "almost frighteningly gifted enabler," as the organization is prepares for its season, both locally – in Davies Hall, Sonoma's Green Music Center, Mondavi Center at UC Davis – and on U.S. and international tours.
Plans are in the making for use of a flexible performance space, with dubious acoustics, in the Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall, on the corner of Hayes and Franklin streets, for "new music experiences with musicians, composers and artists."

S.F. Symphony 2013-14 season
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: Sept. 3 through June 29, 2014
Tickets: Many subscription packages available
Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.symphony.org

Select highlights
Gala opening: Audra McDonald (Sept. 3)

West Coast premiere: Zosha Di Castri’s "Lineage” (Sept. 11-14).

–  Film series: The orchestra accompanies Hitchcock films (Oct. 31-Nov, 2), “A Night at the Oscars" (Feb. 15), "City Lights" (April 12), “Fantasia" (May 31).  

Beethoven and Bates: Programs pair old and new music by genre-bending local composer Mason Bates (Jan. 8-18; Feb. 27-March 2)

–  Mark Inouye: S.F. Symphony trumpeter solos in works by Shostakovich and Bach (April-May)

Guest conductors:  Marek Janowski (Oct. 17-20), Edwin Outwater (Oct. 24-26), Semyon Bychkov (Nov. 20-24), Osmo Vänskä (Jan. 30-Feb. 1), Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (Feb. 19-22), Herbert Blomstedt (April 3-11) James Conlon (April 24-26)  Charles Dutoit (May 29-June 7),

Returning soloists: James Ehnes (Sept. 6), Yefim Bronfman (Sept. 11-14), Emanuel Ax (Sept. 26-28), Leila Josefowicz (Oct. 3-6), Jeremy Denk (Nov. 7-10), Hélène Grimaud (Feb. 5-7), Yo-Yo Ma (Feb. 28),  Gil Shaham (Feb. 27-March 2), Julia Fischer (March 6-9), Garrick Ohlsson (April 9-11), Jean-Yves Thibaudet (April 24-26), Christian Tetzlaff (May 14-17), Kirill Gerstein (June 4-7), Janine Jansen (June 12-15), Toby Spence (June 19-21)


About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
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