S.F. Symphony’s 104th season showcases Schumann, Sibelius 

click to enlarge San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas announced the 2015-16 season, his 21st with the orchestra. - COURTESY  ART STREIBER
  • San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas announced the 2015-16 season, his 21st with the orchestra.
San Francisco Symphony’s 104th season announced today promises more than 200 concerts in Davies Symphony Hall and on tour in 11 months. Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, preparing to lead his 21st season, says the past two decades have been characterized by "deepening relationships with each other, with our audiences, with artists and composers, and with the music."

For its 2015-16 season, The City's largest cultural institution – with a budget expected to increase from last year’s $70.83 million – hopes to attract an audience of up to half a million. Programming includes classics such as Robert Schumann's four symphonies, a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius' birth, numerous 20th century violin concertos, vocalists and opera excerpts, and a production of Leonard Bernstein's "On the Town.

New compositions include the world premiere of Mason Bates’ "Auditorium," the U.S. premiere of Jorg Widmann’s piano concerto "Trauermarsch" with Yefim Bronfman, and the West Coast premiere of Ted Hearne’s "Dispatches."

MTT and the orchestra begin the season in late summer with a tour of top European festivals, including Edinburgh, the BBC Proms in London, Lucerne, Berlin, Bucharest, Wiesbaden and Paris. At home, pre-tour concerts in Davies Hall on Aug. 20-22 feature works by Beethoven, Schoenberg, Tchaikovsky, Ives, Bartok and Mahler.

When the orchestra returns from Europe, the Sept. 25 opening concert (following a Sept. 24 gala with a program to be announced) will feature Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 with Daniil Trifonov, a Ravel minuet and Respighi's "Roman Festivals." The season-closing program, from June 29-July 2, 2016, is Mahler's gigantic Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection").

Touring orchestras performing in Davies Hall include Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Mikael Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra with pianist Yuja Wang, and the New York Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, with cellist Carter Brey.

In a series of 20th century violin concerto performances, of special note are the Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Christian Tetzlaff; Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Gidon Kremer; Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor with Leonidas Kavakos and Nielsen's Violin Concerto, with Nikolaj Znaider.

Long known for highlighting vocal works, MTT will feature some of the best-known singers he has championed throughout his career: sopranos Susanna Phillips, Laura Claycomb and Karina Gauvin; mezzos Susan Graham, Sasha Cooke and Kelley O'Connor; and baritone Thomas Hampson.

Several concerts feature music from less familiar operas, including "Khovanshchina" by Mussorgsky, "Palestrina" by Hans Erich Pfitzner, "Oberon" by Carl Maria von Weber, "Turandot Suite” by Ferruccio Busoni and "Pygmalion" by Jean-Philippe Rameau.


San Francisco Symphony 2015-16 season

Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: Aug. 20 through July 2, 2016

Tickets: Subscriptions ($180 to $3,600) on sale now; single tickets ($15 to $175) on sale July 20

Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org

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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