The Golden Gate Symphony emerged out of the growth of the San Francisco Sinfonietta, which was founded by Urs Leonhardt Steiner in 1994. The ensemble expanded into the Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra & Chorus in 2014. Steiner continues to serve as the group’s conductor, whose mission continues to be to provide access to classical music at the community level. Next month will begin with the performance of a program entitled Sent-Down Youth: An Intercultural Exchange, conceived in memory of one of the major episodes in the history of the People’s Republic of China.
The “sent-down youth” movement involved an episode from the Cultural Revolution that is still largely unknown in the Western world. The movement consisted of an imposed migration of nearly twenty million urban youth to the countryside in order to be “re-educated” by the peasants. These “sent-down” youth endured over a decade of hardship, separated from their families. By the time they returned, they were no longer youth.
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this movement, the program Sent-Down Youth will present a rare performance of Ask the Sky and the Earth. Conceived by composer Tony Fok and librettist Wei Su, who met as sent-down youth, the piece is an oratorio-cantata originally created in 2008 for chorus and piano and subsequently orchestrated by Fok. The piece will be sung in its original Mandarin language with an intercultural chorus and orchestra of more than 200 performers, including soloists Yi Triplett (soprano), Lisa van der Ploeg (alto), John Ownes and Shine Zhao (tenors), and Alex Ip (bass-baritone). The program will also include the world premiere of the choral composition “Remembering for Atonement,” based on a text by Viktoriya Neverov-Krstic. Following the intermission, the Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra will play Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 68 (“Pastoral”) symphony in F major.
This concert will be given a single performance on Saturday, November 5, at 7:30 p.m. The venue will be the Basilica of Mission Dolores (Misión San Francisco de Asís), located in the Mission on the southwest corner of Dolores Street and 16th Street. Tickets are being sold for $35 with a $20 rate for seniors aged 65 and older and youth under the age of eighteen. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through a City Box Office event page.