Next month the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), led by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, will be making its next East Coast tour. That tour was to have included two concerts in North Carolina. However, as was reported last December, these plans were made before the North Carolina state legislature passed into law a bill informally known as “HB2,” whose full title is “An Act to Provide for Single-sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations.” This has come to be known more casually as the “bathroom bill,” since it dictates that the use of such facilities is determined by birth certificate, rather than any more personal sense of gender identity.
Reaction outside of the state of North Carolina was heavily negative and included the National Basketball Association pulling the 2017 All-Star Game out of the city of Charlotte. This past December is when SFS officially decided to join the protest by cancelling the two performances scheduled to begin the tour at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. This means that SFS will be able to push back the date of its departure from San Francisco; and it will use the available time to present Symphony Pride, a benefit concert in support of the Bay Area LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) community.
The program has been prepared to acknowledge the impact of LGBTQ composers both on the Broadway stage and in the concert hall. Audra McDonald will appear as guest artist singing show tunes by Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, John Kander (working with lyricist Fred Ebb), and others. McDonald will also serve as narrator in a performance of Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait.” Other composers whose works will be performed will be Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, Meredith Monk, and John Cage. The program will conclude with the concluding movement of Gustav Mahler’s first symphony, which was scheduled to be performed in its entirety at one of the Chapel Hill concerts.
This concert will take place on Tuesday, April 4, beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are available in the Second Tier for $25, and a few seats are still available in the Orchestra for $50. They may be purchased online through the event page for this program on the SFS Web site, by calling 415-864-6000, or by visiting the Box Office in Davies Symphony Hall, whose entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday.