The first round of subscription concerts to be presented by the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) following the opening week events will be affiliated with the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit. This will be a gathering in San Francisco of business and civic leaders from around the world intended to showcase and encourage climate action and to inspire deeper commitments from national governments in support of the Paris Agreement. With one exception the program will present offerings that reflect on aspects of the environment and its relationship to human presence.
The most familiar of these will be the orchestrated version of the complete score that Aaron Copland composed for Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring.” The original score was instrumented for a thirteen-member chamber orchestra, respecting the limited resources at Graham’s disposal. It was first performed at the Library of Congress on October 30, 1944, after which Copland prepared a reduced suite scored for full orchestra, which he completed the following year. That 1945 suite will be the final selection on the SFS program.
Michael Tilson Thomas conducting a performance of Inverno in-ver by the New World Symphony (courtesy of the New World Symphony)
In addition SFS will be giving its first performances of Inverno in-ver, a series of eleven musical poems depicting winter scenes by Italian modernist Niccolò Castiglioni. This will be a multimedia presentation with the music accompanied by video projections designed by Clyde Scott and lighting designed by Luke Kritzeck. This piece will be preceded by another video event, projection of images from the COAL + ICE Project, a documentary photography exhibition, which will be on display at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture from September 4 through September 23. The exhibition has been designed to narrate the consequences triggered by the continued use of fossil fuels, following the trajectory of climate change from the dirty coal mines deep within the Earth, to the vanishing glaciers of the Greater Himalaya. Musical accompaniment will be provided by vocalist Abigail Washburn singing songs reminiscent of Depression-era Appalachia.
The one remaining work on the program will be Maurice Ravel’s D major piano concerto written to be played only by the left hand. Ravel composed this piece on a commission by Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm during World War I. The soloist for the SFS performance will be Yuja Wang. This will be her first appearance in Davies Symphony Hall since her Great Performers Series recital scheduled for last May had to be cancelled due to illness.
This concert will be given four performances, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 13, Friday, September 14, and Saturday, September 15, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 16. Instead of the usual Inside Music talk, there will be a pre-concert panel discussion moderated by Tom Corwin, director of the COAL + ICD Project at Fort Mason that will begin one hour before the performance. Washburn will participate in the discussion on Saturday and Sunday, and remaining participants will be subsequently announced. Doors to the Davies lobbies open fifteen minutes prior to the discussion.
Ticket prices range from $32 to $169. 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 Davies Box Office, 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. The event page also has a embedded sound files of KDFC’s Rik Malone’s podcast about “Appalachian Spring” and sound clips of previous SFS performances of the piece. Flash is required to play these sound files.