MTT on the SFS podium (from the event page for the first program discussed in this article)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations at a meeting in Paris that took place on December 10, 1948. To honor the 70th anniversary of this occasion, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) has prepared two weeks of concert programs that will be performed next month by the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). MTT will use the first week to present the first SFS performances of one of his own compositions, “From the Diary of Anne Frank.” Drawing upon the texts from the historic diary that Frank kept during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, MTT composed a dramatic work for narrator and orchestra, which was premiered by the New World Symphony in 1990 with Audrey Hepburn providing the narration. Next month the narrator will be Isabel Leonard, and MTT’s composition will be coupled with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 55 (“Eroica”) symphony in E-flat major.
The following week will also see a major Beethoven offering, his Opus 125 (ninth) symphony in D minor. Known as the “Choral” symphony, the final movement sets Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” poem, whose words have frequently been evoked to honor the principles of human rights. (There is also a United Nations connection, since the original hand-written manuscript was the first musical score to be added to the United Nations Memory of the World Programme Heritage list.) Ragnar Bohlin will prepare the SFS Chorus; and vocal soloists will be soprano Susanna Phillips, mezzo Kelley O’Connor, tenor Nicholas Phan, and bass-baritone Davóne Tines. Phillips will also be soloist when the program begins with the 1928 orchestral version of seven songs by Alban Berg originally wrote between 1905 and 1908, when he was a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg.
The first concert will be given four performances, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, November 15, and Sunday, November 18, and at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 16, and Saturday, November 17. Instead of an Inside Music Steven Winn will moderate a panel discussion exploring the topic of “Music as a Human Right,” beginning one hour before each performance. Doors to the Davies lobbies open fifteen minutes prior to the talk.
Ticket prices range from $20 to $156. 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 an embedded sound file of KDFC’s Rik Malone’s podcast about the Beethoven symphony and sound clips of previous SFS performances of that composition. Flash is required to play these sound files.
The second concert will be given only three performances at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 23, and Saturday, November 24, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 25. The pre-concert Inside Music talk will be given by Peter Grunberg. Ticket prices range from $89 to $200, and they may be purchased through this concert’s event page. The event page also has an embedded sound file of KDFC’s Rik Malone’s podcast about the Beethoven symphony and sound clips of previous SFS performances of both of the pieces on the program.