Next month will see the first round of guest conductors visiting the podium of Davies Symphony Hall to lead San Francisco Symphony (SFS) subscription concerts. Those who have been following this site at least since this past summer probably already know that one of those conductors is Karina Canellakis, who made history as the first woman to conduct the First Night of the BBC Proms this past July. Now it will be time for her to make her SFS conducting debut; and she will be preceded by two conductors, both of whom have made regular visits to Davies, Marek Janowski and Cristian Măcelaru. As usual, there will be an impressive diversity of repertoire over the course of the three programs to be presented. Specifics are as follows:
October 3–5: Janowski’s last visit took place this past May, when he prepared a program consisting entirely of music from the nineteenth century. This time he will present an overture-concerto-symphony program that will span three centuries. His overture will be taken from the twentieth, Paul Hindemith’s Opus 50, which he called “Konzertmusik for Brass and String Orchestra.” This will be followed by the nineteenth-century offering, Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 64 violin concerto in E minor. The soloist will be sixteen-year-old María Dueñas, making her SFS debut, currently studying at both the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna and the University of Graz. The program will then conclude by reaching back to the eighteenth century with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 551 (“Jupiter”) symphony in C major (his final symphony).
This concert will be given three performances, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 3, and at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 4, and Saturday, October 5. The Inside Music talk will be given by Peter Grunberg one hour prior to each concert. Ticket prices range from $35 to $160, and an event page has been created for online purchase. They may also be purchased 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. In addition, KDFC’s Rik Malone’s podcast about the Mozart symphony will be posted to the Program Note Podcasts Web page prior to the first performance of this program. Flash must be enabled for both streamed content and online ticket purchases. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and two hours prior to Sunday performances.
October 17–19: Măcelaru’s program will bring two significant firsts to Davies. Most important will be the world premiere of the concerto selection. “Losing Earth” is a percussion concerto commissioned SFS and written for SFS Principal Percussion Jacob Nissly. The title is taken from an article that Nathaniel Rich wrote for The New York Times Magazine entitled “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.” In addition the program will begin with the first SFS performances of “D’un matin de printemps” (of a morning in spring), composed by Lili Boulanger, the younger sister of the better-known Nadia Boulanger and the first female to win the Prix de Rome composition prize. Sadly, the younger Boulanger sister died at the age of 24. The program will conclude with Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky’s suite (originally written for solo piano) Pictures at an Exhibition.
This concert will be given three performances, all at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 17, Friday, October 18, and Saturday, October 19. The Inside Music talk will again be given by Peter Grunberg, including conversation with Adam Schoenberg, one hour prior to each concert. Ticket prices range from $20 to $160, and an event page has been created for online purchase. Malone’s podcast about Pictures will be posted to the Program Note Podcasts Web page prior to the first performance of this program. The event page has an embedded sound file of clips from past performances of that composition.
In addition, these performances will be preceded by the first Katherine Hanrahan Open Rehearsal of the new season. This special behind-the-scenes experience begins at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 17, with coffee and complimentary doughnuts, followed by a half-hour introductory talk by Grunberg at 9 a.m. The rehearsal itself begins at 10 a.m.; and, of course, the pieces rehearsed are at the conductor’s discretion. General admission is $30 with $45 for reserved seats in the Premier Orchestra section, Rear Boxes and Side Boxes, and the Loge. Tickets may be purchased online through a separate event page.
October 24–26: As was previously announced, Canellakis’ program will be shared by the two major Russian composers of the first half of the twentieth century, Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich. The program will begin with Prokofiev’s first (Opus 10) piano concerto in D-flat major. This piece is only about a quarter of an hour in duration, so the intermission will come early. It will be followed by one of Shostakovich’s longer-scale symphonies, the Opus 60 (seventh) symphony. This symphony is known as the “Leningrad;” and it was completed shortly after the beginning of the 900-day Siege of Leningrad. What these two compositions have in common are episodes of repetitions that almost seem calculated to test the limits of listener tolerance. (Think of Ravel’s “Bolero” but without the any of the sensual qualities and seductive changes in instrumentation.)
This concert will be given three performances, all at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 24, Friday, October 25, and Saturday, October 26. The Inside Music talk will again be given by Peter Grunberg, one hour prior to each concert. Ticket prices range from $20 to $125, and an event page has been created for online purchase. Malone’s podcast about the Shostakovich symphony will be posted to the Program Note Podcasts Web page prior to the first performance of this program. The event page has an embedded sound file of clips from past performances of that composition.
These performances will be preceded by the second Katherine Hanrahan Open Rehearsal of the new season, beginning, again at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 24; ticket prices are the same and may again be purchased online through a separate event page.