As you may have heard by now, this is the centennial season of the San Francisco Symphony, and as you have probably also heard, they are unleashing an Avalanche of Awesome this year – every week a highlight! Since the full schedule was announced last spring various friends have been wondering how to keep up, and keep from bankrupting themselves this year. Well, good luck with that, that’s all I can say.
I think I was initially sort of overwhelmed by the announcement – the Symphony has what you might call a baseball season, as opposed to the football season of the Opera, so it takes a longer time for it all to sink in, especially since the most appealing and intriguing items are often tucked away between more popular (or so the marketers hope) pieces. So there’s a huge lot of fragmented information to take in, which might be why my brain seized on the Mahler 3, and I kept thinking, I just have to make sure I get to the Mahler 3. No particular reason, it was simply the drifting log I grabbed on to in the swirling vast ocean.
So: the Mahler 3 (21-25 September) is among the tickets I already have, along with:
James Conlon conducting the Verdi Requiem, with Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Frank Lopardo, and Ain Anger, 19-22 October;
Michael Tilson Thomas conducting a world premiere by Sofia Gubaidulina and also the Brahms Requiem with Jane Archibald and Kyle Ketelsen, 17-20 November;
Tilson Thomas conducting Janacek’s Sinfonietta and Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sebastien, with Karina Gauvin, Sasha Cooke, Leah Wool, and Frederica von Stade narrating, 12-14 January 2012;
Charles Dutoit conducting Stravinsky’s Le Chant du rossignol, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Arabella Steinbacher, 1-3 March 2012;
and Tilson Thomas conducting Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw and the Beethoven 9th, which closes the season 27-30 June 2012.
Some other especially enticing possibilities (Tilson Thomas conducting unless otherwise noted): the west coast premiere of Thomas Ades’s Polaris, along with Mozart’s Haffner and Stravinsky’s Petrushka (29 September – 1 October); Alan Gilbert leading violin soloist Renaud Capucon in Dutilleux’s L’Arbre des songes, along with the Beethoven 8 and the Haydn 99 (27-29 October); Esa-Pekka Salonen leading violin soloist Leila Josefowicz in his own violin concerto, along with Pohjola’s Daughter by Sibelius and Christine Brewer in excerpts from Wagner’s Ring (8-10 December); Christian Tetzlaff in the Ligeti Violin Concerto, along with Liszt’s Prometheus and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony 1, Winter Daydreams (6-8 January); and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, with Michelle DeYoung and Alan Held, along with Jeremy Denk in the Liszt Piano Concerto No 1. (Further information and tickets are available on the Symphony's website here in case you missed it above.)
There’s also an American Mavericks series in March 2012, with some amazing programs, including pianist Jeremy Denk and vocalists Jessye Norman, Meredith Monk, and Joan La Barbara in works by Foss, Cowell, and Cage; and world premieres from Mason Bates and John Adams (details here).
And I haven’t even mentioned the visiting orchestra series, featuring two programs each (many featuring music they have commissioned) from the Los Angeles Philharmonic , the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra (details here).
That’s all kind of overwhelming (as well as all kinds of overwhelming), and I’m not sure how any of us who actually have to go work are going to keep up. But even all that isn’t the only game in town:
Cal Performances is also hosting several orchestras (details here), and the Berkeley Symphony has an appealing line-up (the one that’s jumping out at me features Sarah Cahill in the Lou Harrison Piano Concerto, which I love; that’s on December 8, and the rest of the schedule can be found here); the Oakland East Bay Symphony schedule is here; and last but certainly not least the very fine New Century Chamber Orchestra has an excellent line-up (details here), including a world premiere from this season's featured composer, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.