ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

San Francisco Symphony’s dazzling holiday line-up—there’s something for everyone—and there are still seats available for these special events

San Francisco Symphony’s New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at Davies Symphony Hall is San Francisco’s most elegant celebration.  The unforgettable evening is built around exquisite music in a stunning setting.

San Francisco Symphony’s New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at Davies Symphony Hall is San Francisco’s most elegant celebration. The unforgettable evening is built around exquisite music in a stunning setting.

If you happened to catch Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) spectacular concert last Thursday at Weill Hall, which inaugurated their annual 4 concert series at Green Music Center, chances are you’re hungry for more.  Each year SFS, offers a stellar musical line-up for the holidays, ranging from events suitable for children and families to attend together children to Handel’s classic Messiah to its spectacular New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball.  Half the fun of attending an event at Davies Symphony Hall is dressing up and entering its expansive curved lobby which affords gorgeous views of San Francisco.  During the holiday season, this elegant lobby is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, filled with towering trees decorated with handmade ornaments.  The internationally acclaimed San Francisco Symphony, nominated for yet another Grammy Award last week, is one of San Francisco’s treasured gems and the guest performers at Davies are world class.  There is nothing more precious than the gift of music shared between family, loved ones and friends.  Whether it be a matinee or evening performance, the concerts below all have ticket availability and if you act swiftly, there should be no problem attending one, or several, of these magical performances.  

HANDEL’S MESSIAH:   Thursday (12/13), Friday (12/14) Saturday (12/15) all at 7:30 p.m:  Few pieces can deliver a fresh perspective each time they are heard.  Handel’s Messiah is one of those works that yields a new secret on every hearing.  Composed in 1741, it reportedly was a favorite work of Beethoven for its “sublimity of language.”  For modern listeners, it holds a place of reverence in the canon for its universal appeal and moments of timeless expression.  Ragnar Bohlin leads soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson-Cano, tenor Andrew Stenson, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, and the SFS Chorus and Orchestra. (Approximate length: 2 hours and 30 minutes) 

Pre-show event:  “Inside Music,” an informative talk with Alexandra Amati-Camperi, begins one hour prior to concerts.  Free to ticketholders.

Post-show: meet Anthony Cirone, author of The Great American Symphony Orchestra: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Its Artistry, Passion, and Heartache (an engrossing backstage tour of symphony life) for a book signing in the Symphony Store following the December 15 concert.  

Davies Symphony Hall was built in 1980 and is the permanent home of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.  The hall was designed by Pietro Belluschi and seats 2,743 people.  Image: SFS

Davies Symphony Hall was built in 1980 and is the permanent home of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The hall was designed by Pietro Belluschi and seats 2,743 people. Image: SFS

MUSIC FOR FAMILIES WITH SFS: Saturday (12/15) at 2 p.m:  Pass Symphony magic from one generation to the next by bringing your family to hear SFS in kid-sized classical concerts designed for families—great music, fascinating musical discoveries, and priceless memories.  Recommended for ages 7 and older.  Half price for ages 17 and under. Group discount not available. Concert length is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.

Ticketholders will receive a free concert guide to enhance music appreciation at home.

Conductor/Performers:  Teddy Abrams conducts the San Francisco Symphony

Program: Bernstein-Overture to Candide; Handel—The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon; Haydn—Excerpt from Second Movement of Symphony No. 94, Surprise; Beethoven—Fourth Movement from Symphony No. 2; Tchaikovsky—Excerpt from Second Movement from Symphony No. 4; Liszt—Excerpt from Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2; Copland—Saturday Night Waltz and Hoedown from Rodeo; Handy—Saint Louis Blues; Stravinsky—Ragtime from L’Histoire du Soldat; John Williams—Main Theme from Star Wars 

San Francisco Symphony performs a live score accompaniment to the animated family-friendly film "The Showman" on December 22, 2012. Photo: SFS

San Francisco Symphony performs a live score accompaniment to the animated family-friendly film “The Showman” on December 22, 2012. Photo: SFS

THE SNOWMAN  film and sing-along: Saturday (12/22) at 11:00 a.m:  This charming animated 26-minute film (Dianne Jackson, 1982) tells the story of an English boy who makes a snowman on Christmas Eve, only to have it come to life that night and take him on a magical adventure to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus.  SFS performs the score to this family-friendly movie, led by Resident Conductor Donato Cabrera with the Pacific Boychoir.  After the movie, hear the Orchestra will perform Christmas favorites and the audience is invited to sing along.

Pre-show event:Tier with a Twist”—Enjoy a beverage during this concert at “Tier with a Twist” in the Second Tier.  A fresh and festive way to take in a concert, the Tier with a Twist offers specialty food and drinks in the Second Tier bar and you can take your drink to your seat! 

’TWAS THE NIGHT: Carols and sing-alongs with members of the SF Symphony Chorus and Orchestra:  Saturday (12/22) at 7:30 p.m., Sunday (12/23) at 4:00 p.m and Monday (12/24) at 2:00 p.m.

Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin leads soprano Lisa Vroman, members of the Symphony’s brass section and singers from SFS Chorus in three special concerts, featuring favorite carols, childhood Christmas songs, plus audience sing-alongs.  Robert Huw Morgan will play the gorgeous Ruffatti organ, one of the great organs of the world.  Half price for ages 17 and under.  Concert length is approximately 2 hours. 

Pre-show event:Tier with a Twist”—Enjoy a beverage during this concert at “Tier with a Twist” in the Second Tier.  A fresh and festive way to take in a concert, the Tier with a Twist offers specialty food and drinks in the Second Tier bar and you can take your drink to your seat!

NEW YEAR’S EVE MASQUERADE BALL WITH SAN FRANCISCO SMPHONY: Monday (12/31) at 9:00 p.m. Ring in the New Year at the city’s most elegant celebration, the New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball with SFS. The event stars SFS conductor Michael Francis, soprano Heidi Stober, and members of Dance Through Time.  Everyone attending the event receives a complimentary mask as they enter the beautifully decorated lobby of Davies Hall.  Beginning at 8 p.m., The Martini Brothers entertain and perform their “swingin’ cocktail music” in the lobby.  Starting at 9 p.m., SFS performs polkas, waltzes, and dances on stage in Davies Symphony Hall.  Following the Symphony concert, guests are invited to celebrate and dance on the Davies Hall stage to The Peter Mintun Orchestra.  In the First Tier lobby, Super Diamond will perform the hits of the one and only Neil Diamond.  Immediately following the Symphony performance, guests enjoy complimentary sparkling wine, desserts, savories, and party favors.  As the clock strikes midnight, colorful balloons will cascade from the ceiling as the crowd welcomes in 2013.

Pre-event:  A special pre-concert dinner package includes a cocktail reception beginning at 6 p.m., followed by a sumptuous three-course dinner (wine included) in the lobby of the War Memorial Opera House.  The dinner package also includes La Marca Prosecco served in an exclusive gathering the Loge Level lobby at intermission.  Dinner packages begin at $160 and include parking.  For more details on the pre-concert dinners and to make reservations, call the Davies Symphony Hall box office at (415) 864-6000.

Tier with a Twist”—Enjoy a beverage during this concert at “Tier with a Twist” in the Second Tier.  A fresh and festive way to take in a concert, the Tier with a Twist offers specialty food and drinks in the Second Tier bar and you can take your drink to your seat!

Highlights from the 2012 Celebration:

Getting to Davies :  Davies Symphony Hall is located at 201 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street, in San Francisco’s Civic Center, just across the street from City Hall.  The main entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.  Driving to San Francisco and Parking: Be sure to allow ample time when driving into San Francisco on the weekend and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge—there is frequently a 15 to 30 minute back-up on Highway 101 South from Sausalito onwards due to congestion around the toll-plaza.  Arrive early at your parking garage of choice because those also fill up on weekends.  Recommended Garages:  Two garages are very close to Davies— the Performing Arts Garage (1/2 block)(Grove Street between Franklin and Gough Streets) and Civic Center Garage (roughly 2 blocks) (McAllister Street between Polk and Larken Streets) (both have flat $15 pay cash as you enter policy on performance nights)

Tickets and information:  www.sfsymphony.org , by phone at (415) 864-6000.  Half-price tickets for children 17 and under are available for certain performances.

Dessert Alert!  Miette Bakery, 449 Octavia Street (San Francisco, 94102), 415 837-0300, M-F 9-7; Sat 8-7 and Sun 10-5, is just 2.5 blocks from Davies Symphony Hall and offers some of the most gorgeous and artfully prepared treats you’ve ever seen— heavenly macarons, confections, cookies and several seasonal selections.  “Miette” is French for crumb… but there won’t be any… because these old world treats with a modern interpretation are just too delicious to leave even a trace behind.  Click this map to get your bearings.

Advertisements

December 12, 2012 Posted by | Classical Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magnificent Mahler–MTT and the San Francisco Symphony warm up at Davies for their Euro tour, series ends this weekend with Mahler’s No. 6

MTT--Michael Tilson Thomas-- and the San Francisco Symphony celebrate Mahler in performances of the 9th, 2nd and 6th Symphonies May 5-14, 2011. Photo: courtesy Michael Tilson Thomas

For all those lucky enough to nab tickets to Sunday’s sold-out performance of MTT leading SFS in Mahler’s No. 2, Resurrection, the performance did all the talking necessary.  No one knows how or why sometimes magic happens…but Sunday it all came together—orchestra, chorus, soloists (Karina Gauvin soprano and Jill Grove mezzo-soprano —I closed my eyes and floated in glory…aware of the distinctive sound coming from each and every section of the orchestra and singers and the wonderment of their combined flair and flow.  The SFS Chorus under Ragnar Bohlin’s direction though deserves special mention…its impressive entrance in the final (5th) movement was awesome–pure theatre–as its 140 members sang unaccompanied “Aufersteh’n” (“Rise again”) ushering in the resurrection theme and climax which soprano, mezzo soprano and full orchestra joined to bring the piece to end.   Something so near perfect raises the bar, even for MTT.  Now that he’s headed off with SFS and soprano Laura Claycomb and mezzo-soprano Katarina Karnéus for the big European tour (15 concerts in Prague, Vienna, Brussels, Luxemburg, Essen, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon), commemorating the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death, it’s nice to know that we here at home got the smetana (that’s Czech for cream). 

There’s still time to grab tickets for MTT conducting SFS in Mahler’s 6th Symphony in A minor this coming Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Davies Symphony Hall.  This is the third and final set of performances in the splendid Mahler series that has run at Davies since May 5, 2011.   Composed in 1903-04, Mahler’s No. 6–a passionate, relentlessly tragic and terrifying masterwork–culminates with “three blows of fate” sounded by a hammer in the last (4th) movement.  This is the very symphony that launched SFS’s recording cycle in 2001.  And, now ten years later, SFS has just finished the final recording of its complete Mahler cycle on its own label, SFS Media, including all nine of the Mahler’s symphonies, the Adagio from Symphony No. 10, and Mahler’s works for voice, chorus and orchestra.  The cycle has won seven Grammy® Awards, including three for Best Classical Album.  But, as Sunday’s unforgettable concert proved, nothing beats the excitement of experiencing music live.   Mahler’s No. 6 is replete with sudden juxtapositions of contrasting mood and tempo.  It opens with a grim march and is later filled with the sound of cowbells, harps and a portrait of Alma, Mahler’s wife.  I can’t wait.

And if find yourself in Vienna’s regal Konzerthaus on May 21-25, Tilson Thomas and the orchestra will perform Symphonies Nos. 2, 6, and 9 as part of the city’s Mahler commemoration, occurring just days from the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death.

Michael Tilson Thomas, conducts San Francisco Symphony Mahler/Symphony No. 6 in A minor

Thursday, May 12 at 8 p.m.

Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m.

PRE-CONCERT TALK: Peter Grunberg will give an “Inside Music” talk from the stage one hour prior to each concert. Free to all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before.

AUDIO PROGRAM NOTES: A free audio podcast about Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 will be downloadable from sfsymphony.org and from the iTunes store.

BROADCAST: Portions of these concerts will be broadcast on Classical KDFC 89.9/90.3 FM on Tuesday, May 24 at 8:00 p.m.

TICKETS: $15-$140; available at www.sfsymphony.org, or by phone  (415) 864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office, on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street in San Francisco.  Performance: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

May 10, 2011 Posted by | Symphony | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment