Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor
The San Francisco Symphony’s Summer & the Symphony concert line-up includes the world premiere of Pixar in Concert, with the Orchestra performing memorable scores to accompany visually stunning clips from each of Pixar’s films, and Natalie Merchant, salsa band Tiempo Libre and Classical Mystery Tour, featuring the music of The Beatles, all performing with the Orchestra. Michael Feinstein performs Sinatra classics with his Big Band, and the Orchestra accompanies screenings of The Wizard of Oz. The acrobats and circus performers of Cirque Musica perform to live orchestral accompaniment by the Symphony. The Orchestra also performs a summer classical concert series, and two free outdoor concerts, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Stern Grove Festival and with Tiempo Libre in Dolores Park. On the Fourth of July, the Orchestra plays inspiring folk, pop, and classical favorites at the annual Shoreline Amphitheatre Independence Day concert and fireworks extravaganza. Click here for ticket information: SFSymphony
The summer concerts begin June 18, when vocalist Natalie Merchant performs with the Symphony in a concert of her own hits and well-loved favorites, sharing with fans her new artistic path–songs composed for expanded musical ensembles and orchestras. A unique highlight of the summer series is the world premiere of Pixar in Concert on July 28 and 29. For the first time, audiences will experience watching visually stunning clips from Pixar’s beloved movies with the Orchestra performing selections from the memorable scores. On July 26 and 27, the Symphony presents The Wizard of Oz on the big screen, starring Judy Garland, with the Orchestra playing Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg’s lush score.
Michael Feinstein and his Big Band perform a tribute to Frank Sinatra on July 15, and on August 2 and 3, the Classical Mystery Tour performs over two dozen of The Beatles’ classic songs, in costume, with the Orchestra playing the original symphonic arrangements.
The classical concerts, led by conductor Michael Francis, kick off with a program of Spanish-inflected favorites on July 12, featuring guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas, followed by a night of Russian favorites featuring violinist Karen Gomyo on July 13. Pianist Gilles Vonsattel performs as the soloist on July 14 in an all-Beethoven program with the Orchestra. Francis leads an evening of all-American favorites on July 19, featuring pianist Charlie Albright , and the Orchestra performs an all-Dvořák program with cellist Alisa Weilerstein on July 20.
Natalie Merchant. Photo, Mark Seliger
On June 18 at 8 p.m., Natalie Merchant will perform with the San Francisco Symphony in a concert of her own hits and well-loved favorites. Since she first gained fame as the lead singer of chart-topping ‘80s pop band 10,000 Maniacs, Merchant has earned a distinguished place among America’s most respected recording artists, with a reputation for being a prolific songwriter with a compelling artistic vision and a unique and captivating performance style. With her 2010 release Leave Your Sleep, which debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at number 17, Merchant embarked on a new artistic path–creating songs from literary inspiration for expanded musical ensembles and orchestra. James Bagwell conducts.
The San Francisco Symphony performs its annual Fourth of July concert and celebration at 8 p.m. on July 4 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. The evening finishes with a spectacular fireworks show. Tickets go on sale through Live Nation at a later date.
Cirque Musica takes audiences on a journey to a faraway land of dazzling beauty and mystery on July 6 at 7:30 p.m. The show blends the grace and thrills of great circus performers with stunning symphonic music from classical and popular repertoire performed by the San Francisco Symphony. Sarah Hicks conducts.
This summer, Stern Grove Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary as the longest running admission-free outdoor music festival in the country. San Francisco Symphony – which gave the first performance in the Grove – celebrates this milestone on Sunday, July 8 at 2 p.m., when Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the Orchestra, SFS Chorus and soloists Katie Van Kooten, Jennifer Johnson-Cano, Russell Thomas and Nathan Berg in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. This free concert is presented in association with the Stern Grove Festival. No tickets are required. The concert will be broadcast live on KDFC 89.9/90.3 FM and at kdfc.com.
On Sunday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m., Michael Feinstein and his Big Band perform a tribute to Frank Sinatra, featuring classic Sinatra tunes and favorites from the American songbook. The multi-platinum-selling, five-time Grammy-nominated entertainer, dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace. In 2009, Feinstein earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination for The Sinatra Project, his Concord Records CD celebrating the music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.”
Three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group Tiempo Libre joins the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Michael Francis in concert on Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 pm. Celebrated for their incendiary, joyful performances of timba, an irresistible, dance-inducing mix of high-voltage Latin jazz, and the seductive rhythms of son, Tiempo Libre is one of the hottest young Latin bands of today, equally at home in concert halls, jazz clubs and dance venues. Following their performance with the Orchestra, Tiempo Libre takes over the Davies Symphony Hall stage in a rollicking jam session.
At 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 22, the Orchestra performs a free outdoor concert with Tiempo Libre in San Francisco’s Dolores Park, featuring conductor Michael Francis. Symphonic dances from West Side Story and selections from Rodeo set the tone for an afternoon of music in the sun. This concert is free; no tickets are required.
On Thursday, July 26 and Friday, July 27, the Orchestra, led by Michael Francis, performs the original score to a screening of the classic film The Wizard of Oz, accompanying the vocals of Judy Garland, Ray Bolger and the full cast of characters in song. Children and adults alike are encouraged to attend in costume and enter the costume raffle for a chance to win fun prizes.
The Wizard of Oz
From the Toy Story trilogy to Wall•E, Ratatouille and many more, Pixar has forever impacted filmmaking and given audiences of all ages some of the most beloved characters in cinematic history. On Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 29 at 2 p.m., the Orchestra performs the world premiere of Pixar in Concert, as Sarah Hicks leads the Orchestra in a very special concert of memorable scores to accompany visually stunning clips from each of Pixar’s films.
The 2012 Summer & the Symphony series closes with two nights of Fab Four fun, as the Classical Mystery Tour performs the classic songs of The Beatles with the San Francisco Symphony led by Sarah Hicks on Thursday, August 2 and Friday, August 3. This extraordinary show features more than two dozen Beatles tunes performed exactly as they were written, including “Penny Lane” with a trumpet section, “Yesterday” with acoustic guitar and string quartet, and the rock/classical blend on the hard-edged “I Am the Walrus,” as well as full-band costume changes.
Conductor Michael Francis leads the Orchestra on Thursday, July 12, in a program of Spanish-inflected favorites, featuring guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas, who makes his SFS debut performing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. The program also includes Chabrier’s Habanera, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, music from Bizet’s Carmen, and Ravel’s Boléro. Sainz Villegas quickly established himself as one of the world’s leading classical guitarists by winning the gold medal at the Christopher Parkening International Guitar Competition in 2006. His prize-winning performance with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra led to concerts in more than 30 countries, as well as his four-performance debut with the New York Philharmonic and two subsequent engagements with the orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall.
Francis conducts the Orchestra on Friday, July 13 in a night of Russian favorites, featuring violinist Karen Gomyo performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major. The program also includes Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, and Tchaikovsky’s Overture 1812. Recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2008, Gomyo has performed as a soloist in the United States with the San Francisco Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Tokyo Symphonies, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the National Symphony of Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, July 14, Francis and the Orchestra perform an all-Beethoven program, with pianist Gilles Vonsattel as the soloist in Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, and the Orchestra performing Symphony No. 5 and the Egmont Overture. A recipient of the 2008 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Vonsattel made his SFS debut performing in the 2011 Summer & the Symphony’s all-Mozart program.
Francis leads the Orchestra in an evening of all-American favorites on Thursday, July 19, featuring pianist Charlie Albright. The program includes Copland’s Appalachian Spring and four Dance Episodes from Rodeo, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Albright is the winner of the prestigious 2010 Gilmore Young Artist Award and the 2009 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and performed with the San Francisco Symphony with conductor Alondra de la Parra. He has also appeared with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra with Gerard Schwarz, and the Boston Pops with Keith Lockhart.
On Friday, July 20, Francis conducts an all-Dvořák program including Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Opus 95, From the New World and Alisa Weilerstein as soloist in the Cello Concerto in B minor. The program opens with Dvořák’s Carnival Overture. Weilerstein performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the SFS with pianist Jeremy Denk, violinist Chee Yun and conductor Marek Janowski during the 2010-11 season. In September 2011 she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and in 2010 she became an exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics, the first cellist to be signed by the label in over 30 years. Her 2010 performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Barenboim was televised live to a worldwide audience of millions and was released on DVD.
Click here for ticket information: SFSymphony