The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) perform the SFS premiere of Bay Area classical-electronica composer Mason Bates’s Alternative Energy September 10-13 in Davies Symphony Hall. The concerts also include Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, as well as Rossini’s Overture to La gazza ladra. These Alternative Energy concerts conclude the “Beethoven and Bates” performances that began last season with Bates’s The B-Sides and Liquid Interface. All three works are being recorded for future release on SFS Media, the Orchestra’s in-house label. Mason Bates’s appearances on this program not only represent MTT’s commitment to showcasing an American composer on almost all the concerts during his 20th anniversary season with the SFS, but also his and the SF Symphony’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of symphonic composers.
According to the Mason Bates, Alternative Energy is “an ‘energy symphony’ spanning four movements and hundreds of years. Beginning in a rustic Midwestern junkyard in the late 19th Century, the piece travels through ever greater and more powerful forces of energy—such as a present-day particle collider and a futuristic Chinese nuclear plant—until it reaches a future Icelandic rainforest, where humanity’s last inhabitants seek a return to a simpler way of life.” Sounds outside the regular symphonic palette that Mason Bates uses in this piece include ‘junkyard percussion’ to simulate the cranking of a car motor in the first movement; recordings from FermiLab’s particle accelerator in the second movement, which takes place in present-day Chicago; and techno beats in the work’s third movement to illustrate a futuristic, bustling energy industry in Xinjiang Province, China, in 2112.
Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes’s performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 are part of a larger examination he has undertaken of the composer’s piano concertos. The 2014-15 season is the final year of Andsnes’s “The Beethoven Journey,” a four-year exploration of Beethoven’s complete piano concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. “The Beethoven Journey” has featured Andsnes leading complete Beethoven concerto cycles from the keyboard in residencies at New York’s Carnegie Hall, and in London, Paris, Lucerne, Hamburg, Bonn, Shanghai, and Tokyo. In addition to the San Francisco Symphony, Leif Ove Andsnes performs Beethoven piano concertos this season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, the London Philharmonic and Osmo Vänskä, the Munich Philharmonic and Thomas Dausgaard, and at Boston’s Celebrity Series with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Andsnes last performed with the San Francisco Symphony in 2008 in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2, also led by Michael Tilson Thomas.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 8 pm
Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 2 pm
Friday, September 12, 2014 at 8 pm
Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 8 pm
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA