POLARIS: VOYAGE FOR ORCHESTRA – With the San Francisco Symphony

September 29th—October 1st at Davies Symphony Hall
Co-commissioned new work by Thomas Adès includes video projection by artist Tal Rosner

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) will lead the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) in the orchestra’s first performances of its co-commission Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra, with music by Thomas Adès and film projections by Tal Rosner, September 29th, 30th and October 1st at 8:00 pm at Davies Symphony Hall. The Orchestra will also perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, Haffner and Stravinsky’s Petrushka, a work written in 1911, the year of the orchestra’s founding.
Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra is a collaborative work by Thomas Adès and Tal Rosner. In January 2011 MTT conducted the New World Symphony (NWS) in the world premiere at the new Frank Gehry-designed home of the NWS in Miami. In April 2011, Adès led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the west coast premiere of Polaris during their “Aspects of Adès” festival. The piece derives thematic material from sailors’ use of celestial navigation.  Rosner’s visuals were inspired by Rockwell Kent’s illustrations for the 1930 edition of Moby Dick.

Rockwell Kent. Icebergs, Greenland. 1932-33

TAL ROSNER – Filming Polaris

In the film, Tal follows two mysterious characters who roam a desolate shore. Like sirens or Amazons they are on the outlook, constantly searching the coastline while stars flicker and shadows of the sailors appear as ghostlike presences. Inspired by Rockwell Kent’s haunting Moby Dick illustrations, Polaris was shot on a remote location in the north coast of Devon, UK. Projected on to the distinctive sail-like acoustic surfaces of the concert hall (which were specifically designed for moving image), the film brings to light the matrix of panoramic experiences within its five-screen canvas.


Concert photos by Rui Dias-Aidos

Video artist Tal Rosner has worked with musicians and dance companies to create a new genre of classical music videos, samples of which can be found on his website. He created the title sequence for all five seasons of MTV’s program Skins, and his 2008 short film Without You won the Cinephilia Best Experimental Film Award at the 2010 London Short Film Festival. 


Thomas Adès is known for his work as a composer, a pianist and a conductor, and has led many orchestras including those of the Royal Opera House in London and the Zurich Opera. Adès’ first opera was the 1995 work Powder her Face, and he has had recent works premiered at the Royal Opera House and at the BBC Proms.  He served as composer-in-residence for several organizations, including at the Ojai Festival in 2000. He held Carnegie Hall’s composer chair during the 2007-08 season, and in 2009-10 he was the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic’s featured composer. In April 2010 pianist Emanuel Ax performed the West Coast premiere of Adès’ SFS co-commissioned Three Mazurkas in recital at Davies Symphony Hall. On Sunday, October 2nd, following the San Francisco Symphony’s performances of Polaris, Thomas Adès will perform Three Mazurkas and other works of his with the Calder Quartet at CalPerformances in Berkeley.

Stravinsky’s Petrushka was premiered in the same year as the San Francisco Symphony’s first concert, 1911. Pierre Monteux, SFS Music Director from 1935-1952 premiered the work in Paris.

PRE-CONCERT TALK: Scott Foglesong 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.


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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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