French conductor Yan Pascal Tortelierleads the San Francisco Symphony(SFS) February 21-23 at Davies Symphony Hall, in a program featuring SFS Principal Oboe William Bennett in Strauss’s Oboe Concerto. The program also includes Debussy’s Petite Suite and the Orchestra’s first performances of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 1.
The San Francisco Symphony first performed Debussy’s Petite Suite in 1920 with Alfred Hertz conducting. This is the first time the SFS will perform the work on a regular concert in almost 50 years; the most recent performances were in 1965 under the direction of Paul Paray. Strauss’ Oboe Concerto was first performed by the SFS in 1982, with Heinz Holliger as the soloist and Dennis Russell Davies conducting. William Bennett was also the soloist for the most recent SFS performances of the Oboe Concerto in 1991.
Yan Pascal Tortelier began his musical career as a violinist and at fourteen won first prize for violin at the Paris Conservatoire and also made his debut as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Following general musical studies with Nadia Boulanger, Tortelier studied conducting with Franco Ferrara at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, and was Associate Conductor of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse.
He served as Principal Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra from 2009-2011, and is now that orchestra’s Guest Conductor of Honor. Following his work as Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic between 1992-2003, which included annual appearances at the BBC Proms and a successful tour of the US to celebrate the orchestra’s 60th anniversary season, he was given the title of Conductor Emeritus. He continues to work with the orchestra regularly. He also holds the position of Principal Guest Conductor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
William Bennett joined the San Francisco Symphony as Associate Principal Oboe in 1979, and has served as Principal Oboe since 1987. A regular soloist with the SFS, Bennett performed the world premiere of John Harbison’s Oboe Concerto in 1992 with Herbert Blomstedt conducting. The music was commissioned for him by the SFS, and Bennett went on to perform it with the Orchestra on tour in Carnegie Hall and throughout Europe, including performances in Vienna and London. He recorded the concerto with the Orchestra for Decca. Bennett has appeared in solo recital, concerto, chamber, and orchestral engagements throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He has performed at the Marlboro Festival, the Festival de Inverno in São Paulo, the Aspen Festival, and at the Berkshire Music Center and Music@Menlo. A graduate of Yale University, Bennett studied oboe with Robert Bloom at Yale and at the Juilliard School of Music. He serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.