Acclaimed Baroque and classical conductor Bernard Labadie leads the SF Symphony and Chorus in performances of Mozart’s “Ave verum corpus” and Symphony No. 39 and Handel’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, featuring the return of tenor Nicholas Phan and the SFS debut of soprano Lydia Teuscher April 5-6 at Davies Symphony Hall. Labadie and Teuscher recently performed together in Canada in December 2011, and toured Scotland with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in February.
Only one movement from Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day – “But oh! what art can teach” – has been previously performed by the SFS. That performance was in 1984, during Music Director Edo de Waart’s final season, featuring soprano Sheri Greenawald and using the brand-new Fratelli Ruffatti concert organ, played by Frederick Swann. These will be the first SFS performances of the entire work.
On September 17, 2001, members of the SFS brass section played “Ave verum corpus” at a special remembrance service at the Civic Auditorium for victims of the 9/11 attacks. Michael Tilson Thomas led the SFS in performances in 1997 (at the Sacred & Profane Festival) and 2006.
The first of Mozart’s last three symphonies, composed in rapid succession in the summer of 1788, Symphony No. 39 was first performed by SFS in 1913 under original conductor Henry Hadley. The Orchestra has performed the piece at least once in each decade since, including most recently in February 2012, with Rinaldo Alessandrini conducting.
Bernard Labadie is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading conductors of Baroque and Classical repertoire. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2005 and has returned several times, leading the Orchestra in works by Handel, Mozart, and Haydn, among others. He appeared here most recently in 2011, conducting four works by Mozart. Labadie is a regular guest with all the major North American and the premiere European orchestras.
Lydia Teuscher makes her SFS debut at Davies with these concerts. With Labadie, Teuscher toured Québec, Canada in 2011 and Scotland in 2013. She has sung with the Mannheim Opera and Stadttheater Heidelberg, with recent engagements including the Gürzenich Orchester, Cologne with conductor Markus Stenz, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with Sir Roger Norrington, and concerts with Double Bande and Rene Jacobs. Her notable roles have included Pamina (from Mozart’s The Magic Flute) at the Aix-en-Provence festival, in Munich, and at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Ighino (from Hans Pfitzner’s Palestrina) in Munich, and Gretel (from Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel) at the Glyndebourne Festival.
Nicholas Phan first appeared with the San Francisco Symphony in 2009, performing Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E-flat major, D.950, and returned here most recently in 2011 to perform J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor, BWV 232. Named one of National Public Radio’s Favorite New Artists of 2011, Phan appears this season in concert with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Alabama Symphony, and the Lucerne Symphony. Other concert appearances this season include performances at Carnegie Hall, the National Arts Center in Ottawa, and the Washington National Cathedral. He also returns to the Portland Opera as Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff and makes his debut at the Bolshoi in a concert performance of Handel’s Hercules.