Program includes West Coast premiere of SFSYO Alumnus Nathaniel Stookey’s Mahlerwerk
SFSYO’s recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 from the Berlin Philharmonie
to be released on CD by SFS Media May 14
The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) and Wattis Foundation Music Director Donato Cabrera conclude their 2012-13 season with a concert that includes the West Coast premiere of Nathaniel Stookey’s Mahlerwerk, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Ligeti’s Atmosphères, and Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe at Davies Symphony Hall on Sunday, May 19 at 2 pm. Additionally, SFS Media, the San Francisco Symphony’s in-house label, releases a recording on May 14 of the SFSYO performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 live at the Berlin Philharmonie. This is the SFSYO’s first recording since 2001, and its first on the SFS Media label. Proceeds from the sale of the album benefit the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra touring program.
Mahlerwerk, Stookey’s latest orchestral work, was commissioned by NDR-Sinfonie (Hamburg) for the final concert of its centennial Mahler cycle and was premiered under Christoph Eschenbach before an audience of 10,000. It received its United States premiere at the New England Conservatory in 2011 and will be recorded by NDR in 2013. The Schleswig-Holsteiner Zeitung describes Mahlerwerk as a “crazy puzzle” and an “intelligent, musically appealing, even exhilarating homage to Gustav Mahler.”
Nathaniel Stookey has a particularly special connection to the San Francisco Symphony and its Youth Orchestra: in addition to being an alumnus of the SFSYO, Stookey received his first commission from the SFS at the age of 17, for the Orchestra’s New and Unusual Music series. In 2006, the San Francisco Symphony commissioned, premiered, and recorded Stookey’s The Composer Is Dead, a sinister guide to the orchestra with narration by Lemony Snicket. The work has since been performed by over 100 orchestras on four continents and is one of the five most performed classical works of the 21st century, worldwide. In 2007, members of the SFSYO performed in the world premiere of Stookey’s Junkestra, a work for an orchestra of objects scavenged at the San Francisco Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center. Junkestra subsequently drew thousands of listeners to warehouses, public squares, and YouTube before being taken up by the San Francisco Symphony and other classical presenters.
In advance of the May 19 concert, the SFSYO will release its new recording, Live at the Berlin Philharmonie, Mahler Symphony No. 1, on SFS Media, the San Francisco Symphony’s in-house label, on May 14 from the San Francisco Symphony Store and the iTunes music store, and on July 9 from all other music retailers. The performance was captured live in concert on July 3, 2012 during the Youth Orchestra’s most recent on tour of Europe. The SFSYO’s recording can be purchased from iTunes at itunes.com and on CD from the San Francisco Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall and online from sfsymphony.org/store. Proceeds will benefit the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra touring program.
About the SFSYO
The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) is recognized internationally as one of the finest youth orchestras in the world. Founded by the San Francisco Symphony in 1981, the SFSYO’s musicians are chosen from more than 300 applicants in annual auditions. The SFSYO’s purpose is to provide an orchestral experience of pre-professional caliber, tuition-free, to talented young musicians from the greater Bay Area. The more than 100 diverse musicians, ranging in age from 12 to 21, represent communities from throughout the Bay Area. The SFSYO rehearses and performs in Davies Symphony Hall under the direction of Wattis Foundation Music Director Donato Cabrera. Jahja Ling served as the SFSYO’s first Music Director, followed by David Milnes, Leif Bjaland, Alasdair Neale, Edwin Outwater, and Benjamin Shwartz.
As part of the SFSYO’s innovative training program, musicians from the San Francisco Symphony coach the young players each Saturday afternoon in sectional rehearsals, followed by full orchestra rehearsals with Cabrera. SFSYO members also have the opportunity to work with many of the world-renowned artists who perform with the SFS each week. SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, SFS Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, Sir Simon Rattle, Kurt Masur, Valery Gergiev, Leonard Slatkin, Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Midori, Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, Sarah Chang, and many others have worked with the SFSYO. Of equal importance, the students are able to talk with these prominent musicians, asking questions about their lives, their professional and personal experiences, and about music.
In June 2012, Donato Cabrera led the SFSYO on its eighth European tour. For its series of six performances—including appearances at the Berlin Philharmonie, Munich Philharmonie, the International Festival d’Echternach in Luxembourg, the Rheingau Festival in Wiesbaden, Regensburg and Salzburg—the SFSYO won a 2011-12 ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of American music on foreign tours.