Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and the world-renowned tenor Plácido Domingo come together this January to celebrate the 80th birthday of Gordon Getty, esteemed composer, philanthropist, and generous supporter of the San Francisco Symphony. This concert will be the only public celebration of Getty’s birthday. Domingo returns for his first concert with the SFS forty years after his SFS debut, a 1973 performance of Verdi’s Requiem with then-Music Director Edo de Waart. MTT will conduct a program including pieces by Beethoven, Tallis, and Getty himself. Getty’s history with the SFS spans 34 years of notable artistic, philanthropic, and administrative achievement.
About Gordon Getty
Gordon Getty has served on the Board of Governors of the San Francisco Symphony since 1979. During his tenure, he and his wife, Ann, have provided leadership and generous support for some the Symphony’s most important initiatives, including the acoustic renovation of Davies Symphony Hall in 1990, the Grammy award-winning Mahler recording cycle, and the Orchestra’s international tours. Raised in San Francisco and an alumnus of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Getty’s compositions have been widely performed in North America and Europe. In 1986, he was honored as an Outstanding American Composer at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and he was awarded the 2003 Gold Baton of the American Symphony Orchestra League. The SFS has performed Getty’s works numerous times, including two world premieres and one West Coast premiere. The Orchestra and Chorus (led by Edo de Waart) performed “Scene I” from Getty’s first opera Plump Jack in 1985, and the entire work was premiered in 1987 with Andrew Massey conducting the Orchestra and Chorus as part of the SFS New and Unusual Music Series. Most recently, in 2004, MTT led the Orchestra and Chorus in the West Coast premiere of Getty’s Young America, a cycle of six movements for chorus and orchestra to texts by Getty and by Stephen Vincent Benét. In 2005, PentaTone released a CD of Getty’s principal choral works up to that time, performed by the SF Symphony and Chorus, with MTT conducting, and the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir and Russian National Orchestra.
Getty has recently devoted considerable attention to a pair of one-act operas, Usher House (derived from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”) and The Canterville Ghost (after Oscar Wilde’s tale). The former will be premiered in 2014 by the Welsh National Opera. Although most of Getty’s works feature the voice, he has also written for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo piano. In 2010, PentaTone released a CD devoted to six of his orchestral pieces, with Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and in 2013 it followed up with a CD of the composer’s solo piano works, performed by Conrad Tao. Currently in preparation is a PentaTone CD of his chamber music, which will include a string-quartet version of his Four Traditional Pieces (a work that was performed in a string-orchestra arrangement by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra in 2012) and a new album of works for chorus and orchestra. In 2009, his ballet Ancestor Suite was given its premiere staging with choreography by Vladimir Vasiliev, performed by the Bolshoi Ballet and Russian National Orchestra. It was then presented at the 2012 Festival del Sole in Napa.
Of his compositions Getty has said: “My style is undoubtedly tonal, though with hints of atonality, such as any composer would likely use to suggest a degree of disorientation. But I’m strictly tonal in my approach. I represent a viewpoint that stands somewhat apart from the twentieth century, which was in large measure a repudiation of the nineteenth and a sock in the nose to sentimentality. Whatever it was that the great Victorian composers and poets were trying to achieve, that’s what I’m trying to achieve.”’
About Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo: singer, conductor and administrator. He has sung over 140 different roles, more than any other tenor in the annals of music, with more than 3600 career performances. His more than 100 recordings of complete operas, compilations of arias and duets, and crossover discs have earned him 12 Grammy Awards, including three Latin Grammys, and he has made more than 50 music videos and won two Emmy Awards. In addition to three feature opera films—Carmen, La Traviata and Otello—he voiced the role of Monte in Beverly Hills Chihuahua, played himself on The Simpsons, and his telecast of Tosca from the authentic settings in Rome was seen by more than one billion people in 117 countries. He has conducted more than 450 opera performances and symphonic concerts with the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna Staatsoper, LA Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Montréal Symphony, National Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic. In 1993, he founded the international voice competition Operalia. In recent seasons, he has celebrated his 40th anniversaries at the Met, Vienna State Opera, La Scala, Arena dei Verona and Covent Garden. For LA Opera, where he is the Eli and Edythe Broad General Director, he created the role of Pablo Neruda in the 2010 world premiere of Daniel Catán’s Il Postino. Although he has no intention of moving substantially into the baritone repertoire, in 2009 he added the title role of Simon Boccanegra to his repertoire, with subsequent performances at the Met, La Scala, Covent Garden and in Madrid, Berlin and Los Angeles. In the 2012/13 season, he added two new baritone roles to his repertoire, Francesco Foscari in I Due Foscari in Los Angeles, and Germont in La Traviata during his 45th season at the Metropolitan Opera.