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New music and more in MTT’s final SF Symphony season

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Michael Tilson Thomas celebrates his final, 25th season at the head of San Francisco Symphony in 2019-20. (Courtesy Brandon Patoc)

The San Francisco Symphony’s 2019-20 season, its final with music director Michael Tilson Thomas, features a wide range of programming for which the orchestra is known.

“This season is very much about celebrating the relationships we have built together,” said Thomas, 74, who will depart after 25 years from an orchestra and city he says have “daring spirit.”

Championing new, American music, the season includes new works by MTT (Jan. 9-12) John Adams (Sept. 19-22), Mason Bates (April 16-18), Julia Wolfe (Jan. 16-18) and Aaron Zigman (Feb. 14-16) as well as debut San Francisco Symphony performances of music by Wynton Marsalis (May 7-9) and in June 2020, a program called “History’s Persistent Voice” with commissions and local premieres of music by Rhiannon Giddens, Camille Norment, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Pamela Z, Tania León, Allison Loggins-Hull and Jessie Montgomery.

MTT also is slated to lead concerts of music by American composers Samuel Barber and John Corigliano (June 18-21) and Carl Ruggles (May 22-24).

Guest artists in residence include soprano Julia Bullock (Feb. 20-22 and April 24-25); mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (Jan. 9-12 and May 31) and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter (Jan. 26-27, June 4-6).

Other guests include pianists Emanuel Ax (Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Jan. 16-19); Yuja Wang (Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, May 14–17); Daniil Trifonov (Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4, Sept. 19–22); violinist Gil Shaham (Barber’s Violin Concerto, June 18–21); and cellist Gautier Capuçon (Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2, March 12-14).

The season also features masterworks: A semi-staged production of Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” is in June 2020; and MTT leads concerts of Mahler’s Sixth (Sept. 12-15) and Eighth symphonies (June 25-28).

Beethoven’s 250th birthday concerts include Symphony No. 2 (Feb. 7-9), No. 5 (April 30-May 2) and No. 7 (Jan. 23-25) and piano recitals featuring Yefim Bronfman (April 5) and Igor Levit (May 24).

In February, music director designate Esa-Pekka Salonen leads programs including works by Ravel and Britten with soprano Bullock (Feb. 20-22) and Salonen’s Violin Concerto performed by Leila Josefowicz (Feb. 27-29).

The symphony’s principal percussionist Jacob Nissly gets the spotlight in a premiere by Adam Schoenberg (Oct. 17-19); and concertmaster Alexander Barantschik performs J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 1, with early music specialist Ton Koopman conducting (Nov. 7-9).

The symphony’s recently announced partnership with Stanford University includes performances July 10 and July 13-14 in the newly renovated Frost Amphitheater.

The crowd-pleasing film series continues with “Get Out” (Oct. 30), “Coco” (Nov. 1-2), “Ghost Busters” (Nov. 29-30), “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Dec. 3–6) and “Apollo 13” (July 2 and July 5).

Continuing tradition, the season opens Sept. 4 with a gala honoring MTT and his husband Joshua Robison, followed by Sept. 5 and Sept. 7 “All San Francisco” Concerts featuring MTT and violinists Alina Ming Kobialka and Hannah Tarley playing works by Berlioz, Saint-Saens, Ravel, Gershwin and Britten.

IF YOU GO
San Francisco Symphony 2019-20 season
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: Sept. 4, 2019 through July 5, 2020
Tickets: $192-$918 for six concerts; $384-$1,836 for 12 concerts; from $32-$50 for single tickets
Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org/MTT25
Note: Subscriptions go on sale March 12; single tickets on July 22

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