All the right notes

September is here. Burners are back from Black Rock City, and TV buffs are back on the couch for the premieres. And on Wednesday, classical music enthusiasts, in their finest, will be back at Davies Hall toasting the 2006-07 San Francisco Symphony season.

Year after year, the opening gala proves to be one of the season’s more favored events, said San Francisco Symphony executive director Brent Assink. With Michael Tilson Thomas conducting, the black-tie celebration features German violinist Christian Tetzlaff in Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D major.

In its 95th season, the San Francisco Symphony will feature 15 weeks of concerts, presenting both works from a classical repertoire and new works from living composers. Nineteen of the featured works will be San Francisco Symphony premieres. And classical music lovers can expect a return of the symphony’s more popular programming, including a free noontime concert Sept. 22 at Yerba Buena Gardens and performances by the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra in its 25th anniversary season.

Symphony devotees can also look forward to a continuation of the Gustav Mahler recording cycle, which has won two Grammy awards since its launch in 2001.

“The Mahler recording cycle has kind of turned our orchestral audience into Mahler aficionados,” Assink said. “Every time MTT conducts Mahler it is a big deal.”

In celebration of Mozart’s 250th birthday, the San Francisco Symphony has co-commissioned a new work by Bay Area composer John Adams. “A Flowering Tree” is based on a 2,000-year-old coming-of-age South Indian folktale and expresses themes of “magic and transformation and the dawning of moral awareness,” explained Assink. Adams, who was a San Francisco Symphony composer-in-residence between 1979-1985, will conduct the U.S. premiere in San Francisco.

The season will also feature the world premiere of two other San Francisco Symphony commissions, South African composer Kevin Volans’ Piano Concerto and British composer Robin Holloway’s Fourth Concerto for Orchestra.

Last season, the San Francisco Symphony introduced the Friday 6.5 series, and, according to Assink, the program has been hugely successful, selling more subscriptions than any other Friday night program. Each of the six concerts begins at 6:30 p.m. The conductor informally introduces and discusses the work of the evening. A performance follows.

“The program reaches out to a younger audience, a commuter audience, an audience that likes classical music but wants to learn more,” Assink said.

This November, classical music in San Franciscowill reach beyond the walls of Davies Symphony Hall with “Keeping Score: MTT on Music,” three hour-long national PBS broadcasts that explore revolutionary composers of Western classical music. Assink hopes that the accompanying online and radio programming will give listeners an opportunity to follow their intrigue and dig deeper.

“We are increasing access to classical music,” Assink said. “Classical music is not limited by geography any more.”

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