At long ‘Last’

San Francisco Symphony performs Osvaldo Golijov’s composition for first time

As any San Francisco resident knows, this city has always been one of a kind. Now it’s time for the San Francisco Symphony to say the same.

For the first time ever, the San Francisco Symphony will be performing composer Osvaldo Golijov’s “Last Round.” Golijov — considered one of today’s preeminent composers — is known for the way he fuses music of the street with that of the concert hall.

Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola sums up Golijov like this: “There are two sides of Osvaldo Golijov that attracted me: consummate musicianship and classical training, and as well a sense of modern life, clashing cultures and the integration of past and present into a generous musical canvas,” said Coppola, who chose Golijov to score his next film, “Youth Without Youth.”

“As it turned out there was a third side — a kind and interesting human being and a wonderful friend,” Coppola adds.

Forty-five-year-old Golijov grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina.

Raised by a piano teacher mother and physician father, Golijov was surrounded by chamber classical music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music — as well as the new tango of Astor Piazzolla.

These are all reflected in his eclectic compositions, such as “Last Round,” a composition that Golijov dedicated to tango master Piazzolla, and named after a story by Julio Cortázar.

Upon moving to the United States in 1986, Golijov earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a fellow at Tanglewood. Today, he is associate professor of music at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and is also on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory.

Also on the same program is a perennial favorite with a French twist: French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will be performing Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2.

Thibaudet, who began studying piano at age 5, entered the Paris Conservatory when he was 12.

Thibaudet made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 1994, and movie fans might recognize him as the soloist on the film soundtrack of “Pride and Prejudice.” He will be performing the music of composer, pianist, and organist Saint-Saëns (1835 -1921), who is known for his conservative musical style of neat proportions, clarity and polished expression.

Semyon Bychkov, chief conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, will be conducting Piano Concerto No. 2.

Following performances by pianist Thibaudet, concertgoers will have the chance to attend an exclusive CD signing at the Symphony Store in the lobby.

CONCERT PREVIEW

Osvaldo Golijov’s ‘Last Round’

When: Wednesday through Saturday

Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

Price: Tickets are $25-$114

Info: Call (415) 864-6000 or visit www.sfsymphony.org

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