“Día de los Muertos” is Spanish for “Day of the Dead,” but there will be lots of lively music at the San Francisco Symphony’s second annual Día de los Muertos Family Concert on Nov. 1 at Davies Hall.
Led by guest conductor Alondra de la Parra, the matinee program celebrates Mexican culture with a performance of Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals,” featuring a special appearance by novelist Laura Esquivel.
“Carnival of the Animals” is ideal family fare: Saint-Saens’ 25-minute orchestral suite depicts a parade of colorful creatures — roaring lions, crowing roosters, waltzing elephants and graceful swans — in vibrant musical language.
Esquivel will give the work a distinctively Latin twist. In addition to providing Spanish language narration, the author of “Like Water for Chocolate” will recite “calaveras” — traditional Día de los Muertos epitaphs told in verse form — that she has written specifically for this performance.
Pianists Kristhyan Benitez and Ana Karina Alamo are the instrumental soloists.
De la Parra will also conduct selections from “Three Latin American Dances” by Berkeley composer Gabriela Lena Frank. Works by Arturo Marquez, Alberto Ginastera, Jose Pablo Moncayo and Silvestre Revueltas complete the program.
The concert marks the symphony debut of De la Parra, a rising star in the classical music world. The Mexican-born, New York-educated conductor founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in 2004; she has also conducted programs at Washington National Opera and Miami’s New World Symphony.
The music starts at 2 p.m., but arrive early for pre-concert festivities and refreshments starting at 1 p.m. in the concert hall lobby. And check out the exhibition of artwork presented in conjunction with The City’s own Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, including a collection of Día de los Muertos posters created at the center’s Mission Grafica.
IF YOU GO
Día de los Muertos Family Concert
Presented by San Francisco Symphony
Where: Davies Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
When: 2 p.m. Nov. 1; pre-concert festivities begin at 1 p.m.
Tickets: $15 to $65; half-price for kids 17 and under
Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org