Symphony decks halls with holiday music

Davies Symphony Hall is all dressed up for the month of December, and the San Francisco Symphony will be putting on the glitz for its annual array of holiday concerts, parties and special events.

“Holidays with the Symphony,” running through Dec. 31, offers a “something for everyone” lineup, from Christmas carols to contemporary classics, children’s events and masquerade balls.

The series begins with “El Nino (Dec. 2-4.)

John Adams’ evening-length oratorio, which received its U.S. premiere on a symphony program in 2001, revisits the timeless nativity story with a strikingly contemporary score.

Adams conducts three performances, featuring sopranos Dawn Upshaw (Dec. 2 and 4) and Jessica Rivera (Dec. 3), mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, countertenors Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings and Steven Rickards, bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus.

The symphony will also perform Handel’s “Messiah” this year (Dec. 15 at Flint Center, Dec. 16-17 and 19 at Davies Hall.) Joining the orchestra and chorus are soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Tove Dahlberg, tenor Benjamin Butterfield and bass Robert Gleadow; Ragnar Bohlin conducts.

New on this year’s schedule is “The Snowman” (Dec. 18), an animated film accompanied by live music; the film tells the story of a boy’s magical friendship with a snowman, and the score includes selections from “Nutcracker” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Donata Cabrera conducts the orchestra and the Pacific Boychoir.

Bohlin returns to conduct “Twas the Night” (Dec. 22-24), a sing-along program of holiday favorites with soprano Lisa Vroman, organist Robert Huw Morgan, and members of the orchestra and chorus.

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without “Deck the Hall” (Dec. 5), the symphony’s annual children’s party; or “Peter and the Wolf” (Dec. 11 at Davies, Dec. 12 at Flint Center.)

Prokofiev’s classic is made for kids, and this year’s narrator, Eden Espinosa, comes directly from performances as Elphaba in the Broadway and San Francisco casts of “Wicked.” Special events include an appearance by Liza Minnelli (Dec. 5), joined by her quartet and accompanied by Billy Stritch in a program of show tunes, American standards and seasonal songs.

Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez (Dec. 12) presents traditional Mexican music and a salute to the Virgin of Guadalupe; “Colors of Christmas” (Dec. 13-15) returns with vocalists Peabo Byrson, Stephanie Mills, Oleta Adams and Ben Vereen.

The Blind Boys of Alabama (Dec. 19) sing “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” a program of gospel, blues and spirituals.

The season ends with the “New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball” (Dec. 31), featuring a concert and post-show party with masks, champagne, and lobby entertainment by Tainted Love and the Peter Mintun Orchestra. It’s a great way to ring in the new year.

IF YOU GO

Holidays with the Symphony

Presented by San Francisco Symphony

When: Now through Dec. 31
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco; and Flint Center, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino
Tickets: $15 to $195
Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org

 

artsClassical Music & OperaentertainmentSan FranciscoSan Francisco Symphony

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read