San Francisco music lovers enjoy Symphony’s season opener

September 25, 2013 by  

Music lovers in San Francisco had a lot to smile about at the start of the month, when the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra opened its season.

The orchestra was founded in 1911, five years after the famous 1906 earthquake. Civic leaders organized the symphony to start bringing hope and culture back to the city in the wake of the disaster. Since its inception, the orchestra has grown in ability and stature under various gifted conductors, and is now recognized as one of the best in the world. The current music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, conducted the gala, with soprano Audra McDonald as the guest artist.

The orchestra is aware that concerts that are skewed too heavily toward familiar music may turn off newcomers, while challenging, new works can alienate long-time patrons. It therefore avoided both extremes and played a balanced program on the day.

The first and last pieces of the concert, which was titled ‘Selections from the Classic American Songbook’, were symphonic works; the first was the ‘Jazz Symphony’ by Antheil and the final was ‘Gershwin’s An American in Paris’. In between, McDonald sang works from American composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Lerner and Loewe, and Compton and Green, from shows like West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and Wonderful Town. The soprano won high marks from critics for her voice and singing style.

For future events, orchestra officials could work with a banner printing company to create displays to hang outside Davies Symphony Hall, announcing the programs.