Featuring Antheil’s Jazz Symphony and Gershwin’s An American in Paris, the Symphony is also joined by one of America’s most highly regarded performers, Audra McDonald, for a selection of enduring favorites from The American Songbook.
It will be a grand evening at Davies Symphony Hall - red carpet arrivals, sparkling wine, and an after-party with cocktails, light bites, dancing and wonderful music.
The season gets off to a great start with George Antheil’s Jazz Symphony. Written in 1925, the symphony was premiered at Antheil’s 1927 concert at Carnegie Hall, along with his Ballet Mécanique, and was originally intended to be included in Paul Whiteman’s Experiment in Modern Music (at which Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was first heard). Antheil’s work was, however, considered too radical for inclusion in this program.
Soprano Audra McDonald is one of today’s most highly regarded performers. Winner of two Grammy Awards® and five Tony Awards®, she glides effortlessly from operatic to Broadway roles, and is equally at home on film, television and in the recording studio.
Ms McDonald made her first appearance with the San Francisco Symphony at the 1998 Opening Gala, with a program of works by Gershwin, which was followed by a tour with the Symphony to open the Carnegie Hall season in a Gershwin 100th Birthday Celebration. This performance - her debut at Carnegie Hall - was broadcast as a PBS Great Performances special and also recorded for RCA Red Label. She was the guest soloist at the San Francisco Symphony’s 2001 Opening Gala, and she also performed at the 60th birthday celebration concert for Michael Tilson Thomas in 2005.
The songs which Audra McDonald will perform at this year’s Gala Opening include numbers from Wonderful Town, West Side Story, Funny Girl and My Fair Lady.
The concert ends with Gershwin’s An American in Paris, a symphonic tone poem commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, which was written in 1928. Inspired by the time which Gershwin had spent in Paris during the 1920s, the work was intended by the composer to portray the impressions of an American visitor to Paris as the sights and sounds of the city surround him.
An American in Paris was premiered at Carnegie Hall on December 13, 1928, by the New York Symphony, conducted by Walter Damrosch.
The San Francisco Symphony’s Gala Opening for the 2013-14 season takes place on Tuesday, September 3, at Davies Symphony Hall. For details on the celebrations, visit the San Francisco Symphony website , where you can also watch a video clip of Audra McDonald performing the closing musical number of the 2013 Tony Awards® with Neil Patrick Harris.
Proceeds from the Opening Night Gala benefit the Symphony’s many community and education programs which provide music education to more than 75,000 Bay Area school children each year.