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Next month begins with MTT kicking off his twentieth season with SFS

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As was announced this past February, the 2014–15 season will be an auspicious one for the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). Not only will it be the twentieth season with Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) serving as Music Director; but also it will be the season of MTT’s 70th birthday. This will add an extra bit of spirit to the events planned for the first week of next month in Davies Symphony Hall.

As usual, the season will begin with the traditional Opening Night Gala. As was the case last year, the program will feature a contemporary take on selections from the American Songbook, performed this time by vocalist Bonnie Raitt. The program will also again feature music by George Gershwin with the “Rhapsody in Blue” featuring Yuja Wang as piano soloist. This year, however, these program offerings will interleave with three different approaches to Russian traditions. The evening will be framed by two distinctively different compositions, both of which were inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. It will begin with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Overture-Fantasy” of the same name and conclude with a set of excerpts from the score that Sergei Prokofiev prepared for the ballet based on the play. As a contrasting “Russian point of view,” the middle of the program will feature Igor Stravinsky’s “Scherzo à la russe.”

The Opening Gala will take place on Wednesday, September 3, with the concert beginning at 8 p.m. in Davies. However, there will be a variety of ancillary events associated with the occasion. At 7 p.m. in Davies, there will be a complimentary wine reception for all attending the concert. There will also be four options for dinner at 6 p.m., all of which are preceded by a cocktail reception at 5 p.m. Following the concert there will be an “after-party” for all attendees held both outdoors and in the Louise M. Davies Tent Pavilion. Full details are available through the Gala event page on the SFS Web site, which includes hyperlinks for both packages and individual purchases for tickets to the concert and all related events. Further information about concert tickets may be obtained by calling the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office at 415-864-6000; and information about the dinner packages will be provided by the Volunteer Council, which may be reached at 415-503-5500.

Honoring another tradition, the Opening Gala will be followed by the first community-based event of the new season. This is called the All-San Francisco Concert, and it is how SFS shows thanks for all the work done by San Francisco’s social service and neighborhood organizations. MTT will conduct the three instrumental compositions by Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev that were programmed for the Opening Gala. However, the guest artist will be pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, who will join SFS for a performances of the G major piano concerto by Maurice Ravel.

The All-San Francisco Concert will take place on Thursday, September 4, at 8 p.m. in Davies. Tickets are not available for general purchase by individuals. Community groups that would like to be considered for tickets should contact SFS by sending electronic mail to volunteercouncil@sfsymphony.org.

Finally, the week will conclude with the first two subscription concerts of the season. Both the program and the soloist will be the same as for the All-San Francisco Concert. Both concerts will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 5, and Saturday, September 6. Ticket prices range from $15 to $158. Tickets may be purchased online through an event page on the SFS Web site. They are also being sold at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street, which may also be reached by calling 415-864-6000.

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