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San Francisco Symphony will again give two free outdoor concerts this summer

The outdoor stage in the San Francisco Civic Center
The outdoor stage in the San Francisco Civic Center
courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony

Among the highlights of the Summer and the Symphony concerts given by the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) are the occasions when SFS leaves Davies Symphony Hall to give free outdoor concerts to the general public. This summer Edwin Outwater, Director of Summer Concerts, will conduct two such performances. One of them will be held in conjunction with the launch of the Summer and the Symphony season, while the other will feature a promising young soloist at the beginning of his concert career.

As was previously announced, Summer and the Symphony will begin during Fourth of July weekend on Saturday, July 5. The soloist for the opening concert will be jazz pianist Makoto Ozone performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” However, at the same concert he will also jam with SFS developing improvisations over two of Maurice Ravel’s best known orchestral compositions, the “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (pavane for a dead princess) and “Boléro.”

The next day Ozone will join Outwater and SFS when they give their annual free concert at the Stern Grove Festival. On this occasion he will revisit these jazz improvisations on Ravel. Other composers to be performed on this program will be Leonard Bernstein, Henry Mancini, Richard Rodgers, Morton Gould (whose own take on the pavane will be included), Raymond Scott, and Howard Hanson.

The concert will take place on the outdoor stage of Sigmund Stern Grove, beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 6. The entrance to the Grove is at the northwest corner of 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. However, it is important to remember that there is no general public parking at the Grove and that street parking is extremely limited. Those attending the Festival for the first time are strongly encouraged to read the Getting to the Grove Web page on the Festival Web site.

For their second free performance, SFS will return to the Civic Center Plaza for the first time since their wildly successful 100th Anniversary Birthday Bash Concert in the fall of 2011. This is the concert that will introduce the young violinist Benjamin Beilman, recently awarded a Borletto-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, to San Francisco. Beilman made his Carnegie Hall recital debut this past November with a program that included the world premiere of “Swan Song” by David Ludwig. In the Civic Center he will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 64 concerto in E minor. Outwater will begin the program with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s overture to his K. 620 opera The Magic Flute. The second half of the program will be devoted to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, beginning with his Opus 31 “Marche slave” and continuing with excerpts from two of his major ballet scores, Swan Lake (Opus 20) and The Sleeping Beauty (Opus 66).

This concert will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 27. The Civic Center Plaza is adjacent to City Hall, bounded by Polk Street on the west, McAllister Street on the north, Larkin Street on the East, and Grove Street on the south. Off the Grid trucks will be on hand to provide food and beverages. Booths and free giveaways will add to the festivities.