For many years the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) has celebrated Halloween by screening a silent horror movie in Davies Symphony Hall with live (and usually improvised) accompaniment provided by a performance on the full resources (sometimes enhanced with other instruments) of the Ruffatti Concert Organ. This season SFS will take an expanded approach with eight programs of film screenings to be held between the end of this month and the beginning of June. Furthermore, for most of these programs, the music will be provided by SFS itself, although there will still be an opportunity to enjoy the Ruffatti organ.
The full schedule of program to be given in Davies, which will begin with a salute to Alfred Hitchcock, enhanced with hyperlinks to the appropriate event pages, will be as follows:
Wednesday, October 30, 8 p.m.: Hitchcock’s Psycho will be shown with Joshua Gersen conducting the music that Bernard Hermann composed for the soundtrack in an evening that will be hosted by Hitchcock’s granddaughter, Tere Carrubba.
Thursday, October 31, 7:30 p.m.: Halloween will still be celebrated with a silent film. This time, however, the movie will be one of Hitchcock’s earliest works, The Lodger. This is not so much a horror film as one of the earliest examples of Hitchcock’s talent for creating and sustaining suspense. The music will be provided by Todd Wilson at the console of the Ruffatti organ.
Friday, November 1, 8 p.m.: The focus on Hitchcock will continue with a screening of Vertigo. This film has another soundtrack by Herrmann. Gersen will again conduct SFS. Tickets are no longer available online. Any inquiries about tickets that have been turned back can only be addressed by the Box Office. Those interested may call 415-864-6000 or visit the Box Office in the lobby of Davies on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.
Saturday, November 2, 8 p.m.: The week of events honoring Hitchcock will conclude with a Greatest Hits program. Hermann will be represented by two excepts from his score for Vertigo and four from North by Northwest. The other composers to be performed (and their respective films) will be Lyn Murray (To Catch a Thief) and Dimitri Tiomkin (Strangers on a Train and Dial M for Murder). These excerpts will all be performed with the screenings of the associated scenes from the films themselves. There will also be a performance of Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette,” the music Hitchcock selected as the theme for his weekly television series. This program will be hosted by Eva Marie Saint, who starred along with Cary Grant in North by Northwest.
Friday, December 6, and Saturday, December 7, 7:30 p.m.: The musical Singin’ in the Rain, co-directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, will be shown in its entirety with Sarah Hicks conducting the SFS performing the score by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed.
Saturday, February 15, 8 p.m.: The annual Academy Awards ceremony will be honored with a program entitled A Night at the Oscars. The program will be based on clips from Oscar-winning films with SFS providing the music under the baton of Constantine Kistopoulos. Hermann will again be on the program, this time for his contribution to Citizen Kane. The other composers to be included will be Erich Wolfgang Korngold (The Adventures of Robin Hood), Max Steiner (Gone With the Wind), Miklós Rózsa (Ben-Hur), George Gershwin (An American in Paris), and Herbert Stothart (The Wizard of Oz). Excerpts from Gershwin’s piano concerto, which Oscar Levant played in An American in Paris, will also be included with the cleverly-conceived footage of Levant’s performance.
Saturday, April 12, 8 p.m.: This will be a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 classic, City Lights, with Richard Kaufmann conducting SFS in the score that Chaplin composed for this film.
Saturday, May 31, 8 p.m., and Sunday, June 1, 4 p.m.: Hicks will return to conduct SFS is a program of projected selections from both the original 1940 Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
Prices for these performances vary, so readers are invited to visit the hyperlinks to the respective event pages.