Audra McDonald to Join San Francisco Symphony in 'PRIDE' Concert After North Carolina Cancellations
On April 4, 2017, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, along with Broadway star Audra McDonald, celebrate the Bay Area's spirit of inclusion and diversity with a special concert in Davies Symphony Hall recognizing and supporting the Bay Area LGBTQ community.
Symphony Pride is scheduled on the eve of the Orchestra's East Coast tour, which was to have included two concerts in North Carolina but cancelled in response to discriminatory legislation adopted by the state.
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony believe strongly in representing the values of the community they serve, offering Symphony Pride as an event which not only celebrates and affirms the Orchestra's commitment to inclusion but also supports service organizations working towards equality for all.
"This special evening honors the essential contributions that LGBTQ composers have made in shaping the American musical sound," stated Michael Tilson Thomas. "One of music's greatest roles is to bring people together. I am proud to join with the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony and my dear friend Audra McDonald in presenting an evening that celebrates and honors the spirit of our community. This concert also offers me the opportunity to express my appreciation for the generous welcome extended to me and my husband, Joshua Robison, since our arrival here over 20 years ago."
"We commend Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for taking a stand in support of the LQBTQ community," said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. "This great event reaffirms San Francisco's commitment to equality for all, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Now, more than ever, San Francisco must exemplify what it means to be an inclusive city, devoted to protecting and advancing the rights of all who live here."
The wide-ranging concert program features the voices of many LGBTQ musical mavericks that MTT has championed throughout his career, including Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, Meredith Monk, and John Cage. Further illustrating the remarkable impact LGBTQ composers have made on the Broadway stage, Audra McDonald performs a selection of songs by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Kander and Ebb. McDonald also narrates Aaron Copland's iconic Lincoln Portrait, a hopeful work he wrote to capture "the magnificent spirit of our country." Concluding the concert is the extraordinary final movement of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1, a work the Orchestra will be performing at Carnegie Hall later in the week. Event Chairs of Symphony Pride are longtime California State Senator and civil rights advocate Mark Leno and Joshua Robison.
Broadway and television star Audra McDonald joins MTT in Symphony Pride as co-host, vocalist, and narrator of Copland's A Lincoln Portrait. Known for her powerful performances in musicals and dramas such as Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, and Porgy and Bess; for her solo tours and appearances with symphony orchestras nationwide; for her role on the ABC medical drama Private Practice; and for her many successful recordings, McDonald holds a record six acting Tony awards, two Grammy awards and an Emmy award. McDonald and Tilson Thomas have been friends and frequent collaborators for over two decades. This performance marks her 11th with the SFS and MTT since her debut with the Orchestra in their 1998 Gershwin Centennial Celebration broadcast nationally from Carnegie Hall. Throughout her career, Audra McDonald has been a passionate advocate and outspoken activist for equal rights and LGBTQ causes.
The majority of ticket proceeds from Symphony Pride will support organizations that provide services to the LGBTQ community in the Bay Area, including Larkin Street Youth Services, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and The Trevor Project.