San Diego Symphony Announces 2018-2019 Season

San Diego Symphony Announces 2018-2019 Season Featuring First Concerts Conducted by Rafael Payare as Music Director Designate, 14 Works New to San Diego Symphony Repertoire, and 13 Guest Artists Who Will Make Jacobs Masterworks Debut

Season includes World Premiere, U.S. Premiere and West Coast Premiere

Season Highlights:

  • Internationally acclaimed conductor and San Diego Symphony's Music Director Designate Rafael Payare conducts four concerts in January.
  • Edo de Waart returns to conduct for three weeks in programs that include Mahler's Symphony No. 4 and Lang Lang performing Mozart.
  • 13 artists make their Jacobs Masterworks series debut, and 14 classical works will receive their first San Diego Symphony performance.
  • Special guest artists include Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Joyce Yang, Augustin Hadelich, Alisa Weilerstein and conductor Robert Spano.
  • Fourth annual January Festival, "Hearing the Future," curated by Matthew Aucoin, will explore the world of youthful creativity in a month-long celebration.
  • World premiere of a San Diego Symphony-commissioned work brings together Mexican composer Javier Álvarez and genre-crossing United States Poet Laureate Juan Filipe Herrera.
  • Two women conductors, Speranza Scappucci and Gemma New, and two women composers, Lili Boulanger and Alyssa Weinberg, will be featured this season.
  • Launch of Jacobs Masterworks Rush Hour 2.0 Series.
  • Beyond the Score performance: Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique.

Debut of Music Director, Special Concerts and New Repertoire

Rafael Payare's highly anticipated inaugural concerts as San Diego Symphony's Music Director Designate take place as part of the annual January Festival. It will mark his only Jacobs Masterworks appearance this season and will feature acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein and the orchestra's first-ever performance of Benjamin Britten's Symphony for Cello and Orchestra. He will also perform in a special Discovery Night concert on January 10, with all funds from this concert going to support the San Diego Symphony's Learning and Community Engagement programs.

"I am very pleased that for my first concert since my appointment as music director designate, we will be supporting our education and outreach programs. Something I believe in very passionately. I am looking forward to getting to know each and every member of the orchestra and learning more about San Diego and the region," said Payare.

Highlights of the season include piano superstar Lang Lang performing in a celebratory opening event, and Joshua Bell returning to perform under the baton of Conductor Laureate Jahja Ling. Appearing as part of the inaugural season at the La Jolla Music Society's new concert hall, The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, members of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra will perform there in April and May. Conductor Robert Spano, famed for his tenure with the Atlanta Symphony and the Aspen Music Festival, comes to San Diego with a program of Beethoven and Vaughan Williams, and Speranza Scapucci will conduct the rarely performed Puccini Messa di Gloria with the San Diego Master Chorale. Additional highlights include a concert titled "Bernstein and His World" as part of our celebrations of Bernstein @100, Avi Avital, Michael Francis, Jan Lisiecki, and Edo de Waart returning for Mahler's Symphony No. 4.

Fourteen works will receive their San Diego Symphony Orchestra debut during the 2018-19 season. In alphabetical order, they include:

JAVIER ÁLVAREZ: World Premiere and SDSO commission (text by Juan Filipe Herrera); MASON BATES: Garages of the Valley; BRITTEN: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra; MICHAEL IPPOLITO: Nocturne; JANÁ?EK: Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen; LUTOS?AWSKI: Little Suite; PUCCINI: Messa di Gloria; PURCELL/ Arr. Britten: Chacony; SEAN SHEPHERD: New work; Noam Sheriff: Lenny (U.S. Premiere); CHRISTOPHER THEOFANIDIS: Dreamtime Ancestors; ALYSSA WEINBERG: Reign of Logic (West Coast Premiere); John Williams: Horn Concerto; Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 2: A London Symphony.

Focus on American Music

Continuing a focus and exploration of works by American composers, the upcoming season features 13 works by American composers that will be performed by the San Diego Symphony: COPLAND: Appalachian Spring; IVES: The Unanswered Question; BERNSTEIN: The Age of Anxiety and Divertimento for Orchestra; BARBER: Knoxville: Summer of 1915; John Williams: Horn Concerto; ALYSSA WEINBERG: Reign of Logic (west coast premiere); MASON BATES: Garages of the Valley; MICHAEL IPPOLITO: Nocturne for Orchestra; MATTHEW AUCOIN: Excerpts from Crossing; Andrew Norman: Play, Level 1; CHRISTOPHER THEOFANIDIS: Dreamtime Ancestors; and SEAN SHEPHERD: New work.

"In creating a season there are many aspects to take into consideration," said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. "The 2018-19 season has a reflective side as we focus on two themes from previous festivals. In a nod to the 2016 "Upright and Grand" festival we are presenting a series of programs in a concentrated look at historic piano concertos featuring eight of the most sought-after pianists today. "Our American Music" was the theme of the 2017 festival in which we asked the question "what makes American music sound American?" In 2018-19 we continue hearing our American voice with 13 works by American composers. And in 2019, during our annual January Festival, we lead a dynamic month-long exploration of creativity and how the passions of youth influence artistic expression."

January Festival: "Hearing The Future"

The Symphony's annual January Festival returns in its fourth year entitled, "Hearing the Future." Throughout the month-long festival we explore the concept of "creation" and the artistic expression that springs from youthful composers and artists. Where does creativity begin and where does it go? The first brush stroke on a canvas. The first note on a staff. The first sentence of a novel. The opening scene of a drama.

The festival is curated by guest conductor and Los Angeles Opera Artist-in-Residence, Matthew Aucoin, a passionate futurist at the age of 28. His ideas on music, theater, poetry, and the world stage reflect his youthful perspective with fervor and an infectious enthusiasm as to what is possible.

The exploration begins with the first concerts conducted by San Diego Symphony's Music Director Designate Rafael Payare. In two programs in the span of one week, Payare will provide a prospective glimpse of his creative vision as the 13th music director.

Michael Francis, music director of Mainly Mozart, takes us back to a single year nearly 200 years ago when three young composers - Mendelssohn, Liszt and Berlioz - stood at the beginning of their creative genius, and compared notes. They learned the rules, then dared to break them.

"Sometimes a composer, early in his or her career, catches a glimpse of some musical development to come. Often it happens before the composer has all the tools to fully realize this vision: for example, Berlioz's formal and sonic experiments appeared before he had a harmonic palette to match them; and Beethoven's First Symphony contains tantalizing glimmers of the radical developments to come in his later symphonies. I look forward to sharing these great works and many others during Hearing the Future," said Aucoin, festival curator.


Partnering with San Diego arts, film, educational and literary organizations, this festival of springtime hope and fearlessness will include programs throughout the region to explore the concept of youthful creative inspiration and the spark that connects us all through art. A complete "Hearing the Future" festival line-up will be available in coming months on www.sandiegosymphony.org/Future.

Guest Artists, Premieres and New Series

The San Diego Symphony always strives to bring the world's top artists to Southern California audiences and the 2018-19 Jacobs Masterworks season is no exception. The 13 highly acclaimed and accomplished guest musicians making debuts with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra include: Matthew Aucoin, conductor; Michael Barenboim, violin; Leonardo Capalbo, tenor; Michael Francis, conductor; Joélle Harvey, soprano; Rodolfo Leone, piano; Jan Lisiecki, piano; Daniel Okulitch, baritone; Speranza Scappucci, conductor; Steven Sloane, conductor; Robert Spano, conductor; Michael Sumuel, bass; Simon Trp?eski, piano.

The season will feature three premieres: a world premiere, U.S. premiere and west coast premiere. In November audiences will be treated to two. The first is the world premiere of the unique SDSO commissioned work bringing together Mexican composer Javier Álvarez and genre-crossing United States Poet Laureate Juan Filipe Herrera. The work will be scored for orchestra, narrator and four vihuelas. The second November premiere is the U.S. premiere of Noam Sheriff's Lenny. May will feature the west coast premiere of Alyssa Weinberg's Reign of Logic. Described as "fearless...unapologetic...beautiful...transforming" (Kaleidoscope), Weinberg's work is influenced by her collaborations in multiple artistic genres.

Piano takes center stage throughout the season, appropriately kicking off with piano superstar Lang Lang. He will perform in a special concert and celebratory opening event October 4. Other featured pianists this season include: Joyce Yang, Conrad Tao, Orli Shaham, Rodolfo Leone, Jorge Federico Osorio, Jan Lisiecki and Simon Trp?eski.

New this season is the Jacobs Masterworks Rush Hour 2.0 series. Taking place select Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., these concerts are a shorter program with no intermission - a great way to get a start on the weekend! For those living or working downtown it's also the perfect way to avoid the maddening rush hour traffic, and enjoy a one hour concert. Tickets start at $25.

Beyond The Score

Beyond The Score is a program of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that began in 2004 as an audience development initiative. The format is that of a live documentary, with the first half of the performance including a narrative that explores a single piece of a composer's music. Through the words of the composer and his contemporaries, the narrative behind and around the music evolves. Actors and projected images combine with musical examples performed by the orchestra.

The Beyond The Score program offered this season on January 19, 2019, features Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique conducted by Michael Francis. Hector Berlioz's passionate fever dreams changed the world of classical music forever when he unleashed his Symphonie fantastique onto unsuspecting audiences in 1830. This Beyond the Score presentation dramatizes how this surprising symphonic shocker came to be.

Fox Theatre Film Series

The Fox Theatre Film Series for the 2018-19 season kicks off the holiday season with the ultimate romantic comedy, Love Actually, on December 14. Jurassic Park, one of the most thrilling science fiction adventures ever made, will excite audiences in February when the film featuring one of John Williams' most iconic and beloved musical scores is performed live by the orchestra.

Continuing its popular and successful run within the Symphony's film series, the Harry Potter Film concert series enters its third year of a four-year project in which the San Diego Symphony, as part of a national network of orchestras, will screen all eight Harry Potter films. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be shown on the big screen in April, while the San Diego Symphony performs Nicholas Hooper's entire film score live on stage.

Two silent films will be shown during the season as well: Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. and F.W. Murnau's Oscar-winning masterpiece, Sunrise.

Family Concerts

There is no better way to introduce children (and parents) to symphonic music than through the engaging and enlightening Family Concerts. Often featuring a guest artist or narrator, the concerts include activities prior to the start of the performance, which give children the chance to see some of the instruments up close and to perhaps even try making their own music. This season's family concerts run the gamut from The Science of Sound, a closer look at the DNA of music and how it moves us, to A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, a dive into the basics of an orchestra, to Peter and The Wolf, the Prokofiev Classic fairytale. There is also the incredibly popular family holiday concert, Noel Noel, featuring timeless holiday classics. Family concerts are one hour-designed to engage the attention of the youngest concertgoers.

Pre-Concert Lectures: "What's The Score?"

For those looking to enhance the Jacobs Masterworks concert-going experience, San Diego Symphony offers "What's The Score?", a 25-minute, pre-concert lecture to enlighten and illuminate audiences about the evening's program. Our resident classical music commentator, Nuvi Mehta, offers a fascinating look into the meaning of the music and the motivation of the composer-all the highs, lows, drama and intrigue. In addition to the genius and personalities of the individual composers, Mehta often discusses the social, economic and political forces of the day that contributed to how and why a piece of music was written.

*Jazz @ The Jacobs, City Lights and Chamber Series will be announced in May.


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