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JACOBS MUSIC CENTER

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Join us to celebrate the joyful reopening of our beloved Jacobs Music Center! Thrill to our amazing new acoustics and marvel at the beautifully restored interior, with a sparkling season of Masterworks programs celebrating every aspect of our wonderful orchestra.

NOW ON SALE: CHOOSE YOUR OWN!
Choose FOUR or more concerts and receive a 15% discount on your selections.
Add-on opening night and holiday concerts with priority seating!

NOW ON SALE - CHOOSE YOUR OWN

FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR OUR DETAILED PRESS RELEASE ABOUT
THIS HISTORIC 2024-25 SEASON OF CONCERTS AT THE RENOVATED JACOBS MUSIC CENTER!

The San Diego Union-Tribune has published a story previewing Season 2024-25. FOLLOW THIS LINK TO READ!

New this year! Subscribers have the opportunity to reserve pre-concert prix-fixe brunch or dinner at The University Club atop Symphony Towers.

Season 2024-25 at The Jacobs Music Center is dedicated to the memory of JOAN K. JACOBS.

CHECK OUT OUR INTERACTIVE SEASON 2024-25 BROCHURE!

OUR SEASON AT A GLANCE!




A brand new Jacobs Masterworks weekday matinee series for those lucky individuals with their Friday mornings free! This three-concert series is our best bargain of the season: 15% off for just this 11am trio! You'll hear Mozart, Sibelius, and (in one concert conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare) both Prokofiev and Beethoven!

Colors and Rhythms: Clyne, Mozart, Beethoven

Friday, January 17, 11am

Eduardo Strausser, conductor
Javier Perianes, piano

ANNA CLYNE: Color Field
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36

What a sumptuous feast of beautiful sounds and ravishing orchestral virtuosity! The celebrated composer Anna Clyne’s Color Field opens the concert with a delicious imagining of what mixing yellow and red would sound like.

Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, composed during his peak of creativity, is performed for us this season by the esteemed Spanish pianist Javier Perianes. Igor Stravinsky once said, Beethoven’s Second Symphony was his favorite of the nine. It’s easy to see why, with its amazing rhythmic drive, grandeur and sonority of sound. Hear the piece that unleashed a whole new storm of pulsing power which was soon to lead Beethoven to the Eroica Symphony and the Fifth. We heard it here first!

Orchestral Evolution: Childs' Premiere and Beethoven’s Eroica

Friday, January 31, 11am

Rafael Payare, conductor
Alexander Malofeev, piano

BILLY CHILDS: Concerto for Orchestra (World Premiere, Commissioned by San Diego Symphony)
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, Eroica

Rising star Alexander Malofeev (“Truly remarkable” - Boston Classical Review) takes the Jacobs Music Center stage in Prokofiev’s muscular and demanding Piano Concerto No. 3, a work originally written for the composer himself to play as part of his many tours of the USA in the 1920s and 1930s. The program begins with the World Premiere of Los Angeles-born, GRAMMY® Award-winning composer Billy Childs’ Concerto for Orchestra, and ends with Music Director Rafael Payare leading the Symphony in Beethoven’s celebrated Eroica symphony, one of the most influential symphonies in the Western musical canon. Shocking in Beethoven’s own time for the unfamiliar vastness of its dimensions and its huge orchestral sound, this symphony ends with a mighty set of variations based on music from Beethoven’s ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, which celebrate the evolution of human beings from mere unfeeling creatures made of clay to living, breathing human beings, capable of liberty, equality, fraternity and love.

Vänskä Conducts Sibelius and Beethoven

Friday, February 28, 11am

Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Paavali Jumppanen, piano

SIBELIUS: Tapiola, Op. 112
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op.73, Emperor
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82

Jean Sibelius once said of a summer sailing trip in the Baltic Sea: “If only foreigners could see the granite rocks emerging from the water here, they would understand why I write for orchestra as I do!”

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä is a leading authority on the music of Jean Sibelius, having recorded all seven of the composer’s symphonies. On this program, he leads the Symphony first in Sibelius’ dark and brooding tone poem Tapiola. One of this composer’s final works before he ceased writing in the late 1920s, this music evoking Tapio, the forest spirit from ancient pre-Christian Finnish mythology, was written to a commission from the New York Philharmonic. Sibelius’s much loved Fifth Symphony was also inspired by the natural landscape of his home country, and especially by his intense response to the beautiful flight of whooper swans, returning in the spring to breed on the lakes and waters of Finland . Rounding out the program is Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto performed by Finnish pianist and Beethoven expert Paavali Jumppanen, praised for the “overflowing energy of his musicianship” by The New York Times.

Buy Now

Start your weekends of right with a Jacobs Masterworks Friday Night A Series, including five concerts led by Music Director Rafael Payare. You'll hear works by composers like Mahler, Mozart, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Busoni, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and many more!

Resurrection

Friday, October 4, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Angela Meade, soprano
Anna Larsson, mezzo-soprano
San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus

THOMAS LARCHER: Time: Three Movements for Orchestra (San Diego Symphony Co-Commission)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection

Angela Meade (“the most talked about soprano of her generation” – Opera News) and renowned Mahler interpreter Anna Larsson join forces with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra for three performances of Mahler’s extraordinary and utterly overwhelming “Resurrection” Symphony, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare with the debut of the San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus. One of the most spectacular and immersive pieces of orchestral music ever written, its performances here in our new hall are a marvelous way of marking our storied past and looking forward to a tremendous new history to come, as well as celebrating the growth and development of the San Diego Symphony. Mahler was born and raised in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we begin this program with music by Austria’s leading composer of today, Thomas Larcher. His new piece, Time, co-commissioned by the SDSO and premiered by Rafael Payare in 2022, displays Larcher’s wonderful and highly attractive command of vivid symphonic color and exciting drama.

Where We Lay Our Scene: A San Diego Symphony Romeo and Juliet

Friday, October 18, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Gerard McBurney, director
Mike Tutaj, projections

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
PROKOFIEV: Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet (G. McBurney compilation)

“It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear!
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale!"

A new musical-theatrical vision brings color, light and drama to our new hall in a delicious melding of the immortal ballet-music of Prokofiev together with the world-famous poetry of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that inspired it. Chicago-based projections-artist Mike Tutaj will transform the walls and space of the Jacobs Music Center into a magical playground for the imagination. The Russian composer’s glittering orchestration will make our new acoustic chamber tremble like a bell, and a selection of established theatre talents will bring alive the story of this much-loved tragedy of two young lovers destroyed by hate and enmity. Before this, legendary pianist Emanuel Ax will join Rafael Payare and the SDSO for one of the most sumptuous concertos by the most theatrical of all composers, Mozart. A great writer once said, “All Mozart’s concertos are operas in miniature,” and this particular concerto runs the gamut from imperial grandeur and celebration to childlike innocence and sorrow.

Romantic Fates: Tchaikovsky’s Towering Fifth

Friday, October 25, 7:30pm

Antonio Méndez, conductor
Paul Huang, violin

MENDELSSOHN: Overture to Ruy Blas, Op. 95
BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

Antonio Méndez returns after his terrific SDSO debut last season with a program bursting with overwhelming romantic feelings, surging love-songs and hair-tingling premonitions of melodramatic tragedy and fate. Mendelssohn’s surging and brilliantly orchestrated overture compresses into less than 10 minutes the essence of a play by the French poet Victor Hugo (celebrated author of Les Misérables): a poor poet falls in love with the Queen of Spain, with disastrous consequences for both of them. Max Bruch pours out one melody after another in one of the best-loved violin concertos of all time. And Tchaikovsky thrills us with the tumultuous operatic energy of his Fifth Symphony, complete with doom-laden trumpet-calls, dreamlike dance sequences, rushing strings, and in the slow movement a love song for the solo horn that is one of the sweetest and most heartfelt moments from anywhere in the marvelous composer’s output.

Two Concertos: Barnatan Plays Shostakovich

Friday, December 6, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano

R. STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28

Conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare and featuring pianist Inon Barnatan, this program highlights the humorous side of classical music in works by Richard Strauss and Dmitri Shostakovich. Strauss wrote his tone poem Don Juan when he was just 24 years old. The work, inspired by the same figure of legend as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, was the young composer’s first international success, while Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streich depicts the misadventures of the German folk hero Till Eulenspiegel. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, written for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday (and for Maxim to play at his conservatory graduation exam), is an uncharacteristically cheerful piece. Shostakovich’s wrote his Piano Concerto No. 1 during the height of his early career for himself to play; it is sardonic and tongue-in-cheek, quoting and parodying several well-known pieces.

Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto and Organ Symphony

Friday, January 10, 7:30pm

Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jeff Thayer, violin

GABRIELLA SMITH: Bioluminescence Chaconne
SAINT-SAËNS: Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61
AUGUSTA HOLMÈS: “La nuit et l'amour” from Ludus pro patria
SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, Organ Symphony

California-based French conductor Ludovic Morlot celebrates the music of his native land with two masterworks by his great 19th century compatriot Camille Saint-Saëns: the Third Violin Concerto, written for the great Spanish virtuoso Sarasate and brimming with sweet melodies; and the composer’s most famous symphony, known as the Organ Symphony for its sumptuous organ writing which dramatically extends and deepens the colors of the orchestra. It's the ideal music to celebrate the fabulous new sound of our own completely renovated Robert Morton pipe organ in Jacobs Music Center!

In between, we will hear one of the most famous pieces by Augusta Holmès, a French composer of Irish extraction; her short and delicious piece called “Night and Love” is inspired by a painting by the composer’s contemporary Puvis de Chavannes and features a gorgeously romantic melody you won’t be able to get out of your head. (Holmès’ friend and contemporary Saint-Saëns said of her: “Mademoiselle Holmès is a woman, an extremist!”)

Ludovic Morlot opens his program with the brilliant young Californian composer Gabriella Smith’s Bioluminescence Chaconne. Smith is a composer with a terrifically inventive ear for instrumental colors and a deep fascination with nature – especially with the spectacular coastal areas of the American Northwest. "Bioluminescence" is the extraordinary phenomenon whereby living organisms give out light, like fireflies or the various forms of illumination that emerge from the ocean.

Busoni’s Violin Concerto

Friday, January 24, 7:30pm

Daniele Rustioni, conductor
Francesca Dego, violin

BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
BUSONI: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35a
TCHAIKOVSKY: Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
RESPIGHI: Feste romane (Roman Festivals)

One of the most compelling conductors of his generation, Daniele Rustioni makes his Symphony debut in conducting this program of Italian-themed works. The evening begins with Berlioz’s rousing Roman Carnival Overture. Ferruccio Busoni was one of the great Italian musicians of the late 19th and early 20th century. As a pianist he was world famous; as a composer he worked in almost every style, from Brahmsian romanticism to the strangest most dreamlike modernism. Making her Symphony debut, violinist Francesca Dego will perform one of her signatures: Busoni’s wonderfully dark and lyrical but dazzlingly virtuosic Violin Concerto. The second half of the program features Tchaikovsky’s symphonic fantasy based on one of the greatest and most tragic love stories ever told, the fatal affair between Francesca da Rimini and her brother-in-law Paolo and their subsequent murder by her enraged husband. It was Italy’s greatest poet Dante who immortalized their tale in his Inferno [Hell], and it was from Dante that Tchaikovsky took the motto which he wrote on the first page of his score:

There is no greater sorrow/Than a happy time remembered in a time of misery.

The concert ends with Respighi’s exuberantly dramatic Roman Festivals depicting scenes from ancient and contemporary Rome, from the gladiators and the harvest festival to celebrating the Epiphany in the Piazza Navona.

Mother Goose, Symphonic Dances and More

Friday, March 7, 7:30pm

Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Alexi Kenney, violin

RAVEL: Suite (5 pièces enfantines) from Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)
BARTÓK: Violin Concerto No. 2
RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

Three 20th century masterpieces!

After his emigration from Revolutionary Russia in 1918, Rachmaninoff, as one of the world’s most sought-after pianists, had little time for composing and completed only six pieces in a quarter of a century of exile. But that music is among his most beautiful and concentrated, and none more so than his elegiac final work, his Symphonic Dances, written when World War II was already underway, and the composer and his wife were living in New York City. Rachmaninoff, already sick with the lung cancer that was to kill him, spent time in a country retreat on Long Island, where the quiet and peacefulness inspired music combining intense nostalgia for an old world gone with the tremendous rhythmic energy and optimism that he so loved about America.

Conductor Matthias Pintscher begins the concert with the beautiful glittering colors of Ravel’s Mother Goose, originally conceived as a charming piano duet for adults and children to play together, and then later transformed into an orchestral ballet. And Alexi Kenney makes his Symphony debut with his “soulful and stirring” (The Pittsburgh Post Gazette) interpretation of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2, a work written in the composer’s very last years in Europe before, despairing of the triumph of fascism and violence on all sides, he and his second wife emigrated to the USA. Conceived on a symphonic scale, this music speaks of the darkness and tragedy of the time, but it is also saturated with Bartók’s lifelong love and deep knowledge of the folk-music of Eastern Europe from which he drew not only musical ideas but a deep and optimistic belief in the power of ordinary people to survive suffering and oppression.

Elegant to Epic: Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich

Friday, May 16, 7:30

Rafael Payare, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103, Egyptian
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60, Leningrad

Considered one of the finest pianists of today, Jean-Yves Thibaudet takes the Jacobs Music Center stage to perform his acclaimed interpretation of Camille Saint-Saëns' final piano concerto, written while he was vacationing in Cairo, Egypt. Then Rafael Payare and the Symphony tackle Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, Leningrad. The first performance of the Leningrad took place in August 1942, a year into the 30-month blockade of the city by Axis powers, and was broadcast throughout the city as a show of defiance against German forces. Since then, the symphony has become a powerful international symbol of human resistance to brutality, barbarism and injustice.

Ode to Nature: Payare Conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

Friday, May 23, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano
Choruses TBD

MAHLER: Symphony No. 3 in D minor

Written over the course of three years, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is a monumental two-part declaration of faith that reveals the composer’s wide-ranging influences, from folk song to mythology and philosophy. This vastly expansive work is Mahler’s ode to nature, progressing in ever wider circles from the intimacy of flowers and meadows, to a colossal vision of humanity, and the splendor of the cosmos and its Creator. Perhaps no other symphony of Mahler’s so well embodies his famous declaration to Sibelius, in Sibelius’s own account:

"Die Symphonie muss sein wie die Welt, Sie muss alles umfassen."
("A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.")

World-renowned mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill will make her San Diego Symphony debut, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare, for these final concerts of this historic season.

Buy Now

Five Jacobs Masterworks concerts over eight months = five special weekends you'll start with a fantastic symphonic keynote! This Friday B series brings you two gigantic Mahler symphonies (both in the capable hands of Music Director Rafael Payare) as well as popular works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Bruch and Ravel.

Resurrection

Friday, October 4, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Angela Meade, soprano
Anna Larsson, mezzo-soprano
San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus

THOMAS LARCHER: Time: Three Movements for Orchestra (San Diego Symphony Co-Commission)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection

Angela Meade (“the most talked about soprano of her generation” – Opera News) and renowned Mahler interpreter Anna Larsson join forces with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra for three performances of Mahler’s extraordinary and utterly overwhelming “Resurrection” Symphony, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare with the debut of the San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus. One of the most spectacular and immersive pieces of orchestral music ever written, its performances here in our new hall are a marvelous way of marking our storied past and looking forward to a tremendous new history to come, as well as celebrating the growth and development of the San Diego Symphony. Mahler was born and raised in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we begin this program with music by Austria’s leading composer of today, Thomas Larcher. His new piece, Time, co-commissioned by the SDSO and premiered by Rafael Payare in 2022, displays Larcher’s wonderful and highly attractive command of vivid symphonic color and exciting drama.

Romantic Fates: Tchaikovsky’s Towering Fifth

Friday, October 25, 7:30pm

Antonio Méndez, conductor
Paul Huang, violin

MENDELSSOHN: Overture to Ruy Blas, Op. 95
BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

Antonio Méndez returns after his terrific SDSO debut last season with a program bursting with overwhelming romantic feelings, surging love-songs and hair-tingling premonitions of melodramatic tragedy and fate. Mendelssohn’s surging and brilliantly orchestrated overture compresses into less than 10 minutes the essence of a play by the French poet Victor Hugo (celebrated author of Les Misérables): a poor poet falls in love with the Queen of Spain, with disastrous consequences for both of them. Max Bruch pours out one melody after another in one of the best-loved violin concertos of all time. And Tchaikovsky thrills us with the tumultuous operatic energy of his Fifth Symphony, complete with doom-laden trumpet-calls, dreamlike dance sequences, rushing strings, and in the slow movement a love song for the solo horn that is one of the sweetest and most heartfelt moments from anywhere in the marvelous composer’s output.

Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto and Organ Symphony

Friday, January 10, 7:30pm

Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jeff Thayer, violin

GABRIELLA SMITH: Bioluminescence Chaconne
SAINT-SAËNS: Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61
AUGUSTA HOLMÈS: “La nuit et l'amour” from Ludus pro patria
SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, Organ Symphony

California-based French conductor Ludovic Morlot celebrates the music of his native land with two masterworks by his great 19th century compatriot Camille Saint-Saëns: the Third Violin Concerto, written for the great Spanish virtuoso Sarasate and brimming with sweet melodies; and the composer’s most famous symphony, known as the Organ Symphony for its sumptuous organ writing which dramatically extends and deepens the colors of the orchestra. It's the ideal music to celebrate the fabulous new sound of our own completely renovated Robert Morton pipe organ in Jacobs Music Center!

In between, we will hear one of the most famous pieces by Augusta Holmès, a French composer of Irish extraction; her short and delicious piece called “Night and Love” is inspired by a painting by the composer’s contemporary Puvis de Chavannes and features a gorgeously romantic melody you won’t be able to get out of your head. (Holmès’ friend and contemporary Saint-Saëns said of her: “Mademoiselle Holmès is a woman, an extremist!”)

Ludovic Morlot opens his program with the brilliant young Californian composer Gabriella Smith’s Bioluminescence Chaconne. Smith is a composer with a terrifically inventive ear for instrumental colors and a deep fascination with nature – especially with the spectacular coastal areas of the American Northwest. "Bioluminescence" is the extraordinary phenomenon whereby living organisms give out light, like fireflies or the various forms of illumination that emerge from the ocean.

Mother Goose, Symphonic Dances and More

Friday, March 7, 7:30pm

Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Alexi Kenney, violin

RAVEL: Suite (5 pièces enfantines) from Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)
BARTÓK: Violin Concerto No. 2
RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

Three 20th century masterpieces!

After his emigration from Revolutionary Russia in 1918, Rachmaninoff, as one of the world’s most sought-after pianists, had little time for composing and completed only six pieces in a quarter of a century of exile. But that music is among his most beautiful and concentrated, and none more so than his elegiac final work, his Symphonic Dances, written when World War II was already underway, and the composer and his wife were living in New York City. Rachmaninoff, already sick with the lung cancer that was to kill him, spent time in a country retreat on Long Island, where the quiet and peacefulness inspired music combining intense nostalgia for an old world gone with the tremendous rhythmic energy and optimism that he so loved about America.

Conductor Matthias Pintscher begins the concert with the beautiful glittering colors of Ravel’s Mother Goose, originally conceived as a charming piano duet for adults and children to play together, and then later transformed into an orchestral ballet. And Alexi Kenney makes his Symphony debut with his “soulful and stirring” (The Pittsburgh Post Gazette) interpretation of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2, a work written in the composer’s very last years in Europe before, despairing of the triumph of fascism and violence on all sides, he and his second wife emigrated to the USA. Conceived on a symphonic scale, this music speaks of the darkness and tragedy of the time, but it is also saturated with Bartók’s lifelong love and deep knowledge of the folk-music of Eastern Europe from which he drew not only musical ideas but a deep and optimistic belief in the power of ordinary people to survive suffering and oppression.

Ode to Nature: Payare Conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

Friday, May 23, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano
Choruses TBD

MAHLER: Symphony No. 3 in D minor

Written over the course of three years, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is a monumental two-part declaration of faith that reveals the composer’s wide-ranging influences, from folk song to mythology and philosophy. This vastly expansive work is Mahler’s ode to nature, progressing in ever wider circles from the intimacy of flowers and meadows, to a colossal vision of humanity, and the splendor of the cosmos and its Creator. Perhaps no other symphony of Mahler’s so well embodies his famous declaration to Sibelius, in Sibelius’s own account:

"Die Symphonie muss sein wie die Welt, Sie muss alles umfassen."
("A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.")

World-renowned mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill will make her San Diego Symphony debut, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare, for these final concerts of this historic season.

Buy Now

Our most convenient evening series of the season: four Friday nights full of joyous music and exquisite musicianship from our orchestra and glittering guest artists. On this single series you'll experience three of today's finest concert pianists: Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. (And all three will be led by Music Director Rafael Payare!)

Where We Lay Our Scene: A San Diego Symphony Romeo and Juliet

Friday, October 18, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Gerard McBurney, director
Mike Tutaj, projections

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
PROKOFIEV: Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet (G. McBurney compilation)

“It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear!
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale!"

A new musical-theatrical vision brings color, light and drama to our new hall in a delicious melding of the immortal ballet-music of Prokofiev together with the world-famous poetry of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that inspired it. Chicago-based projections-artist Mike Tutaj will transform the walls and space of the Jacobs Music Center into a magical playground for the imagination. The Russian composer’s glittering orchestration will make our new acoustic chamber tremble like a bell, and a selection of established theatre talents will bring alive the story of this much-loved tragedy of two young lovers destroyed by hate and enmity. Before this, legendary pianist Emanuel Ax will join Rafael Payare and the SDSO for one of the most sumptuous concertos by the most theatrical of all composers, Mozart. A great writer once said, “All Mozart’s concertos are operas in miniature,” and this particular concerto runs the gamut from imperial grandeur and celebration to childlike innocence and sorrow.

Two Concertos: Barnatan Plays Shostakovich

Friday, December 6, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano

R. STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28

Conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare and featuring pianist Inon Barnatan, this program highlights the humorous side of classical music in works by Richard Strauss and Dmitri Shostakovich. Strauss wrote his tone poem Don Juan when he was just 24 years old. The work, inspired by the same figure of legend as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, was the young composer’s first international success, while Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streich depicts the misadventures of the German folk hero Till Eulenspiegel. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, written for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday (and for Maxim to play at his conservatory graduation exam), is an uncharacteristically cheerful piece. Shostakovich’s wrote his Piano Concerto No. 1 during the height of his early career for himself to play; it is sardonic and tongue-in-cheek, quoting and parodying several well-known pieces.

Busoni’s Violin Concerto

Friday, January 24, 7:30pm

Daniele Rustioni, conductor
Francesca Dego, violin

BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
BUSONI: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35a
TCHAIKOVSKY: Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
RESPIGHI: Feste romane (Roman Festivals)

One of the most compelling conductors of his generation, Daniele Rustioni makes his Symphony debut in conducting this program of Italian-themed works. The evening begins with Berlioz’s rousing Roman Carnival Overture. Ferruccio Busoni was one of the great Italian musicians of the late 19th and early 20th century. As a pianist he was world famous; as a composer he worked in almost every style, from Brahmsian romanticism to the strangest most dreamlike modernism. Making her Symphony debut, violinist Francesca Dego will perform one of her signatures: Busoni’s wonderfully dark and lyrical but dazzlingly virtuosic Violin Concerto. The second half of the program features Tchaikovsky’s symphonic fantasy based on one of the greatest and most tragic love stories ever told, the fatal affair between Francesca da Rimini and her brother-in-law Paolo and their subsequent murder by her enraged husband. It was Italy’s greatest poet Dante who immortalized their tale in his Inferno [Hell], and it was from Dante that Tchaikovsky took the motto which he wrote on the first page of his score:

There is no greater sorrow/Than a happy time remembered in a time of misery.

The concert ends with Respighi’s exuberantly dramatic Roman Festivals depicting scenes from ancient and contemporary Rome, from the gladiators and the harvest festival to celebrating the Epiphany in the Piazza Navona.

Elegant to Epic: Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich

Friday, May 16, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103, Egyptian
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60, Leningrad

Considered one of the finest pianists of today, Jean-Yves Thibaudet takes the Jacobs Music Center stage to perform his acclaimed interpretation of Camille Saint-Saëns' final piano concerto, written while he was vacationing in Cairo, Egypt. Then Rafael Payare and the Symphony tackle Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, Leningrad. The first performance of the Leningrad took place in August 1942, a year into the 30-month blockade of the city by Axis powers, and was broadcast throughout the city as a show of defiance against German forces. Since then, the symphony has become a powerful international symbol of human resistance to brutality, barbarism and injustice.

Buy Now

It's been such a long time...FINALLY here's your chance to enjoy the heart of the Jacobs Masterworks series in the pristine, unamplified atmosphere of our renovated Jacobs Music Center. On the Saturday A Series, you'll experience 18 unforgettable programs, the biggest and best subscription experience we offer! Along with a rich variety of guest musicians and conductors, you'll be front and center, watching Music Director Rafael Payare lead the San Diego Symphony through nine of these incredible evenings.

Resurrection

Saturday, October 5, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Angela Meade, soprano
Anna Larsson, mezzo-soprano
San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus

THOMAS LARCHER: Time: Three Movements for Orchestra (San Diego Symphony Co-Commission)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection

Angela Meade (“the most talked about soprano of her generation” – Opera News) and renowned Mahler interpreter Anna Larsson join forces with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra for three performances of Mahler’s extraordinary and utterly overwhelming “Resurrection” Symphony, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare with the debut of the San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus. One of the most spectacular and immersive pieces of orchestral music ever written, its performances here in our new hall are a marvelous way of marking our storied past and looking forward to a tremendous new history to come, as well as celebrating the growth and development of the San Diego Symphony. Mahler was born and raised in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we begin this program with music by Austria’s leading composer of today, Thomas Larcher. His new piece, Time, co-commissioned by the SDSO and premiered by Rafael Payare in 2022, displays Larcher’s wonderful and highly attractive command of vivid symphonic color and exciting drama.

The Romantic Lyricism of Schoenberg and Brahms

Saturday, October 12, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Sergey Khachatryan, violin

BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
SCHOENBERG: Pelléas und Mélisande, Op. 5

Brahms’s only violin concerto – and one of the very greatest examples of this form in the history of music – is here performed by the SDSO and Rafael Payare with the celebrated Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan. Following Beethoven’s lofty example, Brahms wrote a piece that simultaneously makes massive demands upon a top virtuoso soloist, while at the same time having the depth, beauty, scale and orchestral muscularity of a great symphony. Rafael Payare is world-renowned for his interpretations of Brahms’ symphonies, and this performance will surely bring out the most remarkable qualities of his music. Payare is also a passionate champion of the music of Arnold Schoenberg, and serves on the Artistic Honorary Committee of Schönberg 150, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Schoenberg began his long creative life in Vienna in the high romantic age of Brahms, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, and ended it in Los Angeles as an American citizen in 1951, at one of the high points of 20th century modernism. Schoenberg’s gorgeously scored and richly melodic tone-poem, based on the tragic love-story of Pelléas et Mélisande, which also inspired great music from Fauré, Debussy and Sibelius, is one of his most beautiful orchestral scores, written in a style somewhere between Brahms and Wagner but with a rich and dark orchestral coloring that is all Schoenberg’s own.

Where We Lay Our Scene: A San Diego Symphony Romeo and Juliet

Saturday, October 19, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Gerard McBurney, director
Mike Tutaj, projections

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
PROKOFIEV: Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet (G. McBurney compilation)

“It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear!
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale!"

A new musical-theatrical vision brings color, light and drama to our new hall in a delicious melding of the immortal ballet-music of Prokofiev together with the world-famous poetry of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that inspired it. Chicago-based projections-artist Mike Tutaj will transform the walls and space of the Jacobs Music Center into a magical playground for the imagination. The Russian composer’s glittering orchestration will make our new acoustic chamber tremble like a bell, and a selection of established theatre talents will bring alive the story of this much-loved tragedy of two young lovers destroyed by hate and enmity. Before this, legendary pianist Emanuel Ax will join Rafael Payare and the SDSO for one of the most sumptuous concertos by the most theatrical of all composers, Mozart. A great writer once said, “All Mozart’s concertos are operas in miniature,” and this particular concerto runs the gamut from imperial grandeur and celebration to childlike innocence and sorrow.

Romantic Fates: Tchaikovsky’s Towering Fifth

Saturday, October 26, 7:30pm

Antonio Méndez, conductor
Paul Huang, violin

MENDELSSOHN: Overture to Ruy Blas, Op. 95
BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

Antonio Méndez returns after his terrific SDSO debut last season with a program bursting with overwhelming romantic feelings, surging love-songs and hair-tingling premonitions of melodramatic tragedy and fate. Mendelssohn’s surging and brilliantly orchestrated overture compresses into less than 10 minutes the essence of a play by the French poet Victor Hugo (celebrated author of Les Misérables): a poor poet falls in love with the Queen of Spain, with disastrous consequences for both of them. Max Bruch pours out one melody after another in one of the best-loved violin concertos of all time. And Tchaikovsky thrills us with the tumultuous operatic energy of his Fifth Symphony, complete with doom-laden trumpet-calls, dreamlike dance sequences, rushing strings, and in the slow movement a love song for the solo horn that is one of the sweetest and most heartfelt moments from anywhere in the marvelous composer’s output.

Biss Plays Beethoven

Saturday, November 9, 7:30pm

Bernard Labadie, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano

MOZART: Overture to Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
MOZART: Overture to La clemenza di Tito, K. 621
HAYDN: Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major, Paukenwirbel (Drum Roll)

Bernard Labadie marks his first performances with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in this program of life-affirming energy, grandeur and strength with works by three giants of Western classical music, all written in the influential last decade of the 18th century. A pair of glorious and masterful operatic overtures open each half of the program, both written by Mozart within weeks of one another in the fall of 1791, and just a couple of months before his untimely death. Beethoven’s first piano concerto is performed by Jonathan Biss (“one of today's foremost Beethoven exponents” – Chicago Tribune), and the program closes with Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 – his second to last – nicknamed the “Drum Roll” for its powerful and mysterious opening.

A New World Odyssey: Adams, Adès, Dvořák

Saturday, November 16, 7:30pm

Elena Schwarz, conductor
Leila Josefowicz, violin

JOHN ADAMS: The Chairman Dances (Foxtrot for Orchestra)
THOMAS ADÈS: Violin Concerto, Concentric Paths
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, From the New World

Elena Schwarz takes the podium to lead the Symphony in a program of modern masterworks by John Adams and Thomas Adès and one of Western classical music’s most beloved and recognizable works: Dvořák's Symphony No. 9. Adams composed The Chairman Dances while working on his opera Nixon in China inspired by an image of Mao Tse-Tung dancing the foxtrot. A specialist in the works of living composers, Leila Josefowicz joins the Symphony for Adès’ modern masterpiece Concentric Paths, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic by the composer who also has many ties to – and a strong history with – California. Written while he was living in the United States, Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 drew inspiration from African-American spirituals introduced to him by his then-student, the great pioneer of American music, composer Harry T. Burleigh

Two Concertos: Barnatan Plays Shostakovich

Saturday, December 7, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano

R. STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28

Conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare and featuring pianist Inon Barnatan, this program highlights the humorous side of classical music in works by Richard Strauss and Dmitri Shostakovich. Strauss wrote his tone poem Don Juan when he was just 24 years old. The work, inspired by the same figure of legend as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, was the young composer’s first international success, while Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streich depicts the misadventures of the German folk hero Till Eulenspiegel. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, written for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday (and for Maxim to play at his conservatory graduation exam), is an uncharacteristically cheerful piece. Shostakovich’s wrote his Piano Concerto No. 1 during the height of his early career for himself to play; it is sardonic and tongue-in-cheek, quoting and parodying several well-known pieces.

Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto and Organ Symphony

Saturday, January 11, 7:30pm

Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jeff Thayer, violin

GABRIELLA SMITH: Bioluminescence Chaconne
SAINT-SAËNS: Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61
AUGUSTA HOLMÈS: “La nuit et l'amour” from Ludus pro patria
SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, Organ Symphony

California-based French conductor Ludovic Morlot celebrates the music of his native land with two masterworks by his great 19th century compatriot Camille Saint-Saëns: the Third Violin Concerto, written for the great Spanish virtuoso Sarasate and brimming with sweet melodies; and the composer’s most famous symphony, known as the Organ Symphony for its sumptuous organ writing which dramatically extends and deepens the colors of the orchestra. It's the ideal music to celebrate the fabulous new sound of our own completely renovated Robert Morton pipe organ in Jacobs Music Center!

In between, we will hear one of the most famous pieces by Augusta Holmès, a French composer of Irish extraction; her short and delicious piece called “Night and Love” is inspired by a painting by the composer’s contemporary Puvis de Chavannes and features a gorgeously romantic melody you won’t be able to get out of your head. (Holmès’ friend and contemporary Saint-Saëns said of her: “Mademoiselle Holmès is a woman, an extremist!”)

Ludovic Morlot opens his program with the brilliant young Californian composer Gabriella Smith’s Bioluminescence Chaconne. Smith is a composer with a terrifically inventive ear for instrumental colors and a deep fascination with nature – especially with the spectacular coastal areas of the American Northwest. "Bioluminescence" is the extraordinary phenomenon whereby living organisms give out light, like fireflies or the various forms of illumination that emerge from the ocean.

Colors and Rhythms: Clyne, Mozart, Beethoven

Saturday, January 18, 7:30pm

Eduardo Strausser, conductor
Javier Perianes, piano

ANNA CLYNE: Color Field
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36

What a sumptuous feast of beautiful sounds and ravishing orchestral virtuosity! The celebrated composer Anna Clyne’s Color Field opens the concert with a delicious imagining of what mixing yellow and red would sound like.

Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, composed during his peak of creativity, is performed for us this season by the esteemed Spanish pianist Javier Perianes. Igor Stravinsky once said, Beethoven’s Second Symphony was his favorite of the nine. It’s easy to see why, with its amazing rhythmic drive, grandeur and sonority of sound. Hear the piece that unleashed a whole new storm of pulsing power which was soon to lead Beethoven to the Eroica Symphony and the Fifth. We heard it here first!

Orchestral Evolution: Childs' Premiere and Beethoven’s Eroica

Saturday, February 1, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Alexander Malofeev, piano

BILLY CHILDS: Concerto for Orchestra (World Premiere, Commissioned by San Diego Symphony)
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, Eroica

Rising star Alexander Malofeev (“Truly remarkable” - Boston Classical Review) takes the Jacobs Music Center stage in Prokofiev’s muscular and demanding Piano Concerto No. 3, a work originally written for the composer himself to play as part of his many tours of the USA in the 1920s and 1930s. The program begins with the World Premiere of Los Angeles-born, GRAMMY® Award-winning composer Billy Childs’ Concerto for Orchestra, and ends with Music Director Rafael Payare leading the Symphony in Beethoven’s celebrated Eroica symphony, one of the most influential symphonies in the Western musical canon. Shocking in Beethoven’s own time for the unfamiliar vastness of its dimensions and its huge orchestral sound, this symphony ends with a mighty set of variations based on music from Beethoven’s ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, which celebrate the evolution of human beings from mere unfeeling creatures made of clay to living, breathing human beings, capable of liberty, equality, fraternity and love.

Symphonic Journeys: Strauss, Walton, Brahms

Saturday, February 8, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Chi-Yuan Chen, viola

R. STRAUSS: Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), Op. 24
WALTON: Viola Concerto
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

Richard StraussTod und Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration) is a monumental meditation on the journey of life, beginning in childhood, through the trials and joys of adulthood, and ending in the transfiguration of the spirit. Music Director Rafael Payare conducts the Symphony in Strauss’ powerful tone poem along with William Walton’s beautifully lyrical and nostalgic Viola Concerto, written when the composer was only 27 years old; the concerto was intended for the great soloist Lionel Tertis, who played an 18th century viola of enormous dimensions with a sound of extraordinary richness, almost like a cello. The result is one of the few widely played concertos for this instrument, demanding from the soloist the sweetest melodic playing with the most vigorous and athletic virtuosity. The concert ends with Brahms’ melancholy and hauntingly beautiful Second Symphony. This immortal work was written in one of Brahms’ favorite vacation retreats, in southern Austria on the beautiful lake of the Wörthersee. “Here," said Brahms, “the melodies grow so thick upon the ground that one must take care not to step on them as one walks.” In an equally humorous mood, he wrote to his publisher about his new symphony: “I have never written anything so sad, and the score must be published in mourning clothes.”

MTT’s Street Songs and Winter Daydreams

Saturday, February 15, 7:30pm

Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Parker van Ostrand, piano

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Street Song for Symphonic Brass
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13, Winter Daydreams

Beloved American conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas makes his SDSO debut in this special program that opens with his own Street Song for Symphonic Brass, a work reflecting Tilson Thomas’s love for all kinds of popular and street music of the past and especially music connected with his grandparents, the Yiddish theatre stars Boris and Bessie Tomashefsky. Rising star pianist Parker van Ostrand will join Tilson Thomas and the Symphony for Rachmaninoff’s demanding Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, based on Paganini’s most famous and familiar ear-worm, his 24th Caprice for solo violin. The program ends with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, the Russian composer’s first large-scale orchestral work. Conceived and written when the composer was still in his mid-twenties, this symphony makes delightful use of motifs and phrases derived from Russian village-songs; in the last movement, one whole folk-melody, originally a wedding song for dancing, anticipating the coming of Spring and the resurgence of new young life:

In a dark wood, in the forest,
I’ll go ploughing, my Paulina!
I’ll sow flax-seeds, I’ll sow green ones!

Vänskä Conducts Sibelius and Beethoven

Saturday, March 1, 7:30pm

Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Paavali Jumppanen, piano

SIBELIUS: Tapiola, Op. 112
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op.73, Emperor
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82

Jean Sibelius once said of a summer sailing trip in the Baltic Sea: “If only foreigners could see the granite rocks emerging from the water here, they would understand why I write for orchestra as I do!”

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä is a leading authority on the music of Jean Sibelius, having recorded all seven of the composer’s symphonies. On this program, he leads the Symphony first in Sibelius’ dark and brooding tone poem Tapiola. One of this composer’s final works before he ceased writing in the late 1920s, this music evoking Tapio, the forest spirit from ancient pre-Christian Finnish mythology, was written to a commission from the New York Philharmonic. Sibelius’s much loved Fifth Symphony was also inspired by the natural landscape of his home country, and especially by his intense response to the beautiful flight of whooper swans, returning in the spring to breed on the lakes and waters of Finland. Rounding out the program is Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto performed by Finnish pianist and Beethoven expert Paavali Jumppanen, praised for the “overflowing energy of his musicianship” by The New York Times.

From the Depths: Lu Leads Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony

Saturday, March 29, 7:30pm

Tianyi Lu, conductor
Paul Lewispiano

GARETH FARR: "The Invocation of the Sea" from From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs
GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

Winner of the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors' Competition, conductor Tianyi Lu opens her concert with the self-standing first movement of Gareth Farr’s From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs. Farr is one of New Zealand’s leading composers and a distinguished percussionist whose music pulsates with exultant rhythms and colors reflecting his love of the landscapes and surrounding oceans of his native islands, as well as his fascination with his country’s Māori musical and mythic traditions which go back hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans.

At the opposite end of the world, Norway’s greatest composer Edvard Grieg made his name when still a very young man with his brilliant and loveable Piano Concerto, still perhaps the composer’s most popular work and one of the most familiar piano concertos in world repertoire. The distinguished soloist will be the English pianist Paul Lewis. And the concert ends with one of the best loved of all Tchaikovsky’s works, his intensely dramatic Fourth Symphony, written at one of the most productive periods in the composer’s life, the time of his ballet Swan Lake and his opera Eugene Onegin. Operatic and balletic this symphony certainly is, with its fateful horn calls and its yearning melodies, and its infectious dance rhythms and sheer physical élan.

Czech Masterpieces and a Saxophone Concerto

Saturday, May 3, 7:30pm

Ruth Reinhardt, conductor
Steven Banks, saxophone

SMETANA: Overture and Three Dances from The Bartered Bride
YOSHIMATSU: Soprano Saxophone Concerto, Albireo Mode
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

Ruth Reinhardt returns to lead the Symphony in two delightful works by two Czech masters: the Overture and Three Dances from Smetana’s folk-inspired romantic comedy The Bartered Bride and Dvořák’s infectiously joyous Symphony No. 8, which was conceived and written in the gorgeous green landscape of fields and woods around the small community where Dvořák had his country home. Having grown-up as a country boy in a largely agricultural community, the composer was passionate about the beauties of the rural world, taking pleasure especially in the rich variety of the songs of wild birds, which he would listen to in the little wood at the bottom of his garden. Probably no other symphony in the established repertoire is so full of delicious suggestions of singing birds as this!

And at the center of the concert, something else entirely! Having quickly established himself as one of the leading classical saxophonists today, Steven Banks returns to San Diego to take the Jacobs Music Center stage with famed Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Soprano Saxophone Concerto Albireo Mode. Written nearly 20 years ago, this accessible and gentle music, shot through with the sound of temple bells and the liquid traditions of American free jazz for which Yoshimatsu has a special admiration, takes its title from a famous double star in the Cygnus constellation, and is divided into two movements: the first – "Topaz" after the precious stone which is often a pale-yellow color, and the second – "Sapphire" after the familiar dark-blue stone.

Weilerstein and Payare Perform Chin and Bruckner

Saturday, May 10, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Alisa Weilerstein, cello

UNSUK CHIN: Cello Concerto
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major

South Korean composer Unsuk Chin has spent most of her working life in Germany where, as a young artist in Berlin, she absorbed many of the acoustic enthusiasms of European modernists in the late 20th century while swiftly building a distinctive language of her own. Her cello concerto, widely described as a triumph at its first appearance many years ago, has been taken up by many cellists and most recently by our own Alisa Weilerstein. Weilerstein’s mastery of drama and plangent lyricism is the perfect match for Unsuk Chin’s defiant and expressive music.

Bruckner is one of the greatest one-offs in the history of music. The heir to Schubert and Wagner (but to hardly any other of the great composers!), he had a deep influence on Gustav Mahler, who loved and admired him passionately. But perhaps his deepest roots lay in the folk-music of the Austrian countryside where he grew up, and in the church music of centuries ago. He himself was an organist and church musician of great distinction, but – more than that – a man of deep religious feelings, and his music vividly reflects that. The Seventh, one of his later symphonies, often makes the orchestra sound like a colossal organ in an ancient medieval church. Indeed, this symphony has often been described as nothing short of a cathedral in sound. It would be hard to imagine music better suited to exploring the deepest resonances of our beautiful new hall, especially under the baton of music director Rafael Payare.

Elegant to Epic: Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich

Saturday, May 17, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103, Egyptian
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60, Leningrad

Considered one of the finest pianists of today, Jean-Yves Thibaudet takes the Jacobs Music Center stage to perform his acclaimed interpretation of Camille Saint-Saëns' final piano concerto, written while he was vacationing in Cairo, Egypt. Then Rafael Payare and the Symphony tackle Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, Leningrad. The first performance of the Leningrad took place in August 1942, a year into the 30-month blockade of the city by Axis powers, and was broadcast throughout the city as a show of defiance against German forces. Since then, the symphony has become a powerful international symbol of human resistance to brutality, barbarism and injustice.

Ode to Nature: Payare Conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

Saturday, May 24, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano
Choruses TBD

MAHLER: Symphony No. 3 in D minor

Written over the course of three years, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is a monumental two-part declaration of faith that reveals the composer’s wide-ranging influences, from folk song to mythology and philosophy. This vastly expansive work is Mahler’s ode to nature, progressing in ever wider circles from the intimacy of flowers and meadows, to a colossal vision of humanity, and the splendor of the cosmos and its Creator. Perhaps no other symphony of Mahler’s so well embodies his famous declaration to Sibelius, in Sibelius’s own account:

"Die Symphonie muss sein wie die Welt, Sie muss alles umfassen."
("A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.")

World-renowned mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill will make her San Diego Symphony debut, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare, for these final concerts of this historic season.

Buy Now

Jacobs Masterworks Saturday B features nine high-quality programs spanning the heart of the classical repertoire. Featured composers include Mahler, Sibelius, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Richard Strauss, with some more modern treats from John Adams and Thomas Adès. Music Director Rafael Payare leads most of the programs, and guest conductors include the great Osmo Vänskä.

Resurrection

Saturday, October 5, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Angela Meade, soprano
Anna Larsson, mezzo-soprano
San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus

THOMAS LARCHER: Time: Three Movements for Orchestra (San Diego Symphony Co-Commission)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection

Angela Meade (“the most talked about soprano of her generation” – Opera News) and renowned Mahler interpreter Anna Larsson join forces with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra for three performances of Mahler’s extraordinary and utterly overwhelming “Resurrection” Symphony, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare with the debut of the San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus. One of the most spectacular and immersive pieces of orchestral music ever written, its performances here in our new hall are a marvelous way of marking our storied past and looking forward to a tremendous new history to come, as well as celebrating the growth and development of the San Diego Symphony. Mahler was born and raised in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we begin this program with music by Austria’s leading composer of today, Thomas Larcher. His new piece, Time, co-commissioned by the SDSO and premiered by Rafael Payare in 2022, displays Larcher’s wonderful and highly attractive command of vivid symphonic color and exciting drama.

Where We Lay Our Scene: A San Diego Symphony Romeo and Juliet

Saturday, October 19, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Gerard McBurney, director
Mike Tutaj, projections

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
PROKOFIEV: Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet (G. McBurney compilation)

“It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear!
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale!"

A new musical-theatrical vision brings color, light and drama to our new hall in a delicious melding of the immortal ballet-music of Prokofiev together with the world-famous poetry of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that inspired it. Chicago-based projections-artist Mike Tutaj will transform the walls and space of the Jacobs Music Center into a magical playground for the imagination. The Russian composer’s glittering orchestration will make our new acoustic chamber tremble like a bell, and a selection of established theatre talents will bring alive the story of this much-loved tragedy of two young lovers destroyed by hate and enmity. Before this, legendary pianist Emanuel Ax will join Rafael Payare and the SDSO for one of the most sumptuous concertos by the most theatrical of all composers, Mozart. A great writer once said, “All Mozart’s concertos are operas in miniature,” and this particular concerto runs the gamut from imperial grandeur and celebration to childlike innocence and sorrow.

A New World Odyssey: Adams, Adès, Dvořák

Saturday, November 16, 7:30pm

Elena Schwarz, conductor
Leila Josefowicz, violin

JOHN ADAMS: The Chairman Dances (Foxtrot for Orchestra)
THOMAS ADÈS: Violin Concerto, Concentric Paths
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, From the New World

Elena Schwarz takes the podium to lead the Symphony in a program of modern masterworks by John Adams and Thomas Adès and one of Western classical music’s most beloved and recognizable works: Dvořák's Symphony No. 9. Adams composed The Chairman Dances while working on his opera Nixon in China inspired by an image of Mao Tse-Tung dancing the foxtrot. A specialist in the works of living composers, Leila Josefowicz joins the Symphony for Adès’ modern masterpiece Concentric Paths, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic by the composer who also has many ties to – and a strong history with – California. Written while he was living in the United States, Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 drew inspiration from African-American spirituals introduced to him by his then-student, the great pioneer of American music, composer Harry T. Burleigh.

Two Concertos: Barnatan Plays Shostakovich

Saturday, December 7, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano

R. STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28

Conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare and featuring pianist Inon Barnatan, this program highlights the humorous side of classical music in works by Richard Strauss and Dmitri Shostakovich. Strauss wrote his tone poem Don Juan when he was just 24 years old. The work, inspired by the same figure of legend as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, was the young composer’s first international success, while Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streich depicts the misadventures of the German folk hero Till Eulenspiegel. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, written for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday (and for Maxim to play at his conservatory graduation exam), is an uncharacteristically cheerful piece. Shostakovich’s wrote his Piano Concerto No. 1 during the height of his early career for himself to play; it is sardonic and tongue-in-cheek, quoting and parodying several well-known pieces.

Colors and Rhythms: Clyne, Mozart, Beethoven

Saturday, January 18, 7:30pm

Eduardo Strausser, conductor
Javier Perianes, piano

ANNA CLYNE: Color Field
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36

What a sumptuous feast of beautiful sounds and ravishing orchestral virtuosity! The celebrated composer Anna Clyne’s Color Field opens the concert with a delicious imagining of what mixing yellow and red would sound like.

Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, composed during his peak of creativity, is performed for us this season by the esteemed Spanish pianist Javier Perianes. Igor Stravinsky once said, Beethoven’s Second Symphony was his favorite of the nine. It’s easy to see why, with its amazing rhythmic drive, grandeur and sonority of sound. Hear the piece that unleashed a whole new storm of pulsing power which was soon to lead Beethoven to the Eroica Symphony and the Fifth. We heard it here first!

Symphonic Journeys: Strauss, Walton, Brahms

Saturday, February 8, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Chi-Yuan Chen, viola

R. STRAUSS: Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), Op. 24
WALTON: Viola Concerto
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

Richard StraussTod und Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration) is a monumental meditation on the journey of life, beginning in childhood, through the trials and joys of adulthood, and ending in the transfiguration of the spirit. Music Director Rafael Payare conducts the Symphony in Strauss’ powerful tone poem along with William Walton’s beautifully lyrical and nostalgic Viola Concerto, written when the composer was only 27 years old; the concerto was intended for the great soloist Lionel Tertis, who played an 18th century viola of enormous dimensions with a sound of extraordinary richness, almost like a cello. The result is one of the few widely played concertos for this instrument, demanding from the soloist the sweetest melodic playing with the most vigorous and athletic virtuosity. The concert ends with Brahms’ melancholy and hauntingly beautiful Second Symphony. This immortal work was written in one of Brahms’ favorite vacation retreats, in southern Austria on the beautiful lake of the Wörthersee. “Here," said Brahms, “the melodies grow so thick upon the ground that one must take care not to step on them as one walks.” In an equally humorous mood, he wrote to his publisher about his new symphony: “I have never written anything so sad, and the score must be published in mourning clothes.”

Vänskä Conducts Sibelius and Beethoven

Saturday, March 1, 7:30pm

Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Paavali Jumppanen, piano

SIBELIUS: Tapiola, Op. 112
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op.73, Emperor
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82

Jean Sibelius once said of a summer sailing trip in the Baltic Sea: “If only foreigners could see the granite rocks emerging from the water here, they would understand why I write for orchestra as I do!”

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä is a leading authority on the music of Jean Sibelius, having recorded all seven of the composer’s symphonies. On this program, he leads the Symphony first in Sibelius’ dark and brooding tone poem Tapiola. One of this composer’s final works before he ceased writing in the late 1920s, this music evoking Tapio, the forest spirit from ancient pre-Christian Finnish mythology, was written to a commission from the New York Philharmonic. Sibelius’s much loved Fifth Symphony was also inspired by the natural landscape of his home country, and especially by his intense response to the beautiful flight of whooper swans, returning in the spring to breed on the lakes and waters of Finland. Rounding out the program is Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto performed by Finnish pianist and Beethoven expert Paavali Jumppanen, praised for the “overflowing energy of his musicianship” by The New York Times.

Czech Masterpieces and a Saxophone Concerto

Saturday, May 3, 7:30pm

Ruth Reinhardt, conductor
Steven Banks, saxophone

SMETANA: Overture and Three Dances from The Bartered Bride
YOSHIMATSU: Soprano Saxophone Concerto, Albireo Mode
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

Ruth Reinhardt returns to lead the Symphony in two delightful works by two Czech masters: the Overture and Three Dances from Smetana’s folk-inspired romantic comedy The Bartered Bride and Dvořák’s infectiously joyous Symphony No. 8, which was conceived and written in the gorgeous green landscape of fields and woods around the small community where Dvořák had his country home. Having grown-up as a country boy in a largely agricultural community, the composer was passionate about the beauties of the rural world, taking pleasure especially in the rich variety of the songs of wild birds, which he would listen to in the little wood at the bottom of his garden. Probably no other symphony in the established repertoire is so full of delicious suggestions of singing birds as this!

And at the center of the concert, something else entirely! Having quickly established himself as one of the leading classical saxophonists today, Steven Banks returns to San Diego to take the Jacobs Music Center stage with famed Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Soprano Saxophone Concerto Albireo Mode. Written nearly 20 years ago, this accessible and gentle music, shot through with the sound of temple bells and the liquid traditions of American free jazz for which Yoshimatsu has a special admiration, takes its title from a famous double star in the Cygnus constellation, and is divided into two movements: the first – "Topaz" after the precious stone which is often a pale-yellow color, and the second – "Sapphire" after the familiar dark-blue stone.

Elegant to Epic: Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich

Saturday, May 17, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, Op. 103, Egyptian
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60, Leningrad

Considered one of the finest pianists of today, Jean-Yves Thibaudet takes the Jacobs Music Center stage to perform his acclaimed interpretation of Camille Saint-Saëns' final piano concerto, written while he was vacationing in Cairo, Egypt. Then Rafael Payare and the Symphony tackle Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, Leningrad. The first performance of the Leningrad took place in August 1942, a year into the 30-month blockade of the city by Axis powers, and was broadcast throughout the city as a show of defiance against German forces. Since then, the symphony has become a powerful international symbol of human resistance to brutality, barbarism and injustice.

Buy Now

Our Jacobs Masterworks Saturday C series includes a wide variety of repertoire, instruments and guest artists. Over the course of nine Saturday nights you'll hear world-renowned violinists (Paul Huang, Sergey Khachatryan), pianists (Jonathan Biss, Alexander Malofeev), plus mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill and a very special appearance by cellist Alisa Weilerstein. Music Director Rafael Payare leads four of the programs, which include popular works like Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on the Theme of Paganini, Brahms' Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony.

The Romantic Lyricism of Schoenberg and Brahms

Saturday, October 12, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Sergey Khachatryan, violin

BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
SCHOENBERG: Pelléas und Mélisande, Op. 5

Brahms’s only violin concerto – and one of the very greatest examples of this form in the history of music – is here performed by the SDSO and Rafael Payare with the celebrated Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan. Following Beethoven’s lofty example, Brahms wrote a piece that simultaneously makes massive demands upon a top virtuoso soloist, while at the same time having the depth, beauty, scale and orchestral muscularity of a great symphony. Rafael Payare is world-renowned for his interpretations of Brahms’ symphonies, and this performance will surely bring out the most remarkable qualities of his music. Payare is also a passionate champion of the music of Arnold Schoenberg, and serves on the Artistic Honorary Committee of Schönberg 150, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Schoenberg began his long creative life in Vienna in the high romantic age of Brahms, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, and ended it in Los Angeles as an American citizen in 1951, at one of the high points of 20th century modernism. Schoenberg’s gorgeously scored and richly melodic tone-poem, based on the tragic love-story of Pelléas et Mélisande, which also inspired great music from Fauré, Debussy and Sibelius, is one of his most beautiful orchestral scores, written in a style somewhere between Brahms and Wagner but with a rich and dark orchestral coloring that is all Schoenberg’s own.

Romantic Fates: Tchaikovsky’s Towering Fifth

Saturday, October 26, 7:30pm

Antonio Méndez, conductor
Paul Huang, violin

MENDELSSOHN: Overture to Ruy Blas, Op. 95
BRUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

Antonio Méndez returns after his terrific SDSO debut last season with a program bursting with overwhelming romantic feelings, surging love-songs and hair-tingling premonitions of melodramatic tragedy and fate. Mendelssohn’s surging and brilliantly orchestrated overture compresses into less than 10 minutes the essence of a play by the French poet Victor Hugo (celebrated author of Les Misérables): a poor poet falls in love with the Queen of Spain, with disastrous consequences for both of them. Max Bruch pours out one melody after another in one of the best-loved violin concertos of all time. And Tchaikovsky thrills us with the tumultuous operatic energy of his Fifth Symphony, complete with doom-laden trumpet-calls, dreamlike dance sequences, rushing strings, and in the slow movement a love song for the solo horn that is one of the sweetest and most heartfelt moments from anywhere in the marvelous composer’s output.

Biss Plays Beethoven

Saturday, November 9, 7:30pm

Bernard Labadie, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano

MOZART: Overture to Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
MOZART: Overture to La clemenza di Tito, K. 621
HAYDN: Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major, Paukenwirbel (Drum Roll)

Bernard Labadie marks his first performances with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in this program of life-affirming energy, grandeur and strength with works by three giants of Western classical music, all written in the influential last decade of the 18th century. A pair of glorious and masterful operatic overtures open each half of the program, both written by Mozart within weeks of one another in the fall of 1791, and just a couple of months before his untimely death. Beethoven’s first piano concerto is performed by Jonathan Biss (“one of today's foremost Beethoven exponents” – Chicago Tribune), and the program closes with Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 – his second to last – nicknamed the “Drum Roll” for its powerful and mysterious opening.

Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto and Organ Symphony

Saturday, January 11, 7:30pm

Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jeff Thayer, violin

GABRIELLA SMITH: Bioluminescence Chaconne
SAINT-SAËNS: Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61
AUGUSTA HOLMÈS: “La nuit et l'amour” from Ludus pro patria
SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, Organ Symphony

California-based French conductor Ludovic Morlot celebrates the music of his native land with two masterworks by his great 19th century compatriot Camille Saint-Saëns: the Third Violin Concerto, written for the great Spanish virtuoso Sarasate and brimming with sweet melodies; and the composer’s most famous symphony, known as the Organ Symphony for its sumptuous organ writing which dramatically extends and deepens the colors of the orchestra. It's the ideal music to celebrate the fabulous new sound of our own completely renovated Robert Morton pipe organ in Jacobs Music Center!

In between, we will hear one of the most famous pieces by Augusta Holmès, a French composer of Irish extraction; her short and delicious piece called “Night and Love” is inspired by a painting by the composer’s contemporary Puvis de Chavannes and features a gorgeously romantic melody you won’t be able to get out of your head. (Holmès’ friend and contemporary Saint-Saëns said of her: “Mademoiselle Holmès is a woman, an extremist!”)

Ludovic Morlot opens his program with the brilliant young Californian composer Gabriella Smith’s Bioluminescence Chaconne. Smith is a composer with a terrifically inventive ear for instrumental colors and a deep fascination with nature – especially with the spectacular coastal areas of the American Northwest. "Bioluminescence" is the extraordinary phenomenon whereby living organisms give out light, like fireflies or the various forms of illumination that emerge from the ocean.

Orchestral Evolution: Childs' Premiere and Beethoven’s Eroica

Saturday, February 1, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Alexander Malofeev, piano

BILLY CHILDS: Concerto for Orchestra (World Premiere, Commissioned by San Diego Symphony)
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, Eroica

Rising star Alexander Malofeev (“Truly remarkable” - Boston Classical Review) takes the Jacobs Music Center stage in Prokofiev’s muscular and demanding Piano Concerto No. 3, a work originally written for the composer himself to play as part of his many tours of the USA in the 1920s and 1930s. The program begins with the World Premiere of Los Angeles-born, GRAMMY® Award-winning composer Billy Childs’ Concerto for Orchestra, and ends with Music Director Rafael Payare leading the Symphony in Beethoven’s celebrated Eroica symphony, one of the most influential symphonies in the Western musical canon. Shocking in Beethoven’s own time for the unfamiliar vastness of its dimensions and its huge orchestral sound, this symphony ends with a mighty set of variations based on music from Beethoven’s ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, which celebrate the evolution of human beings from mere unfeeling creatures made of clay to living, breathing human beings, capable of liberty, equality, fraternity and love.

MTT’s Street Songs and Winter Daydreams

Saturday, February 15, 7:30pm

Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Parker van Ostrand, piano

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Street Song for Symphonic Brass
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13, Winter Daydreams

Beloved American conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas makes his SDSO debut in this special program that opens with his own Street Song for Symphonic Brass, a work reflecting Tilson Thomas’s love for all kinds of popular and street music of the past and especially music connected with his grandparents, the Yiddish theatre stars Boris and Bessie Tomashefsky. Rising star pianist Parker van Ostrand will join Tilson Thomas and the Symphony for Rachmaninoff’s demanding Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, based on Paganini’s most famous and familiar ear-worm, his 24th Caprice for solo violin. The program ends with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, the Russian composer’s first large-scale orchestral work. Conceived and written when the composer was still in his mid-twenties, this symphony makes delightful use of motifs and phrases derived from Russian village-songs; in the last movement, one whole folk-melody, originally a wedding song for dancing, anticipating the coming of Spring and the resurgence of new young life:

In a dark wood, in the forest,
I’ll go ploughing, my Paulina!
I’ll sow flax-seeds, I’ll sow green ones!

From the Depths: Lu Leads Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony

Saturday, March 29, 7:30pm

Tianyi Lu, conductor
Paul Lewispiano

GARETH FARR: "The Invocation of the Sea" from From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs
GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

Winner of the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors' Competition, conductor Tianyi Lu opens her concert with the self-standing first movement of Gareth Farr’s From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs. Farr is one of New Zealand’s leading composers and a distinguished percussionist whose music pulsates with exultant rhythms and colors reflecting his love of the landscapes and surrounding oceans of his native islands, as well as his fascination with his country’s Māori musical and mythic traditions which go back hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans.

At the opposite end of the world, Norway’s greatest composer Edvard Grieg made his name when still a very young man with his brilliant and loveable Piano Concerto, still perhaps the composer’s most popular work and one of the most familiar piano concertos in world repertoire. The distinguished soloist will be the English pianist Paul Lewis. And the concert ends with one of the best loved of all Tchaikovsky’s works, his intensely dramatic Fourth Symphony, written at one of the most productive periods in the composer’s life, the time of his ballet Swan Lake and his opera Eugene Onegin. Operatic and balletic this symphony certainly is, with its fateful horn calls and its yearning melodies, and its infectious dance rhythms and sheer physical élan.

Weilerstein and Payare Perform Chin and Bruckner

Saturday, May 10, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Alisa Weilerstein, cello

UNSUK CHIN: Cello Concerto
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major

South Korean composer Unsuk Chin has spent most of her working life in Germany where, as a young artist in Berlin, she absorbed many of the acoustic enthusiasms of European modernists in the late 20th century while swiftly building a distinctive language of her own. Her cello concerto, widely described as a triumph at its first appearance many years ago, has been taken up by many cellists and most recently by our own Alisa Weilerstein. Weilerstein’s mastery of drama and plangent lyricism is the perfect match for Unsuk Chin’s defiant and expressive music.

Bruckner is one of the greatest one-offs in the history of music. The heir to Schubert and Wagner (but to hardly any other of the great composers!), he had a deep influence on Gustav Mahler, who loved and admired him passionately. But perhaps his deepest roots lay in the folk-music of the Austrian countryside where he grew up, and in the church music of centuries ago. He himself was an organist and church musician of great distinction, but – more than that – a man of deep religious feelings, and his music vividly reflects that. The Seventh, one of his later symphonies, often makes the orchestra sound like a colossal organ in an ancient medieval church. Indeed, this symphony has often been described as nothing short of a cathedral in sound. It would be hard to imagine music better suited to exploring the deepest resonances of our beautiful new hall, especially under the baton of music director Rafael Payare.

Ode to Nature: Payare Conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

Saturday, May 24, 7:30pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano
Choruses TBD

MAHLER: Symphony No. 3 in D minor

Written over the course of three years, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is a monumental two-part declaration of faith that reveals the composer’s wide-ranging influences, from folk song to mythology and philosophy. This vastly expansive work is Mahler’s ode to nature, progressing in ever wider circles from the intimacy of flowers and meadows, to a colossal vision of humanity, and the splendor of the cosmos and its Creator. Perhaps no other symphony of Mahler’s so well embodies his famous declaration to Sibelius, in Sibelius’s own account:

"Die Symphonie muss sein wie die Welt, Sie muss alles umfassen."
("A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.")

World-renowned mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill will make her San Diego Symphony debut, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare, for these final concerts of this historic season.

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Our most in-demand Jacobs Masterworks Sunday A Matinee series makes a welcome return to our renovated Jacobs Music Center. Across 14 wonderful afternoons in downtown San Diego, you'll hear an intriguing mixture of music by Brahms, Mozart, Haydn, Richard Strauss, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Smetana, Bruckner, Mahler and more. Guest artists like violinist Sergey Khachatryan, pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Leila Josefowicz will be led by Music Director Rafael Payare (in seven programs) and a variety of acclaimed conducting talent from around the world. Join us!

Resurrection

Sunday, October 6, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Angela Meade, soprano
Anna Larsson, mezzo-soprano
San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus

THOMAS LARCHER: Time: Three Movements for Orchestra (San Diego Symphony Co-Commission)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection

Angela Meade (“the most talked about soprano of her generation” – Opera News) and renowned Mahler interpreter Anna Larsson join forces with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra for three performances of Mahler’s extraordinary and utterly overwhelming “Resurrection” Symphony, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare with the debut of the San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus. One of the most spectacular and immersive pieces of orchestral music ever written, its performances here in our new hall are a marvelous way of marking our storied past and looking forward to a tremendous new history to come, as well as celebrating the growth and development of the San Diego Symphony. Mahler was born and raised in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we begin this program with music by Austria’s leading composer of today, Thomas Larcher. His new piece, Time, co-commissioned by the SDSO and premiered by Rafael Payare in 2022, displays Larcher’s wonderful and highly attractive command of vivid symphonic color and exciting drama.

The Romantic Lyricism of Schoenberg and Brahms

Sunday, October 13, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Sergey Khachatryan, violin

BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
SCHOENBERG: Pelléas und Mélisande, Op. 5

Brahms’s only violin concerto – and one of the very greatest examples of this form in the history of music – is here performed by the SDSO and Rafael Payare with the celebrated Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan. Following Beethoven’s lofty example, Brahms wrote a piece that simultaneously makes massive demands upon a top virtuoso soloist, while at the same time having the depth, beauty, scale and orchestral muscularity of a great symphony. Rafael Payare is world-renowned for his interpretations of Brahms’ symphonies, and this performance will surely bring out the most remarkable qualities of his music. Payare is also a passionate champion of the music of Arnold Schoenberg, and serves on the Artistic Honorary Committee of Schönberg 150, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Schoenberg began his long creative life in Vienna in the high romantic age of Brahms, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, and ended it in Los Angeles as an American citizen in 1951, at one of the high points of 20th century modernism. Schoenberg’s gorgeously scored and richly melodic tone-poem, based on the tragic love-story of Pelléas et Mélisande, which also inspired great music from Fauré, Debussy and Sibelius, is one of his most beautiful orchestral scores, written in a style somewhere between Brahms and Wagner but with a rich and dark orchestral coloring that is all Schoenberg’s own.

Where We Lay Our Scene: A San Diego Symphony Romeo and Juliet

Sunday, October 20, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Gerard McBurney, director
Mike Tutaj, projections

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
PROKOFIEV: Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet (G. McBurney compilation)

“It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear!
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale!"

A new musical-theatrical vision brings color, light and drama to our new hall in a delicious melding of the immortal ballet-music of Prokofiev together with the world-famous poetry of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that inspired it. Chicago-based projections-artist Mike Tutaj will transform the walls and space of the Jacobs Music Center into a magical playground for the imagination. The Russian composer’s glittering orchestration will make our new acoustic chamber tremble like a bell, and a selection of established theatre talents will bring alive the story of this much-loved tragedy of two young lovers destroyed by hate and enmity. Before this, legendary pianist Emanuel Ax will join Rafael Payare and the SDSO for one of the most sumptuous concertos by the most theatrical of all composers, Mozart. A great writer once said, “All Mozart’s concertos are operas in miniature,” and this particular concerto runs the gamut from imperial grandeur and celebration to childlike innocence and sorrow.

Biss Plays Beethoven

Sunday, November 10, 2pm

Bernard Labadie, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano

MOZART: Overture to Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
MOZART: Overture to La clemenza di Tito, K. 621
HAYDN: Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major, Paukenwirbel (Drum Roll)

Bernard Labadie marks his first performances with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in this program of life-affirming energy, grandeur and strength with works by three giants of Western classical music, all written in the influential last decade of the 18th century. A pair of glorious and masterful operatic overtures open each half of the program, both written by Mozart within weeks of one another in the fall of 1791, and just a couple of months before his untimely death. Beethoven’s first piano concerto is performed by Jonathan Biss (“one of today's foremost Beethoven exponents” – Chicago Tribune), and the program closes with Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 – his second to last – nicknamed the “Drum Roll” for its powerful and mysterious opening.

A New World Odyssey: Adams, Adès, Dvořák

Sunday, November 17, 2pm

Elena Schwarz, conductor
Leila Josefowicz, violin

JOHN ADAMS: The Chairman Dances (Foxtrot for Orchestra)
THOMAS ADÈS: Violin Concerto, Concentric Paths
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, From the New World

Elena Schwarz takes the podium to lead the Symphony in a program of modern masterworks by John Adams and Thomas Adès and one of Western classical music’s most beloved and recognizable works: Dvořák's Symphony No. 9. Adams composed The Chairman Dances while working on his opera Nixon in China inspired by an image of Mao Tse-Tung dancing the foxtrot. A specialist in the works of living composers, Leila Josefowicz joins the Symphony for Adès’ modern masterpiece Concentric Paths, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic by the composer who also has many ties to – and a strong history with – California. Written while he was living in the United States, Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 drew inspiration from African-American spirituals introduced to him by his then-student, the great pioneer of American music, composer Harry T. Burleigh.

Two Concertos: Barnatan Plays Shostakovich

Sunday, December 8, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano

R. STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28

Conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare and featuring pianist Inon Barnatan, this program highlights the humorous side of classical music in works by Richard Strauss and Dmitri Shostakovich. Strauss wrote his tone poem Don Juan when he was just 24 years old. The work, inspired by the same figure of legend as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, was the young composer’s first international success, while Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streich depicts the misadventures of the German folk hero Till Eulenspiegel. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, written for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday (and for Maxim to play at his conservatory graduation exam), is an uncharacteristically cheerful piece. Shostakovich’s wrote his Piano Concerto No. 1 during the height of his early career for himself to play; it is sardonic and tongue-in-cheek, quoting and parodying several well-known pieces.

Busoni’s Violin Concerto

Sunday, January 26, 2pm

Daniele Rustioni, conductor
Francesca Dego, violin

BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
BUSONI: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35a
TCHAIKOVSKY: Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
RESPIGHI: Feste romane (Roman Festivals)

One of the most compelling conductors of his generation, Daniele Rustioni makes his Symphony debut in conducting this program of Italian-themed works. The evening begins with Berlioz’s rousing Roman Carnival Overture. Ferruccio Busoni was one of the great Italian musicians of the late 19th and early 20th century. As a pianist he was world famous; as a composer he worked in almost every style, from Brahmsian romanticism to the strangest most dreamlike modernism. Making her Symphony debut, violinist Francesca Dego will perform one of her signatures: Busoni’s wonderfully dark and lyrical but dazzlingly virtuosic Violin Concerto. The second half of the program features Tchaikovsky’s symphonic fantasy based on one of the greatest and most tragic love stories ever told, the fatal affair between Francesca da Rimini and her brother-in-law Paolo and their subsequent murder by her enraged husband. It was Italy’s greatest poet Dante who immortalized their tale in his Inferno [Hell], and it was from Dante that Tchaikovsky took the motto which he wrote on the first page of his score:

There is no greater sorrow/Than a happy time remembered in a time of misery.

The concert ends with Respighi’s exuberantly dramatic Roman Festivals depicting scenes from ancient and contemporary Rome, from the gladiators and the harvest festival to celebrating the Epiphany in the Piazza Navona.

Symphonic Journeys: Strauss, Walton, Brahms

Sunday, February 9, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Chi-Yuan Chen, viola

R. STRAUSS: Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), Op. 24
WALTON: Viola Concerto
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

Richard StraussTod und Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration) is a monumental meditation on the journey of life, beginning in childhood, through the trials and joys of adulthood, and ending in the transfiguration of the spirit. Music Director Rafael Payare conducts the Symphony in Strauss’ powerful tone poem along with William Walton’s beautifully lyrical and nostalgic Viola Concerto, written when the composer was only 27 years old; the concerto was intended for the great soloist Lionel Tertis, who played an 18th century viola of enormous dimensions with a sound of extraordinary richness, almost like a cello. The result is one of the few widely played concertos for this instrument, demanding from the soloist the sweetest melodic playing with the most vigorous and athletic virtuosity. The concert ends with Brahms’ melancholy and hauntingly beautiful Second Symphony. This immortal work was written in one of Brahms’ favorite vacation retreats, in southern Austria on the beautiful lake of the Wörthersee. “Here," said Brahms, “the melodies grow so thick upon the ground that one must take care not to step on them as one walks.” In an equally humorous mood, he wrote to his publisher about his new symphony: “I have never written anything so sad, and the score must be published in mourning clothes.”

MTT’s Street Songs and Winter Daydreams

Sunday, February 16, 2pm

Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Parker van Ostrand, piano

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Street Song for Symphonic Brass
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13, Winter Daydreams

Beloved American conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas makes his SDSO debut in this special program that opens with his own Street Song for Symphonic Brass, a work reflecting Tilson Thomas’s love for all kinds of popular and street music of the past and especially music connected with his grandparents, the Yiddish theatre stars Boris and Bessie Tomashefsky. Rising star pianist Parker van Ostrand will join Tilson Thomas and the Symphony for Rachmaninoff’s demanding Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, based on Paganini’s most famous and familiar ear-worm, his 24th Caprice for solo violin. The program ends with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, the Russian composer’s first large-scale orchestral work. Conceived and written when the composer was still in his mid-twenties, this symphony makes delightful use of motifs and phrases derived from Russian village-songs; in the last movement, one whole folk-melody, originally a wedding song for dancing, anticipating the coming of Spring and the resurgence of new young life:

In a dark wood, in the forest,
I’ll go ploughing, my Paulina!
I’ll sow flax-seeds, I’ll sow green ones!

Mother Goose, Symphonic Dances and More

Sunday, March 9, 2pm

Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Alexi Kenney, violin

RAVEL: Suite (5 pièces enfantines) from Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)
BARTÓK: Violin Concerto No. 2
RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

Three 20th century masterpieces!

After his emigration from Revolutionary Russia in 1918, Rachmaninoff, as one of the world’s most sought-after pianists, had little time for composing and completed only six pieces in a quarter of a century of exile. But that music is among his most beautiful and concentrated, and none more so than his elegiac final work, his Symphonic Dances, written when World War II was already underway, and the composer and his wife were living in New York City. Rachmaninoff, already sick with the lung cancer that was to kill him, spent time in a country retreat on Long Island, where the quiet and peacefulness inspired music combining intense nostalgia for an old world gone with the tremendous rhythmic energy and optimism that he so loved about America.

Conductor Matthias Pintscher begins the concert with the beautiful glittering colors of Ravel’s Mother Goose, originally conceived as a charming piano duet for adults and children to play together, and then later transformed into an orchestral ballet. And Alexi Kenney makes his Symphony debut with his “soulful and stirring” (The Pittsburgh Post Gazette) interpretation of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2, a work written in the composer’s very last years in Europe before, despairing of the triumph of fascism and violence on all sides, he and his second wife emigrated to the USA. Conceived on a symphonic scale, this music speaks of the darkness and tragedy of the time, but it is also saturated with Bartók’s lifelong love and deep knowledge of the folk-music of Eastern Europe from which he drew not only musical ideas but a deep and optimistic belief in the power of ordinary people to survive suffering and oppression.

From the Depths: Lu Leads Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony

Sunday, March 30, 2pm

Tianyi Lu, conductor
Paul Lewispiano

GARETH FARR: "The Invocation of the Sea" from From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs
GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

Winner of the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors' Competition, conductor Tianyi Lu opens her concert with the self-standing first movement of Gareth Farr’s From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs. Farr is one of New Zealand’s leading composers and a distinguished percussionist whose music pulsates with exultant rhythms and colors reflecting his love of the landscapes and surrounding oceans of his native islands, as well as his fascination with his country’s Māori musical and mythic traditions which go back hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans.

At the opposite end of the world, Norway’s greatest composer Edvard Grieg made his name when still a very young man with his brilliant and loveable Piano Concerto, still perhaps the composer’s most popular work and one of the most familiar piano concertos in world repertoire. The distinguished soloist will be the English pianist Paul Lewis. And the concert ends with one of the best loved of all Tchaikovsky’s works, his intensely dramatic Fourth Symphony, written at one of the most productive periods in the composer’s life, the time of his ballet Swan Lake and his opera Eugene Onegin. Operatic and balletic this symphony certainly is, with its fateful horn calls and its yearning melodies, and its infectious dance rhythms and sheer physical élan.

Czech Masterpieces and a Saxophone Concerto

Sunday, May 4, 2pm

Ruth Reinhardt, conductor
Steven Banks, saxophone

SMETANA: Overture and Three Dances from The Bartered Bride
YOSHIMATSU: Soprano Saxophone Concerto, Albireo Mode
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

Ruth Reinhardt returns to lead the Symphony in two delightful works by two Czech masters: the Overture and Three Dances from Smetana’s folk-inspired romantic comedy The Bartered Bride and Dvořák’s infectiously joyous Symphony No. 8, which was conceived and written in the gorgeous green landscape of fields and woods around the small community where Dvořák had his country home. Having grown-up as a country boy in a largely agricultural community, the composer was passionate about the beauties of the rural world, taking pleasure especially in the rich variety of the songs of wild birds, which he would listen to in the little wood at the bottom of his garden. Probably no other symphony in the established repertoire is so full of delicious suggestions of singing birds as this!

And at the center of the concert, something else entirely! Having quickly established himself as one of the leading classical saxophonists today, Steven Banks returns to San Diego to take the Jacobs Music Center stage with famed Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Soprano Saxophone Concerto Albireo Mode. Written nearly 20 years ago, this accessible and gentle music, shot through with the sound of temple bells and the liquid traditions of American free jazz for which Yoshimatsu has a special admiration, takes its title from a famous double star in the Cygnus constellation, and is divided into two movements: the first – "Topaz" after the precious stone which is often a pale-yellow color, and the second – "Sapphire" after the familiar dark-blue stone.

Weilerstein and Payare Perform Chin and Bruckner

Sunday, May 11, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Alisa Weilerstein, cello

UNSUK CHIN: Cello Concerto
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major

South Korean composer Unsuk Chin has spent most of her working life in Germany where, as a young artist in Berlin, she absorbed many of the acoustic enthusiasms of European modernists in the late 20th century while swiftly building a distinctive language of her own. Her cello concerto, widely described as a triumph at its first appearance many years ago, has been taken up by many cellists and most recently by our own Alisa Weilerstein. Weilerstein’s mastery of drama and plangent lyricism is the perfect match for Unsuk Chin’s defiant and expressive music.

Bruckner is one of the greatest one-offs in the history of music. The heir to Schubert and Wagner (but to hardly any other of the great composers!), he had a deep influence on Gustav Mahler, who loved and admired him passionately. But perhaps his deepest roots lay in the folk-music of the Austrian countryside where he grew up, and in the church music of centuries ago. He himself was an organist and church musician of great distinction, but – more than that – a man of deep religious feelings, and his music vividly reflects that. The Seventh, one of his later symphonies, often makes the orchestra sound like a colossal organ in an ancient medieval church. Indeed, this symphony has often been described as nothing short of a cathedral in sound. It would be hard to imagine music better suited to exploring the deepest resonances of our beautiful new hall, especially under the baton of music director Rafael Payare.

Ode to Nature: Payare Conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

Sunday, May 25, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano
Choruses TBD

MAHLER: Symphony No. 3 in D minor

Written over the course of three years, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is a monumental two-part declaration of faith that reveals the composer’s wide-ranging influences, from folk song to mythology and philosophy. This vastly expansive work is Mahler’s ode to nature, progressing in ever wider circles from the intimacy of flowers and meadows, to a colossal vision of humanity, and the splendor of the cosmos and its Creator. Perhaps no other symphony of Mahler’s so well embodies his famous declaration to Sibelius, in Sibelius’s own account:

"Die Symphonie muss sein wie die Welt, Sie muss alles umfassen."
("A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.")

World-renowned mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill will make her San Diego Symphony debut, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare, for these final concerts of this historic season.

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Our Jacobs Masterworks Sunday B Series of seven lucky afternoons will be the perfect way to end your busy weekend. You'll enjoy Music Director Rafael Payare leading unique performances of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and Bruckner's beloved Seventh Symphony. As a special treat, the remarkable Michael Tilson Thomas makes his San Diego Symphony conducting debut with some of his own music plus popular works by Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.

Resurrection

Sunday, October 6, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Angela Meade, soprano
Anna Larsson, mezzo-soprano
San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus

THOMAS LARCHER: Time: Three Movements for Orchestra (San Diego Symphony Co-Commission)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection

Angela Meade (“the most talked about soprano of her generation” – Opera News) and renowned Mahler interpreter Anna Larsson join forces with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra for three performances of Mahler’s extraordinary and utterly overwhelming “Resurrection” Symphony, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare with the debut of the San Diego Symphony Festival Chorus. One of the most spectacular and immersive pieces of orchestral music ever written, its performances here in our new hall are a marvelous way of marking our storied past and looking forward to a tremendous new history to come, as well as celebrating the growth and development of the San Diego Symphony. Mahler was born and raised in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we begin this program with music by Austria’s leading composer of today, Thomas Larcher. His new piece, Time, co-commissioned by the SDSO and premiered by Rafael Payare in 2022, displays Larcher’s wonderful and highly attractive command of vivid symphonic color and exciting drama.

Where We Lay Our Scene: A San Diego Symphony Romeo and Juliet

Sunday, October 20, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Gerard McBurney, director
Mike Tutaj, projections

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503
PROKOFIEV: Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet (G. McBurney compilation)

“It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear!
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale!"

A new musical-theatrical vision brings color, light and drama to our new hall in a delicious melding of the immortal ballet-music of Prokofiev together with the world-famous poetry of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that inspired it. Chicago-based projections-artist Mike Tutaj will transform the walls and space of the Jacobs Music Center into a magical playground for the imagination. The Russian composer’s glittering orchestration will make our new acoustic chamber tremble like a bell, and a selection of established theatre talents will bring alive the story of this much-loved tragedy of two young lovers destroyed by hate and enmity. Before this, legendary pianist Emanuel Ax will join Rafael Payare and the SDSO for one of the most sumptuous concertos by the most theatrical of all composers, Mozart. A great writer once said, “All Mozart’s concertos are operas in miniature,” and this particular concerto runs the gamut from imperial grandeur and celebration to childlike innocence and sorrow.

A New World Odyssey: Adams, Adès, Dvořák

Sunday, November 17, 2pm

Elena Schwarz, conductor
Leila Josefowicz, violin

JOHN ADAMS: The Chairman Dances (Foxtrot for Orchestra)
THOMAS ADÈS: Violin Concerto, Concentric Paths
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, From the New World

Elena Schwarz takes the podium to lead the Symphony in a program of modern masterworks by John Adams and Thomas Adès and one of Western classical music’s most beloved and recognizable works: Dvořák's Symphony No. 9. Adams composed The Chairman Dances while working on his opera Nixon in China inspired by an image of Mao Tse-Tung dancing the foxtrot. A specialist in the works of living composers, Leila Josefowicz joins the Symphony for Adès’ modern masterpiece Concentric Paths, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic by the composer who also has many ties to – and a strong history with – California. Written while he was living in the United States, Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 drew inspiration from African-American spirituals introduced to him by his then-student, the great pioneer of American music, composer Harry T. Burleigh.

Busoni’s Violin Concerto

Sunday, January 26, 2pm

Daniele Rustioni, conductor
Francesca Dego, violin

BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
BUSONI: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35a
TCHAIKOVSKY: Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
RESPIGHI: Feste romane (Roman Festivals)

One of the most compelling conductors of his generation, Daniele Rustioni makes his Symphony debut in conducting this program of Italian-themed works. The evening begins with Berlioz’s rousing Roman Carnival Overture. Ferruccio Busoni was one of the great Italian musicians of the late 19th and early 20th century. As a pianist he was world famous; as a composer he worked in almost every style, from Brahmsian romanticism to the strangest most dreamlike modernism. Making her Symphony debut, violinist Francesca Dego will perform one of her signatures: Busoni’s wonderfully dark and lyrical but dazzlingly virtuosic Violin Concerto. The second half of the program features Tchaikovsky’s symphonic fantasy based on one of the greatest and most tragic love stories ever told, the fatal affair between Francesca da Rimini and her brother-in-law Paolo and their subsequent murder by her enraged husband. It was Italy’s greatest poet Dante who immortalized their tale in his Inferno [Hell], and it was from Dante that Tchaikovsky took the motto which he wrote on the first page of his score:

There is no greater sorrow/Than a happy time remembered in a time of misery.

The concert ends with Respighi’s exuberantly dramatic Roman Festivals depicting scenes from ancient and contemporary Rome, from the gladiators and the harvest festival to celebrating the Epiphany in the Piazza Navona.

MTT’s Street Songs and Winter Daydreams

Sunday, February 16, 2pm

Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Parker van Ostrand, piano

MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Street Song for Symphonic Brass
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13, Winter Daydreams

Beloved American conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas makes his SDSO debut in this special program that opens with his own Street Song for Symphonic Brass, a work reflecting Tilson Thomas’s love for all kinds of popular and street music of the past and especially music connected with his grandparents, the Yiddish theatre stars Boris and Bessie Tomashefsky. Rising star pianist Parker van Ostrand will join Tilson Thomas and the Symphony for Rachmaninoff’s demanding Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, based on Paganini’s most famous and familiar ear-worm, his 24th Caprice for solo violin. The program ends with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, the Russian composer’s first large-scale orchestral work. Conceived and written when the composer was still in his mid-twenties, this symphony makes delightful use of motifs and phrases derived from Russian village-songs; in the last movement, one whole folk-melody, originally a wedding song for dancing, anticipating the coming of Spring and the resurgence of new young life:

In a dark wood, in the forest,
I’ll go ploughing, my Paulina!
I’ll sow flax-seeds, I’ll sow green ones!

From the Depths: Lu Leads Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony

Sunday, March 30, 2pm

Tianyi Lu, conductor
Paul Lewispiano

GARETH FARR: "The Invocation of the Sea" from From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs
GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

Winner of the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors' Competition, conductor Tianyi Lu opens her concert with the self-standing first movement of Gareth Farr’s From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs. Farr is one of New Zealand’s leading composers and a distinguished percussionist whose music pulsates with exultant rhythms and colors reflecting his love of the landscapes and surrounding oceans of his native islands, as well as his fascination with his country’s Māori musical and mythic traditions which go back hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans.

At the opposite end of the world, Norway’s greatest composer Edvard Grieg made his name when still a very young man with his brilliant and loveable Piano Concerto, still perhaps the composer’s most popular work and one of the most familiar piano concertos in world repertoire. The distinguished soloist will be the English pianist Paul Lewis. And the concert ends with one of the best loved of all Tchaikovsky’s works, his intensely dramatic Fourth Symphony, written at one of the most productive periods in the composer’s life, the time of his ballet Swan Lake and his opera Eugene Onegin. Operatic and balletic this symphony certainly is, with its fateful horn calls and its yearning melodies, and its infectious dance rhythms and sheer physical élan.

Weilerstein and Payare Perform Chin and Bruckner

Sunday, May 11, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Alisa Weilerstein, cello

UNSUK CHIN: Cello Concerto
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major

South Korean composer Unsuk Chin has spent most of her working life in Germany where, as a young artist in Berlin, she absorbed many of the acoustic enthusiasms of European modernists in the late 20th century while swiftly building a distinctive language of her own. Her cello concerto, widely described as a triumph at its first appearance many years ago, has been taken up by many cellists and most recently by our own Alisa Weilerstein. Weilerstein’s mastery of drama and plangent lyricism is the perfect match for Unsuk Chin’s defiant and expressive music.

Bruckner is one of the greatest one-offs in the history of music. The heir to Schubert and Wagner (but to hardly any other of the great composers!), he had a deep influence on Gustav Mahler, who loved and admired him passionately. But perhaps his deepest roots lay in the folk-music of the Austrian countryside where he grew up, and in the church music of centuries ago. He himself was an organist and church musician of great distinction, but – more than that – a man of deep religious feelings, and his music vividly reflects that. The Seventh, one of his later symphonies, often makes the orchestra sound like a colossal organ in an ancient medieval church. Indeed, this symphony has often been described as nothing short of a cathedral in sound. It would be hard to imagine music better suited to exploring the deepest resonances of our beautiful new hall, especially under the baton of music director Rafael Payare.

Buy Now

Seven sweet Sunday C Series afternoons of Jacobs Masterworks concerts from the heart of the classical repertoire. Music Director Rafael Payare leads performances of Brahms' Violin Concerto, both Shostakovich Piano Concertos, Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration and Mahler's Third Symphony. Other guests include conductors Matthias Pintscher and Ruth Reinhardt as well as pianist Inon Barnatan, saxophonist Steven Banks, violinist Sergey Khachatryan and mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill.

The Romantic Lyricism of Schoenberg and Brahms

Sunday, October 13, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Sergey Khachatryan, violin

BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
SCHOENBERG: Pelléas und Mélisande, Op. 5

Brahms’s only violin concerto – and one of the very greatest examples of this form in the history of music – is here performed by the SDSO and Rafael Payare with the celebrated Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan. Following Beethoven’s lofty example, Brahms wrote a piece that simultaneously makes massive demands upon a top virtuoso soloist, while at the same time having the depth, beauty, scale and orchestral muscularity of a great symphony. Rafael Payare is world-renowned for his interpretations of Brahms’ symphonies, and this performance will surely bring out the most remarkable qualities of his music. Payare is also a passionate champion of the music of Arnold Schoenberg, and serves on the Artistic Honorary Committee of Schönberg 150, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Schoenberg began his long creative life in Vienna in the high romantic age of Brahms, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, and ended it in Los Angeles as an American citizen in 1951, at one of the high points of 20th century modernism. Schoenberg’s gorgeously scored and richly melodic tone-poem, based on the tragic love-story of Pelléas et Mélisande, which also inspired great music from Fauré, Debussy and Sibelius, is one of his most beautiful orchestral scores, written in a style somewhere between Brahms and Wagner but with a rich and dark orchestral coloring that is all Schoenberg’s own.

Biss Plays Beethoven

Sunday, November 10, 2pm

Bernard Labadie, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano

MOZART: Overture to Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
MOZART: Overture to La clemenza di Tito, K. 621
HAYDN: Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major, Paukenwirbel (Drum Roll)

Bernard Labadie marks his first performances with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in this program of life-affirming energy, grandeur and strength with works by three giants of Western classical music, all written in the influential last decade of the 18th century. A pair of glorious and masterful operatic overtures open each half of the program, both written by Mozart within weeks of one another in the fall of 1791, and just a couple of months before his untimely death. Beethoven’s first piano concerto is performed by Jonathan Biss (“one of today's foremost Beethoven exponents” – Chicago Tribune), and the program closes with Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 – his second to last – nicknamed the “Drum Roll” for its powerful and mysterious opening.

Two Concertos: Barnatan Plays Shostakovich

Sunday, December 8, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano

R. STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28

Conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare and featuring pianist Inon Barnatan, this program highlights the humorous side of classical music in works by Richard Strauss and Dmitri Shostakovich. Strauss wrote his tone poem Don Juan when he was just 24 years old. The work, inspired by the same figure of legend as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, was the young composer’s first international success, while Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streich depicts the misadventures of the German folk hero Till Eulenspiegel. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, written for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday (and for Maxim to play at his conservatory graduation exam), is an uncharacteristically cheerful piece. Shostakovich’s wrote his Piano Concerto No. 1 during the height of his early career for himself to play; it is sardonic and tongue-in-cheek, quoting and parodying several well-known pieces.

Symphonic Journeys: Strauss, Walton, Brahms

Sunday, February 9, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Chi-Yuan Chen, viola

R. STRAUSS: Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), Op. 24
WALTON: Viola Concerto
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

Richard StraussTod und Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration) is a monumental meditation on the journey of life, beginning in childhood, through the trials and joys of adulthood, and ending in the transfiguration of the spirit. Music Director Rafael Payare conducts the Symphony in Strauss’ powerful tone poem along with William Walton’s beautifully lyrical and nostalgic Viola Concerto, written when the composer was only 27 years old; the concerto was intended for the great soloist Lionel Tertis, who played an 18th century viola of enormous dimensions with a sound of extraordinary richness, almost like a cello. The result is one of the few widely played concertos for this instrument, demanding from the soloist the sweetest melodic playing with the most vigorous and athletic virtuosity. The concert ends with Brahms’ melancholy and hauntingly beautiful Second Symphony. This immortal work was written in one of Brahms’ favorite vacation retreats, in southern Austria on the beautiful lake of the Wörthersee. “Here," said Brahms, “the melodies grow so thick upon the ground that one must take care not to step on them as one walks.” In an equally humorous mood, he wrote to his publisher about his new symphony: “I have never written anything so sad, and the score must be published in mourning clothes.”

Mother Goose, Symphonic Dances and More

Sunday, March 9, 2pm

Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Alexi Kenney, violin

RAVEL: Suite (5 pièces enfantines) from Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)
BARTÓK: Violin Concerto No. 2
RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

Three 20th century masterpieces!

After his emigration from Revolutionary Russia in 1918, Rachmaninoff, as one of the world’s most sought-after pianists, had little time for composing and completed only six pieces in a quarter of a century of exile. But that music is among his most beautiful and concentrated, and none more so than his elegiac final work, his Symphonic Dances, written when World War II was already underway, and the composer and his wife were living in New York City. Rachmaninoff, already sick with the lung cancer that was to kill him, spent time in a country retreat on Long Island, where the quiet and peacefulness inspired music combining intense nostalgia for an old world gone with the tremendous rhythmic energy and optimism that he so loved about America.

Conductor Matthias Pintscher begins the concert with the beautiful glittering colors of Ravel’s Mother Goose, originally conceived as a charming piano duet for adults and children to play together, and then later transformed into an orchestral ballet. And Alexi Kenney makes his Symphony debut with his “soulful and stirring” (The Pittsburgh Post Gazette) interpretation of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2, a work written in the composer’s very last years in Europe before, despairing of the triumph of fascism and violence on all sides, he and his second wife emigrated to the USA. Conceived on a symphonic scale, this music speaks of the darkness and tragedy of the time, but it is also saturated with Bartók’s lifelong love and deep knowledge of the folk-music of Eastern Europe from which he drew not only musical ideas but a deep and optimistic belief in the power of ordinary people to survive suffering and oppression.

Czech Masterpieces and a Saxophone Concerto

Sunday, May 4, 2pm

Ruth Reinhardt, conductor
Steven Banks, saxophone

SMETANA: Overture and Three Dances from The Bartered Bride
YOSHIMATSU: Soprano Saxophone Concerto, Albireo Mode
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

Ruth Reinhardt returns to lead the Symphony in two delightful works by two Czech masters: the Overture and Three Dances from Smetana’s folk-inspired romantic comedy The Bartered Bride and Dvořák’s infectiously joyous Symphony No. 8, which was conceived and written in the gorgeous green landscape of fields and woods around the small community where Dvořák had his country home. Having grown-up as a country boy in a largely agricultural community, the composer was passionate about the beauties of the rural world, taking pleasure especially in the rich variety of the songs of wild birds, which he would listen to in the little wood at the bottom of his garden. Probably no other symphony in the established repertoire is so full of delicious suggestions of singing birds as this!

And at the center of the concert, something else entirely! Having quickly established himself as one of the leading classical saxophonists today, Steven Banks returns to San Diego to take the Jacobs Music Center stage with famed Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Soprano Saxophone Concerto Albireo Mode. Written nearly 20 years ago, this accessible and gentle music, shot through with the sound of temple bells and the liquid traditions of American free jazz for which Yoshimatsu has a special admiration, takes its title from a famous double star in the Cygnus constellation, and is divided into two movements: the first – "Topaz" after the precious stone which is often a pale-yellow color, and the second – "Sapphire" after the familiar dark-blue stone.

Ode to Nature: Payare Conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

Sunday, May 25, 2pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano
Choruses TBD

MAHLER: Symphony No. 3 in D minor

Written over the course of three years, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is a monumental two-part declaration of faith that reveals the composer’s wide-ranging influences, from folk song to mythology and philosophy. This vastly expansive work is Mahler’s ode to nature, progressing in ever wider circles from the intimacy of flowers and meadows, to a colossal vision of humanity, and the splendor of the cosmos and its Creator. Perhaps no other symphony of Mahler’s so well embodies his famous declaration to Sibelius, in Sibelius’s own account:

"Die Symphonie muss sein wie die Welt, Sie muss alles umfassen."
("A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.")

World-renowned mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill will make her San Diego Symphony debut, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare, for these final concerts of this historic season.

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Jazz is BACK @ the Jacobs, where it belongs! The Jazz @ the Jacobs series brings you three cool Saturday nights of the best of today's jazz artists interpreting our classic jazz heritage. You'll hear shout-outs and tributes to Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington and other giants from great modern artists like pianist Joshua White, vocalist  Mary Stallings, pianist Eric Reed and trumpeter/series curator Gilbert Castellanos.

A Tribute to Ella, Billie and Sarah

Saturday, November 23, 7:30pm

Mary Stallings, vocalist
Sherry Williams, vocalist
Champion Fulton, piano, vocalist
Sam Hirsh
, piano

Rickey Woodard, tenor saxophone
Jeff Hamilton, drums

Pre-show concert:
Young Lions Jazz Conservatory All Stars, jazz band

You’ll have “the world on a string” as we pay tribute to three of the most iconic divas in all of jazz in this tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. Don't miss our first jazz concert in the “new” Jacobs Music Center!

Please note: the San Diego Symphony Orchestra does not appear on this program.

Piano Paragons – The Music of Monk, Powell, Tatum and Corea

Saturday, March 22, 7:30pm

Eric Reed, piano
Helen Sung, piano
Peter Washington, bass
Carl Allen, drum set

Pre-show concert:
Young Lions Jazz Conservatory All Stars, jazz band

Spanning almost one hundred years of jazz piano styles from Tatum’s “stride” to Corea’s inventive fusion and everything in between, join us for a concert that will have you tapping your toes all night long.

Please note: the San Diego Symphony Orchestra does not appear on this program.

Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn

Saturday, April 26, 7:30pm
Billy Pierce, tenor sax
Other musicians to be announced.

Pre-show concert:
Young Lions Jazz Conservatory All Stars, jazz band

The artistic collaboration between Duke Ellington and composer/ arranger Billy Strayhorn is one of the most important in the history of American music. Duke Ellington trusted Billy Strayhorn’s artistic gifts from the moment he joined the band in 1939, until Strayhorn’s death in 1967. Strayhorn wrote many of the songs we associate with the Duke Ellington Band today, including their theme song “Take the A Train”, “Satin Doll”, “Something to Live For” and many more. 

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The Family Concert Series returns to the Jacobs Music Center with three fascinating family-friendly programs that now begin at 11am. Each concert features about an hour of music from the San Diego Symphony, and all of the dates feature pre-concert activities at the JMC to encourage early arrival and maximum fun! Best of all: two easy package price levels for everyone: $70 and $130.

Because: A Symphony of Serendipity

Saturday, November 2, 11am

Beatriz Fernández Aucejo, conductor
San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Jessie MONTGOMERY: Because: A Symphony of Serendipity

Be inspired as you sing, dance, and read along with the orchestra in this energetic and heart-warming performance. The San Diego Symphony brings Mo Willems’ award-winning book Because to life, with music written by Jessie Montgomery.

This concert is designed for families with children ages 6 – 12. Please join us one hour before the performance for pre-concert activities in the lobby.

Philharmonia Fantastique

Saturday, March 15, 11am

Conner Gray Covington, conductor
San Diego Symphony Orchestra

BRITTEN: Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
Mason BATES: Philharmonia Fantastique

Meet the instruments! The concert begins with a classic introduction to the instruments in Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Then, dynamic concerto meets animated film in Mason Bates’ Philharmonia Fantastique. Guided by a magical Sprite, you’ll explore the fundamental connections between music, sound, performance, creativity and technology.

This concert is designed for families with children ages 6 – 12. Please join us one hour before the performance for pre-concert activities in the lobby.

The Mountain that Loved a Bird

Saturday, April 26, 11am

Tristan Rais-Sherman, conductor
San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Caroline SHAW: The Mountain that Loved a Bird

Transport yourself into a timeless story about friendship in composer and Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s musical adaptation of The Mountain that Loved a Bird by Alice McLerran.

This concert is designed for families with children ages 6 – 12. Please join us one hour before the performance for pre-concert activities in the lobby.

Buy Now

Currents is a brand new, adult-oriented series of three distinct concert experiences that seek to address through music, narrative and movement some of the most challenging social/societal issues of our day. You can attend all three evening programs for $91, and seating is General Admission. Though selected San Diego Symphony musicians may appear in the course of this series, the entire Symphony does not.

Tres Minutos

Friday, November 22, 7:30pm

Music by Nicolás Lell Benavides
Libretto by Marella Martin Koch
Musicians of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Where do we belong? Inspired by a real program that reunites families separated by immigration policies at the U.S.-Mexico Border, but only for three minutes, Tres minutos by composer Nicolás Lell Benavides and librettist Marella Martin Koch imagines the story of Diego and Nila, a brother and sister who share DNA but not citizenship. When Diego is deported, leaving Nila behind, questions of identity, duty and belonging threaten to consume them.

A co-production with Music of Remembrance; the entire San Diego Symphony Orchestra does not appear on this program.

The Wonders We Carry Inside

Thursday, March 20, 7:30pm

Gity Razaz, composer & curator
Inbal Segev, cello
Niloufar Shiri, kamancheh & composer
Sahba Aminikia, composer
Musicians of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Hailed by The New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Iranian-American composer Gity Razaz curates an evening of music honoring the mystical beauty of Persian culture and the power of women to shape history both past and present. Poetry and music weave together to guide us through this ancient celebration of reflection and renewal at the spring equinox.

This program is in support of Women, Life, Freedom; the entire San Diego Symphony Orchestra does not appear on this program.

Difficult Grace

Saturday, May 31, 7:30pm

Seth Parker Woods, cello
Roderick George, dancer/ choreographer

Difficult Grace is a multimedia concert tour de force conceived by and featuring Seth Parker Woods in the triple role of cellist, narrator/guide and movement artist. Heightened by film, spoken text, dance and visual artwork, Difficult Grace is a semiautobiographical exploration of identity, past/present histories and personal growth that draws inspiration from the Great Migration, the historic newspaper The Chicago Defender, immigration and the poetry of Kemi Alabi and Dudley Randall.

Please note: the San Diego Symphony Orchestra does not appear on this program.

Buy Now

The San Diego Symphony is proud to present SYMPHONY KIDS, a brand new series aimed straight at our youngest listeners! This four-concert subscription is programmed for ages five and below (and their parents!) as we introduce the world of the orchestra in an entertaining, super-easy series of 30-minute programs featuring live music from the San Diego Symphony. Seating is General Admission, and whole package costs only $60 (a savings of $28 over four individual concerts). You may choose the 10am series or the 11am series.

Please note: ALL attendees to Symphony Kids must have a ticket.

Symphony Kids: Meet the Strings

Saturday, November 9, 10am

Sing-a-long and dance-a-long to your favorite melodies as you get to know the largest family in the orchestra – the strings! 

Your family’s musical exploration starts here! San Diego Symphony musicians share their favorite sing-a-longs, rhymes, dances, and musical games in a series that introduces your youngest listeners to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Designed for families with children ages 0 – 5, these interactive, fun, and sensory-friendly concerts are 30 minutes.

Symphony Kids: Meet the Brass

Saturday, January 18, 10am

Buzz-buzz! Toot-Toot! The big and low-sounding tuba, the curly and majestic French horn, the sliding trombone, and the heralding trumpet show us how music can be fast or slow and loud or soft.

Your family’s musical exploration starts here! San Diego Symphony musicians share their favorite sing-a-longs, rhymes, dances, and musical games in a series that introduces your youngest listeners to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Designed for families with children ages 0 – 5, these interactive, fun, and sensory-friendly concerts are 30 minutes.

Arrive early for pre-concert activities in the Jacobs Music Center lobby for fun crafts and musical exploration, free with ticket purchase.

Symphony Kids: Meet the Winds

Saturday, March 1, 10am

They huff, they puff, and they blow all their air to make a sound! From birdsongs, to sneaky cats – you and your kiddos will experience the unique sounds that the flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and French horn make together.

Your family’s musical exploration starts here! San Diego Symphony musicians share their favorite sing-a-longs, rhymes, dances, and musical games in a series that introduces your youngest listeners to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Designed for families with children ages 0 – 5, these interactive, fun, and sensory-friendly concerts are 30 minutes.

Arrive early for pre-concert activities in the Jacobs Music Center lobby for fun crafts and musical exploration, free with ticket purchase. 

Symphony Kids: Meet the Percussion

Saturday, May 3, 10am

We’ll shake, we’ll rattle, and we’ll clap along to the beat as we dance to exciting rhythms with our friends in the percussion family! 

Your family’s musical exploration starts here! San Diego Symphony musicians share their favorite sing-a-longs, rhymes, dances, and musical games in a series that introduces your youngest listeners to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Designed for families with children ages 0 – 5, these interactive, fun, and sensory-friendly concerts are 30 minutes.

Arrive early for pre-concert activities in the Jacobs Music Center lobby for fun crafts and musical exploration, free with ticket purchase. 

Buy Now (10am Series)

The San Diego Symphony is proud to present SYMPHONY KIDS, a brand-new series aimed straight at our youngest listeners! This four-concert subscription is programmed for ages five and below (and their parents!) as we introduce the world of the orchestra in an entertaining, super-easy series of 30-minute programs featuring live music from the San Diego Symphony. Seating is General Admission, and whole package of four costs only $60 (a savings of $28 over four individual concerts). You may choose the 10am series or the 11am series.

Please note: ALL attendees to Symphony Kids must have a ticket.

Symphony Kids: Meet the Strings

Saturday, November 9, 11am

Sing-a-long and dance-a-long to your favorite melodies as you get to know the largest family in the orchestra – the strings! 

Your family’s musical exploration starts here! San Diego Symphony musicians share their favorite sing-a-longs, rhymes, dances, and musical games in a series that introduces your youngest listeners to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Designed for families with children ages 0 – 5, these interactive, fun, and sensory-friendly concerts are 30 minutes.

Symphony Kids: Meet the Brass

Saturday, January 18, 11am

Buzz-buzz! Toot-Toot! The big and low-sounding tuba, the curly and majestic French horn, the sliding trombone, and the heralding trumpet show us how music can be fast or slow and loud or soft.

Your family’s musical exploration starts here! San Diego Symphony musicians share their favorite sing-a-longs, rhymes, dances, and musical games in a series that introduces your youngest listeners to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Designed for families with children ages 0 – 5, these interactive, fun, and sensory-friendly concerts are 30 minutes.

Arrive early for pre-concert activities in the Jacobs Music Center lobby for fun crafts and musical exploration, free with ticket purchase.

Symphony Kids: Meet the Winds

Saturday, March 1, 11am

They huff, they puff, and they blow all their air to make a sound! From birdsongs, to sneaky cats – you and your kiddos will experience the unique sounds that the flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and French horn make together.

Your family’s musical exploration starts here! San Diego Symphony musicians share their favorite sing-a-longs, rhymes, dances, and musical games in a series that introduces your youngest listeners to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Designed for families with children ages 0 – 5, these interactive, fun, and sensory-friendly concerts are 30 minutes.

Arrive early for pre-concert activities in the Jacobs Music Center lobby for fun crafts and musical exploration, free with ticket purchase. 

Symphony Kids: Meet the Percussion

Saturday, May 3, 11am

We’ll shake, we’ll rattle, and we’ll clap along to the beat as we dance to exciting rhythms with our friends in the percussion family! 

Your family’s musical exploration starts here! San Diego Symphony musicians share their favorite sing-a-longs, rhymes, dances, and musical games in a series that introduces your youngest listeners to the instruments of the orchestra. 

Designed for families with children ages 0 – 5, these interactive, fun, and sensory-friendly concerts are 30 minutes.

Arrive early for pre-concert activities in the Jacobs Music Center lobby for fun crafts and musical exploration, free with ticket purchase. 

Buy Now (11am Series)

Our wonderful selection of Special Concerts in 2024-25 (including some delightful holiday season offerings) will tempt you to add them to your package order...and with an automatic 10% discount for subscribers, you should give in to your temptation! (Note: single ticket buyers won't have access to these concerts until August...when they'll pay FULL price.)

Note: when placing your order, after you have placed a subscription package in your cart, you will then be able to add as many discounted extra tickets or Special Concerts as you like!

"WELCOME HOME!!" – Jacobs Music Center Opening Night

Saturday, September 28, 6pm

Rafael Payare, conductor
Jeff Thayer, violin
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
Hera Hyesang Park, soprano
Inon Barnatan, piano

TEXU KIM: Welcome Home!! Fanfare for Brass (World Premiere, Commissioned by San Diego Symphony)
VILLA-LOBOS: Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
ROSSINI: "Una voce poco fa" from The Barber of Seville
TCHAIKOVSKY: Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 [Fitzenhagen version]
PAGANINI: Caprice No. 24 in A minor
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
RAVEL: Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloé

To begin the 2024-25 Season, celebrate the joyful reopening of San Diego’s beloved Jacobs Music Center, after four years of complete modernization and renovation! Thrill to the amazing new acoustic and marvel at the beautifully restored interior, with a program conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare celebrating every aspect of the art of our wonderful orchestra.

The program opens with a World Premiere, a blazing new fanfare from composer Texu Kim, written in honor of this great occasion. Paganini’s 24th Caprice, one of the most recognizable pieces of violin music ever written, will be given a virtuoso performance by our own concertmaster Jeff Thayer, and will lead straight into one of the most famous pieces of music ever written on this same beloved melody: Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with the solo piano part played by another of San Diego’s presiding musical spirits, Inon Barnatan. World-famous cellist Alisa Weilerstein will join our orchestra (and her husband, Rafael Payare!) for one of the sweetest and most evocative pieces ever written for cello and orchestra, Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. The brilliant Korean soprano Hera Hyesang Park returns to the SDSO with beloved gems including the immortal “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. The program concludes gorgeously with the glittering and seductive sounds of Ravel’s Second Suite from his ballet Daphnis et Chloé.

LESLIE ODOM, JR. – The Christmas Tour

Saturday, November 30, 7:30pm

Leslie Odom, Jr. brings a night of holiday hits to Jacobs Music Center – including selections from his release The Christmas Album, which Broadway World said “infuses love, joy, and merriment into the holiday season.”

Leslie Odom, Jr. is a multifaceted performer recognized for his work on the Broadway stage, on television, in film and as a recording artist. He is a Tony winner, a Grammy® winner, and a three-time Emmy Award nominee. For his critically acclaimed performance as legendary soul singer Sam Cooke in Regina King’s One Night in Miami, Odom was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. He received a second nomination in the same year, as a songwriter, for co-writing the film's original song, "Speak Now." Odom is one of only four performers in history to be nominated in both the acting and writing categories in the same year. After his breakout role as ‘Aaron Burr’ in the hit musical Hamilton, Odom has performed to sold-out crowds in hallowed halls around the country including The Kennedy Center in DC, The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and Lincoln Center in New York City. 

Please note: the San Diego Symphony does not appear on this program.

Noel Noel (5 Performances)

Fri Dec 13 (7:30pm) | Sat Dec 14 (2pm/7:30pm) | Sun Dec 15 (2pm/7:30pm)

Christopher Dragon, conductor
San Diego Children's Choir
Jonathan Gilmer, director

Audiences will experience the return of Noel Noel, a program full of Christmas classics, sing-alongs, holiday cheer and jolly spirit.

The concert will be led once again by the artistic tour-de-force team consisting of celebrated guest conductor Christopher Dragon and director Jonathan Gilmer, and it features the return of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and the San Diego Children’s Choir.

VOCTAVE – It Feels Like Christmas

Thursday, December 19, 7:30pm

Voctave’s holiday spectacular "It Feels Like Christmas" includes a stocking full of holiday favorites from their chart-topping album and is sure to be a magical evening of music for the whole family. Jazz Weekly raves, “Voctave brings a cappella music to a new dimension.”

Voctave’s 11-member vocal ensemble brings incredible harmonies to favorites ranging from the Disney screen to the Broadway stage. This a cappella sensation has had over 160 million social media views of their videos and has appeared on countless recordings.

A cappella sensation Voctave's albums frequently debut in the Top 10 on the Billboard and iTunes charts. In the 2022-23 season Voctave released an album of lullabies entitled Goodnight, My Someone and toured their popular shows "The Corner of Broadway & Main Street" and "The Spirit of the Season." This season sees the release of a brand-new holiday album It Feels Like Christmas, and the subsequent North American holiday tour.

Formed in 2015 by producer and arranger Jamey Ray, the voices of Voctave that bring their arrangements to life represent a wealth of diverse backgrounds and musical experiences. Hailing from Central Florida, the eleven members of Voctave have performed across the globe and appear on countless recordings. The group has performed with GRAMMY®, Dove and American Music Award recipients including Sandi Patty, Pentatonix’s Kirstin Maldonado, Mark Lowry, David Phelps and Jody McBrayer. Voctave’s ten albums are digitally available on all platforms.

Please note: the San Diego Symphony does not appear on this program.

ELF™ in Concert (3 Performances)

Sat Dec 21 7:30pm | Sun Dec 22 (2pm/7:30pm)

Bruce Kiesling, conductor
San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Experience your favorite Christmas film transformed with the music of a live symphony orchestra in Elf™ in Concert! For the first time ever, audiences can rediscover the magic of this holiday classic while a live symphony orchestra performs John Debney’s wonderful score and Santa Claus soars across the big screen in high-definition.

What the World Needs Now

Friday, February 14, 7:30pm

Rob Fisher, music director and piano
Ross Lekites, vocalist
Bianca Marroquin, vocalist

Rob Fisher, music director and piano, is joined by vocalists Ross Lekites and Bianca Marroquin to proclaim what "there’s just too little of...love, sweet love." Spend your Valentine's Day evening enjoying some of the world's most beloved love songs.

Please note: the San Diego Symphony does not appear on this program.

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN in Because of You

Sunday, March 2, 6:30pm
"My Tribute to Tony Bennett featuring the CARNEGIE HALL BIG BAND!"

Michael Feinstein brings to life Big Band Celebrations and the Tony Bennett legacy. Supported by the Carnegie Hall Big Band, Feinstein pays a heartfelt tribute to the legendary Tony Bennett, bringing his iconic songs to life in a symphony of sound.

The performance will feature hits such as "Because of You", "Rags to Riches", "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", "The Best is Yet to Come", "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Stranger in Paradise" and many more. Feinstein's dynamic interpretations, coupled with the grandeur of the big band, will create an unforgettable night that honors the legacy of Tony Bennett in all its glory.

Michael Feinstein's close friendship with Tony Bennett adds a profound layer to this tribute, as their camaraderie brings authenticity and depth to each note performed. Not only does Feinstein's masterful interpretation of Bennett's timeless repertoire pay homage to an era of classic songwriting, but it also preserves the rich cultural heritage that these songs represent.

The show also brings to bear the history of Carnegie Hall, which has been connected to the big band for decades. Icons from across the 20th and 21st Century have graced the stage of Carnegie Hall, from Benny Goodman to Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald and from Frank Sinatra to, of course, Tony Bennett. The music-making of Feinstein and the Carnegie Hall Big Band continue this tradition, as this program brings the Hall’s history to life onstage.

"Tony Bennett is one of the most enduring icons of the 20th century. He has created a body of work surpassed by none.” – Michael Feinstein

(This show is not affiliated with the Tony Bennett Estate; the San Diego Symphony does not appear on this concert.)

STEVE HACKMAN'S Brahms X Radiohead

Saturday, March 8, 7:30pm

Steve Hackman, conductor
Vocalists TBD
San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Brahms X Radiohead is an epic symphonic synthesis of Radiohead’s album OK Computer and the First Symphony of Johannes Brahms, composed for full symphony orchestra and three solo vocalists. The piece offers a reimagined experience of each work by seeing it through the lens of the other, exploring the explosive tension and deep pathos they have in common. Brahms’ 19th-century orchestral sound palette is used throughout, but woven in, superimposed and inserted are the melodies and music of Radiohead. At times one hears the themes and lyrics of Radiohead suspended over Brahms’ symphony; at times the orchestra plays the music of Radiohead but filtered through the counterpoint and harmonies of Brahms. Every combination of synthesis is explored in conductor Steve Hackman’s recomposition, as the music moves from one to the other so seamlessly that many times the audience is left wondering which is which, and how the combination was even possible.

Rock 'n Radio

Sunday, March 16, 6:30pm

Jessica Hendy, vocalist
Alex Getlin, vocalist
Scott Coulter, vocalist
John Boswell, piano
Mark Vanderpoel, bass
Mike Holguin, drums

Get ready to rock 'n roll down memory lane with an evening of music and memories straight from the radio, featuring the biggest pop songs of all time. Groove along to over eight decades of chart-topping hits from the greatest names in music history including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Carole King, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Adele and more.

JAN LISIECKI in Recital: "Preludes"

Friday, March 21, 7:30pm

Jan Lisiecki, piano

CHOPIN: Prelude for Piano, Op. 28, No. 15 ("Raindrop Prelude")
J. S. BACH: Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 846 (from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Bk. 1)
RACHMANINOFF: Selected Preludes for Piano, Op. 23
SZYMANOWSKI: Nine Preludes, Op. 1
MESSIAEN: Eight Preludes for Piano (1928/29)
CHOPIN: Prelude in C# minor, Op. 45
RACHMANINOFF: Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5
CHOPIN: Selected Preludes for Piano, Op. 28

Jan Lisiecki’s interpretations and technique speak to a maturity beyond his age. At 29, the Canadian performs over a hundred yearly concerts worldwide. The New York Times reviewed his March 2024 Carnegie Hall Preludes concert, noting his playing has "...gentle judiciousness, aristocratic reserve and a touch that tends shadowy without losing a core of clarity." Lisiecki performs a program of preludes on the Jacobs Music Center stage, treating the audience to dozens of succinct, characterful works by Chopin, J. S. Bach, Rachmaninoff, Szymanowski and Messiaen. 

ALISA WEILERSTEIN: FRAGMENTS 3

Tuesday, April 8, 7:30pm

In FRAGMENTS 3, the third installment of this groundbreaking performance series for solo cello performed by Alisa Weilerstein, new works are woven together with Johann Sebastian Bach’s third cello suite, responsive lighting and scenic architecture, inviting audiences into an immersive, multisensory experience.


In Alisa Weilerstein’s groundbreaking, multi-year performance series FRAGMENTS, new music by some of the most compelling composers of our time meets the timeless beauty of Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello in an immersive, multisensory audience experience. Within each FRAGMENTS program 1-6, individual movements from a single Bach suite are thoughtfully integrated with selected new commissions to make a wholly original emotional arc. Enhanced by responsive lighting and scenic architecture, the music is performed without pauses or printed program details, creating an atmosphere of enchantment, adventure and discovery.

CO-PRESENTED BY SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY AND LA JOLLA MUSIC SOCIETY

When the Saints Go Marching In: The Spirit of Mardi Gras!

Saturday, April 19, 7:30pm

Byron Stripling, conductor, trumpet and vocalist
Sydney McSweeney, vocalist
Bobby Floyd, keyboards
Drummer TBD
San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Celebrate the spirit of Mardi Gras with a night of hot New Orleans jazz! The good times roll with music made famous by Fats Domino, Mahalia Jackson, Bessie Smith & Louis Armstrong. From street parades in the French Quarter to late night jams in the city’s famed clubs, this party transforms into an unforgettable Mardi Gras celebration with Byron Stripling, Sydney McSweeney and Bobby Floyd leading the parade with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra!