San Francisco Symphony Returns With an Expansive 2021–2022 Season

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Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the San Francisco Symphony for the first time since his appointment as Music Director Designate. (Brandon Patoc/San Francisco Symphony)

After an unusual year of adaptation and experimentation, the San Francisco Symphony will be back in full swing with its 2021–2022 season, announced this morning. Returning to Davies Symphony Hall, the orchestra will keep one foot planted in Western classical tradition while exploring diverse musical influences, contemporary compositions and collaborations well beyond the canon.

“The past year has been anything but typical, but the musicians, administration, operations team and collaborative partners have more than risen to the task,” said San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen in a statement. “Now, we have to come to terms with another challenging prospect: that there is no getting back to ‘normal,’ unless we attempt to redefine what it means. The new ‘normal’ for us must be to push boundaries and explore the world around us with openness and curiosity.”

The season kicks off with a collaboration with bassist Esperanza Spalding, one of Salonen’s collaborative partners at the orchestra, and the Alonzo King LINES ballet on the Re-Opening Night Gala on Oct. 1 and an additional night on Oct. 2. The orchestra will perform works by San Francisco composer John Adams and jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter—two living greats—as well as 20th-century Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera and Mexican composer and violinist Silvestre Revueltas.

Other highlights of the season include a new version of History’s Persistent Voice by Julia Bullock, a renowned soprano and another of the orchestra’s collaborative partners. Bullock curated the program as an homage to centuries of creativity from Black artists, and the San Francisco Symphony will debut two new commissions as part of it.

In addition to an Orchestral Series conducted by Salonen, there will be a Great Performer series focused on soloists such as pianist Kirill Kuzman and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who will perform together in How Do I Find You, featuring 17 new works written for Cooke during the pandemic. Experimental, multi-media concerts will return as part of the SoundBox series, and family concerts, film screenings, a program conducted by Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas and more are on the horizon.


The full schedule of events and ticket information can be found here.