Gala Concert opens San Francisco Symphony’s 2018-19 Season

Michael Tilson Thomas directing the San Francisco Symphony
© Stefan Cohen

With three season openings on three consecutive nights – at San Francisco Symphony, SFJAZZ and San Francisco Opera – the City by the Bay is definitely the place to be next week!

First on the calendar is the San Francisco Symphony Gala – always a glittering occasion – as Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leads the Symphony in an evening of symphonic and film favorites, with guest artists Itzhak Perlman and students of the Perlman Music Program.

Itzhak Perlman
© Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Itzhak Perlman – whose artistry and sheer joy in music has endeared him to audiences the world over – is also loved for his charm and his humanity. He returns to Davies Symphony Hall for this Gala Concert, to perform with six members of the Perlman Music Program – a summer school which each year provides an opportunity for young string players “of rare and special talent” to benefit from some of the finest tuition available.

The concert opens with Frans Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No 1 for Orchestra. One of four Mephisto waltzes by Liszt, this is the most frequently performed, and depicts The Dance at the Village Inn as described in Nikolaus Lenau’s poem, Faust: Ein Gedicht.

Itzhak Perlman with students of the Perlman Music Program
© Annie Watt

Itzhak Perlman and his students will then perform J S Bach’s delightfully lyrical Concerto for Two Violins, Strings and Continuo, BWV 1043, one of the many instrumental works – along with the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations – for which Bach is best known and loved. In this performance of the work – also known as the Double Concerto – the students of the Perlman Music Program share the second violin part.

Itzhak Perlman will also perform two very different film themes – the sensual Tango by Carlos Gardel which featured so memorably in the 1992 Al Pacino film Scent of a Woman – and a piece which John Williams wrote specifically for Mr Perlman – the hauntingly beautiful Oscar-winning theme from Schindler’s List.

Itzhak Perlman plays the theme from ‘Schindler’s List

There’s more Oscar-winning film music on the program, too – the lovely theme from Out of Africa by John Barry – who won an Academy Award for the entire score in 1986 – one of seven Awards which the film received that year. Then there’s Ennio Morricone’s unforgettable theme from Cinema Paradiso, a film which won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe award in the Best Foreign Language category in 1990, and for which Morricone won a BAFTA the following year.

Gershwin can always be counted on to provide the sparkle in a Gala Concert – and this one features two of his works – the first being his Cuban Overture. It was inspired by the rhythms he heard on a 1932 vacation to Havana – described on the Gershwin website as “two hysterical weeks…where no sleep was had”! Gershwin even took a set of Cuban musical instruments back to New York for added authenticity at the overture’s premiere, which was given by Albert Coates and the New York Philharmonic in August that year.

Michael Tilson Thomas directs the San Francisco Symphony
© Stefan Cohen

This Gala Concert concert ends with one of Gershwin’s best-loved works – his fabulous tone poem An American in Paris – written by the composer when he was just that – an American tourist visiting the eternally beautiful City of Lights, and one totally enamored with the sights and sounds which make Paris unique and so special.

Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony, guest artist Itzhak Perlman and students of the Perlman Music Program, in a Gala Concert to open the 2018-19 season at Davies Symphony Hall on September 5th. The performance is preceded by a wine reception, and concludes with a fabulous indoor-outdoor After-Party open to all ticketholders.

For more information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.

The concert will be broadcast live on Classical KDFC 90.3/89.9/104.9 FM and streamed online at kdfc.com. Proceeds of the performance benefit the San Francisco Symphony’s many artistic, education and community programs.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Symphony program notes
Itzhak Perlman
Perlman Music Program
Gershwin

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Former San Francisco Ballet soloist honored with Princess Grace Award

Dana Genshaft in Ratmansky’s ‘From Foreign Lands’ (© Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet School have recently received some exciting news. Dana Genshaft – a former soloist with the Company, and now a faculty member of the Ballet School – has been honored with a Princess Grace Award in Choreography. Presented annually by the Princess Grace Foundation USA, the Award will provide Dana with financial assistance and ongoing support as she pursues her career in choreography.

Princess Grace of Monaco is remembered for her talent, beauty, elegance and her compassion. Among her achievements was the establishment of a Foundation to help those with special needs, and to bring international recognition to two high profile fundraising events in the Principality of Monaco – the Bal de la Croix Rouge and the Bal de la Rose.

Official Portrait of Princess Grace – Credit: Archives of the Princely Palace of Monaco

There was, however, another side to Princess Grace’s philanthropy. With her enduring love of the arts, the Princess harbored a desire to help emerging artists in the world of theatre, dance and film to pursue their dreams, so – after her death in 1982 – Prince Rainier founded the Princess Grace Foundation USA, to provide grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships and fellowships, to enable these artists to develop their talents. Among dancers who have been recognized are San Francisco Ballet Principal Joseph Walsh, Robert Battle – Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – American Ballet Theatre’s Gillian Murphy and Isabella Boylston, and New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck, as well as choreographers and MacArthur “Genius” grant winners, Kyle Abraham and Michelle Dorrance.

Dana Genshaft was born in Moscow, and trained at the Kirov Academy of Ballet, the School of American Ballet and the Paris Opéra Ballet School. In 2000, she became an apprentice with San Francisco Ballet, joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet the following year, and in 2008 was promoted to the rank of soloist. She has performed lead roles in Ashton’s Monotones I; Elo’s Double Evil; McGregor’s Eden/Eden; Morris’ Pacific, Maelstrom, and A Garden; Tomasson’s 7 for Eight; Welch’s Naked; and Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance) and Within the Golden Hour. She had a singing role as Rosalia in Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, and created roles in Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House and Morris’ Joyride.

Faculty member Dana Genshaft leads San Francisco Ballet School students in class (© Erik Tomasson)

Following her retirement from the Company in 2015, Dana Genshaft joined the faculty of the San Francisco Ballet School, where she has since taught contemporary repertory, conditioning, and choreography. Included in her choreographic assignments were those for for the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and James Sofranko’s SFDanceworks.

Nearly 10 years ago, the Princess Grace Foundation USA commissioned celebrated artist Alex Soldier to create a trophy to be presented to recipients of the Princess Grace Award. Using mainly platinum-plated silver, with black obsidian and Swarovski crystal accents, Soldier created a beautiful objet d’art representing the three disciplines that were closest to the Princess’s heart – theatre, dance and film. Representing an elegant depiction of dance in its overall design, the award also features the American flag, the crown of the Princess Grace Foundation USA, a strip of film which falls into a cascade of stars, and at its centre are the masks which are universally symbolic of the theatre.

The Princess Grace Award, designed by Alex Soldier

It is fair to wonder how these award-winners are selected, and Toby E Boshak, Executive Director of PGF-USA, provides the answer. “Princess Grace Award winners,” he says, “are some of the nation’s most talented artists.  Each person is nominated by a non-profit company’s artistic director or school’s department chair, and since each organization may only nominate one individual, we are seeing the top creative talents in each of the three categories we fund: theater, dance, and film. From this already impressive list, our panelists choose 5 or 6 individuals who embody artistic excellence and a commitment to their craft.”

Winners of the Princess Grace Award who go on to distinguish themselves in their chosen artistic discipline are also eligible to receive the Foundation’s Princess Grace Statue Award, and this year two Statue Awards will be presented, to Sam Gold – Tony Award-winning director of Fun Home – and Kyle Abraham – Bessie Award-winner and founder of the dance company Abraham.In.Motion.

The awards ceremony takes place, in the presence of Her Serene Highness, the Princess of Monaco, at Cipriani 25 Broadway, New York City, on October 16, 2018.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Ballet

The Princess Grace Foundation USA

Alex Soldier

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