Music director Michael Tilson Thomas will open his twelfth season with the orchestra with a gala concert on September 6 featuring Stravinsky's Violin Concerto in D major, Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmila Overture, and Dvoršk's Symphony No. 8 in G major. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff will be the soloist.
The season includes the world premieres of two SFS commissions: Kevin Volans's Piano Concerto, with Marc-Andr_ Hamelin as soloist; and Robin Holloway's Fourth Concerto for Orchestra. Contemporary music figures prominently throughout the season, with thirteen works from living composers, including Osvaldo Golijov. Tilson Thomas will also lead the SFS in several works new to the orchestra, including Schoenberg's Cabaret Songs Balakirev's Russia,, Koechlin's Les Bandar-log, and Takemitsu's Fantasma Cantos.
A major highlight will be John Adams's one-act opera A Flowering Tree, an SFSO co-commission with Lincoln Center, London's Barbican Centre, and the Berlin Philharmonic. The composer will conduct the work, which will feature soprano Hyunah Yu and tenor Russell Thomas both making their SFS debuts. Directed by Peter Sellars, who also wrote the libretto, the opera is based on a 2,000-year-old South Indian folk tale about young people coming of age. It will receive its world premiere at Sellars' New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna in November.
The SFS's Mahler recording project on its own label will be expanded to include the composer's song cycles. Live performances will include the composer's Symphony No. 4 in G major, Symphony No. 7 in E minor, and songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn with baritone Thomas Hampson.
Tilson Thomas will continue his survey of Stravinsky's music, conducting six of the composer's works during the season, including the Symphony of Psalms, Symphony in Three Movements, Symphonies of Wind Instruments, the Violin Concerto in D major, and the seldom-performed Apollon musagte.
Also during the upcoming season, the orchestra will perform in three festivals in Europe, with multiple concert appearances in Lucerne, Vienna, and Prague as well as its annual performances in New York's Carnegie Hall. Highlights of the international tour include a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 ("Symphony of a Thousand") in Lucerne in September.
Conductors making their SFS debuts include Carlos Kalmar, music director of the Oregon Symphony, and Austrian conductor Hans Graf, music director of the Houston Symphony; returning conductors include Roberto Abbado, Semyon Bychkov, Yan Pascal Tortelier, and David Robertson. Soloists include violinists Joshua Bell, Midori, and Hilary Hahn; pianists Jeremy Denk, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Radu Lupu; soprano Dawn Upshaw; and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham.