I’m thrilled to have been asked to create a subscription package specifically for music lovers. San Francisco Ballet is famous around the world for its extremely diverse repertory, and the SF Ballet Orchestra and I are fortunate enough to play such a wide range of pieces. I’ve selected three programs which I think show off the orchestra’s talents. Our aim is to provide as much satisfaction musically, as our dancers do visually.
I hope you’ll agree, and I look forward to seeing you!
Program 2: Nijinsky
Nijinsky is a huge treat for the orchestra: a program which would fill any symphony hall! Rimsky-Korsakov’s ever popular Scheherazade makes up most of the first half, whilst the second half is the entire Symphony No.11 by Shostakovich. This monumental piece was written to celebrate and depict the 1905 Russian Revolution, and John Neumeier expertly uses the chaos in the music to chart Nijinsky’s descent into schizophrenia.
Dvorak’s intimate and lyrical “Piano Quintet in A Major” (the musical backdrop for Val Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House) is placed between two Russian orchestral showcases. Glazunov’s charming and romantic Raymonda opens the program and we finish with Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninov—the work which inspired me to become a conductor and which, upon each listening, still reveals more secrets, amongst it endless melodies and driving rhythms. The final piece composed by one of the great musicians of any age, Symphonic Dances never ceases to uplift and inspire.
Three pieces to challenge every facet of an orchestra’s skills. Tchaikovsky’s intensely dramatic Francesca Da Rimini is book-ended by two masterworks of the mid 20th century. In Criss-Cross, Helgi Tomasson cleverly juxtaposed a piece by Scarlatti with a work of the iconic Arnold Schoenberg in which he took the ideas and themes of Handel and brought them into his own sound world. Stravinsky’s Symphony in 3 Movements was the first major piece he wrote after his emigration to the US. It was inspired by the events of the second world war—turbulent, angular and chromatic—it is one of the masterworks of his neoclassical period.