A dozen picks from the SF Symphony Centennial

Single tickets went on sale this week for the San Francisco Symphony's Centennial Season, which means that I've waited way too long to write this preview, which I've been meaning to get to for a couple of months now. One reason for my procrastination is the sheer magnitude of the season- it's unlikely that any performing arts company is going to have programming on this scale for a long, long time. After examining the schedule a friend of mine described it as "overwhelming," and if that's not quite the adjective I would use, it certainly is a reasonable response to what's undeniably a season of incredible depth, scope and richness.
In years past, when I received a copy of the coming season I would look through it and usually conclude that I wanted to see about half of the programs, my selections based on the works to be performed, guest artists and then conductors, usually in that order.

This year, out of the 36 regularly scheduled programs (there are at least two dozen other programs as well), there are 27 I definitely want to attend. Add 9 of the 10 concerts by the visiting  American Orchestras to that list and the chamber music concert in the American Mavericks series, and that's an exhausting 37 different programs. Even then there are easily another half-dozen I wouldn't mind hearing but wouldn't feel remorseful about missing. It's an exciting prospect to have that much interesting music and talent coming to town this year, is it not?

It's hard to narrow a list of almost 40 concerts down to a select few, but if I had to choose a dozen "can't miss" concerts, these are the ones I'll definitely be attending (I'm omitting the visiting orchestras from inclusion, but consider those as not-to-be-missed as well):
MTT and Yo-Yo Ma performing Hindemith's Cello Concerto. Sept 14- 17
Needs no explanation.

Vasily Petrenko conducts, Joshua Bell Oct. 5,6,8,9
Bell solos in Glazunov's Violin Concerto, with Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Elgar also on the program. Though James Conlon, Alan Gilbert and Pablo Heras-Casado are all guest conductors leading programs I want to hear, Petrenko would be the choice if I had to choose just one.

Fabio Luisi conducting Verdi's Requiem  Oct. 19-22
with soloists Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Frank Lopardo and Ain Anger. If you've never experienced this masterpiece live, here's your chance to with an absolutely fantastic group of soloists. This may be the program I anticipate the most.

MTT conducting a new work by Sofia Gubaidulina and Brahms' German Requiem  Nov. 17-20
with soloists Jane Archibald and Kyle Ketelsen. Any new work Gubaidulina is an event.

Essa-Pekka Salonen and Leila Josefowicz  Dec 8 -10
A program featuring Salonen's Violin Concerto written for Josefowicz, Sibelius' Pohjola's Daughter, and orchestral excerpts from the Ring. I saw Salonen and Josefowicz perform this in LA two years back and it was marvelous. On top of all that, Christine Brewer is also on this program and I relish the idea of Salonen conducting Wagner.

MTT with soloists Karina Gauvin, Sasha Cooke, Leah Wool and Frederica von Stade as the narrator in Debussey's Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien and Janacek's SinfoniettaOne of the most alluring programs on the schedule. Jan 12 - 14

MTT, Emanuel Ax, the ST. Lawrence String Quartet performing Mason Bates' Mass Transmission, John Adams' Absolute Jest (both SFS commissions) a Feldman work for piano and orchestra and Varese's Ameriques. Of course I'd like to hear all of the American Mavericks concerts, but this program edges out the others. March 15 - 17

Susanna Malkki conducts Horacio Gutierrez April 27, 28
in Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto with Grisey's Modulations from Les Espaces acoustiques and Sibelius's first symphony. Women rarely take to the podium in San Francisco and this season two will. It will be interesting to see what Malkki does with the Grisey and Sibelius.

MTT and concertmaster Alexander Barantschik in Schnittke's Violin Concerto No. 4, Beethoven's 6th, and Mahler's Blumine. How often is Schnittke on a program? May 16 - 19

MTT and Yuja Wang perform the Rach 3rd, Sibelius' 3rd, and Faure's Pavane. The return of the amazing Yuja Wang. I look forward to what see what she's wearing as she performs one of my favorite works. June 14 - 17

MTT with soloists Michelle DeYoung, Alan Held and Jeremy Denk perform Lizst's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Bartok's Duke Bluebeard's Castle. Even though I promised myself not to ever see another Denk performance, the Bartok with DeYoung is an absolute must.  June 21-23

MTT conducts Schoenberg's A Survivor from Warsaw and Beethoven's 9th. The soloists are Erin Wall, Kendall GladenWilliam Burden and Nathan Berg. This needs no explanation, but I will say as programming it's a fitting conclusion to what will no doubt be a magnificent year for Bay Area music fans. June 27 - 30

The complete, recently updated schedule is available here. Don't feel overwhelmed when you see what I've posted here is just a small fraction of everything coming next year. What have I left out? Oh, only Lang Lang, Hilary Hahn, Thomas Ades, Jessye Norman, Meredith Monk, Itzhak Perlman, Christian Tetzlaff, Juho Pohjonen, Garrick Ohlsson and Richard Goode to name a few;  10 commissions, premieres and first performances;  11 works by living composers, 4 semi-staged and multimedia productions; 20 guest conductors; 13 guest conductor and soloist debuts and more than 50 soloists.
Nicely done, SFS- and congratulations on this milestone season.