Classical 91.5

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

Seasonal, 8 to 10pm on WXXI-FM 91.5, WXXY 90.3, WXXI-FM/HD 91.5-1, WITH-FM/HD 90.1-2 and online at

Known for its innovative programs that span a wide variety of both traditional and new music, the San Francisco Symphony has grown in stature under Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, setting the highest possible standard for excellence in musical performance at home and around the world.

Of her 2019 composition Fountain of Youth, composer Julia Wolfe said, "People have searched for the fountain of youth for thousands of years. The thought was that if you bathed in or drank from the fountain of youth you would be transformed, rejuvenated. My fountain of youth is music, and in this case I offer the orchestra a sassy, rhythmic, high energy swim." We'll hear that sassy, rhythmic energy on Aug 3 at 8pm.

The San Francisco Symphony's world premiere of Meditations on Rilke in January 2020 revealed yet another side of Michael Tilson Thomas's compositional voice. In setting texts by one of his favorite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke, MTT inhabits an "approach to music as a kind of lifelong journal or confessional companion." Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny debut these songs in memorable performances captured by SFS Media.  July 27th at 8pm.

The pictures that inspired Mussorgsky’s composition were mostly related to other works of art by architect and painter Viktor Hartmann.  We'll hear Mussorgsky's beloved work on the June 29th broadcast @ 8pm.

We don’t often think of Felix Mendelssohn as a composer of stage works, but from (age 10) 1820 to 1847 he actually composed a number of musical settings for dramatic works, one of which is the Overture to Ruy Blas that we will hear in the 9/15 broadcast of the San Francisco Symphony. The five-act historical drama by Victor Hugo is long, dark and convoluted, but the administrators for the Leipzig Theatrical Pension Fund were committed to presenting the work for a benefit concert and they asked Mendelssohn to write an Overture and vocal piece for the event.

Three guest conductors take the podium of the San Francisco Symphony during August.  Jaap van Zweden, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Herbert Blomstedt.

What happens when a composer reaches his or her 9th Symphony.  We'll find out this month when Michael Tilson Thomas conducts Mahler's 9th (7/14) and Beethoven's 9th (7/28).  Has your time come?

Conductor Michael Morgan, music director of the Oakland Symphony in California, will make his San Francisco Symphony debut April 30-May 2, 2020. Morgan will bring a whole new program to the symphony.  The concert will include a performance of Florence Price's 1940 Symphony No. 3, the first local performance of Carlos Simon's 2019 work AMEN! as well as Brahms' Alto Rhapsody with mezzo-soprano Melody Wilson, and Franck's The Cursed Huntsman.

Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1990, Behzod Abduraimov began to play the piano at the age of five as a pupil of Tamara Popovich at Uspensky State Central Lyceum in Tashkent. Working with leading orchestras worldwide including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra and Münchner Philharmoniker, Behzod's performances combine an immense depth of musicality with phenomenal technique and breath-taking delicacy. (June 4th)

The San Francisco Symphony presents songs from camp meetings from the late 19th century on the May 14th episode.

4/2          Haydn: Symphony No. 69, Laudon Sibelius: Symphony No. 3 Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 (Michael Tilson Thomas, cond)