Julia Bullock, Sasha Cooke & Emily Magee Highlight San Francisco Symphony’s 2019-20 Season

By Nicole Kuchta

San Francisco Symphony has announced its 2019-20 season, which marks the 25th and final season of Michael Tilson Thomas’ distinguished tenure as Music Director. For the purposes of this article, we will focus primarily on vocal performances.

The season will start off with a concert led by Michael Tilson Thomas featuring tenor Nicholas Phan and cellist Oliver Herbert, along with the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus. The program is set to include Stravinsky’s Canticum Sacrum, Symphony of Psalms [1948 version], and Symphony in Three Movements, along with Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major, H. VIIb:1.

Performance Dates: Sept. 26 – 28, 2019

Conductor Antonio Pappano will make his San Francisco Symphony debut with a performance of R. Strauss’ “Metamorphosen” and Act I of Wagner’s “Die Walküre.” The cast of singers will include soprano Emily Magee, also making her SFS debut, as Sieglinde, tenor Stuart Skelton as Siegmund, and bass Ain Anger as Hunding.

Performance Dates: Nov. 14 – 16, 2019

Ragnar Bohlin will conduct Handel’s “Messiah,” featuring soprano Lauren Snouffer, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, making his SFS debut, bass Adam Lau, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.

Performance Dates: Dec. 13 – 14, 2019

Michael Tilson Thomas will lead the orchestra through a program of Berlioz’ Overture to “Benvenuto Cellini,” Op. 23, Mahler’s Selections from “Des Knaben Wunderhorn,” Ravel’s “La Valse,” and the world premiere of Thomas’ own “Rilke Songs.” Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Ryan McKinny will be featured vocally.

Performance Dates: Jan. 9 – 12, 2020

Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen will lead a performance featuring soprano Julia Bullock with the San Francisco Symphony. The program will include the first SFS performance of Purcell’s (arr. Stucky) “Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, after Purcell,” along with Britten’s “Les Illuminations,” Op. 18, and Ravel’s “Trois Poémes de Stéphane Mallarmé” and “Ma Mère l’Oye.”

Performance Dates: Feb. 20 – 22, 2020

Ragnar Bohlin will conduct the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Details TBA.

Performance Dates: Apr. 4, 2020

Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in a concert featuring soprano Joélle Harvey and bass-baritone Dashon Burton, making his SFS debut. The program will include two works by Ruggles, “Angels” and “Sun-treader,” as well as Brahms’ “A German Requiem,” Opus 45.

Performance Dates: May 22 – 24, 2020

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke will appear in recital as part of the Great Performers Series. Details TBA.

Performance Dates: May 31, 2020

Julia Bullock will perform with members of the San Francisco Symphony as part of the History’s Persistant Voice Series.

Performance Dates: Jun. 2020 (Dates TBA)

SFS will present a semi-staged production of Wagner’s “Der Fliegende Holländer.” Soprano Catherine Nagelstad will make her SFS debut as Senta, mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch will perform as Mary, and tenor Stuart Skelton will perform as Erik. Also making their SFS debuts are tenor Ben Bliss as Steuermann, bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as Holländer, and bass Albert Dohmen as Daland. Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct.

Performance Dates: Jun. 11 – 15, 2020

Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E-flat. Soprano Erin Wall, mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, and bass-baritone Greer Grimsley will be featured alongside the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus.

Performance Dates: Jun. 25 – 28, 2020