Review: San Francisco Symphony’s first in-person concert in a year, at Davies Symphony Hall

Posted on: May 10, 2021

“Priscilla Geeslin, the San Francisco Symphony’s new board president, could barely get the words out,” writes Joshua Kosman in Saturday’s (5/8) San Francisco Chronicle. “ ‘My heart is pounding,’ she said [from] the stage of Davies Symphony Hall on Thursday, May 6. ‘I’m so excited to be here!’ … Not a soul among the 360 or so invited guests scattered around the hall could have felt any differently. The program of music for strings was short— 75 minutes with no intermission…. It was the first live music event in the orchestra’s longtime home for more than 14 months. It was the first concert to take place in person under the new music director, Esa-Pekka Salonen…. Salonen led … 25 musicians—all string players along with one lone percussionist…. For the opening program, the Symphony invited medical professionals, first responders and community leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.… Salonen led his string-playing colleagues” through works by Sibelius, Nielsen, and Grieg. “America was represented by George Walker’s astoundingly lovely ‘Lyric for Strings’ and Caroline Shaw’s delectably witty ‘Entr’acte.’ … In the end, the repertoire choices mattered less than the sheer celebratory triumphalism of the moment.”