Review: San Francisco Symphony program, planned by late Michael Morgan, led by conductors Fujimoto, Lee, Bartholomew-Poyser

Posted on: February 22, 2022

“Michael Morgan, the visionary longtime music director of the Oakland Symphony, talked often about the program he had devised for his planned [subscription] debut with the San Francisco Symphony,” writes Joshua Kosman in Friday’s (2/18) San Francisco Chronicle. Morgan died in August 2021. “So there was a fair amount of emotion in Davies [Hall] on Thursday, Feb. 17, when the orchestra finally made good on the project…. To stand in for Morgan … the Symphony brought in three young conductors for their debut appearances…. Price’s Third Symphony, which Morgan introduced in Oakland in 2019, inevitably left the strongest impression, in a powerhouse performance conducted by Akiko Fujimoto…. Franck’s exuberantly pictorial tone poem ‘Le Chasseur Maudit’ and … Carlos Simon’s 2017 score ‘Amen!’ which conjures up the harmonies and rhythms of a Black Pentecostal church service … were nimbly conducted by Earl Lee…. The third [conductor] was [San Francisco Symphony resident conductor of engagement and education] Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser…. Together with mezzo-soprano Melody Wilson and the men of the Symphony Chorus led by Anthony Trecek-King, he brought an interior glow to Brahms’ ‘Alto Rhapsody’ and a high degree of expressive directness to three spirituals…. Every moment of the evening felt suffused with Morgan’s spirit and presence.”