ESA-PEKKA SALONEN NAMED NEXT MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY
Salonen to Serve as Music Director Designate Effective Immediately, Will Lead the SFS in Concerts this Coming January 18–20, and Begin His Tenure September 2020
New Model of Leadership Includes Eight Creative and Artistic Partners
SAN FRANCISCO, December 5, 2018 — San Francisco Symphony President Sakurako Fisher and Chief Executive Officer Mark C. Hanson today announced that Esa-Pekka Salonen will become the Orchestra’s next Music Director, beginning in September 2020. As the San Francisco Symphony’s 12th Music Director in its 107-year history, Salonen will succeed Michael Tilson Thomas, who concludes his 25-year tenure as Music Director in July 2020. One of the most influential and creative forces in music, Salonen has, through his many high-profile conducting roles, work as a leading composer, and as an advocate for accessibility and diverse musical voices, shaped a unique vision for the present and future of the symphony orchestra.
Assuming his role as Music Director Designate immediately, Salonen will lead the SFS January 18–20, 2019 in a program featuring the SFS premiere of Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Metacosmos, R. Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, and Sibelius’ Four Legends from the Kalevala. He will return as Music Director Designate in the 2019–20 season to conduct at least two weeks of programs. In September 2020, Salonen begins his tenure as Music Director with an initial five-year contract, conducting the SFS in six subscription weeks and on a tour of Asia. Beginning in the 2021–22 season, Salonen will conduct 12 to 14 weeks each season. He will conclude his tenure as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra in 2021.
“From the very first approach, the San Francisco Symphony leaders and musicians and I were buzzing with possibilities,” said Esa-Pekka Salonen. “The ‘what-ifs’ of the orchestra world were suddenly on the table in a real way. Here is a top symphony orchestra in the place in America where things start; where the ways things have always been done are interrogated, and where problems are first identified and then solved. In San Francisco itself and in the San Francisco Symphony, I see both the big ideas being thought and the actual work being done, and that, to me, is irresistible.
I wasn’t looking for another Music Directorship. I am so proud of the work we did together at the Swedish Radio Orchestra, at the LA Philharmonic, and at the Philharmonia Orchestra, and that those organizations where I’ve held music director titles thrive without me gives me great joy. But there was a ‘no brainer’ aspect to this that I’ve been fortunate to have experienced a few times before in my career, so I know it when I see it. The San Francisco Symphony is an ensemble and an organization at the top of their game, renowned for their interpretations of masterpieces and unafraid to treat new works the same way. They have had the powerhouse combination of Michael’s exacting musicality and freedom of spirit for 25 years: a legacy I’m privileged to inherit. “
“Esa-Pekka Salonen has a 360-degree view of the orchestra world and creative community,” said Mark C. Hanson, CEO of the San Francisco Symphony. “As one of the most sought-after conductors, composers, and creative thinkers, he is focused on making classical music more accessible, expanding the collaborative model, and reimagining the role of an orchestra in its community. We have found in Esa-Pekka a partner with whom we can build on the trajectory of artistic growth established under Michael Tilson Thomas and Herbert Blomstedt before him. In Esa-Pekka, the SFS has also discovered someone who shares our passion for inclusion and innovation. Just as the SFS family and Bay Area community embrace teamwork and risk-taking, Esa-Pekka values a collaborative approach to artistic leadership and diversity, and never stops thinking about how to strengthen our impact, relevancy, and community relationships.”
NEW ARTISTIC LEADERSHIP MODEL