Salonen to lead SF Symphony; Bryce Dessner to have role

Esa-Pekka Salonen has been named as the next music director of the San Francisco Symphony, succeeding Michael Tilson Thomas. And in what seems to be a trend, the orchestra will take on the new approach of having an artistic leadership team with a group of eight collaborative members, who will “reimagine” the role of the orchestra.

Aaron and Bryce Dessner performed Bryce Dessner’s “St. Carolyn by the Sea” with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy of CSO

One of those is Cincinnati native Bryce Dessner, of the band The National. Of course, most of us know that he is also an excellent classical composer and curator, whose music has been premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony.

The Finnish conductor Salonen will serve as Music Director Designate for the next year and half, and will become the 12th Music Director in the illustrious 107-year history of the San Francisco Symphony.

His tenure as Music Director will begin in September 2020 following the conclusion of Thomas’ remarkable 25-year tenure.

In a statement, the orchestra says that “Esa-Pekka values a collaborative approach to artistic leadership and music making. Together, the SFS and Esa-Pekka Salonen will reimagine the role of a symphony orchestra in our community and in today’s world.”

The new partners come from a variety of cultural disciplines. They are pianist, film producer, and composer of award-winning film scores Nicholas Britell; soprano and curator Julia Bullock, who has made social consciousness and activism fundamental to her work; flutist, educator, and advocate for new and experimental music Claire Chase; composer, new music curator, and member of The National Bryce Dessner; violinist, musical director, and artistic trailblazer Pekka Kuusisto; composer and genre-breaking collaborator Nico Muhly; artificial intelligence entrepreneur and roboticist Carol Reiley; and jazz bassist, vocalist, and undefinable artist Esperanza Spalding.

Salonen will lead the orchestra in concerts on January, 18, 19, and 20, 2019.

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