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Symphony's Berlioz Recording Marks SFS Label Anniversary

June 26, 2017

San Francisco Symphony's season-closing concerts of Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet, Wednesday through Saturday, will be recorded for future release on SFS Media, the orchestra's label celebrating its 15th anniversary.

When the orchestra produced its first recording on the SFS label, at the initiative of Executive Director Brent Assink, the initial disc in its Mahler cycle, Symphony No. 6, won the Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance the next year. The next recording in the Mahler cycle, Symphony No. 3 and Kindertotenlieder (with Michelle DeYoung), was another Grammy award winner, garnering Best Classical Album of 2004.

SFS Media recordings reflect a broad range of programming, showcasing music by American composers as well as core classical masterworks. In addition to live concert recordings, SFS Media has produced and released documentary and live performance videos, including the multimedia project “Keeping Score.”

The lecture-demonstration-travelogue-performance "Keeping Score" discs included Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 (2004), Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (2006), Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (2006), “Copland and the American Sound” (2006), Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (2009), Ives’ Holidays Symphony (2009), Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (2009), and “Mahler: Origins and Legacy” (2011).

With MTT’s Maverick concerts just last weekend, the SFS Media “American Mavericks” CDs are of special interest, with Ives/Brant, A Concord Symphony; Copland, Organ Symphony; John Adams, Harmonielehre, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Grand Pianola Music and Absolute Jest; Mason Bates, Works for Orchestra; and Bernstein, West Side Story.

Before SFS Media, the Symphony long recorded with big commercial companies, and through many years, Robert N. Ward, the orchestra's principal horn, has participated in and supported recordings:

There have been countless times that I have gotten letters or emails that relate how much a particular SFS recording has meant. Students, inspired to follow a career in music by a Mahler CD. Patrons, energized by a John Adams recording to attend a live concert. Auditioners, who grew up with our CDs and now want to be a member of this great orchestra.

Recordings are the way we reach out beyond our city to show that we have a meaningful message that transcends the physical confines of Davies Hall. They are simultaneously a legacy of our great partnership with MTT, and a foundation upon which we continue to build our living, evolving musical tradition.

For the Berlioz Romeo and Juliet, MTT is conducting Sasha Cooke, Luca Pisaroni, Nicholas Phan, and the SFS Chorus. SFS Media producers will oversee recording all four performances live and then create the finished product to be published. 

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at janosg@gmail.com.

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