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January Boasts a Conductor Bonanza in Davies Symphony Hall

January 15, 2019

If only Michael Tilson Thomas led a San Francisco Symphony concert this month, we’d have a trifecta of music directors: past, present, and future. (MTT will return soon enough, on Feb. 7.)

As it is, concerts this month feature Conductor Laureate (and former music director) Herbert Blomstedt with Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and Music-Director Designate Esa-Pekka Salonen with Sibelius, Richard Strauss, and Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s METACOSMOS.

The parade of conductors also includes last week’s concerts with Jaap van Zweden of the New York Philharmonic with Mozart and Bruckner, and the upcoming concerts led by SFS Resident Conductor Christian Reif.

The month’s riches also include recitals by Itzhak Perlman and Leonidas Kavakos; unfortunately, the scheduled Jan. 22 recital by Leif Ove Andsnes has just been canceled — along with all the pianist’s U.S. tour dates — after he injured his arm.

With the appointment of Salonen still a fresh sensation, it’s good to consider highlights of his career published for his upcoming first concerts as music director designate in Davies Hall:

Composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s restless innovation drives him constantly to reposition classical music in the 21st century. He is music director designate of the San Francisco Symphony, principal conductor and artistic advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra [through the 2020–21 season], and conductor laureate for both the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

He is the artist-in-association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, where he will conduct his first full Ring cycle in future seasons, and Pelléas et Mélisande this season. Salonen co-founded the annual Baltic Sea Festival, serving as artistic director from 2003 to 2018.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].