SF Symphony in 2024-25 and news about Esa-Pekka Salonen

Esa-Pekka Salonen and San Francisco Symphony to part ways after one final season

Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen © Drew Altizer

Esa-Pekka Salonen surprised almost everyone in 2018 by signing a five-year contract to be San Francisco Symphony’s music director after he had told the world that he did not want to have that role again. His tenure began in 2020 – unfortunately coinciding with the onset of COVID-19 – and now there will not be another term. He will leave the post when his five-year contract ends in June 2025. The organization has just over a year to decide who might be next to lead the orchestra.

Salonen’s written statement said disagreements with the board of directors on programming and innovative projects led to his decision not to sign up for another term as music director. He noted his respect for the musicians and expressed excitement about performing in twelve subscription weeks in his last full season.

The announcement came on 14 March when the orchestra announced its 2024-25 season. The Symphony put the happiest face it could on an unfortunate situation, headlining the press release by promoting his final performances of Mahler’s Symphony No.2, scheduled for mid-June, as ‘the culmination’ of his tenure. And it certainly should be, with Sasha Cooke as the solo voice and emotions running high.

As it happens, the season beginning in September boasts an A-list of classical stars, both performers and composers. The lineup includes five world premieres of San Francisco Symphony commissions by John Adams, Nico Muhly, Xavier Muzik, Gabriella Smith and Anna Thorvaldsdottir. A number of new and old works will also be making debuts, as will an impressive list of up-and-coming artists.

(For the full press release click here.)

Harvey Steiman

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