San Francisco Symphony Announces Holiday Season Concerts


Holiday concerts with Burt BacharachOzomatli,  Preservation Hall Jazz BandChris BottiDianne Reeves, and the annual Colors of Christmas shows with Peabo BrysonCeCe WinansMelissa Manchester, and Ruben Studdard of American Idol fame are among the highlights of the December 2013 schedule at Davies Symphony Hall, presented by the San Francisco Symphony.

The Symphony’s holiday concerts include several programs particularly well suited for children and families to attend together, with several offering half-price tickets for children 17 and under. San Francisco Symphony musicians and special guests perform two Deck the Hall family concerts of holiday music December 8, followed by entertainment, refreshments, and arts and crafts for children. On December 14, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform its popular Peter and the Wolf afternoon concerts, with actor John Lithgow as narrator. On December 20-21 the SFS introduces All is Bright, a new Christmas matinee for all ages. ‘Twas the Night on December 22- 24 offers Christmas Carols and sing-alongs with members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and brass section.

The iconic 1952 American musical comedy Singin’ in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, will be screened December 6-7, with live accompaniment by the San Francisco Symphony.  Ragnar Bohlin leads soprano Katie Van Kooten, contralto Claudia Huckle, tenor Sean Panikkar, bass-baritone Joshua Hopkins, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and Orchestra in three performances of Handel’s Messiah on December 19- 21. Mariachi Sol de México de Jóse Hernàndez brings Mexican and traditional Christmas favorites to Davies Symphony Hall December 8. The lobby of Davies Symphony Hall will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Towering trees will each be decorated with handmade ornaments, made by kids from local schools and volunteers from community groups. The annual New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball rings in 2014 on December 31.

Tickets are on sale now for all holiday concerts presented by the San Francisco Symphony at, by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall box office on Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue.

Chris Botti



Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5 at 7:30 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

Grammy® award-winning trumpet player Chris Botti joins the San Francisco Symphony for two special evenings of timeless jazz classics, conducted by Steven Reineke. Botti was persuaded to make a lifetime commitment to the trumpet when at 12 he heard Miles Davis play “My Funny Valentine.” After attending Indiana University and studying with David Baker, trumpet teacher Bill Adam, Woody Shaw and saxophonist George Coleman, he spent his early career crafting his skills in the Buddy Rich Big Band and playing with artists from Frank Sinatra to Natalie Cole and Joni Mitchell. Botti played extensively with Paul Simon and had an especially creative association with Sting. His his latest album, Impressions, a collection of romantic melodies from around the world, including “What A Wonderful World,” “Summertime” and “Over the Rainbow,” won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album.




Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7 at 7:30 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

The San Francisco Symphony presents the legendary Hollywood musical Singin’ in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. In addition to the beloved “Singin’ in the Rain,” iconic songs such as “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Gotta Dance,” and “You Were Meant for Me” are sprinkled throughout this classic, making it the American Film Institute’s number one movie musical to ever grace the silver screen. The Symphony accompanies the film live and brings the classic score to life in performances conducted by Sarah Hicks. Please note that these performances replace the originally scheduled White Christmas.

Photo by Rick Markovich

Photo by Rick Markovich


Sunday, December 8 at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

The San Francisco Symphony’s annual Deck the Hall event celebrates the holiday season with a magical stage show designed for children ages three to ten. Members of the cast of Beach Blanket BabylonChhandam Youth Dance Company, the San Francisco Ballet School Trainee Program, and San Francisco Boys Chorus perform with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer.  Inaugurated more than 30 years ago by the late Louise M. Davies, this holiday classic is a Symphony tradition. The post-show party in the lobbies includes a variety of entertainment, arts and craft activities for children, and refreshments.  Special VIP Packages are available with premium concert seating and a pre-concert reception with games, holiday crafts, and a special keepsake photo with Santa Claus for the kids. Some also include an invitation to attend the Symphony’s popular tree-lighting reception on December 4. Details can be found at

Deck the Hall proceeds support the Symphony’s Community Deck the Hall Day, a free holiday concert for under-served San Francisco children at Davies Symphony Hall. Net proceeds also benefit the San Francisco Symphony’s music education and community programs which serve more than 75,000 students in our Bay Area elementary, middle, and high schools each year.




Sunday, December 8 at 8:00 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

The 14-piece Grammy-nominated ensemble Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández returns to Davies Symphony Hall for a colorful celebration of Mexico’s Christmas traditions. Mariachi Sol de México has performed with artists including Selena, Juan Gabriel, José Feliciano, Luis Miguel, Vikki Carr, Rocio Durcal, Lucha Villa, Maria Conchita Alonso, Paloma San Basilio, Emilio Navaira, Lola Beltran, Vicente Fernandez, The Beach Boys, and Willie Nelson. The music of Mariachi Sol de México has been heard on the soundtracks of Sea BiscuitThe Old Gringo, American Me, Don Juan de Marco, Disney’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, A Million to Juan, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.They have recorded more than a dozen CDs, including the Latin Grammy-nominated La Música,Tequila con Limón and the 25th Anniversario José Hernández y Su Mariachi Sol de México, also nominated for a Grammy Award.

Please note that the San Francisco Symphony does not perform in this concert.




Wednesday, December 11 at 7:30 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

Dianne Reeves, one of the preeminent female jazz vocalists in the world, joins the San Francisco Symphony for a performance of standards and holiday songs led by Sarah Hicks. A four-time Grammy Award winner, Reeves has recorded and performed extensively with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis, who said of Reeves, “She has one of the most powerful, purposeful and accurate voices of this or any time.” The first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Reeves recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim, and was a featured soloist with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Reeves appeared throughout George Clooney’s award-winning film Good Night and Good Luck and performed every song on the Grammy-winning soundtrack. Reeves’ Concord Records debut, Beautiful Life – a blend of R&B, Latin, and pop within the framework of 21st-century jazz – is set for release in February 2014.




Thursday, December 12 at 7:30 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

Hailing from Los Angeles, the Grammy Award-winning, cross-cultural party band Ozomatli fuses music from around the world in an urban-Latino-and-beyond collision of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga. Not only musicians, these global activists have gone from hometown heroes to being named U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors and recipients of the National Council of LA Raza’s Humanitarian Award. The group’s orchestral collaborators include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, and the New York Pops. San Francisco Symphony Resident Conductor Donato Cabrera conducts.




Friday, December 13 at 8:00 pm and Saturday, December 14 at 8:30 pm

at Davies Symphony Hall

One of the most accomplished popular composers of the 20th century, Burt Bacharach performs two concerts of his greatest hits and pop standards with his band and the San Francisco Symphony, plus additional vocalists to be announced. Combining elements of jazz, pop, Brazilian music and rock, Bacharach created a unique new sound that was as contemporary as it was popular. His unrivaled list of hits includes “What the World Needs Now is Love,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “(They Long to Be) Close to You.” Bacharach was a 2012 recipient of the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. In May of this year he published his memoir, Anyone Who Had a Heart, offering a frank and riveting account of his unparalleled life. He simultaneously released a two-disc recording of the same name featuring his best known songs. Bacharach will conduct this concert from the piano.




Saturday, December 14 at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) performs Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with special guest narrator actor John Lithgow in his San Francisco Symphony debut. Well-known for his work as a Tony, Emmy, and Academy Award-nominated stage and film actor, Lithgow has performed children’s concerts with the Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, San Diego and Pittsburgh Symphonies. His acting credits include roles in the movies The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment,plus the role of the alien High Commander on TV’s 3rd Rock from the Sun. He recorded a1999 album of children’s music, Singin’ in the Bathtub, and has written poetry and short stories for children. In this concert the Youth Orchestra will also perform a work Lithgow wrote with Bill Elliott entitled The Bandshell Right Next to the Zoo as well as festive holiday songs for the whole family to sing along to. SFSYO Music Director and conductor Donato Cabrera conducts. 



Sunday, December 15 at 8:00 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB) returns to Davies Symphony Hall for a spirited evening of traditional New Orleans jazz. The band, which made its San Francisco Symphony debut in a 2009 holiday concert, derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The band has traveled worldwide spreading their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans Jazz. Whether performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British royalty or the King of Thailand, this music embodies a joyful, timeless spirit. Under the auspices of current director, Ben Jaffe, the son of founders Allan and Sandra, Preservation Hall continues. In July of this year Preservation Hall Jazz Band released their current recording, That’s It!, comprised of all-original music produced by Jaffe along with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. That’s It! offers a collection of brand-new songs in the swinging blues and gospel-oriented traditions of New Orleans jazz as well as new songs co-written by several pop artists, including composer and singer-songwriter Paul Williams and Semisonic’s Dan Wilson.

Please note that the San Francisco Symphony does not perform in this concert.

Colors of Christmas


Peabo Bryson, CeCe Winans, Melissa Manchester, Ruben Studdard

with the San Francisco Symphony and the First A.M.E. Oakland Mass Choir

Monday, December 16, Tuesday, December 17, and Wednesday, December 18 at 8:00 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

Peabo BrysonCeCe WinansMelissa Manchester, and Ruben Studdard celebrate the holidays at the annual Colors of Christmas concerts with the San Francisco Symphony and the First A.M.E. Oakland Mass Choir, performing traditional Christmas favorites and their individual hits. Bryson’s soft-rock/R&B hits include the Top 10 hit “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again,” the Grammy Award-winning “Beauty and the Beast” (with Celine Dion), and “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)” with Regina Belle. Gospel star Winans has received multiple Grammy, Stellar, and Dove awards for her work as a solo artist and as part of the hit-making brother-and-sister duo, BeBe & CeCe Winans. Manchester had international hits with songs including “Through The Eyes Of Love” and “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” and she co-wrote “Whenever I Call You Friend” with Kenny Loggins. R&B, pop and gospel singer Studdard rose to fame as winner of the second season of “American Idol.”



With the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Symphony Chorus

Thursday, December 19, Friday, December 20, and Saturday, December 21

at 8:00 pm at Davies Symphony Hall

The Grammy Award-winning SF Symphony Chorus, conducted by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, is joined by the Orchestra and soloists soprano Katie Van Kooten, contralto Claudia Huckle, tenor Sean Panikkar, and baritone Joshua Hopkins in these performances of Handel’s glorious Messiah oratorio.



Friday, December 20 at 2:00 pm and Saturday, December 21 at 2:00 pm

at Davies Symphony Hall 

A new tradition kicks off this season with All is Bright, a Christmas matinee concert featuring the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer, the Pacific Boychoir, directed by Kevin Fox and soloists to be announced. The first half of the program will feature orchestral holiday favorites and sing-alongs with the Boychoir and soloists. The second half of the program includes the animated 26-minute film, The Snowman accompanied by the Orchestra. All concert-goers will receive a complimentary glowing concert favor from the Symphony. 


Vroman BW Headshot


Carols and sing-alongs with members of the SF Symphony Chorus and brass section

Sunday, December 22 at 4:00 pm and Monday, December 23 at 8:00 pm,

and Tuesday, December 24 at 11:00 am at Davies Symphony Hall

This special Christmas concert offers conductor and SF Symphony Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin leading soprano Lisa Vroman, pianist Joan Cifarelli, organist Robert Huw Morgan, members of the San Francisco Symphony, and members of the SFS Chorus in beloved Christmas carols and favorite childhood Christmas songs, plus audience sing-alongs.




Tuesday, December 31

Pre-concert entertainment begins at 8:00 pm

Orchestra concert begins at 9:00 pm

Ring in the New Year at the city’s most elegant celebration, the New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball with the San Francisco Symphony. The December 31 event stars the San Francisco Symphony, conductor Michael Francis, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and baritone Kelly Markgraf. Everyone attending the event receives a complimentary mask as they enter the beautifully decorated lobby. Beginning at 8 pm, The Martini Brothers entertain and perform their “swingin’ cocktail music” in the lobby. Starting at 9 pm, the San Francisco Symphony performs Viennese classics and songbook favorites on stage in Davies Symphony Hall. Following the Symphony concert, guests are invited to celebrate and dance on the Davies Hall stage to The Peter Mintun Orchestra. Immediately following the Symphony performance, guests enjoy complimentary sparkling wine, desserts, savories, and party favors. Hit Waves offers additional entertainment with songs from 1920-2013 in the First Tier lobby. As the clock strikes midnight, 2,014 colorful balloons cascade from the ceiling and the crowd welcomes in 2014.

A special pre-concert dinner package includes a cocktail reception beginning at 6 pm followed by a sumptuous three-course dinner (wine included) in the lobby of the War Memorial Opera House. The dinner package also includes sparkling wine served in the Loge Level lobby at intermission. Parking is included. To purchase the special pre-concert dinners for $160 per person call the San Francisco Symphony’s Patron Services department at (415) 864-6000.