Performance Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 8:30 PM

American Mavericks
with Members of the San Francisco Symphony

Zankel Hall
Music by two West Coast composers with a penchant for melding seemingly disparate sounds frames this American Mavericks event, starting with a piece for electronica and chorus by Oakland-based Mason Bates. Organist Paul Jacobs joins an unorthodox ensemble that includes plumbers’ pipes and oxygen-tank bells in Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra.


  • Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor and Host
  • Donato Cabrera, Conductor
  • Kiera Duffy, Soprano
  • Paul Jacobs, Organ
  • Mason Bates, Electronica
  • Newband
    Dean Drummond and Stefani Starin, Directors
  • Young People's Chorus of New York City
    Francisco J. Núñez, Artistic Director
  • Members of the San Francisco Symphony


  • PARTCH Daphne of the Dunes
  • MASON BATES Mass Transmission (NY Premiere)
  • DEL TREDICI Syzygy
  • HARRISON Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra


  • Michael Tilson Thomas

    Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony since 1995, is a Los Angeles native. He studied at the University of Southern California, became music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at 19, and worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland at the famed Monday Evening Concerts. In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ten days later, he came to international recognition, replacing music director William Steinberg in mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO's associate conductor, then principal guest conductor. He has also served as director of the Ojai Festival, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, a principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and principal conductor of the Great Woods Festival. He became principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988 and now serves as principal guest conductor. He continues as artistic director of the New World Symphony, which he founded in 1988. Mr. Tilson Thomas's recordings have won numerous international awards, and his recorded repertory reflects interests arising from work as conductor, composer, and pianist. His television credits include the New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts, and in 2004 he and the SFS launched Keeping Score on PBS. Among his many honors, he is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2010, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

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  • Donato Cabrera is the resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and is also the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the SFS Youth Orchestra. In 2002, he was a Herbert von Karajan conducting fellow at the Salzburg Festival. From 2005 to 2008, he was associate conductor of the San Francisco Opera. He has assisted in productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and has served as an assistant conductor at the Ravinia, Spoleto (Italy), and Aspen Music festivals, and the Music Academy of the West. His South American debut came in 2008, when he led Madama Butterfly with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Concepción in Chile, where he returns yearly to conduct symphonic and operatic repertory. This season is his first as music director of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, he was one of eight participants in the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview. Mr. Cabrera holds a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Nevada, Reno; a master's degree in conducting from the University of Illinois; and has pursued graduate studies in conducting at Indiana University and the Manhattan School of Music.
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  • Kiera Duffy holds bachelor's and master's degrees in voice performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. She has received awards and recognition from The Philadelphia Orchestra Greenfield Competition, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and the Young Concert Artists International Competition. Ms. Duffy was a finalist in the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is featured in the film The Audition, which has recently been released on DVD by Decca. Ms. Duffy's 2011-2012 season includes her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire and the National Symphony Orchestra in Handel's Messiah, as well as a return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Mahler's Symphony No. 8 for performances in Los Angeles and on tour in Caracas. Next season, Ms. Duffy debuts at the Metropolitan Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and returns to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony. She also debuts with the MDR Symphony Orchestra for a recording with Sony and with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Accompanied by pianist Roger Vignoles, Ms. Duffy can be heard in her first commercial recording, an installment in the series of Richard Strauss's complete songs, released on Hyperion Records last year.
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  • Paul Jacobs began studying piano at age six and organ at 13. He studied organ and harpsichord at the Curtis Institute and received a master's degree and artist diploma from Yale. Winner of the 1998 Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition, he was the first organist to be honored with the Harvard Musical Association's Arthur W. Foote Award. In 2000, at age 23, Mr. Jacobs gave a nonstop, 18-hour recital in Pittsburgh, playing all of J. S. Bach's organ music to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the composer's death. He has also performed the complete organ works of Messiaen in a series of marathons across the country. Mr. Jacobs has chaired the organ department at The Juilliard School since 2004. He toured with the San Francisco Symphony in 2010, performing Copland's Organ Symphony; his recording of that work withMichael Tilson Thomas and the orchestra was released last year on SFS Media. This season, Mr. Jacobs returns to the Pacific Symphony, where he performs the world premiere of a new work by Michael Daughtery. Mr. Jacobs has appeared on American Public Media's Pipedreams and Saint Paul Sunday, on Bavarian Radio, Brazilian Arts Television, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR's Morning Edition,and CBC Radio. New York magazine named him Best Organist of 2007. His 2010 recording of Messiaen's Livre du Saint Sacrement (Naxos) was awarded a Grammy in the Best Solo Instrumental category-the first time a disc of solo organ music received this honor.
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  • Newband was founded in 1977 by composer Dean Drummond and flutist Stefani Starin, who continue as artistic directors. With Drummond's invention of the 31-tone zoomoozophone in 1978, Newband began to explore music that uses microtonality and alternative tuning systems in a repertory influenced by classical, jazz, and world music. In 1990, Newband received custodianship of the original Harry Partch Instrument Collection. Newband productions have included Partch's Delusion of the Fury and Oedipus and The Wayward, and Dean Drummond's The Last Laugh and Café Buffé. Newband has performed throughout North America and Europe, including concerts at Avery Fisher Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Library of Congress, Barbican Centre, Kennedy Center, Wexner Center for the Arts, Walker Arts Center, Festival de Lille, and the Bang on a Can Festival. The ensemble has premiered numerous works by such composers as Harry Partch, Dean Drummond, John Cage, John Zorn, and Julia Wolfe, and has recorded on the Innova, Mode, Music and Arts, Point, Aurora, and Wergo labels.
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  • Young People's Chorus of New York City
    Francisco J. Núñez, Founder and Artistic Director


    For more than two decades, the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) has provided children of all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds with a unique program of music education and choral performance, while advancing a model of artistic excellence and humanity that enriches the community. Founded in 1988 by artistic director and 2011 MacArthur Fellow Francisco J. Núñez, YPC has become one of the most celebrated and influential youth choruses in the world, as well as a model adopted by other US cities and underdeveloped countries.

    More than 1,200 children from ages seven to 18 in six divisions participate annually through YPC's core after-school program, its Satellite Chorus Program in New York City public schools, and its affiliates in Erie, Pennsylvania; Tenafly, New Jersey; and the Dominican Republic. YPC performs on four continents, releases acclaimed recordings from across the musical spectrum, and collaborates with many of the most highly regarded composers, performers, and cultural organizations of our time. Since 2001, through its Transient Glory and Radio Radiance commissioning programs, YPC has expanded and invigorated the repertoire of choral music for young voices with more than 60 works by today's most distinguished composers. These contemporary music masterpieces are being published by Boosey & Hawkes, in association with Chester Novello and G. Schirmer, so that other choruses worldwide can sing them as well.

    YPC was invited as the first American chorus to take part in the Adolf Fredrik Choral Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, next month. Additionally, in 2012 YPC has been invited to represent the North American continent at the World Choral Summit in Beijing, China, and as one of only two youth choirs worldwide to participate in the biennial Polyfollia world choral music showcase in Normandy, France.

    YPC holds almost a dozen gold medals from international choral competitions, and was recently presented with the nation's highest honor for youth programs, a 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama. Among its other awards are a Chorus America's Education Outreach Award and two Chorus America/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming.

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David Del Tredici Syzygy
ASKO Ensemble; Oliver Knussen, Conductor; Jan Harshagen, French Horn; Peppie Wiersma, Tubular Bells; Wim Vos, Tubular Bells; Lucy Shelton, Soprano  
Deutsche Grammophon

At a Glance

HARRY PARTCH  Daphne of the Dunes

A theorist and inventor as well as a composer, Harry Partch questioned the tuning system of Western music, exploring non-traditional tunings and temperaments, and eventually formulating a 43-tone scale. Daphne of the Dunes was originally composed as soundtrack music for a film entitled Windsong, based on the myth of Daphne and Apollo; in 1967, Partch rewrote the work for live performance.

MASON BATES  Mass Transmission

Mason Bates is currently a guest composer in the San Francisco Symphony’s Project San Francisco initiative and composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; his alter-ego, DJ Masonic, spins and mixes at clubs. Composed in 2011, Mass Transmission exhibits what has become Bates’s stylistic signature: the blend of acoustic instrumentalists and/or singers with electronic sounds.

LOU HARRISON  Concerto for Organ and Percussion

Witness to most of the major developments of 20th-century American music, Lou Harrison was also fascinated with Asian music and incorporated the sound of the Javanese gamelan into his works, bridging the gap between East and West. His Concerto for Organ and Percussion was a result of separate requests by musician colleagues for concertos for both organ and percussion. Harrison bridges the “fixed, sustained tones of the organ and the unfixed and more ephemeral tones of different groups of percussion [using] pianos, vibraphones, celesta, and other fixed-pitch percussion instruments … these groups join together, separate, and combine with the organ” in various ways.


David Del Tredici’s early works evinced a strong interest in 12-tone and serial techniques as well as a fascination with texts by James Joyce. Syzygy, from 1966, reflects a degree of this structural influence.

Program Notes
Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with the San Francisco Symphony.
The National Endowment for the Arts is the lead donor of American Mavericks at Carnegie Hall.

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