Fanfare For A New Century

San Francisco Symphony celebrated the centennial season with a magnificent opening night. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas’s program included Copland’s 1938 Billy the Kid Ballet Suite, Lang Lang on the piano for Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, Itzhak Perlman’s performance of his famed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Opus 64, Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra Opus 34 and a surprise encore of Short Ride on a Fast Machine, with a special projection of San Francisco landmarks in fast track movement on the giant screens above the stage. The concert was electrifying keeping many symphony patrons on the edge of their seats. MTT, as the conductor is lovingly called in San Francisco, had to interrupt standing ovations in address the crowd.

This year, opening night was sold out many months prior to the event and there was even an extensive waiting list. Gala Chairmen Nancy Hellman Bechtle and Charlotte Mailliard Shultz were beaming from ear to ear greeting the guests and seeing firsthand the result of their hard work. I captured a photo of Charlotte excitedly waving her hands in the air with the music at after-party as she and husband George Shultz admired the festive guests.

The magical evening began with a gala reception at the War Memorial Opera House, followed by a fabulous dinner at City Hall Rotunda and Patron Tent prior to the concert at Louis Davies Symphony Hall. After the concert was the After-Party at the tent and Grove Street, featuring the band Notorious. A street restaurant was created with pizza ovens, BBQ grills, tables and heating lamps. Guests were glad the cool San Francisco weather was cooperating; it was in fact warm enough for the ladies in their gowns and Manolo sandals to party on the street at midnight. Even after Notorious’ last song at 12:30 a.m., hundreds of guests still lingered around the dance floor.

Since the inaugural concert in 1911, San Francisco Symphony has been a force in education to bring music to schools. The proceeds of the opening night benefit the education and community programs to more than 75,000  Bay Area schoolchildren every year, and also fund the programs such as Concerts for Kids and the internationally-acclaimed San Francisco Youth Orchestra and for Adventures in Music.

The Centennial Celebration Honorable Chairmen Ann and Gordon Getty are legendary for their passion and generosity in support of arts and music. We thank Ann and Gordon and the sponsors Wells Fargo Bank, SYBASE, Koret Foundation, Tiffany & Co. Triple Point Capital and Visa, for bringing us the world-class music and this magical evening. To enjoy the 100th Season concerts, please visit for program and ticket details.

Gala Supper at the City Hall Rotunda

Ceicelie Hanson and Maria Smith dressed in Turn of Century attire to celebrate the Centennial

Davies Symphony Hall during the encore “Short ride on a fast machine”

Opening Night Gala Chairman Charlotte Shultz with husband George at After-Party

Olivia with Lydia Graham Freed at After-Party

Bestselling Author Amy Tan and husband Lou

Elisabeth Thieriot in a dramatic Azadeh lilac-silver gown

Backstage at Symphony Hall with Lang Lang in 2010

Pizza ovens and grills were set up on the street in front of the symphony hall

Violinist Itzhak Perlman played Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

The dancers and singers of Notorious band performed at After-Party

Olivia Hsu Decker, Mike Freed, John Pollak and Cindy Shelton at After-Party