SF Symphony’s New SoundBox is the Hautest Ticket in Town

Audience entering SoundBox at 300 Franklin Street Credit: Stefan Cohen

For two nights every month, the hautest spot in San Francisco is neither in SoMa nor the Mission. Instead, it’s inside Davies Symphony Hall. That’s right, twice a month the venue where the prestigious San Francisco Symphony performs turns its backstage into a nightclub-like setting complete with eclectic music, handcrafted cocktails, gourmet snacks and banquettes. It’s called SoundBox and, since its recent debut, has become the place to be for music lovers.

Soundbox is the SF Symphony’s new experimental concert venue in Zellerbach A Rehearsal Hall and a late-night live music series that welcomes culturally-adventurous listeners to evenings of eclectic musical exploration and discovery—all in a cool setting. SoundBox accommodates approximately 500 people, some seated and some standing. The venue offers an alternative to that of the traditional concert hall experience. The space is designed for general admission seating with banquettes, ottomans, barstools, café tables and high top cocktail tables. The doors open at 8 p.m. for each event, with the music beginning at 9 p.m.

The Feb. 13-14 concerts are already sold out. Tickets—all SoundBox shows are $25—for the next SoundBox shows go on sale the Monday after that month’s SoundBox concerts. Therefore, tickets for March 6-7 go on sale Feb. 16 and tickets for April 9-10 go on sale March 9.

This series was launched in a sold-out event on Dec. 13 when the San Francisco Symphony’s famed music director Michael Tilson Thomas offered a program ranging from medieval chant to Meredith Monk. This first season for SoundBox is everything the maestro dreamed it would be.

“SoundBox is a new and experimental space for all kinds of music,” MTT explains. “Part of the experience of being in this space will be to hear music of many different musical eras, from the earliest Gregorian chants, going back to the ninth century, to the most recent music, which is being written as we speak! The concerts will be programmed by different musicians of different generations and very different priorities. To have a space in which the audience and musicians can explore this huge swath of music together is something I’ve always dreamed of, and now we have it.”

The remaining SoundBox concerts in February, March, and April include a range of repertoire from traditional classical works, to avant-garde pieces and world premieres, and everything in between. The February concerts are led by the SFS’s percussion section. Headed by SFS Principal Percussion Jacob Nissly, the musicians are joined by acclaimed percussionist, educator, author and Artistic Director of the 2015 Ojai Festival, Steven Schick, and percussion ensemble Rootstock. These shows take the audience through an array of instruments and sounds with works by Steve Reich, John Cage, Osvaldo Golijov, Lei Liang, Wenjing Guo and Mark Applebaum. And before the night is over, the audience will be invited to participate in the music-making as well.

Composer Nathaniel Stookey and conductor Edwin Outwater program the shows on March 6-7, which feature works by composer/visual artist Nicole Lizée and kinetic sculptures by Oliver DiCicco. The evening closes with a DJ set by Lizée after the performance. And to close SoundBox’s first season, composer Samuel Adams leads the April 9-10 concerts, with works that showcase the next generation of composers..


Photos: Stefan Cohen