San Francisco Symphony Names Esa-Pekka Salonen Its New Director

Esa-Pekka Salonen
Esa-Pekka Salonen

Photo Credit: San Francisco Symphony

Big changes are afoot at the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). Longtime music director Michael Tilson Thomas is leaving the orchestra, and today his official replacement was announced. Starting in September 2020, Esa-Pekka Salonen will become the 12th music director in SFS’s 107-year old history. From now until July 2020, Salonen will serve as music director designate and will lead several performances starting with a program January 18-20, 2019.

San Francisco Symphony performs at the 2018 opening gala
San Francisco Symphony performs at the 2018 opening gala

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Currently, Salonen is the principal conductor and artistic advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, a position he will leave when he comes to San Francisco. Known for his innovative style, Salonen served as an advisor for Apple’s The Orchestra iPad app, a much-hyped program that gives the user access to the internal workings of eight symphonic works. SFS is excited to welcome Salonen and his forward-thinking ideas to the Bay Area’s arts scene.

Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas

Photo Credit: Kristin Loken

“As an Orchestra and as a community, we are about pushing the boundaries, about coloring outside the lines,” Sakurako Fisher, the president of SFS and co-chair of the music director search committee said in a statement. “The visionary energy and collaborative thinking that Esa-Pekka brings will extend the incredible artistic and pioneering legacy that Michael Tilson Thomas and our musicians have already built. Esa-Pekka’s curiosity, his creativity, and his willingness to ask ‘what’s next’ will guarantee an exciting journey and future for the SFS.”

Davies Symphony Hall
Davies Symphony Hall

Photo Credit: San Francisco Symphony

When Tilson Thomas ends his 25-year tenure with SFS, Salonen will begin his five-year contract. In the meantime, Salonen will conduct two yet-to-be-named weeks of the 2019-20 season. Of his thrilling new job Salonen said, “From the very first approach, the San Francisco Symphony leaders and musicians and I were buzzing with possibilities,” said Esa-Pekka Salonen. “The ‘what-ifs’ of the orchestra world were suddenly on the table in a real way. Here is a top symphony orchestra in the place in America where things start; where the ways things have always been done are interrogated, and where problems are first identified and then solved. In San Francisco itself and the San Francisco Symphony, I see both the big ideas being thought and the actual work being done, and that, to me, is irresistible.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Loader