Esa-Pekka Salonen photo by Andrew Eccles

SF Symphony Returns to Davies With Live Performances in May

The San Francisco Symphony has announced a return to live concerts at Davies Symphony Hall starting May 6, 2021, with performances each Thursday and Friday throughout May and June, 2021.

Three pairs of concerts will be conducted by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, with five additional concert sets led by Jeremy Denk, James Gaffigan, Ken-David Masur, Joseph Young, and Joshua Weilerstein. All tickets for May 6 and 7, and a portion of tickets for the remaining performances, will be reserved for Bay Area hospital and medical professionals, and representatives from community centers and cultural districts who have been at the front lines supporting the people of our city in critical ways throughout the pandemic. Members of the general public can purchase tickets for concerts on May 13–June 25 by calling the SF Symphony Box Office at 415-864-6000 starting May 6, 2021 at 10am.

“Esa-Pekka and I are overjoyed to be announcing the San Francisco Symphony’s long-awaited return to performing live concerts in our home, Davies Symphony Hall,” said CEO Mark C. Hanson. “When we recently learned from State and City leadership that we could finally begin giving concerts for live audiences again, we immediately got to work on the plan being announced today that will gather our musicians and audience together in response to what our community wants and needs! I want to thank every member of the San Francisco Symphony family—from our Orchestra colleagues and COVID Health & Safety task force, to our incredibly supportive Board leadership and our production and administrative staff—for working creatively together to make these concerts happen so quickly. There is nothing that compares to experiencing music together in a physical space, and after 14 months without sharing these

human connections with each other, we simply cannot wait to resume performing for our community on the stage of Davies Symphony Hall.”

Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen said, “A friend recently said to me, ‘We just need to start.’ I feel joy and relief at finally being able to do just that with the San Francisco Symphony. We go into these concerts having worked as a unit to bring music into your homes in unique and meaningful ways this year. We now welcome audiences into our home—something we didn’t realize we had taken for granted. Let’s get started, together.”

Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Orchestra’s first live performances in more than a year on May 6 and 7 for an invited audience including Bay Area first responders and representatives from community and cultural groups. The concert program features Jean Sibelius’ Rakastava, George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, Carl Nielsen’s Little Suite for Strings, Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte, and Edvard Grieg’s From Holberg’s Time Suite. The following week, on May 13 and 14, pianist Jeremy Denk plays, and leads the SF Symphony from piano, William Grant Still’s Out of the Silence, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052, Wolfgang Amadè Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat major, K.449, and Gerald Finzi’s Eclogue for Piano and Strings. On May 20 and 21, James Gaffigan conducts the Orchestra in the U.S. premiere of Freya Waley-Cohen’s Talisman, Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

Tickets go on sale May 6, 2021 for concerts on May 13 & 14 (Jeremy Denk, piano and conductor), May 20 & 21 (James Gaffigan, conductor), May 27 & 28 (Ken-David Masur, conductor), June 3 & 4 (Joseph Young, conductor), June 10 & 11 (Joshua Weilerstein, conductor), June 17 & 18 (Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor), and June 24 & 25 (Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor). All concerts will be approximately 75 minutes in length and will be performed without intermission. Instrumentation and orchestra size will be planned in accordance with City guidelines and will vary. In order to maximize the ability to respond to changing conditions, programming for the May 27 & 28 and June 3 & 4 concerts will be announced on May 10, and programming for the remainder of the June concerts will be announced on May 24. San Francisco Symphony’s performance schedule for July and August 2021 will be announced in June.

The San Francisco Symphony’s live concert reopening plan was developed in accordance with regulations set by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the City and County of San Francisco, and the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center. These San Francisco Symphony performances will require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for all patrons, musicians, staff, and volunteers as well as universal mask wearing. There will be significantly reduced concert hall capacity, contactless tickets, assigned seats that maximize physical distancing, 75-minute performances without intermission, increased ventilation and filtration standards, social distancing requirements, and other safety measures in place.

Please visit to read the San Francisco Symphony’s Health and Safety FAQ.