Akiko Fujimoto (photo by Liz Garza)

Trio of Conductors Make SF Symphony Debut Next Year

Three conductors will make their San Francisco Symphony orchestral series debuts February 17–19, 2022, on a program honoring late Oakland Symphony Music Director Michael Morgan.

Morgan, who passed away in August 2021, was a passionate advocate for conductors on the rise in their careers as well as artists of color. Continuing his legacy, the program, which Morgan planned and was scheduled to conduct, will be shared by three conductors in their orchestral series debuts: the San Francisco Symphony’s new Resident Conductor of Engagement and Education Daniel Bartholomew- Poyser, and conductors Akiko Fujimoto and Earl Lee.

The eclectic program that Morgan conceived, featuring five San Francisco Symphony premieres,will remain the same. Lee will conduct Carlos Simon’s Amen! and César Franck’s Le Chasseur maudit, Fujimoto will lead the Orchestra in Florence Price’s Symphony No. 3, and Bartholomew-Poyser will conduct Johannes Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody featuring mezzo-soprano Melody Wilson, also in her SF

Morgan’s ties to the San Francisco Symphony stretched back to 1994, when he first led several of the Orchestra’s Concerts for Kids performances. More recently, in summer 2020, he collaborated with the SF Symphony as curator and host for the CURRENTS video series exploring varied musical cultures in the Bay Area. In July 2021, he led the orchestra in works by Gioachino Rossini, Louise Farrenc, and James P. Johnson in performances at Davies Symphony Hall and Frost Amphitheater. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Joshua Kosman said of his performance, “Some conductors use a guest appearance with a major orchestra as an opportunity to show what they can do. Michael Morgan uses it to show what the orchestra can do. I like his way better.”

“Michael Morgan was deeply inspiring to me,” Interim Chief Executive Officer Matthew Spivey said at the time of Morgan’s death in August 2021. “His approach to music was one of crossing barriers, forging bonds, and bringing people together. His programming was known for eclectic twists and turns that defy reason on paper but lift hearts in the concert hall. Michael understood the extraordinary range of beauty, expression, and creativity that exists all around us if we are willing to open our minds, ears, and hearts.”