Great Performances

S49 E9 | FULL EPISODE

Great Performances: San Francisco Symphony Reopening Night

Celebrate opening night of San Francisco Symphony’s 110th season as it welcomes its new GRAMMY-winning music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, featuring music by John Adams, esperanza spalding & Wayne Shorter and performances by Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

AIRED: November 19, 2021 | 1:22:25
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

♪♪♪

-Next on "Great Performances"...

celebrate with the San Francisco Symphony

as the orchestra reopens for their 110th season

and welcomes their music director,

Esa-Pekka Salonen, to the podium

for his inaugural San Francisco season before an audience.

-Most of my best ideas are born in conversation,

and I thought that if we had a group of people

who don't necessarily come from the very hardcore center

of the so-called classical music,

that would be an incredible energy boost

to the entire organization.

-Also featured is Grammy-winning singer, songwriter,

and jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding...

-♪ Gaia ♪

[ Singing indistinctly ]

-...along with dance

from choreographer Alonzo King's LINES Ballet.

Join us as the arts return to The City by the Bay

with the San Francisco Symphony Reopening Night.

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

Major funding for "Great Performances"

is provided by...

...and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you. Thank you.

[ Instruments tuning ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Indistinct conversations ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Intense orchestral music plays ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music stops ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

-If we think of the big bang theory,

there's sound and movement.

They are inextricably linked,

because music is vibration; vibration is movement.

And so they're joined.

Music is thought made audible.

Dance is thought made visible.

People who are moving to speak

and people who are playing music to speak,

it's a language, and that language is soul language.

It can be perceived by the intellect,

but its aim is to go directly to the heart.

-When we start a process,

Alonzo usually has an idea, a vision.

And he starts showing us a movement,

but then it's very much up to us

to embody that movement, to become that movement.

So it's not like I'm just performing steps

or I'm just copying something.

But I go so deep within to find out,

"What does even this little gesture mean to me?" --

like, "How can I make this real? How can I communicate?"

And so it's actually a lot of work

to figure out, "What am I saying

with each movement?"

-There are works that stay ever-present

because they're alive.

Ginastera "Estancia" is living.

I think that the thickness that's in "Estancia"

is like everything.

It is challenge and delight,

because a challenge is fun.

[ Chuckling ] You know?

You see the obstacle

and you say, "Oh, wow. How do I play with this?"

or, "How do I allow color to come in?

How can I make a statement within this statement?"

♪♪♪

-We have a director that's giving us

the gift of play and exploration.

You know, who could ask for more?

And this piece, it allows us

to have a more personal connection to the music,

I feel, giving us that kind of freedom

and giving us the ability to

add out spice to the gumbo, if you will.

♪♪♪

-Suddenly having so much freedom and making choices

and making it different every time,

it's a challenge, but once you get used to that,

it is so liberating.

-I think, when you are working with music,

the first thing you have to do is really listen.

If I'm thinking, when I'm listening choreographically,

"Oh, I'm going to do this," and I'm responding to sound,

in terms of activity,

that's not listening.

Listening is when you can let go of your plans,

when you can drop your outcomes and your expectations,

and you're just here.

-Every day, you wake up and you feel different

and you want to listen to that.

The orchestra might also play differently.

So really tuning up that listening,

and that's how the collaboration really works,

is that they give, we give, and then we are together.

-When do you listen, respond, and when do you speak?

So that it's a conversation.

You don't want to follow the bouncing ball,

because then you become a metronome.

But with that malambo,

it's hard [Chuckles] because it is so fiercely fast

and rhythmically insistent that you play with it,

but you still want to come in and out

and have a voice in the conversation.

That is the trial and that is the joy of the work.

♪♪♪

[ Applause ]

[ Indistinct conversations ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Intense orchestral music plays ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music stops ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Soft classical music plays ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music stops ]

[ Applause ]

[ Dramatic orchestral music plays ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

[ Music stops ]

[ Applause ]

[ Up-tempo orchestral music plays ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music stops ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause intensify ]

[ Indistinct conversations ]

-Wayne Shorter's music is the score

to the superhero living inside of you.

That's what he wants.

He wants you to feel your own superhero be scored

and know that it's the score to you.

It's the score to your superhero potential.

[ Mid-tempo music plays ]

-I don't believe Wayne Shorter ever wrote a bad tune.

[ Laughs ]

Yeah, I don't think Wayne ever wrote a bad tune.

If you look at the great, great figures in music,

we have these certain beacons, you know,

these -- these -- these incredible artists

who've given so much and achieved so much.

And Wayne Shorter is one of those beacons for us.

He's like a guiding light.

[ Mid-tempo jazz plays ]

♪♪♪

-This piece, "Gaia,"

it's an ecosystem, its an environment.

The closest comparison I can think of

is, like, swimming in the ocean --

the way that you feel buoyed by it,

the way that there's currents within it

that you can [Gasps] catch and be moved by,

and you can also feel the element itself

shifting in response to your movement.

[ Vocalizing ]

♪♪♪

-Esperanza is just a very interesting artist.

She's, like, one of the most complete musicians

I've ever come across.

Every time I meet her,

every time I hear her compositions

or her playing or her singing, I feel so happy

because the sheer talent and the energy she conveys

is -- is enormous.

-We're trying to do some magical stuff out here.

We're aspiring for the magical and the profound

in all of our humanness and messiness.

And, um, part of what is fun

about bringing a jazz ensemble into the orchestra

is, you know, what we deal in is the human.

We deal in the messy.

We deal in creating beauty

out of the unknown and uncontrolled.

You know?

And it's really fun to feel that energy

mushing and mashing and dancing with the symphony.

You know? I think it's really beautiful.

[ Soft music plays ]

♪♪♪

-I think that's always the beautiful part of Wayne

and his journey, just his fearlessness,

his courage, you know,

as a musical creator and visionary.

He's unbound.

-It's like we feel his spirit swarming around us,

you know, through the combined sound of everybody on the stage,

and it's just -- it's, like -- it's a dream.

It's literally like living in the best dream.

[ Chuckles ] But it's happening in real life.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Thank you so much.

I wanted to just say how excited

and grateful and nourished we are

by being here with you all.

And I speak on behalf of Ravi Coltrane,

Terri Lyne Carrington, and Leo Genovese.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Our mentor, our mystic, the great Wayne Shorter --

[ Crowd cheers ] Mm-hmm.

...wrote this piece

as an homage and a reminder

to this entity you might call Mother Earth,

our home, called "Gaia,"

as an invitation to travel with her

through the veins and hair and flesh and passageways,

and remember our infinite connection with Gaia.

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Mid-tempo orchestral music plays ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Vocalizing ]

♪♪♪ (vocalizing)

[singing indistinctly]

♪ Gaia shutters ♪

♪ Rocks on ♪

♪ Spinning cradles ♪

(vocalizing)

[singing indistinctly]

♪ Spinning life in circles ♪

(vocalizing)

♪ Patterns of fruited empires ♪

♪ And fall as entire ♪

♪ Worlds bare the reaping ♪

♪ Blooming, progress and withering ♪

♪ Knowledge of whose well who be man's keeping ♪

(vocalizing)

(vocalizing)

♪ Progress, peace yet ♪

♪ Peace may seek get ♪

♪ Lost in isms ♪

♪ Scared and through the tiny prisms ♪

♪ Storm is mace to wisdom ♪

♪ Storm is mace to wisdom ♪

♪ Gaia hums not in a human sack or big spun ♪

♪ Sprinkling bits of Sun ♪

♪ And share the hypnotized to change the prize ♪

♪ Fleeting rainbow who's bond ♪

♪ Doesn't give love or home ♪

♪ Spent further chestful ♪

♪ Sprinkled in the fire beat in my urn ♪

♪ Separate a smile, Bogan statistics preach of doom ♪

♪ May guide us first eve both us ♪

(vocalizing)

♪ We both us to darling ♪

♪ We both us to darling ♪

♪ Coach us and wake the sleeping captain ♪

♪ Sleeping while wings of death ♪

♪ Raining a poem I'm laughing in Sun ♪

(jazz orchestra continues)

♪ Make a end dream ♪

♪ Make a end dream ♪

♪ Rising through a rest ♪

♪ The dawning race of love ♪

♪ Come peace the darkest hour ♪

♪ Love and (indistinct) ♪

♪ Bleary eyed Captains all step forth to chart a new direction ♪

♪ As maps assume wants to hold worth ♪

♪ Are all called into question ♪

♪ New guiding lights of inspiration ♪

♪ Information, sprinkle them near and far♪

♪ But the more we know ♪

♪ The more we wonder where we are ♪

(saxophone solo)

♪ History's gate rock the plug thing ♪

♪ The tears is open ♪

♪ But for now it's ill as it may appear ♪

♪ Looking and hill on a mountain ♪

♪ The lofty world of me ♪

♪ Entrenched in its creation ♪

♪ Slave to unseen coming ♪

♪ What earthly grounds upheld it ♪

♪ Above the world around ♪

♪ Chewed up to fuel and build it♪

♪ Now both are breaking down ♪

(jazz orchestra music)

♪ Crumbling into siege of questions ♪

♪ That converge and lead to sea ♪

♪ Growing tired on this conclusion ♪

♪ But the depths hard to believe ♪

♪ From the views beneath the surface ♪

♪ Lose some easy to the flame ♪

♪ Erratic storms and seasons ♪

♪ Thrash like endless in the mind ♪

(saxophone solo)

♪ From fertile cones to forest ♪

♪ This madness eats away ♪

♪ Bosom and warm that barest ♪

♪ The (indistinct) the body in decay ♪

♪ When turn on the weary ♪

♪ Steer ♪

[singing indistinctly]

[vocalizing]

[vocalizing]

♪ Take my hand ♪

♪ Going through birth ♪

♪ of our nest ♪

♪ Age of earth Gaia's home ♪

♪ Guides the moon ♪

[vocalizing]

(saxophone solo)

(jazz orchestra music)

♪ Newborn frown complacent norm ♪

♪ The off invest ♪

♪ Us home ♪

(jazz orchestra music continues)

(saxophone solo)

♪ To behold the fabric of life ♪

♪ And see while they pretend ♪

♪ A friend of conscience breath ♪

♪ With taste in hues hit spots ♪

♪ That pull a fabric in ♪

[singing indistinctly]

(saxophone solo)

(jazz orchestra music)

(piano solo)

(saxophone solo)

( horn solo)

♪ Sway and we stand ♪

♪ With the skin in his hand ♪

♪ Though we may not understand ♪

♪ Gaia's all bidding plan ♪

♪ The dawning age must be spun ♪

♪ By dream and the bun ♪

♪ Moving tomorrow ♪

♪ Merrily has begun the dream life will become ♪

♪ A gilded May spring Sun ♪

(jazz orchestra music continues)

[singing indistinctly]

(jazz orchestra music continues)

♪ Dawns peace begun ♪

♪ Dark nights will come ♪

♪ So life is slum ♪

♪ Tethered in sun ♪

(soft jazz orchestra music)

(jazz orchestra music ends)

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

-No one has all the answers.

Nobody. That's why we need each other.

You take the best of each contribution.

[ Instruments tuning ]

-I can't fathom what is not collaboration.

I feel like many offerings, artistically,

it's like a tuning that's being sent to your body

so that you can feel a different...aspect

of your own perception

that maybe isn't activated anywhere else in your life.

And then I think that that activated sense perception

stays with you,

and maybe you -- you can hear different things

or feel new things when you go out of the concert hall.

-Most of my best ideas are born in conversation,

in dialogue, in discourse.

And I thought that if we had a group of people

who don't necessarily come from the very hardcore center

of the so-called classical music,

that would be an incredible energy boost

to the entire organization,

but also to me personally.

-I always hope that when symphony players

get to work with proficient jazz musicians,

I always pray that when we walk away,

they feel a little more permission

to trust their own improvisational power.

And we maybe we get permission to trust that it's also okay

to -- to do something the same --

tonight, tomorrow, the next --

that the sameness provides a beauty, too.

Like, um, the serving to a thing

that existed before you stepped into it

offers a kind of beauty.

That's a really generous gift that the arts can give us.

-The idea of bringing in musicians and artists

from different parts of the artistic world

that have historically been divided,

to me just seems like the logical way

to make the coolest art, to make the coolest music,

to have the most fun.

Collaborating with people

who have a different background from you

is more challenging and more exciting

than collaborating with people

who come from a similar world from you.

-We realize now that the world is very small.

And so we're interrelated.

And there's also an interdependence.

And so the art is telling us

that collaboration is the future.

-Every time I speak with my collaborators,

I feel inspired and challenged

and somehow positive and optimistic

about the future of the orchestra as an institution.

If we have people like or artistic collaborators

guiding an institution into the future,

then we're doing okay.

♪♪♪

[ Applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Mid-tempo orchestral music plays ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

[ Drums play ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Conch shell and drums play ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music softens ]

♪♪♪

[ Music intensifies ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Music stops ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

-To find out more about this

and other "Great Performances" programs,

visit pbs.org/greatperformances,

find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

[ Cheers and applause continue ]

♪♪♪

STREAM GREAT PERFORMANCES ON

  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv

FEATURED PROGRAMS