Introducing THE SHELL: San Diego Symphony’s Premier New Venue

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The San Diego Symphony announced the official name and inaugural season lineup for its new outdoor concert venue. As the first and only permanent waterfront venue on the West Coast, The Shell—which opens July 2020—will provide San Diego with a world-class destination that serves year-round as an event space and landmark attraction.

Opening in July, The Shell—a symbolic name inspired by the music venue’s dramatic shape and unique waterfront location—will be an acoustically superior and architecturally captivating structure.

“The work of creating a new venue is among the most rewarding work that exists,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. “Everyone who has played a part in the creation of this magical venue has been touched by its promise, its form, and its majesty."

After 17 years of dreaming, the San Diego Symphony is thrilled to announce the inaugural season lineup and official name for the highly-anticipated permanent outdoor concert venue, The Shell™. Opening in July, The Shell—a symbolic name inspired by the venue’s dramatic shape and unique waterfront location—will be an acoustically superior and architecturally captivating structure within a newly upgraded public park. The San Diego Symphony’s first season at The Shell expands upon its wide range of musical genres—from classical concerts to Broadway, Jazz to R&B—that highlight the city’s world-class orchestra, showcase the acoustical excellence of the venue, and will attract a wider range of audiences.

The Shell opens with a star-studded three-day Inaugural Weekend celebration. The opening concert on July 10 features the San Diego Symphony with music director Rafael Payare, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and hosted by Tony Award® winner Ali Stroker (July 10); The Best of Broadway conducted by Rob Fisher, directed by Gary Griffin and hosted by Chita Rivera and Len Cariou with special guests including Tony Winners and Nominees Robert Fairchild, Christian Hoff, James Monroe Igelhart, Rebecca Luker, Patina Miller, Ali Stroker, and others (July 11); and two-time Grammy Award®-winning songstress and Academy Award®-winning actress Jennifer Hudson (July 12).

To match the power and beauty of its iconic setting on the Bay, some of the world’s finest artists will appear at The Shell throughout this inaugural season. Many will make their San Diego outdoor debut this summer including Yo-Yo Ma who joins Live From Here’s Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan, and Edgar Meyer in their unique blue-grass meets classical Not Our First Goat Rodeo; soul pioneer singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Maxwell; Motown legend and acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson; six-time Tony Award winner, Audra McDonald; Grammy-nominated alternative rockers Crowded House; “Queen of Ranchera Music” Aida Cuevas; the “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight with soul songstress Joss Stone; and beloved rockers The Beach Boys.

Returning artists include Broadway star and three-time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters, Brazilian sensation Sergio Mendes, and conductors Rob Fisher, Gemma New, Steven Reineke and Ted Sperling.

“The work of creating a new venue is among the most rewarding work that exists,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. “It begins with a dream that is intangible yet compelling. In order to bring the dream to reality it requires a collection of the most imaginative and dedicated people with a vast spectrum of talents coming together in service to the creation of something larger than any single individual could achieve. The Shell has been formed over time and with great care and affection to shelter and focus the musicians that will perform for years to come on this stage. They are the organic material that will fill The Shell with life and offer unimaginable and unforgettable experiences to audiences. Everyone who has played a part in the creation of this magical venue has been touched by its promise, its form, and its majesty.”

Located in the Port of San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina Park South on San Diego Bay, The Shell aspires to be the region’s definitive and vital music destination. A one-of-a-kind concert destination and active public park funded primarily through private philanthropy, The Shell will host a variety of performances, events and activities throughout the year. The venue allows the Symphony to continually expand the season, adding concerts as opportunities arise. Private events will also take place at The Shell and will be managed in partnership with the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park Events team, expanding upon the Symphony’s relationship with the organization.

A State-of-the-Art Experience:
The Shell was designed to be one of the most acoustically superior outdoor concert venues in the nation, incorporating exceptional design with state-of-the-art technology. The 13,000-square-foot covered stage is enhanced by a Meyer Sound Constellation System to provide audiences with unparalleled sound, and terraced seating that guarantees cinematic views from every seat. Flexible seating, ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 guests, help smaller events feel more intimate and large shows more immersive.

While the stage itself is an attraction, The Shell will be the centerpiece of the vastly improved Embarcadero Marina Park South. Along with the venue’s construction, the park will see improvements such as permanent restrooms, enhanced lighting, a 12-foot public promenade surrounding the park and sunset steps and patio behind the venue that will be open to the public during non-event hours. These improvements to the park were made to create a community gathering space for locals and visitors of all ages.

A Feast for the Senses:
Through Finest City Eats—The Shell’s food and beverage program that features a collection of the best tastes San Diego has to offer—concertgoers will be able to enjoy a premier food experience while taking in the sights and sounds of one of the most beautiful waterside settings in America. The San Diego Symphony continues its successful relationship with James Beard Award-nominated celebrity chef Richard Blais, who has curated a new pre-ordering menu for table service, as well as special picnic boxes. Expanded offerings in the new food pavilion and in carts across the venue will feature a selection of the city’s top local purveyors including Urban Kitchen Group, Biga, Lola 55, Achilles Coffee, Bread & Cie and more.

The Shell 2020 Inaugural Season:
*San Diego Symphony does not appear on these programs

  • FRI JUL 10: Rafael Payare Conducts the San Diego Symphony – Featuring Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Alisa Weilerstein, Hosted by Ali Stroker
  • SAT JUL 11: The Best of Broadway with the San Diego Symphony – Conducted by Rob Fisher, Directed by Gary Griffin, Hosted by Chita Rivera and Len Cariou
  • SUN JUL 12: Jennifer Hudson with the San Diego Symphony
  • MON JUL 13: The Beach Boys*                                        
  • FRI JUL 17: Voice and the Violin with the San Diego Symphony
  • SAT JUL 18: Maxwell with the San Diego Symphony, Conducted by Steven Reineke
  • SUN JUL 19: Classic Albums Live Performs Pink Floyd’s The Wall*                                    
  • TUE JUL 28: Gladys Knight with special guest Joss Stone*                                     
  • THU JUL 30: Gilbert Castellanos and the KSDS Jazz Orchestra Performing Miles Davis’s version of Porgy & Bess*    
  • FRI JUL 31: Ted Sperling’s Broadway Romances with Laura Osnes & Santino Fontana
  • SAT AUG 1: Smokey Robinson*                                        
  • SUN AUG 2: Rafael Payare Conducts the San Diego Symphony
  • FRI AUG 7: The Princess Bride In Concert, Conducted by David Newman                
  • SAT AUG 8: Audra McDonald with the San Diego Symphony, Conducted by Andy Einhorn     
  • THU AUG 13: Brian Newman*                                            
  • FRI AUG 14: Bernadette Peters with the San Diego Symphony                                
  • SAT AUG 15: Sergio Mendes with the San Diego Symphony, Conducted by Sean O’Loughlin     
  • SUN AUG 16: Beethoven by the Bay, Conducted by Aram Demirjian            
  • THU AUG 20: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - In Concert, Conducted by Christopher Dragon
  • FRI AUG 21: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - In Concert, Conducted by Christopher Dragon
  • SAT AUG 22: Not Our First Goat Rodeo * Featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan With Guest Aoife O’Donovan
  • SUN AUG 23: Sing Along: The Music of Stevie Wonder*     
  • FRI AUG 28: A Celebration of Broadway Legend Jerry Herman, Conducted by Rob Fisher
  • SAT AUG 29: A Celebration of Broadway Legend Jerry Herman, Conducted by Rob Fisher
  • SUN AUG 30: The Finest Hour: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Music That Ended WWII Featuring Davina and the Vagabonds and Hot Club of Cowtown        
  • FRI SEP 4: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 — In Concert
  • SAT SEP 5: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 — In Concert
  • SUN SEP 6: Music of the Knights with the San Diego Symphony, Conducted by Stuart Chafetz
  • THU SEP 10: Bobby McFerrin*                 
  • FRI SEP 11: The Music of Selena with the San Diego Symphony, Conducted by Lawrence Loh
  • SAT SEP 12: Crowded House*                                             
  • SUN SEP 13: 1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular, Conducted by Gemma New                
  • TUE SEP 29: Aida Cuevas w/Mariachi Juvenil Tecatitlán with guests Mariachi Los Camperos*
  • THU OCT 1: Pat Metheny Side-Eye with James Francies & Marcus Gilmore*

Additional programming to be announced. All concerts for The Shell’s inaugural season begin at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted online. Fireworks happen at the conclusion of select concerts.

Inaugural Season Ticketing
Full and partial-season subscription packages will be offered for the inaugural season at The Shell, as well as a “Choose Your Own” option and an impressive array of Special Concerts that can be added to any subscription order. Season tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased at or by calling the ticket office at 619.235.0804. Guests may also visit the Jacobs Music Center Copley Symphony Hall Ticket Office in person at 750 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101. Subscribers receive discounted package pricing and preferred seating through March 14. Choose Your Own (CYO) packages will be available beginning April 19, and single tickets for all 2020 inaugural season concerts at The Shell go on sale May 17.

Single ticket prices will initially range from $20 - $250. Tickets may be purchased through the website or Ticket Office as noted above. The Shell’s box office hours will be announced in July.

Inaugural Season Subscription Packages
Season Subscriptions are on sale now at a 15 percent discount through February 29, after which subscriptions will be discounted 10 percent, through March 14. Subscriptions are full price after March 14. Package price will vary depending on the night selected. Subscribers receive benefits such as preferred seating, the lowest prices, easy ticket exchange and more.

  • Friday or Saturday Panorama | 7 Concerts
  • Friday or Saturday Sunset | 4 Concerts
  • Friday or Saturday Starlight | 3 Concerts
  • Stay Classical | 3 Concerts
  • Jazz @ The Shell | 4 Concerts

There are three Inaugural Weekend Concerts and nine Special Concerts that are not included in a series but can be purchased now with a subscription. Because The Shell allows for year-round entertainment, new concerts will continue to be added.

The San Diego Symphony thanks The Port of San Diego for its partnership. The organization also acknowledges the following corporate sponsors: Bosa Construction, Qualcomm, The Fish Market, US Bank, California Bank & Trust, Subaru Motors, Bank of America, Sycuan Casino, Southwest Airlines, Wells Fargo Private Bank, SDG&E and Fashion Valley Mall.

About the San Diego Symphony
Founded in 1910, the San Diego Symphony is the oldest orchestra in California and one of the largest and most significant cultural organizations in San Diego. The Orchestra performs for more than 250,000 people each season, offering a wide variety of programming at its two much loved venues, Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego and The Shell at Embarcadero Marina Park South on San Diego Bay. In early 2018, the San Diego Symphony announced the appointment of Rafael Payare as music director. Payare leads the orchestra’s 82 full-time musicians, graduates of the finest and most celebrated music schools in the United States and abroad. The San Diego Symphony also serves as the orchestra for the San Diego Opera each season, as well as performing at several regional performing arts and community centers. For over 30 years, the San Diego Symphony has provided comprehensive learning and community engagement programs reaching more than 65,000 students annually and bringing innovative programming to San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods and schools. For more information, visit

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Carrie Jones
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