San Diego Symphony Announces 2023-24 Inaugural Season in Newly Renovated Jacobs Music Center

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Music Director Rafael Payare to lead ten programs, including World Premieres by Texu Kim, Carlos Simon, and Vladimir Tarnopolsky as well as West Coast premieres by Billy Childs, Mason Bates, and Gabriela Ortiz. New Currents Series will illuminate urgent civic and social issues of our time, featuring contemporary music, living composers, and interdisciplinary collaborations.

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“We have much to celebrate here in San Diego,” said Music Director Rafael Payare, “and an abundance of exciting programs with which to welcome everyone back to Jacobs Music Center."

The San Diego Symphony today announced the wide-ranging programs of its 2023-24 Jacobs Music Center season that will introduce audiences to the organization’s renovated and revitalized indoor home, Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center, beginning November 4, 2023. Performances of the works of more than 35 composers, spanning symphonic eras and repertoire and representing 250 years of music, will showcase the Orchestra’s versatility and virtuosity while bringing to life the enhanced acoustics and capabilities of the hall following a $125 million renovation and restoration. Highlights of the season will include Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” with the California Festival Chorus, featuring voices from some of the best choruses in the state, and soloists Angela Meade and Anna Larsson; The Ring Without Words, a symphonic journey through Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle, conducted by Music Director Rafael Payare as an homage to his mentor, Lorin Maazel; excerpts from Prokofiev’s beloved Romeo and Juliet; World Premieres by Texu Kim, Carlos Simon, and Vladimir Tarnopolsky; and the West Coast Premieres of works by Mason Bates, Gabriela Ortiz and Billy Childs.

“We have much to celebrate here in San Diego,” said Music Director Rafael Payare, “and an abundance of exciting programs with which to welcome everyone back to Jacobs Music Center. Audiences will discover a new concert experience and hear the phenomenal musicians of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as never before. At last, the Orchestra will have an indoor home to match its artistry and the enthusiasm of its public.”

The opening night concert on November 4 will feature Rafael Payare leading the Orchestra in the World Premiere of a fanfare for Jacobs Music Center commissioned from Korean-born American composer Texu Kim, Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, and the West Coast Premiere of a new saxophone concerto by Billy Childs featuring soloist Steven Banks. Childs, known for his work as a GRAMMY® nominated jazz musician and composer, is considered one of the most relevant American composers of today. Also, this marks soloist Steven Banks’ first performance with the San Diego Symphony. Rounding out this festive opening night will be Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate, with soprano Liv Redpath and Debussy’s La mer.

Additionally, as part of its opening festivities the organization will host its first Family Concert of the year on November 5, as well as free activities and performances throughout the week for San Diegans to enjoy the new performance hall, lobbies, and activity spaces. Details on the week of free programming will be available on the Symphony’s Jacobs Music Center website in the coming months.

“It is a once in a lifetime chance to reopen a historic building,” said Martha Gilmer, CEO of the San Diego Symphony. “The idea of renewal, renovation, and indeed resurrection are themes for the entire year, and therefore it is only fitting that our first few weeks of the season begin with works like Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. This work, also known as his ‘Resurrection’ symphony, exhibits extremes of emotion, brilliant orchestration, glorious solo voices and chorus, and one of the most exquisite and joyful endings of any work of music.” Gilmer continued, “upon our return it will have been over 40 months since we have joined together in our beloved Jacobs Music Center, and we cannot wait to welcome our audience home, and to welcome new friends who are experiencing it for the very first time.”

A Revitalized Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center
In anticipation of the 2023-24 season, the San Diego Symphony is continuing to make rapid progress on the $125 million revitalization of its historic home at Jacobs Music Center, which began in early 2022. The project will greatly enhance the musical and performance experience for artists and audiences alike while honoring the legacy of the nearly 100-year-old Fox Theatre. Elements of the renovation designed to elevate the hall’s acoustics include a custom-designed permanent orchestra enclosure, a tunable acoustic canopy, and the reconfiguration of both the stage and the audience seating, with the addition of a choral terrace behind the orchestra and a completely reshaped main seating level. The hall features new seating and finishes; restored architectural details; modernized lighting, sound, and video equipment; updated and expanded support spaces for musicians; and enhanced audience amenities. The project was designed by architectural firm HGA in collaboration with acoustician Paul Scarbrough of Akustiks and theater planner Schuler Shook. Major upgrades to the main mechanical systems of Jacobs Music Center have already been completed, which not only significantly enhance the comfort within the hall, but also contributes to the hall’s acoustic quality, and allows valuable space to be reprioritized for Symphony program uses. The revitalized hall will be inaugurated just two years after the San Diego Symphony opened its new waterfront home, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

Highlights of the 2023-24 Jacobs Music Center Season
In addition to the opening night program, the inaugural season will feature 18 programs curated to showcase the orchestra and a variety of esteemed guest artists, musical perspectives, and experiences.

When the Orchestra opens the renovated Jacobs Music Center, the first two programs will be part of the new California Festival project, in which musical organizations throughout the state will perform the most innovative and compelling music composed around the world in the last five years. Music Directors Rafael Payare, Gustavo Dudamel and Esa-Pekka Salonen along with the San Diego Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony as organizing partner orchestras will join efforts for this massive state-wide collaboration. The San Diego Symphony’s California Festival concerts include a new work by the Ukrainian-Jewish composer Vladimir Tarnopolsky, performed alongside Stravinsky’s iconic Rite of Spring, and the Jacobs Music Center premiere of Carlos Simon’s new work.

Key elements of the revitalized Jacobs Music Center to be prominently showcased in the 2023-24 season include the Choral Terrace, to be used in the Orchestra’s first performance in more than 10 years of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection.” The Choral Terrace serves as one of the most visually striking additions to the new hall and will not only be used for musical purposes, but also as extra seating for audiences at select concerts. Additionally, the organ has been refurbished as a part of the renovation and will be the centerpiece of the Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3.

Lorin Maazel’s unique synthesis of orchestral music from Wagner's Ring cycle promises to be another highlight of the season. Beginning with the first note of Das Rheingold and finishing with the last chord of Götterdämmerung, Ring without Words is a thrilling symphonic journey conveying the breadth and scope of Wagner’s monumental four-opera cycle. The piece resonates deeply for Music Director Rafael Payare, who said “Maestro Maazel was one of my greatest mentors and I'm thrilled to conduct his brilliant arrangement The Ring Without Words in the new Jacobs Music Center. This piece is a reinvention of a great work of art, just like what we are doing here at our new hall.”

Throughout the season, San Diego Symphony will welcome an outstanding lineup of guest conductors, including the inimitable Michael Tilson Thomas, who will make his San Diego Symphony conducting debut, Principal Guest Conductor Edo de Waart, Paolo Bortolameolli, Tianyi Lu, Ludovic Morlot, Otto Tausk, and Joshua Weilerstein. Soloists appearing with the Orchestra include violinists Augustin Hadelich, Daniel Lozakovich, and Gil Shaham; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; pianists Jeremy Denk, Stephen Hough, Lang Lang, Jan Lisiecki, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet; vocalists Dashon Burton, Anna Larsson, Angela Meade, and Liv Redpath; and Steven Banks, Saxophone; and Pacho Flores, trumpet.

As part of its yearly programming the Symphony is also proud to showcase three of the orchestra’s musicians in solo performances. Concertmaster Jeff Thayer and Principal Oboe Sarah Skuster will be featured on Bach’s virtuosic Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin, and Andrea Overturf will perform Rorem’s Concerto for English Horn.

Within this inaugural season, the Symphony will introduce a contemporary classical series called Currents. This new artistic addition underlines San Diego Symphony’s commitment to innovative programming and will use the power of music to illuminate stories of our world, now. In this first year, each interdisciplinary concert is exploring identity – the search for it, the celebration of it, the ways we fight for it, and the courage sometimes needed to express it. Artists featured across this series include GRAMMY® nominated cellist Seth Parker Woods, innovative dancer and choreographer Roderick George, Iranian-American composer Gity Razaz, rising star composer Nicolas Lell Benavides, librettist Marella Martin Koch, San Diego Symphony Orchestra musicians, and more.

Family Concerts, Broadway, Jazz and more!
In its return to Jacobs Music Center, the Symphony is pleased to reintroduce its indoor Broadway @ the Jacobs, Jazz @ the Jacobs and Family Concert series. Jazz @ the Jacobs will include three thrilling concerts: A Tribute to Ella, Billie, and Sarah (Nov 25), Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (Feb 3), and Piano Paragons: The Music of Monk, Powell, Tatum and Corea (May 4). Broadway @ the Jacobs will return in a two-concert series on this season, with its first concert (Dec 3) featuring the incomparable Audra McDonald on the Jacobs Music Center stage for one night only and its second being a curated evening of Broadway favorites by director and pianist Rob Fisher (Feb 4.)

Concerts for families will also be featured at the renovated Jacobs Music Center as the organization reaffirms its commitment to the community through interactive and accessible programming for even the youngest classical music listeners. Family concerts will include Because: A Symphony of Serendipity (Nov 5) featuring a musical score by Jesse Montgomery inspired by Mo Williams' award- winning book Because, composer Caroline Shaw’s musical adaptation of Alice McLerran’s story The Mountain that Loved a Bird (Feb 3), and Mason Bates’s exciting Philharmonia Fantastique (Apr 27). Each program will introduce audiences to the musical voices of today’s most talented living composers and feature members of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, in its return to Jacobs Music Center the Symphony is excited to bring back the Linda and Shern Platt Open Rehearsals for Schools Program, pre-concerts talks for all Classical Masterworks concerts, and its partnerships with direct service nonprofit organizations across San Diego County to provide free tickets for most San Diego Symphony performances in the 2023-24 season.

For subscriptions, ticket prices and more information on the San Diego Symphony’s 2023-24 Jacobs Music Center season, please visit


Saturday, November 4, 2023
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Steven Banks, saxophone
Liv Redpath, soprano
R STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks
BILLY CHILDS: Saxophone Concerto (West Coast Premiere, San Diego Symphony Co-commission)
TEXU KIM: Welcome Home!! Fanfare for Jacobs Music Center
(World Premiere, San Diego Symphony Commission)
MOZART: Exsultate, jubilate

Saturday, November 11 & Sunday, November 12, 2023
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Angela Meade, soprano
Anna Larsson, mezzo-soprano
San Diego Symphony Festival Choir
CARLOS SIMON: New Work (San Diego Symphony Commission)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection”

Friday, November 17 & Saturday, November 18, 2023
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
BARTOK: The Miraculous Mandarin Suite
VILLA-LOBOS: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 7
VLADIMIR TARNOPOLSKY: Danse Macabre (World Premiere, San Diego Symphony Commission)
STRAVINSKY: Rite of Spring

Friday, Dec 1 & Saturday, Dec 2, 2023
Jacobs Music Center
Joshua Weilerstein, conductor
DAWSON: Negro Folk Symphony
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”

Saturday, December 9 & Sunday, December 10, 2023
Jacobs Music Center
Edo de Waart, Principal Guest Conductor
Jeff Thayer, violin
Sarah Skuster, oboe
BRAHMS: Haydn Variations
J.S. BACH: Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin
ELGAR: Enigma Variations

Saturday, January 13 & Sunday, January 14, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Tianyi Lu, conductor
Jan Lisiecki, piano
ANNA CLYNE: This Midnight Hour
MOZART: Piano Concerto in D Minor
R STRAUSS: Aus Italien

Friday, January 19, Saturday, January 20 & Sunday, January 21, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Paolo Bortolameolli, conductor
Augustin Hadelich, violin
SIBELIUS: Violin Concerto in D minor
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, “Pathétique”

Friday, January 26 & Saturday, January 27, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
MOZART: Symphony No. 29 in A Major
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major

Friday, February 16 & Saturday, February 17, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Pacho Flores, trumpet
RAVEL: Le tombeau de Couperin
GABRIELA ORTIZ: Altar de bronce (West Coast premiere, San Diego Symphony Co-commission)
RAVEL: La Valse

Saturday, February 24 & Sunday, February 25, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Gil Shaham, violin
MASON BATES: Violin Concerto (West Coast Premiere)
WAGNER: Ring Without Words

Friday, March 1 & Saturday, March 2, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Andrea Overturf, English horn
BARBER: Second Essay for Orchestra
ROREM: Concerto for English Horn
MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition

Friday, March 15, Saturday, March 16 & Sunday, March 17, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Sir Mark Elder, conductor
Stephen Hough, piano
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Suite from The Tale of Tsar Saltan
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2
SAINT-SAENS: Symphony No. 3 in C minor

Saturday, March 23 & Sunday, March 24, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Dashon Burton, bass-baritone
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 6 in D minor
MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Selections from Meditations on Rilke
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 7 in C Major

Friday, March 29 & Saturday, March 30, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Gerard McBurney, director
SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, “Spring”
PROKOFIEV: Romeo & Juliet

Friday, April 12, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Otto Tausk, conductor
Lang Lang, piano
SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 2
STRAVINSKY: Suite from The Firebird (1945 Version)

Sunday, April 14, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Otto Tausk, conductor
TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake Suite
STRAVINSKY: Suite from The Firebird (1945 Version)

Tuesday, May 7, 2024
Masterworks Special Event
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
WAGNER: Siegfried's Death and Funeral Music from Götterdämmerung
ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor

Saturday May 11 & Sunday May 12, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
RAVEL: Piano Concerto
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, “Eroica”

Saturday, May 18 & Sunday, May 19, 2024
Jacobs Music Center
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Daniel Lozakovich, violin
BRAHMS: Tragic Overture
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in E minor
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major

Friday, May 24 & Saturday, May 25, 2024
Rafael Payare, Music Director
Jeremy Denk, Piano
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major
R. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben

Where Music Meets Our World

Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Difficult Grace
Seth Parker Woods, cello
Roderick George, dancer/choreographer

Difficult Grace is a multimedia concert tour de force conceived by and featuring Seth Parker Woods in the triple role of cellist, narrator/guide, and movement artist. Heightened by film, spoken text, dance and visual artwork, Difficult Grace is a semi-autobiographical exploration of identity, past/present histories and personal growth that draws inspiration from the Great Migration, the historic newspaper The Chicago Defender, immigration, and the poetry of Kemi Alabi and Dudley Randall. * The San Diego Symphony does not perform on this concert.

Saturday, January 5, 2024
Tres minutos
Music by Nicolas Lell Benavides            
Libretto by Marella Martin Koch

Where do we belong? Inspired by a real program that reunites families separated by immigration policies at the U.S. - Mexico Border, but only for three minutes, Tres minutos by composer Nicolas Lell Benavides and librettist Marella Martin Koch imagines the story of Diego and Nila, a brother and sister who share DNA but not citizenship. When Diego is deported, leaving Nila behind, questions of identity, duty, and belonging threaten to consume them. A co-production with Music of Remembrance.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024
The Wonders We Carry Inside
In support of Women, Life, Freedom

Hailed by the New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Iranian-American composer Gity Razaz curates an evening of music honoring the mystical beauty of Persian culture and the power of women to shape history both past and present. Poetry and music weave together to guide us through this ancient celebration of reflection and renewal at the spring equinox.


Saturday, November 25, 2023
Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan
Champian Fulton, vocals
Mary Stallings, vocals

Saturday, February 3, 2024
Miles Davis Kind of Blue
Gilbert Castellanos, trumpet
Additional artists to be announced

Saturday, May 4, 2024
The Music of Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Chick Corea and Art Tatum
Artists to be announced


Sunday, December 3, 2023
Audra McDonald with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra
Andy Einhorn, conductor

Sunday, February 4, 2024
Broadway: Then and Now
Rob Fisher, director and piano
Additional artists to be announced


Saturday, November 5, 2023
Because: A Symphony of Serendipity

An energetic and heart-warming performance that features George Gershwin’s American classic Rhapsody in Blue. The San Diego Symphony brings Mo Williams' award- winning book Because to life, with music written by Jessie Montgomery, and Mexican-American composer Arturo Márquez's Conga del Fuego is a fiery adventure that uses conga rhythms in an expression of joy that is big in character and drive.

Saturday, February 3, 2024
The Mountain That Loved a Bird

Featuring Grieg’s glorious Morning Mood, the Mountain King, and Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s musical adaptation of The Mountain that Loved a Bird by Alice McLerran and set to Eric Carle’s colorful collage illustrations.

Saturday, April 27, 2024
Philharmonia Fantastique

This whimsical presentation begins with a classic introduction to the instruments in Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Then, dynamic concerto meets animated film in Mason Bates' Philharmonia Fantastique. Guided by a magical Sprite, you'll explore the fundamental connections between music, sound, performance, creativity
and technology.


Friday, December 8, 2023
The Airborne Toxic Event
Bruce Kiesling, conductor
San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Known for their dramatic blend of rock and electronic music with orchestral arrangements, this electrifying night of music will feature the band’s chart-topping hits performed live with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

Sunday, March 10, 2024
Rock n’ Radio
Artists to be announced

An evening of chart-topping hits from the greatest names in music history including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Carole King, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga and more

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 at Jacobs Music Center in downtown San Diego (now under renovation) and The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park 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 more than 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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