Anyone who attends the celebration of the Year of the Rabbit at the San Francisco Symphony is bound to be enthralled. Look what awaits ticket holders. Tickets are going quickly.
Earl Lee is leading the Orchestra in a program highlighting works by Asian composers including An-Lun Huang, Huang Ruo, Tyzen Hsiao, and Zhou Tian. Renowned soprano Sumi Jo joins Lee and the Orchestra for works by Du-Nam Cho, Huang Tzu, Hong-ryeol Lee, and Geung-Su Lim.
With a spectacular celebration of the Year of the Rabbit with the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbit concert by the San Francisco Symphony including a banquet on Sunday, February 5, Davies Symphony Hall is the place to be. Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, is the most important holiday for many cultures in East, South, and Southeast Asia, and is celebrated by people of Asian descent worldwide. This year’s celebration marks the 23rd anniversary of the Symphony’s signature event, which is an elegant celebration of the Lunar New Year, drawing upon vibrant Asian traditions, past and present. Conductor Earl Lee leads the Orchestra in performing works by Asian composers including An-Lun Huang, Huang Ruo, Tyzen Hsiao, and Zhou Tian inspired by folk traditions and music. Renowned soprano Sumi Jo joins Lee and the Symphony in singing works by Du-Nam Cho, Huang Tzu, Hong-ryeol Lee, and Geung-Su Lim.
The celebration begins at 4pm with pre-concert lobby festivities open to all ticketholders, featuring an array of entertainment and activities, such as a numerologist, fortune teller, lion and dragon dancers, and students from the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center performing music on traditional instruments.
The 5pm Lunar New Year concert features a wide range of orchestral works rooted in both Asian and Western musical traditions. Conductor Earl Lee and the Orchestra open the program with An-Lun Huang‘s energetic and vibrant Saibei Dance from Saibei SuiteNo. 2. Soloist Sumi Jo joins the Symphony to sing “Three Wishes of a Rose,” by composer Huang Tzu, and Geung-Su Lim‘s “As the Spring Approaches Across the River,”which expresses yearning for a change in the seasons. The program continues with Flower Drum Song from Feng Yang and Girl from Da Ban City from Huang Ruo’s Folk Songs for Orchestra, originally commissioned and performed by the San Francisco Symphony at the 2012 Chinese New Year concert, and Tyzen Hsiao’s The Angel from Formosa, a piece that evokes the rural beauty of Hsiao’s home country of Taiwan. Sumi Jo performs Du-Nam Cho‘s moving “Pioneer,” composed in 1933, and Hong-ryeol Lee‘s cheerful yet contemplative “In the Flower Clouds,” a piece that conveys anticipation of spring. Concluding the program are two selections from Zhou Tian’s Transcend, a 2019 work commissioned by 13 orchestras in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.
The glamorous and elegant post-concert Lunar New Year Banquet begins at 6:30pm in Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall, located at 300 Franklin Street at the rear of Davies Symphony Hall, and features a Lucky Draw and live music, including a special performance by Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ and the Blood Moon Orchestra—a genre-bending musical collective that defies the bounds of Vietnamese traditional music. VIP dinner packages include access to the pre-concert Ruby Reception premium concert seating, and seating at the Banquet. The Banquet is catered by McCalls Catering & Events, with lighting design by Got Light. The décor for the event features hanging screens that highlight the many ways that Lunar New Year is celebrated across different cultures.
The Lunar New Year Concert and Banquet is co-chaired by Tiffany Chang and Thao Dodson.
In-kind support for Lunar New Year is generously provided by Bisquit + Dubouché Cognac, The Caviar Co., Glen Grant Scotch Whisky, JMXO Vodka, Lallier Champagne, and Wyoming Whiskey.
Proceeds from the event support the Symphony’s artistic, education, and community programs. This concert is presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission.
About the artists Earl Lee is a Korean-Canadian conductor and cellist. He most recently became the Music Director of the Ann Arbor Symphony, and he also currently serves as the Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In the 2022-23 season, he has conducted the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia Orchestra, NEC Philharmonia, and the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming appearances include the Royal Conservatory, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. He is the winner of the 2022 Georg Solti Conducting Award, and he is a regular guest conductor at various music schools in North America, including the Manhattan School of Music and the New England, San Francisco, and Royal Conservatories.
As a cellist, Earl Lee has performed at the Marlboro Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Caramoor Rising Stars, and Ravinia’s Steans Institute. He has also toured as a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra and as a guest member of the Harlem String Quartet.
Earl Lee holds degrees in conducting from Manhattan School of the Music and the New England Conservatory, as well as degrees in cello from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Julliard School. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.
South Korean soprano Sumi Jo’s interpretations of the most demanding coloratura and bel canto roles have garnered international acclaim, particularly her portrayals of Mozart’s Queen of the Night, Donizetti’s Lucia, and Bellini’s Norma. She has also proved herself in the works of Richard Strauss, including the roles of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, and the Voice of the Falcon in Die Frau ohne Schatten.
In both concert and in the recording studio, Sumi Jo moves playfully between classical and pop. She has demonstrated her vocal and stylistic versatility in several crossover projects, including contributions to the award-winning soundtrack for Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, in which she also appears as herself, and her solo album Only Love, which sold more than 1,200,000 copies. She has appeared at major events all over the world, including the closing ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the opening ceremony of the 2011 Winter Asian Games in Kazakhstan, and the opening ceremony of the 2011 IAAF World Championship in Daegu. She also performed with Jonas Kaufmann, Renée Fleming, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as part of the program for the Olympic Games in Beijing, gave a Christmas concert with José Carreras in Barcelona, toured Asia with the Academy of Ancient Music, and performed at a concert at Lincoln Center in honor of Maria Callas. She made her San Francisco Symphony debut in January 1998.
Tickets for concerts at Davies Symphony can be purchased via sfsymphony.org or by calling the San Francisco Symphony Box Office at 415-864-6000. VIP packages for Lunar New Year on February 5 are available for purchase here. Location Davies Symphony Hall is located at 201 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. Health & Safety Information Davies Symphony Hall is currently operating at full audience capacity. Based on the advice of the San Francisco Symphony’s Health and Safety Task Force, a face covering and vaccination against COVID-19 are strongly recommended but no longer required for entry into Davies Symphony Hall. These policies are subject to change. Visit sfsymphony.org/safety for the San Francisco Symphony’s complete up-to-date health and safety protocols.
Photos are courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony