San Francisco Symphony at 100
About the Concert

San Francisco Symphony at 100, the San Francisco Symphony’s Centennial Season opening night gala, conducted by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, will air on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, Friday, March 30 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

In September, the San Francisco Symphony and Tilson Thomas launched its milestone Centennial with a celebratory gala concert dubbed “Fanfare for a New Century” at Davies Symphony Hall.

Watch a preview:

The two-hour broadcast is hosted by best-selling Bay Area author Amy Tan and features Tilson Thomas conducting the Orchestra and two of the leading artists of our time: legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor and the dynamic pianist Lang Lang performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major.

The concert opens with Aaron Copland’s vivid portrayal of American prairie life, the Billy the Kid Ballet Suite and concludes with Britten’s orchestral showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra of which the San Francisco Chronicle said: “…as Thomas led his colleagues, section by section and soloist by soloist… the listener could only marvel at the level of individual excellence and communal artistry on display.”

Capping off the concert is an encore of Bay Area composer John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine featuring animated images of San Francisco projected throughout Davies Symphony Hall.

Woven into the concert footage, San Francisco Symphony at 100 includes historical documentary features narrated by Tan highlighting the Orchestra’s early beginnings, its rich history of touring and its commitment to young people and innovations in media.

On April 1st, San Francisco Symphony at 100 will also be released on DVD and Blu-ray with additional bonus historical features (though will not feature Lang Lang’s concert performance.)

San Francisco Symphony at 100 is a production of San Francisco Symphony and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.

Major funding for the telecast is provided by Nan Tucker McEvoy and the National Endowment for the Arts.  Great Performances is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, Vivian Milstein, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Filomen M. Di’Agostino Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, public television viewers, and PBS.

San Francisco Symphony at 100 is directed by Gary Halvorson. Executive Producer: John Kieser. Producer: Michael Bronson. The History Vignettes are produced by Janette Gitler. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

  • Jules Silbert

    Suggestion: When showing the schedule on your web site, include the REPEAT date(s) as well.

  • david ernst

    Hi Jules,

    Unfortunately, we can’t post repeat dates as those dates are up to your local station and not Great Performances. Trust us, if it were up to us, you’d see our programs all the time! Although you’ve heard it a lot here, we advise you to check your local listings for any repeat info.

    All the best,
    GP Team

  • Robert Hodge


    In the promo that is presently airing, there is footage of the orchestra, presumably being conducted by Alfred Hertz ( SP?) .
    I hope you will air the entire film and not just a clip. Or hopefully tell me where I can buy a DVD of it which is what I’d really go for !! I collect orchestral 78 rpm rcordings.


    Bob Hodge

  • david ernst

    Hi Bob,

    The conductor is Michael Tilson Thomas the conductor and music director of the San Francisco Symphony. The entire program will air tomorrow at 9 p.m. on PBS (check your local listings).

    GP Team

  • Bob Hodge

    The black and white film that looks like newsreel footage is what I was addressing.


    Bob Hodge

  • david ernst


    Thanks for the clarification! The program is largely the live-concert event interspersed with documentary footage recounting the Symphony’s history over the past 100 years. Hope this clarifies things on our end!

  • Phillip Plemmons

    Will the program be available for viewing online after tonight’s airing?

  • Don Caton

    Great site. Came in late on the concert, Lang Lang up. Wife teaches piano, thought it must be Tschaikovsky, but we see from description it was Liszt. Good write up. Was hoping for the whole program but you gave us enough. Must get off – Izthak is on.

  • OverbearingDAD1

    Perfect, every minute. Thank you Sfo and PBS, I will keep on my uverse for my kids to watch.

  • Richard Wagner

    Wonderful program! I missed the info re where the DVD is available. Will you please provide same? Thanks.

  • Jim Fahy

    STUNNING! Perlman is beyond description or comparison. To handle (no pun here) that Mendelsshon piece without a single glance at sheet…how does he do that? How long does that concerto run any way????

  • Richard Jacobson, M.D.

    thanks for the wonderful airing. I also missed the first few minutes want to see the entire performance again. I find the webpage very difficult to navigate to find out subsequent airings.

    Thanks again.

  • Ashton Brown

    Would like to second this query, having no reception tonight Off-Air, in Kenwood (Sonoma Cty.)
    A common occurrence in these parts; not Everyone gets cable and: off-air via 54-x sucks here, KQED folks

    How about it, G.P.– WILL this concert be available on this site, or not? When?


  • David McLachlan

    Will the concert be available on CD, DVD or iTunes ?

  • OverbearingDAD1

    I may never delete this from my dvr. Copland is an American treasure, this suite fills me with great pride. I want to ride west on a greyhound bus and fall asleep admiring the beautiful landscapes this music portrays.

  • K.C. Sipfle

    Does anyone know if the DVD has outtakes, such as the full light show to go with Adams’ work?



  • Steven Hepler

    What an amazing performance. Thank you.

  • Armin Hoffmann

    I was moved and awed by Perlman presentation. A true genius!

  • Dean Goodhill

    I came in late and missed most of the first half, but what I did see and hear was one of the greatest televised concerts I’ve ever seen. Not only did the orchestra play brilliantly, but the director and editor did a great job of capturing the event. I am a professional editor and filmmaker, so I see work like this from that perspective. I must say I was amazed by the precision with which the director & editor followed the musical threads from the flutes to the oboe; and then to the harp and horns; or whatever in the most musically sensitive and revealing way. it was almost like a course in music appreciation because the visuals led the viewer to better understand and appreciate key high points from within the wonderful textures that Mr. Tilson-Thomas so expertly drew from the great players. Bravo! And please, please let me know where I can buy the BluRay or catch a full, repeat performance.

  • Teresa

    I keep missing the first hour due to things beyond my contol, but I third the requests for dvd or online.

  • martha

    What a magnificent performance! Thank you. And the previous writer said, the camerawork was incredible, and must have taken such coordination. I too would like to know if and when there will be a repeat performance? Also where can I purchase the CD and/or DVD?

  • hugo

    I repeat what other listener wrote:PLEASE INCLUDE REPEAT DATES.

  • Dr. Monk

    The nice thing about watching Thomas and Perlman is that they look like they are having fun. The nice thing about Great Performances is that we get to watch Thomas and Perlman having fun. What a treat!

  • david ernst

    Hi Ashton,

    Thank you for your comments. We’ll forward your concerns about the reception issues to our station relations department. Unfortunately due to various issues we are not able to stream the program online. We encourage you to check your local listings for any possible repeats.

    Thanks again for your question.
    GP Team

  • Anne

    Why won’t the blue ray dvd include Lang Lang performance?

  • david ernst

    Hi Anne,

    Though it’s not up to us, Lang Lang has an exclusivity clause with a different label than the one producing the DVD/Blu-ray of the concert and therefore his performance can’t be used.

    Hope this answered your question.

  • henery

    the program was fantastic. i missed the copeland piece.but when lang lang came on,his playing and looking at his face to see he was really into it.and then with pearlman,two great,great proffesionals,not only playing but “teaching”,if you will. and i was amazed by the last sorry,i forgot the name,but talk about teaching children about a symphony orchestra and its instraments.i need to have this.i saw your answer about “not” having lang lang,but thats like saying,you can have a sandwich,but only the bread.and last….i agree with dean goodhill about the tv shots.must have this to show my grandchildren.

    thank you very much

  • Anson H

    I had a question that I am hoping you can answer. During the film footage of the “behind the scenes” for what it takes to prepare a concert there was a short blurb of the low brass section playing the opening lines to a symphony. However my tv cut out the name of the piece and composer that came up on the screen. Is there anyway you can tell me what that piece was? I’d very much appreciate it.

  • dr.reid

    need some kind of copy with lang lang to send to denmark. please advise.

  • david ernst

    Dear Dr. Reid,

    As stated above Lang Lang is not on the DVD/blu-ray due to an exclusivity agreement with another record label. The rest of the show can be purchased on

  • Curtis A

    Any idea when it will appear on channel 9’s Great Performances? I get that in HD. I know you don’t do repeat dates, but I don’t get Channel 13…

  • larrypjr

    I just watched the program on our local PBS television network.
    I was particularly enamored by Lang Lang’s performance.
    The musicianship was wonderful as was the audio and camera work.
    Interestingly enough, Liszt first played this work at Wiemar in 1855 with Hector Berlioz conducting.
    As Berlioz put it “the first perfect realisation of cyclic sonata form, with common themes being treated on the variation principle”.

    The San Fransisco symphony with Mr. Tilson-Thomas was certainly up to the task as was
    the creative, crowd inspiring and superlative interpretations by Lang Lang.
    Very enjoyable. Loved it! In a word “WONDERFUL” Superb musicianship and technical expertise.
    If you have a chance to see this concert, I can assure you of a real treat Thanks.

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