Yo-Yo Ma is the special guest soloist tonight, as the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas kick off their season. There are two concerti for cello on the program, along with Ravel’s Bolero, and the Candide Overture, in a nod to the season-long run up to Leonard Bernstein’s centennial. There are also some surprises in store, and you’ll be able to hear the entire concert live on KDFC, hosted by Rik and Dianne, starting a little after eight.

There’s more information about the concert at the San Francisco Symphony website.

The two works Yo-Yo Ma will be playing are Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, and the first Cello Concerto by Camille Saint-Saens. “Both pieces are very celebratory, elegant, entertaining pieces of music that I think are very suited for opening night occasion,” he says. “A good time to be had by all.” The Saint-Saens is a work that he strongly associates with San Francisco. “When I was 15, I played with the San Francisco Little Symphony under the directorship of Paul Freeman, and I think I got my first good review from Robert Commanday, who was a beloved music critic and musician, and father of David Commanday who I went to college with, who’s a cellist and conductor, so there’s a long relationship…Then the next year, I was invited to play the Saint-Saens with the San Francisco Symphony, with Seiji Ozawa conducting. So it has a particular memory of over 45 years that I associate this piece with.” And creating memories is important to Ma. He says, like a teacher, a performer has to make a lasting impression to make it worth everyone’s while. “Hopefully it gives aha moments, memorable moments that people then connect to their normal lives, and gives a richer tapestry for understanding why we’re here in the first place.”