The season opening gala of the San Francisco Symphony is tonight, with violinist Itzhak Perlman as soloist and Michael Tilson Thomas taking the podium around 8 o’clock. You’ll be able to hear the festivities live on the air and as Rik and Dianne offer play-by-play for the special concert.

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

“It’s very very festive,” says Perlman, “and people are there to sort of have a good experience with the music, so it’s kind of fun. It’s very exciting.” In his career that has spanned decades, the violinist knows a thing or two about gala performances, and notes that there’s a big difference in audience reactions if the eating and drinking has begun before the concert, or is awaiting them afterwards. The Israeli-born Perlman will be joined on stage by some alumni of the Perlman Music Program, which his wife Toby founded in 1994, and seeks to build bonds between the next generation of performers. “The accent is not only on music, but also on community, being good colleagues, and good human beings and caring about each other,” he explains. They’ll be playing Bach’s ‘Double’ Concerto – normally played by just a pair of soloists. “I decided that I didn’t want to just do it with one person, because then who do you choose, and so – you know, it’s not perfect, but we thought we’d use more than one person so we’re using six people, you know, and each one is playing half a movement with me of the Bach Double.” There’s also a set of melodies from film scores, including the one that he’s constantly asked to play, the theme from John Williams’ Schindler’s List. “He approached me, because he wanted me to do it… He told me a little bit about the film, and that he did it with Steven Spielberg and so on and so forth, and he said that he heard a violin, and would I be interested? And I said, “Let me think about it for a few seconds,” and then I said, yes of course.  I personally did not know what it was going to be like, because the theme is European, very old Klezmer type flavor, and so I didn’t know if John was going to be able to do it, and my God, he was quite amazing.”