Daniel Stewart has a long history with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. He’s returned to the ensemble that was a big part of his musical development when he was a violist playing with them; now he’s their new Music Director. They have their first concert of the season Sunday afternoon, with a program that includes a work inspired by and dedicated to the woman who made the SFSYO possible.
There’s more information about the SFS Youth Orchestra concert here.
“It’s a joy to come back here and to be part of this extraordinary ensemble and its history,” Stewart says. “And this family of musicians and music supporters here at Davies hall is very meaningful to me, having come up through the ranks here, as a Youth Orchestra member and then also subbing as a violist with the regular symphony.” In the intervening years, he’s conducted at the Metropolitan Opera, and currently is Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony. “The Youth Orchestra was really such a catalyst for opening my eyes to the rest of the world and different cultures, and through their tours, I caught the bug for that, and thankfully I was able to travel so many places through my viola, it was a passport.” He says that part of the joy of the new position is being able to pass that experience on. “I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to make the experience as special as it was for me. And I know at this very impressionable age, the opportunities for this type of inspiration, for this type of wonderment, and this type of self-discovery is huge.” They’re playing music from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, which he says has the benefit of covering a wide range of emotions and styles, the Grieg Piano Concerto with the winner of this year’s Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, and a piece by Michael Tilson Thomas called Agnegram. It was written in honor of pianist Agnes Albert, whose focus on education and generosity got the Youth Orchestra off the ground. “I just want to pinch myself, it feels like it was tailor-made for this occasion. Not only do we get to celebrate Michael’s compositional life, but his tenure here… And the subject is, literally, the founding patron of the Youth Orchestra.”