SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY CELEBRATES DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS WITH CONCERT EVENT, LOBBY ART, COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES, AND ¡FIESTA! DINNER EXPERIENCE, NOVEMBER 5
Oct 19, 2022
Click here to access the Online Press Kit, which includes PDFs of this press release in English and Spanish, artist headshots, and images from past SF Symphony Día de los Muertos celebrations.
Oprima aquí para acceder al Kit Publicitario en Línea, el cual incluye PDFs de este comunicado de prensa en inglés y español, retratos de artistas e imágenes de pasadas celebraciones del Día de los Muertos con la Sinfónica de San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Symphony presents its 15th annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at Davies Symphony Hall, featuring a concert program of traditional and contemporary Latin American music, preceded by a festive array of family-friendly activities and followed by the ¡Fiesta! Día de los Muertos fundraiser, on Saturday, November 5. Carlos Miguel Prieto conducts the San Francisco Symphony in the concert program, which includes Arturo Márquez’ Concierto de Otoño, featuring trumpet soloist Pacho Flores, as well as music by Evencio Castellanos Yumar, José Pablo Moncayo García, Gabriela Ortiz, and Silvestre Revueltas. The concert opens with an Aztec neon serpent procession featuring Casa Círculo Cultural and Canción de Obsidiana. Every year leading up to the Symphony’s Day of the Dead celebration, the lobbies of Davies Symphony Hall are transformed with immersive art installations and altars built by local artists to honor the living and the deceased. Guests are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy the art installations, family activities, sugar skulls, and live music, and everyone is invited to contribute to the interactive altars.
Tickets can be purchased online at SFSymphony.org/Dia, by calling the SF Symphony box office at 415-864-6000, or by visiting the box office located on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.
Curated by longtime SF Symphony collaborator Martha Rodríguez-Salazar, this year’s Día de los Muertos celebration honors the ancestral and sacred rites and beliefs of several Indigenous cultures of the Americas that hold the belief that death and life are not two independent and isolated states but a natural part of the cycle of life. The event features music, art installations, and ofrendas from both ancient and contemporary communities, including the Náhuatl from central Mexico, the Wixárikas (or Huicholes) from the Sierra Madre Occidental, the Mayas from the Yucatán peninsula, and a special homage to Native American people of the Bay Area. When the Spaniards came to the Americas, one of the most important celebrations for the Aztecs was called Xocotl Huetzi, which translates as “the great feast of the gods,” marking the completion of the annual cycle of cultivation of maize. It was celebrated around the same time as the Christian feast days of All Saints and All Souls, on November 1 and 2. In an attempt to win the spirit of the Indigenous people, the Spaniards put All Saints Day on a par with the Day of the Dead, even though the two celebrations have completely different origins. The Day of the Dead stands today as an example of the cultural fusion that took place following the conquest of the Americas, and the resilience of Indigenous people to retain and adapt their sacred beliefs amidst a new Western presence. Martha Rodríguez-Salazar comments, “We hope that this event inspires a deep appreciation of what life can offer us through music, art, and community.”
Día de los Muertos Concert is presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission. ¡Fiesta! Día de los Muertos presenting sponsors: Alexander’s Steakhouse Group, Pamela Rummage Culp, and Sharon & David Seto.
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS CONCERT
Casa Círculo Cultural opens the Día de los Muertos concert at 2pm with an Aztec neon serpent procession, accompanied by Canción de Obsidiana performing on pre-Hispanic instruments. Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto then takes the stage with the San Francisco Symphony, conducting Silvestre Revueltas’ Sensemayá, followed by a performance of Kauyumari by Gabriela Ortiz. Rounding out the first half is Arturo Márquez’ Concierto de Otoño, featuring trumpet soloist Pacho Flores. After intermission, Prieto conducts the SF Symphony in Evencio Castellanos Yumar’s Santa Cruz de Pacairigua, Arturo Márquez’ Danzón No. 2, and José Pablo Moncayo García’s Huapango. Dancers from Casa Círculo Cultural are featured throughout the concert, adding to the immersive experience of the SF Symphony’s Día de los Muertos celebration.
Carlos Miguel Prieto was born into a musical family of Spanish and French descent in Mexico City. He has been music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México since 2007, music director of the Louisiana Philharmonic since 2006, and in 2008 was appointed music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería in Mexico City. In 2022, he was announced as music director designate of the North Carolina Symphony, and will begin his tenure in 2023. Recent highlights include engagements with the London Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie, Hallé Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Spanish National Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Chicago Symphony. He makes his San Francisco Symphony debut at this performance. Since 2002, alongside Gustavo Dudamel, Mr. Prieto has conducted the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, which draws young musicians from the entire American continent. A staunch proponent of music education, he served as Principal Conductor of the YOA from its inception until 2011 when he was appointed Music Director. Mr. Prieto is renowned for championing Latin American music, as well as for his dedication to new music. He has conducted more than 100 world premieres of works by Mexican and American composers, and has championed works by Black composers including Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, and Courtney Bryan. Mr. Prieto has an extensive discography on the Naxos and Sony labels, and his recordings have won an Opus Klassik Award and been nominated for two Grammys. He was recognized by Musical America as the 2019 Conductor of the Year and is a graduate of Princeton and Harvard.
Trumpet soloist Pacho Flores was awarded first prizes in the Maurice André International Contest, Philip Jones International Contest, and Cittá di Porcia International Contest after beginning his training in Venezuela’s El Sistema. Working in both classical and popular styles, Mr. Flores has performed with the Kiev Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Garde Républicaine, NHK Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, Osaka Philharmonic, Düsseldorf Symphony, and the Arctic Philharmonic, among others. He has also given recitals at Carnegie Hall and Salle Pleyel in Paris. This performance marks his San Francisco Symphony debut. Serving as one of the founding members of the Simón Bolívar Brass Quintet, he has taken part in numerous tours around Europe, South America, United States, and Japan. As an orchestral musician, he has held principal trumpet positions in the Simón Bolívar Symphony, Saito Kinen Orchestra, and Miami Symphony. As the founding director of the Latin American Trumpet Academy in Venezuela, he mentors the next generation of young talent. Mr. Flores is a Stomvi artist, exclusively playing trumpets manufactured by the company, and is actively involved in the development of his instruments. He is also a Deutsche Grammophon artist with the recordings Cantar, Entropía, Fractales, and the double CD-DVD Cantos y Revueltas.
Canción de Obsidiana was created in 1989 by its director, Victor-Mario Zaballa. The ensemble strives to create an atmospheric landscape of timeless sounds with original compositions incorporating traditional Mexican hand-made acoustic indigenous instruments and electronic musical instruments. The wind and percussion instruments are replicas of pre-Columbian pieces from museum collections made by Mr. Zaballa. The ensemble has performed at Lincoln Center, Theater for the New City, deYoung Museum, Mexican Museum, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, The Lab in San Francisco, Monterey World Music Festival, Tucson Museum of Art, and Oakland Museum.
Born in Mexico City and trained classically as a flutist and opera singer, Martha Rodríguez-Salazar is a curator, teacher, choir director, producer, and director of musical and theater productions that celebrate Latin-American culture. She promotes Mexican and Latino culture in the Bay Area through her curatorial work and extensive performing and teaching activities through the Community Music Center and Mariachi Program at the Unified School District. She has been the musical advisor and curator for the San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos Concert festivities since their inception in 2008. Learn more at www.martharodriguezsalazar.com.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY LOBBY ACTIVITIES
Beginning at 12:45pm on November 5, guests can enjoy art and activities in the colorfully decorated Davies Symphony Hall lobbies. Attendees will be greeted by and have an opportunity to take photos with catrines and catrinas, the iconic image of Día de los Muertos celebrations, presented by Casa Círculo Cultural of Redwood City. In Lak’ech Danza Azteca, a traditional Aztec dance group based in Oakland, will perform outside of Davies Symphony Hall on Grove Street. Bay Area artist Irma Ortiz will demonstrate her process of creating decorated sugar skulls in an interactive exhibit and will have sugar skull decorating activities for children. The Mexican Museum will have two activities for the whole family—Ojos de Dios and skull mask making—and there will be a Huichol skull coloring activity for families, with artwork created by artist Adrián Arias. Bilingual docents stationed at each altar and installation will help guide and immerse the audience in the holiday’s rich cultural traditions.
¡FIESTA! DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS RECEPTION & DINNER
The ¡Fiesta! Día de los Muertos fundraising event, held by the SF Symphony’s San Francisco League and chaired by Sharon Seto, follows the concert with continued celebrations at the iconic Don Ramon’s restaurant. Ticket packages include premium seating at the concert followed by margarita reception, seated dinner, and online auction. Presenting sponsors of ¡Fiesta! Día de los Muertos are Alexander’s Steakhouse Group, Pamela Rummage Culp, and Sharon & David Seto. Performing at the reception will be the Community Music Center Mariachi, featuring members of CMC's Mission District Young Musicians Program and the SFUSD Mariachi Program. CMC's Mission District Young Musicians Program is a tuition-free program offering a comprehensive music education with a focus on Latin music and primarily serving Latino youth from the Mission District.
Packages start at $350 and can be purchased online at sfsymphony.org/DiaFiesta or by phone at 415.503.5351. Proceeds from the event support the San Francisco Symphony and its artistic, community, and education programs.
IMMERSIVE LOBBY ART
Art installations and altars built by local artists honor the living and the deceased. Curated by Martha Rodríguez-Salazar, this year’s installations feature works by artists including Adrián Arias, Fernando Escartiz, and Deirdre Weinberg; and organizations including Casa Círculo Cultural, The Mexican Museum, Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts and American Indian Community Center, and Mission Neighborhood Centers. Guests are invited to write messages at one of the interactive altars.
Multi-disciplinary artist Adrián Arias presents an interactive installation featuring a pyramid with three sides depicting part of the Huichol symbology. One side of the pyramid features the Blue Deer, considered the most important being in Huichol mythology, because it is considered the creator of the world, assistant to the fire grandfather (Tatewari), and creator of peyote and corn. The second side features fire—one of the main deities and even older than the sun—with the red of the fire representing the life of god in the east, an area where the God Peyote is found. The third and final side depicts blue rain and corn—the central symbol and primary source of sustenance in the Huichol world—as well as an Ojo de Dios (“Eye of God”), which is an amulet and symbol of power and protection. In two sections of the pyramid there is an open yellow suitcase—symbolic of corn and the sun—in which visitors are invited place hand-written messages to deceased loved ones or special reflections.
Casa Círculo Cultural decorates Davies Symphony Hall windows with nine ten-foot-high, oversized skulls wearing Wixárika clothing, surrounded by the Eye of God, a religious symbol of the Huichol Indians who still live in the Sierra Madre mountain range in Mexico. Casa Círculo Cultural also presents Day of the Dead the artwork of young students and their parents from their art classes in Redwood City, and a photo op on the first tier.
Mexican sculptor Fernando Escartiz brings two of his pieces to the Davies Hall lobbies. The Journey of the Deceased is an archway over the stairway from the Orchestra level to the First Tier based on the yarn painting of Wixárika artist Guadalupe Gonzales Ríos, and it represents the journey that a dead person needs to make to arrive to the underworld, and the importance of the Blue Deer for the Wixárika culture. Orchestra in the Clouds is an installation featuring papier-mâché figures of San Francisco Symphony musicians, musical director Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto and trumpet soloist Pacho Flores.
In Lak’ech Danza Azteca is a traditional danza Azteca group based in Oakland, founded in 2013 by Manuel García. They teach about the meaning and purpose of Aztec traditions that have been passed over many generations, including danza Azteca, native languages, art, and ancient history and traditions. The name of the group translates to “I am your other you.” The group perform outside of Davies Symphony Hall on Grove Street as patrons arrive for the festivities.
The Mexican Museum celebrates the traditions of Hanal Pixan—a Mayan holiday that’s name translates to “food for the souls” and pays tribute to the departed—with an altar inspired in the holiday’s rituals and a photo exhibit that illustrates the Choo Ba'ak celebration. The photos in the series were taken by the artist Alejandro Cruz on three visits to Pomuch and Calkini, Campeche, during 2010, 2013 and 2015. In Pomuch, as part of Hanal Pixan, the villagers honor their deceased with the Choo Ba'ak, a ceremony for cleaning the bones of the departed and arranging them in hand-embroidered linens that are generally decorated with angels, flowers, and the name of the deceased. The tradition takes place October 26 to November 2.
The Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts and American Indian Cultural Center present an altar dedicated to honoring the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people whose lives have been lost to femicide, domestic violence, and other forms of preventable violence on native land and across all borders. The focal point for the altar is “Broken into One,” a cantera Mexican limestone sculpture referencing the ancient Aztec Coyolxauhqui stone, which depicted the mythical lunar deity Coyolxauqui, in a state of dismemberment and decapitation by her brother Huitzilopochtli. This sculpture expresses the “Coatlicue State”— a term used by Chicana author Gloria Anzaldua that describes the “internal whirlwind which gives and takes away life, invoking art”—and symbolizes the strength and resilience of those who are living. The red handprint symbolizes the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement as a way to represent thousands of women and people who have been silenced in the American Continent.
The Mission Neighborhood Centers presents Remembering You from the Soul, an altar created by seniors and children from the center’s after school Mission Girls Program, who came together to learn about Huichol art traditions and weave the Ojos de Dios, or “Eyes of God,” from yarn. Ojos de Dios offer protection to those from our past while also offering a message of hope. The altar also includes traditional Catrinas which were created with recycled materials by the Center’s seniors. The image of the Catrina was created by the Mexican engraver and caricaturist José Guadalupe Posada in 1912 as a social criticism towards the aristocratic social class of the time and has been an important image of the Day of the Dead since then. The altar also includes photographs and elements of cultural and symbolic traditions, including salt, the element of purification; water, which quenches the thirst of souls after their long journey; candles and flowers to guide the dead back to their old homes; and incense, used to cleanse a place from evil spirits so that the soul can enter the home without danger.
Sugar-skull artist Irma Ortiz was born in the state of Querétaro, Mexico. She has been a Bay Area resident for more than 30 years. Her family has maintained the traditional arts and crafts traditions from many generations, and she learned from them the art of sugar skull making and the creation of altars for the Día de los Muertos. She enjoys demonstrating what she knows of her culture. She has passed on her craft knowledge to her daughters and grandchildren. Irma has been demonstrating her sugar skull art at the San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos since 2011.
Painter and printmaker Deirdre Weinberg installation pays tribute to current and ancient native rites and rituals with three wooden figures united in mourning and celebration of life. Each figure wears a fabric that represents their heritage, painted in bright colors. The plexiglass cutout areas, painted to look like stained glass, are the faces and specific implements of mourning held by each figure, who are stitched together with leather or rope.
The mission of the American Indian Cultural Center of San Francisco is to improve and promote the well-being of the American Indian community and to increase the visibility of American Indian cultures in an urban setting in order to cultivate awareness, understanding, and respect. The AICCSF strives to maintain, preserve, and restore a permanent and prominent presence for the Bay Area American Indian inter-tribal community that continues to exist. Their vision is to create and provide a dynamic place of learning, culture, and community to the citizens of the Bay Area to learn about American Indian heritage and culture and to enhance a sense of understanding about American Indians in the urban environment.
Casa Círculo Cultural of Redwood City, California is a grass-roots multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to creating cultural programming reflective of the experiences of the Latino communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since its inception in May 2009, Casa Círculo Cultural has established, produced, and presented works of theater, musical concerts, performances, TV programs, painting, sculpture, photography, taekwondo, creative writing, music classes, and, most recently, a radio station featuring content that addresses the social needs of the community. Casa Círculo Cultural aims to provide a focus on creativity for underserved Latino youth and adults throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Mexican Museum was founded in 1975 in San Francisco by Chicano artist Peter Rodriguez with the purpose of creating a US institution where the aesthetic expression of the Mexican, Mexican-American and Latin-American population would be represented. Since its inception, the museum has expanded its vision to reflect the evolution of the Mexican, Chicano, and Latinx experience in the United States. A Smithsonian Affiliate since 2011, the Mexican Museum tells a story that many countries and cultures in Latin America, as well as the United States, have in common: a tale of hope, expansion, redefined borders, economy, and spirituality. It is a shared history of emotions and opportunities manifested through a myriad objects and symbols. The Mexican Museum is about connection, reflection, enjoyment, and knowledge of all that we share, and is a device for building bridges, reducing distances, and conceptually outlining a new Pan-Americanism.
The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts was established in 1977 by artists and community activists with a shared vision to promote, preserve, and develop the cultural arts that reflect the living tradition and experiences of the Chicano, Central and South American, and Caribbean people, and to make arts accessible as an essential element to community development and well-being. MCCLA is a multicultural, multidisciplinary arts organization committed to the collaborative artistic vision of the Latino art forms. MCCLA provides the community with an arena in which to develop new artistic skills, and supports local and established artists that serve their community. MCCLA collaborates with other arts, social, and humanitarian groups to provide the widest range of programming possible.
Mission Neighborhood Centers deliver culturally sensitive, multi-generational, community-based services to all the families in San Francisco. They develop and promote leadership skills that empower families to build strong, healthy, and vibrant neighborhoods. Members of two of their core programs at their Mission campus participated in the creation of this altar: the Mission Girls of San Francisco, a gender-specific program that strives to empower young women to achieve academically and become agents of change in the community, and the Healthy Aging and Disability Program, which has been supporting older adults and adults with disabilities in the Mission District for more than 40 years, providing them with a client-centered, culturally-responsive approach to help them live more independent and fulfilling lives.
The Día de los Muertos Concert is presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission. The mission of The San Francisco Arts Commission is to invest in an arts community where all artists and cultural workers have the freedom, resources, and platform to share their stories, regardless of race. The San Francisco Arts Commission believes that art is critical to shaping neighborhoods and the urban environment and for fostering social change to confront and resolve the inequities of the past and present to move towards a more equitable future.
Special thanks to the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco and Consul General Remedios Gómez Arnau.
CALENDAR EDITORS, PLEASE NOTE:
Concert takes place at Davies Symphony Hall, located at 201 Van Ness Ave in San Francisco.
¡Fiesta! Día de los Muertos dinner takes place at Don Ramon’s restaurant, located at 225 11th St in San Francisco.
Concert tickets, which include access to the pre-concert altar exhibit and lobby activities, range $22.50–$110 and can be purchased online at SFSymphony.org/Dia, by calling the box office at 415-864-6000, or by visiting the box office located on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. Tickets are 50% off for children and young adults under 18.
¡Fiesta! Día de los Muertos dinner packages include pre-concert altar exhibit and lobby activities, premium concert seating at Davies Hall, followed by a post-concert reception, seated dinner, and online auction at Don Ramon’s restaurant. Prices begin at $350 and can be purchased online at SFSymphony.org/Diafiesta or by phone at 415-503-5351.
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.
[To view the full bilingual press release, click on DOWNLOAD A PDF]