Press Room


Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 503-5474
[email protected]

Nov 15, 2021


November 21 season-opening concert includes Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World, and features SFSYO Concerto Competition winner Shun Lopez performing Hristo Yotsov’s Concerto for Drum Set and Symphony Orchestra

Other 2021–22 season SFSYO performances include annual holiday performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf on December 12, a Music for Families program on April 9, and two additional concerts March 6 and May 29

Images of Daniel Stewart, Shun Lopez, and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra are available for download from the SFSYO Press Kit.
SAN FRANCISCO —The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) and Wattis Foundation Music Director Daniel Stewart open the 2021–22 season on November 21 at Davies Symphony Hall with a concert featuring winner of the 2019 San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition Shun Lopez performing Hristo Yotsov’s Concerto for Drum Set and Symphony Orchestra, in addition to Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World.  Click here to watch a video clip about the November 21 SFSYO concert.
Daniel Stewart says, "Our first concert on November 21 is centered around Dvořák's New World Symphony, a work famously designed to showcase the multicultural foundations of American music. We will also be featuring a dazzling work titled Starburst by the brilliant young composer Jessie Montgomery, as well as a wildly entertaining Concerto for Drum Set and Orchestra by Bulgarian composer Hristo Yotsov which will feature our Concerto Competition winner Shun Lopez. You won’t want to miss it!”

The SFSYO’s 2021–22 season continues on December 12 with the annual holiday performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf featuring a guest narrator (to be announced). The program also includes Hlonolofatsa Bacchanale, a traditional South African song of celebration arranged by SF Symphony Resident Conductor of Engagement and Education Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival, selections from Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite, and sing-along carols. On March 6, Daniel Stewart leads the SFSYO in Gabriella Smith’s Tumblebird Contrails, Gustav Holst’s The Planets, and Mason Bates’ Mothership—a work that Daniel Stewart and members of the SFSYO, along with composer Mason Bates, recorded remotely and released in a digital format last season (click here to watch full recording). On April 9, the SFSYO performs Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst and music from Gustav Holst’s The Planets as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s Music for Families program titled “The Planets.” The SF Symphony’s Saturday afternoon Music for Families concerts are designed to bring children together with their parents to engage with classical music through fun pre-concert activities and interactive themed performances. Concluding the season on May 29, Daniel Stewart and the SFSYO present a program featuring Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Nyx, and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2.

About Daniel Stewart
Daniel Stewart joined the San Francisco Symphony as Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) in the 2019–20 season. Previously a member of the SFSYO and a substitute violist for the San Francisco Symphony, he has concertized frequently as a viola soloist, performing in more than forty countries, and serving as principal violist of numerous ensembles. Stewart currently serves as Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony, and has conducted the San Francisco Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Frankfurt Opera-Orchestra, and Boston Ballet, among others. Besides his performances with the SFSYO, this season Stewart also makes his orchestral series debut conducting the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in a program featuring the West Coast premiere of Anna Clyne’s Sound and Fury and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, November 24 & 26–27, 2021.

Stewart’s tenure as music director of the Santa Cruz Symphony has included frequent collaborations with leading international artists such as Yuja Wang and more than twenty principal singers from the Metropolitan Opera. He has also established a thriving chamber music series, expanded education programs, and increased local collaborative partnerships. Stewart recently signed an extension to lead the ensemble for ten more years. 

In 2012, the Metropolitan Opera appointed Stewart the first conductor of their Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. He has collaborated with contemporary composers such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Thomas Adès, Mason Bates, HK Gruber, John Wineglass, and the late Karlheinz Stockhausen. Stewart's own compositions have been performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Tribeca New Music Festival, and Verbier Festival.

A San Francisco native, Daniel Stewart is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller. He has also studied with Michael Tilson Thomas, Simon Rattle, Christoph Eschenbach, and Alan Gilbert. 

About Shun Lopez
Winner of the 2019 San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, Shun Lopez was raised in Tokyo, Japan. He began his musical path when he was four with keyboard lessons and he started percussion studies at the age of six. At the age of nine he won the grand prize in the V-Drums World Championship Japan Final 2012, a nationwide competition. Following studies with Kozo Suganuma, he moved to the United States at the age of twelve. At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), he began studying classical percussion under the instruction of Stephanie Webster and Tommy Kesecker and classical piano with Machiko Kobialka. He also studied fusion jazz percussion with Tommy Igoe. From 2015 to 2016 Lopez was a percussionist in the Oakland Youth Orchestra, with whom he toured Cuba in the summer of 2016, performing in multiple cities including Havana, Santa Clara, and Cienfuegos.

Lopez was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) from 2018 to 2021. He was a part of the SFSYO’s European Tour in the summer of 2019, performing in multiple cities including Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest. Upon graduation from SFCM and Stuart Hall High School in 2021, he was awarded a merit scholarship to attend New York University where he is now a first-year percussion student.

About the SFSYO
Founded by the San Francisco Symphony in 1981, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) is recognized internationally as one of the finest youth orchestras in the world. The SFSYO’s purpose is to provide an orchestral experience of pre-professional caliber, tuition-free, to talented young musicians from the greater Bay Area. The more than 100 musicians, ranging in age from 12 to 21, represent communities from throughout the Bay Area.  SFSYO musicians are chosen from more than 300 applicants in annual competitive auditions. The SFSYO rehearses and performs at Davies Symphony Hall under the direction of Daniel Stewart, who joined the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra as its Wattis Foundation Music Director for the 2019–20 season. Jahja Ling served as the SFSYO’s first Music Director, followed by David Milnes, Leif Bjaland, Alasdair Neale, Edwin Outwater, Benjamin Shwartz, Donato Cabrera, and Christian Reif.

As part of the SFSYO’s innovative training program, musicians from the San Francisco Symphony coach the young players each Saturday afternoon in sectional rehearsals, followed by full orchestra rehearsals with Stewart. SFSYO members also have the opportunity to work with many of the world-renowned artists who perform with the San Francisco Symphony each week. San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas and Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt; guest conductors Sir Simon Rattle, Kurt Masur, Valery Gergiev, and Leonard Slatkin; as well as guest artists Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Midori, Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, Nicola Benedetti, and many others have worked with the SFSYO. Of equal importance, the students are able to talk with these prominent musicians, asking questions about their lives, their professional and personal experiences, and about music. The SFSYO has toured internationally on eleven different occasions, garnering rave reviews and critical acclaim for its artistry in some of Europe’s most prestigious venues, such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonie, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Moscow Conservatory, Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg as part of the White Nights Festival, Vienna Musikverein, and others. Its alumni have won positions in many major orchestras throughout the US and in Europe.

The SFSYO continued to operate during the 2020–21 season, adapting to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and pivoting to remote learning. SFSYO members participated in weekly online interactive sessions led by Daniel Stewart, covering topics such as score study, analysis of orchestral repertoire, audition preparation and strategies, effective practice techniques, and keeping active musically during COVID-19. Other activities included robust coaching, alumni and faculty roundtables, and special presentations by SF Symphony musicians and administrators. SFSYO musicians were also encouraged to submit video performances, musical compositions, and even samples of writing about music for feedback and group discussions with their peers.

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