Rufus Wainwright performs the World Premiere of his Five Shakespeare Sonnets with San Francisco Symphony

Jeffrey Kahane conducts the Orchestra in Weill’s Symphony No. 2 and leads from the keyboard in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major

On November 11, 12 and 13 at Davies Symphony Hall, Jeffrey Kahane leads the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and vocalist Rufus Wainwright in the world premiere of the singer’s SFS-commissioned Five Shakespeare Sonnets. For these concerts Kahane will also conduct the Orchestra in Kurt Weill’s Symphony No. 2 and lead from the keyboard in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major. These concerts mark Rufus Wainwright’s debut with the San Francisco Symphony.

Rufus Wainwright composed and orchestrated Five Shakespeare Sonnets, his song-cycle of Shakespeare’s Sonnets numbers 43, 20, 10, 129 and 87. He first composed these for a small ensemble to perform as part of Shakespeares Sonette, a play directed by avant-garde theater visionary Robert Wilson. The play was staged in April 2009 at the Berliner Ensemble, the German theatre company established by playwright Bertolt Brecht and his wife, Helene Weigel, in 1949 in East Berlin . With the success of the performances, and encouragement from the San Francisco Symphony, Wainwright was further inspired to create full orchestrations for the Sonnets. Of them Wainwright enthused, “One cannot immerse themselves in Shakespeare's sonnets and not be submerged, drowned, and finally resurrected a better human being. They are, hands down, the greatest works ever written.” Solo sketches of sonnets 10, 20 and 43 with Wainwright accompanying himself on piano can be heard on his 2010 recording All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu.

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