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Protests Continue at San Francisco Symphony Following Music Director’s Departure

By Sara Schabas on July 3, 2024

San Francisco Symphony
San Francisco Symphony (Photo: Kristen Loken)

On June 13th, members of the San Francisco Symphony protested in support of music director Esa-Pekka Salonen before their performance. Salonen announced his departure from their orchestra earlier this season.

Driving the news: Before Esa-Pekka Salonen’s final series of concerts with the San Francisco Symphony, members of the orchestra protested outside the hall. Handing out informative leaflets and stickers, they expressed their disappointment with the symphony’s board of directors. The fliers accused the orchestra’s administration of lacking artistic vision, and cries of dismay were also heard from the concert hall’s balcony before the performance began.

A refresher: Esa-Pekka Salonen, the SFS’s musical director since 2020, announced his departure from the organization earlier this year. Salonen cited discord with the orchestra’s board of directors, who had recently announced a series of budget cuts. The board’s efforts to cut costs had led to cancelled tours, cancelled commissions, and a reduced number of concerts.

Editorials in the San Francisco Standard have recently described the SFS as “setting itself on fire.” Others have succinctly put it that the SFS is currently suffering from problems in leadership, communications, values, and respect. Losing their brilliant and innovative musical director is just the final straw.

Sara Schabas
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