Next month San Francisco’s Public Television station KQED will do its part in celebrating the Centennial Season of the San Francisco Symphony by airing the hour-long documentary San Francisco Symphony at 100. This film, which chronicles the orchestra’s century of cultural and civic contributions to its communities, local and global, was produced by Janette Gitler, whose credits include the Keeping Score projects, and narrated by author Amy Tan, a longtime friend and fan of the Symphony. The documentary, whose narrative is organized as eight themed vignettes in stand-alone chapters, includes rarely seen archival images and performance footage, interviews with musicians and supporters, and excerpts from the recording archives. A preview video has been prepared, which may be viewed through the link in the left-hand column.
This program will first be aired on September 16 and receive nine broadcasts during the month over three of the KQED digital channels. Here is the full schedule sorted by channel:
- KQED 9 (Comcast 9 and 709, Digital 9.1, 54.2, or 25.1): Friday, September 16, at 9 PM; Saturday, September 17, at 3 PM; Sunday, September 18, at noon
- KQED Life (Comcast 189, Digital 54.3): Sunday, September 18, at 8 PM; Monday, September 19, at 2 AM
- KQED Plus (UHF Channel 54, Comcast 10, Digital 9.2, 54.1, or 25.2): Wednesday, September 21, at 10 PM; Thursday, September 22, at 4 AM and 7 PM; Friday, September 23, at 1 AM
In addition there will be a public screening of the film in the Koret Auditorium of the Mail Library branch of the San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin Street) on Wednesday, October 5, at 6 PM. Gitler will be present at this event and will participate in a Q&A with the audience after the film has completed. This event has been organized in conjunction with the exhibition in the Jewett Gallery (adjacent to Koret Auditorium) celebrating the first 100 years of the Symphony.
Finally, KQED will supplement the airing of this new documentary with three rebroadcasts of the Keeping Score project dedicated to the fifth symphony in D minor (Opus 47) of Dmitri Shostakovich. This music was composed after the modernism of his previous works led to a fall from grace with the Communist Part of Soviet Russia, and it was a deliberate effort to redeem his standing. Indeed, that intention was explicitly declared in an article in the Moscow newspaper Vechernyaya Moskva, published a few days before the symphony’s premiere, which called the work “a Soviet artist’s creative response to justified criticism.” Nevertheless, recent scholars, such as Francis Maes, have theorized that the score is not so much a capitulation to Soviet authorities as it is an astutely conceived subversive undermining of their domination. Maes acknowledges that Shostakovich’s name appeared on the Vechernyaya Moskva article but recognized the possibility that the piece was actually written by a Party official. In this Keeping Score Michael Tilson Thomas examines the question of whether this theory can be warranted. The program will be rebroadcast three times, on KQED 9 at 1 PM on Sunday, September 18, and on KQED Life at 9 PM on Sunday, September 18, and at 3 PM on Monday, September 19.