Performance features The Villalobos Brothers and Jacomo Bairos leading the San Francisco Symphony in music by Revueltas, Falla, and original compositions by The Villalobos Brothers

Mexican heritage is celebrated in Davies Symphony Hall lobbies with Pre-Colonial-inspired art installations erected October 10


Group discounts available; children 18 and under receive half-price tickets

Dia de los Muertos Community ConcertCatrinas y Catrines at SF Symphony By Brandon Patoc 

SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) celebrates Día de los Muertos on Saturday, November 3 at 2pm in Davies Symphony Hall, with performances by the Villalobos Brothers and the San Francisco Symphony led by conductor Jacomo Bairos. The concert, plus lobby art and activities guided by bilingual docents, immerses audiences in the vibrant cultural traditions of the holiday, marked annually in Mexico and throughout Latin America to celebrate the lives of those who have died.

Conductor Jacomo Bairos and the SFS open the 2pm concert with Sam Hyken’s Toccata y Fuga, a Spanish dance-infused arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The program continues withSilvestre Revueltas’ evocative Noche de Jaranas from La noche de los Mayas, composed for the 1939 film of the same name, after which Casa Círculo Cultural perform a traditional neon Quetzalcóatl serpent dance. Two works by Manuel de Falla follow: selections from El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), commissioned in 1919 by Diaghilev with costumes designed by Picasso; and selections from Falla’s Andalusian-influenced ballet El Amor Brujo, during which dancers from Casa Círculo Cultural join on stage. The program closes with the Villalobos Brothers in their original compositions, including “El San Lorenzo” and “El Pijul.” Sharing a message of “love, brotherhood, and social justice,” the Mexican-American ensemble’s songs infuse elements of jazz, classical, and Mexican folk music. See below for full program details.

Dia de los Muertos Community ConcertCatrinas y Catrines at SF Symphony By Brandon Patoc 

LOBBY ACTIVITIES: Beginning at 1pm, guests can enjoy art and activities in the colorfully decorated Davies Symphony Hall lobbies. Attendees will be greeted by “Catrines y Catrinas, the iconic image of Día de los Muertos celebrations, in hand-painted, Aztec-themed dresses presented by Casa Círculo Cultural of Redwood City. Guests can participate in face painting and a Catrina photobooth on the First Tier.  Bay Area artist Irma Ortiz demonstrates her process of creating decorated sugar skulls in an interactive exhibit. With costumes and painted faces, musicians from the Mission District’s Mariachi Juvenil la Misión and dancers from Cuicacalli Ballet Folklórico Mexicano perform on the First Tier. Bilingual docents will be stationed at each altar and installation.

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, erected October 10, feature work by artists includingCasa Círculo Cultural, Fernando Escartiz, Camila Pérez-Goddard, Susan Peña, Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea, Alyssa Aviles, Grace Sanabria, Madres en Acción, and Maria Concepción Jiménez. Guests are invited to bring objects, photos, and offerings to contribute to the community altars:

1. Casa Círculo Cultural decorate Davies Symphony Hall windows with oversized, heavily articulated skeletons made of wood, created in the style of 19th-century Mexican engraver José Guadalupe Posadas.

2. Sculptor Fernando Escartiz’s arch installation Huapango para los (A)finados (left) is modeled after the Baroque altarpiece in the church of Santa Maria Tonanzintla in the state of Puebla in Mexico. With flower wreaths, plants, and angels, and topped with skeleton versions of every San Francisco Symphony musician, the arch depicts the indigenous belief of heaven.

3. In Exodus and MemoriesFernando Escartiz pays tribute to the men and women who left their homeland to seek new horizons. A larger-than-life papier-mâché skeleton holds a suitcase which carries the memories, music, culture, and flavors that he will contribute to his new land.

Skull-from-MarthaFernando Escartiz’s replica of the Teotihuacan “death disk” Courtesy Fernando Escartiz

4. Fernando Escartiz’s final piece is a replica of the famous Teotihuacan “death disk,” a skull sculpture reflecting the death cult of pre-Colonial cultures.

5. Camila Pérez-Goddard creates Árbol de Vida, Ángel de Esperanza, a life-sized papier-mâché sculpture of an Angel of Hope skeleton interacting with the Tree of Life.  Adorned with “Paz, Amor, Justicia y Esperanza” (“Peace, Love, Justice, and Hope”) banners, the interactive installation will include a bed of marigolds, candles lining the floor, and an opportunity for patrons to leave messages for their departed loved ones.

6. Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea, Alyssa Aviles, and Grace Sanabria design Legados Creativos (Creative Legacies), an altar that commemorates the lives of civil and human rights activists including Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz, Victor Jara, Nina Simone, and Curtis Mayfield. The four-piece altar includes portraits in the papel picado style, tapetes de arena (sand rugs), homemade paper flowers, and candles. 

7. An altar designed by Susan PeñaLa Música Nunca Muere (Music Never Dies) exhibits Pre-Colonial musical instruments crafted by the artist, including ceramic ocarinas and whistles, and design elements from pre-Colonial pyramids, statuary, ceramics, and frescoes.

8. Madres en Acción, a parents’ organization from community centers in Redwood City, presents a large papier-mâché alebrije (a bright, fantastical folk art creature) displayed playing the piano.

9. Maria Concepción Jiménez’s installation Voces, música y poesía is a traditional Mexican altar that honors the lives of artists who used their guitars as weapons for social justice, including Mercedes Sosa (Argentina), Daniel Viglietti (Uruguay), Violeta Parra (Chile), and Pete Seeger (USA).

Click here to watch a video about the Symphony’s Día de los Muertos celebrations.

LUNCH FUNDRAISER: On November 3 at 11am, the Symphony’s San Francisco League presents a lunch in the Wattis Room at Davies Symphony Hall. Proceeds from the lunch support the Orchestra’s education and community programs. Lunch packages include a seated lunch with a tequila pull, silent auction, a sneak peek of the “Catrines y Catrinas,” and other Día de los Muertos surprises, followed by premium seating at the 2pm concert. The lunch will conclude by 1pm so that guests may enjoy the pre-concert lobby activities. Lunch packages also include an invitation to a private tour of the Día de los Muertos art installations with the artists on Tuesday, October 23, followed by a reception in the Green Room with a special Mezcal pouring. Call the Volunteer Council for details at (415) 503-5500 and purchase tickets on the Symphony’s website Ticket exchanges and group discounts not available.

The Symphony Store in the main lobby will offer a Día de los Muertos pop-up shop during the event. Featuring authentic pieces from Latin American artisans from Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, and Guatemala, styles available for purchase include clothing, jewelry, purses, accessories, prints, cards, painted skulls, woven goods, toys and art. The Symphony Store will also be the exclusive place to purchase media and albums from the Villalobos Brothers. To celebrate the season, throughout the month of October select goods and calaveras from featured partners will be available for purchase at the Symphony Store during SF Symphony concerts.

Dia de los Muertos Community ConcertDía de los Muertos at SF Symphony By Brandon Patoc


Portuguese-American conductor JACOMO BAIROS is the Amarillo Symphony’s 17th Music Director and Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director for Miami-based Nu Deco Ensemble, an eclectic chamber orchestra designed for the 21st century. In the 2016-17 season, Bairos performed and commissioned nine world premieres, debuted with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and continued his strong relationships with the National (directing their critically acclaimed DeClassified Series), Atlanta, Sarasota, and Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestras. In previous seasons, Bairos made debuts with the Houston, Knoxville and Oaxaca (Mexico) Symphony Orchestras and returned to the St. Louis Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, and the Florida Orchestra. Bairos has created interactive programs and concerts such as Amarillo’s Class Act and SymphonyKids, Nu Deco Ensemble’s Imagine Series, and Carnegie Hall’s Link-Up Program which annually enrich the lives of tens of thousands of children. Jacomo is a graduate of the conducting programs at the Peabody Institute and Aspen Music Festival, as well as a graduate from the Julliard School as an accomplished and award-winning tubist. Bairos has performed, toured, and recorded with the New York Philharmonic as well as with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cincinnati, and Seattle. He has held principal positions with orchestras in America and Spain, and from 2004-2007 Bairos was principal Tuba for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

The VILLALOBOS BROTHERS (Ernesto, Alberto, and Luis) were born and raised in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. Acclaimed as one of today’s leading Contemporary Mexican ensembles, their original compositions and arrangements celebrate the richness of Mexican folk music with the intricate harmonies of jazz and classical music. In 2013 they performed at Cumbre Tajin, one of the most important music festivals in Latin America, where they shared the stage with Regina Spector, Pet Shop Boys and Los Tigres del Norte. Later that year, they became the Ultimate winners of the “2013 Battle of the Boroughs”, one of National Public Radio’s flagship competitions sponsored by The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, WNYC and WQXR’s in New York City. The Villalobos Brothers were first Mexican band ever to play at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NYC, as featured guest artists, adding this historic venue to a list of credits that includes the Latin Grammy Awards, Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim Museum, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations, Rockefeller Center, the New York Mets field at Shea Stadium, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, New Victory Theatre in Broadway, The Miller Stage in Milwaukee, The Ford Theatres in Hollywood, and Teatro Amadeo Roldán in Havana. In 2015, the group was chosen as Musical Artist in Residence for Lincoln Center Education, 92nd St Y, Latino Arts, and The New York Botanical Garden’s record-breaking exhibit “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life”. The Villalobos Brothers have collaborated with legendary musicians including Grammy winners Arturo O’Farrill, Antonio Sánchez, Eduardo Magallanes, Dan Zanes, and many others.

Dia de los Muertos Community ConcertDía de los Muertos at SF Symphony By Brandon Patoc


Casa Círculo Cultural is a vibrant, grass-roots, multidisciplinary art organization dedicated to creating cultural programming reflective of the experiences of the Latino communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. This year, they perform for the ninth time at the San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos Community Concert.

Founded in 1921, the Community Music Center (CMC) is the Bay Area’s oldest community arts organization and one of San Francisco’s largest providers of free and low-cost music classes and concerts. During the last school year, over 2,400 students of all ages, ethnicities and income levels enrolled in CMC programs and over 20,000 people enjoyed musical performances at no or low cost.

Under the direction of Consul General Gemi José González López, The Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco serves the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma, and Trinity of the State of California and the entire state of Hawaii. It provides consular services, protects and defends the rights and interests of the Mexican community and promotes the interests of Mexico and its culture. Since 2014, the Consulate develops the multidisciplinary festival MEX I AM, which showcases the best of Mexico in arts, gastronomy, culture and ideas.


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