Symphony And Soul On Dia De Los Muertos

Photos by Christopher M Howard 

Members of Casa Círculo Cultural perform at the San Francisco Symphony’s 14th annual Dia de los Muertos concert at Davies Symphony Hall, November 6, 2021

Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. A singular holiday that asks us to reflect on, and also celebrate, those loved ones who’ve passed. For fourteen years (one of those years virtually) San Franciscans have gathered at Davies Symphony Hall to celebrate Dia de los Muertos with the San Francisco Symphony, the Latin community, and their neighbors.

Members of Casa Círculo Cultural perform at the San Francisco Symphony’s 14th annual Dia de los Muertos concert at Davies Symphony Hall, November 6, 2021

This year, fiesta-goers encountered vibrant altars stationed across three levels of the orchestra lobby, each curated by Martha Rodríguez-Salazar and produced by a variety of local artists. Festooned and elegant Catrines and Catrinas wandered silently through the Hall, posing for photos while supplying an essential and unexpectedly reassuring closeness to mortality. Those with a sweet tooth gathered round the candy skull makers, buying up the colorful sweets as quickly as the artisans could decorate them. On the upper floors, parents tended to the flocks of children as they made colorful paper flowers and masks, facilitated by The Mexican Museum.

The San Francisco Symphony’s family-friendly Dia de los Muertos celebration on November 6, 2021 included fun pre-concert activities such as paper flower and sugar skull mask making.

Inside the Hall, celebrants were treated to an extravaganza conducted by Venezuelan rising star, Enluis Montes Olivar; whose natural and nuanced style infused the evening. The concert served up traditional Latin American music and culture with a chaser of contemporary rhythms and sounds by Flor Amargo ‘La Reina del Barrio’, performed with the San Francisco Symphony and dancers from the Casa Círculo Cultural of Redwood City. Featured violinist Alexander Barantschik ignited the stage with a performance both poignant and precise that served as a soaring homage to those loved ones the attendees had gathered remember.

Conductor Enluis Montes Olivar leads the San Francisco Symphony in its 14th annual Dia de los Muertos concert, November 6, 2021

The 2021 Día de los Muertos Concert was presented by a partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission.

After the concert the audience was escorted to the opulent Green Room at the War Memorial building by Mariachis for the first-ever Fiesta Reception & Dinner and after party; a fundraising auction and benefit made possible by the San Francisco Symphony’s San Francisco League chair Sharon Seto, her husband and Presenting Sponsor David Seto, and Presenting Sponsor Pamela Rummage Culp. Dia De Los Muertos Concert Celebration and Dinner was an event enjoyed by the entire community with a sold-out concert and dinner! The proceeds benefit the Symphony along with its myriad community programs including its educational programs to help support thousands of Bay Area children.

The San Francisco Symphony presents its 14th annual Dia de los Muertos celebration, November 6, 2021