San Francisco Symphony celebrates Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon

The celebration marked the 24th anniversary of the Symphony’s signature event.

On Saturday, February 17, at Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Symphony celebrated the Year of the Dragon with the Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon concert and banquet.This year’s celebration marked the 24th anniversary of the Symphony’s signature event, which is an elegant celebration of the Lunar New Year, drawing upon vibrant Asian traditions, past and present. The celebration began at 4pm with pre-concert festivities in the Davies Symphony Hall lobbies featuring an array of entertainment and activities, including fortune readings, dragon dance performances, ribbon dancers, a reptile show, calligraphy, and performances by Parangal Dance Company, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, and Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company. A special Ruby Reception for top donors also took place at 4pm in the Wattis Room.

The Lunar New Year concert began with a festive Dragon dance, followed by welcome remarks by San Francisco Symphony CEO Matthew Spivey. Conductor Mei-Ann Chen then took the stage and led the San Francisco Symphony in a program of works by Asian composers including Che Chang, Chen Ge Xin, Vivian Fung, Huang Ruo, Li Huan-Zhi, and Phoon Yew Tien. Violinist Paul Huang joined Chen and the Symphony to perform music from Tan Dun’s Violin Concerto: Fire Ritual, followed by Fritz Kreisler’s Scherzo as an encore. 

The glamorous post-concert Lunar New Year Banquet (6:30pm) in Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall was attended by nearly 300 guests. The décor for the event included projection design featuring works from the collection of the Asian Art Museum, hanging red lanterns and lighting design by Got Light, and beautiful table decor and florals by McCalls Catering & Events. Following another performance by Dragon Dancers from Lion Dance ME, San Francisco Symphony CEO Matt Spivey greeted the Banquet guests and introduced Mayor London Breed, who spoke to the Banquet guests and extended her congratulations to the committee on a successful event. Matt Spivey then introduced SF Symphony second violinist Chen Zhao and Bay Area pianist Elizabeth Dorman, who performed selections from Chen Gang’s Butterfly Lover’s Violin Concerto. Following the performance, event chair Ella Qing Hou and honorary chair Fred Levin spoke from the stage and thanked everyone for their support. The evening ended with a Lucky Draw, led by Qing Hou and Levin. 

The Banquet’s five-course dinner was catered by McCalls Catering & Events, with lighting design by Got Light. In-kind support for Lunar New Year was generously provided by The Caviar Co., Eden Rift Vineyards, and La Marca Prosecco. Proceeds from the event supported the Symphony’s artistic, education, and community programs, which benefit over 50,000 students throughout the Bay Area. This concert was presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission.