The San Francisco Symphony on Monday Night at the Symphony

The San Francisco Symphony on Monday Night at the Symphony

by Bethany Tillerson (photo credit: Vincent Gotti)

The Classical Station features the San Francisco Symphony tonight on Monday Night at the Symphony! We were able to ask Amos Yang, the SFS’s Assistant Principal Cello, about his experience in the San Francisco Symphony and his thoughts on the community.

Many of your programs are collected in a compilation titled “Signature Salonen”. What makes Esa-Pekka Salonen’s style of conducting and taste in music unique among the symphony’s former Music Directors?

For me, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s style is a mix of athleticism and structure. He is demanding in regards to ensemble precision and wants to make the structure of a piece crystal clear. This often leads to more driven, rhythmic performances with less “smelling of flowers along the way”, which is something Michael Tilson Thomas excelled at. Both approaches are valid and it becomes a matter of taste for each individual player/audience member. 

“Choice Classics” compile many of the most noteworthy pieces in the classical repertoire as an introduction to the beauty of classical music for non-musicians. Which pieces have you performed that have resonated with you or given you a new outlook on classical music even as a professional musician?

There are many pieces that I’d love to mention as having been especially encouraging or powerful testaments to what music has brought me. 

The first is Five Ruckert Songs by Mahler performed by Jan DeGaetani, especially the fifth one where she speaks of being alone in heaven, a quiet realm away from the world. Knowing this album would be her last recording because of illness makes it that much more vivid to me. The Dvořák Cello Concerto and Bach Cello Suites are pieces all cellists adore. For me they have been friends along this wonderful journey of music making and continue to evolve along the way each time I perform one of these works.  A couple new pieces written for bassist Charles Chandler and I are: Bariolage by Shinji Eshima and Beyond Self by Andrés Martín. As a mobile duo, we are fortunate enough to be able to give performances of duos at the drop of a hat. Being able to perform a work many times helps it to grow and develop–each time we play it, a new facet is added to the next performance. 

How have you seen the community of San Francisco impacted by the orchestra? 

I see the community being impacted in the form of correspondences I’ve had with audience members of all generations. These correspondences have often led to lasting friendships. There is an energy that can only be found in live music. While this is obvious when we play on stage at Davies, there are other demonstrations of the power of music. Imagine playing at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital for a child who has never known another home. What is the experience like to have music brought to them in person? 

The Community of Music Makers was another impactful program that brought lovers of the art to mingle with us on a less formal basis. The Adventures in Music Program is one of the most important things we should help flourish. If we don’t start showing how powerful and amazing our art can be to the youngest generation, I’m afraid we will have missed one of the most important parts of our job. 

Listen to the San Francisco Symphony at 8 p.m. tonight on The Classical Station at 89.7 FM,, or our App!