San Diego Symphony Announces Inaugural Season at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

Mike Lawson • News • May 21, 2021

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The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in San Diego opens this summer

On May 21, the San Diego Symphony announced its inaugural season of concerts at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, the new year-round outdoor venue with 360-degree views of downtown, the marina, and the bay.

More details from The San Diego Symphony (

Opening August 6-8, the season will offer more than 40 concerts between August and November 2021, including eight concerts led by Music Director Rafael Payare. From classical music to Broadway, film, jazz, pop, Latin and classic rock, the season will showcase more than 50 featured artists who will perform as part of the Symphony’s expanded schedule of diverse outdoor concerts.

Chief Executive Officer Martha A. Gilmer said, “The long-awaited moment has come when we welcome San Diego to this magnificent, one-of-a-kind gathering place we have created for the entire community. Opening a summer season with rich and varied programming, the Symphony’s first notes at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park will mark the beginning of a wonderful new experience of music and natural beauty in a city like no other.”

Music Director Rafael Payare said, “The Orchestra, our wonderful guest artists, and I can’t wait to feel the connection of finally performing for a live audience again. We are so excited for everyone to experience the amazing sound from The Rady Shell and to be dazzled by the lighting from our state-of-the-art projections. This is a place where the greatest artists in the world will want to perform for the one of the greatest audiences in the world.”

The Rady Shell will open on August 6 with Rafael Payare conducting the San Diego Symphony in the world premiere of Mason Bates’s Soundcheck in C Major, a commissioned work for orchestra and turntable; Aldemaro Romero’s Fuga con pajarillo; Saint-Saëns’ Concerto No. 1, featuring cellist Alisa Weilerstein; works by Gounod, Rossini, and Rodgers and Hammerstein featuring bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green; Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet; and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. The evening is directed by Gary Griffin and hosted by Vivian Scott Chew, and an inaugural gala event prior to the concert will include a spectacular dinner curated by celebrity chef Richard Blais.

The opening weekend will continue August 7 with “The Best of Broadway,” featuring the San Diego Symphony conducted by renowned musical theatre director Rob Fisher and showcasing Broadway luminaries Megan Hilty, Norm Lewis, Kelli O’Hara and Adrienne Warren. The opening weekend will be capped off on August 8 with seven-time GRAMMY Award-winner Gladys Knight with special guest Naturally 7—a renowned group of seven male vocalists who transform their voices into human instruments, effortlessly producing music of any genre—opening the concert.

Season Highlights

The season will mark the symphony orchestra debut of singer songwriter and two-time Grammy Award winner Jason Mraz (September 26), with a concert featuring the San Diego Symphony. Mraz will perform songs such as The Remedy and Lucky, arranged specifically for orchestra. Stewart Copeland, legendary rock star, composer and founder of the Police, will make his debut with the San Diego Symphony in the world premiere of Police Deranged for Orchestra, an evening featuring Copeland on drums, vocalists, and the orchestra conducted by Edwin Outwater (August 27).

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will reunite with his partners in the popular “Goat Rodeo” recordings—Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Edgar Meyer on bass and Chris Thile on mandolin, joined by vocalist Aoife O’Donovan—in “Not Our First Goat Rodeo” (August 22), a program of singularly lively music that’s part composed, part improvised, and uniquely American. The Symphony will present a range of pop favorites, including Roger Daltrey with the “Roger Daltrey: Live and Kicking Tour” (August 19); co-creator of the Motown Sound Smokey Robinson (August 21); musician, singer, songwriter, and Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson: Greatest Hits with special guests Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin (August 31); and folk rock duo Indigo Girls performing with the Symphony (October 10). Acoustic-blues ensemble Davina & The Vagabonds and Gypsy-jazz-swing band Hot Club of Cowtown will headline a program titled “The Finest Hour: Celebrating the Music that Ended WWII,” featuring the songs of Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry and more (September 5).

The Symphony will present a number of family-friendly programs throughout the season, including Troupe Vertigo (August 13); Mariachi Los Camperos (August 29); and “Ofrenda: A Día de los Muertos Celebration” with Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar (October 31).

As part of its film series, the San Diego Symphony will perform two programs including Rocketman – Live in Concert, the film based on the life and music of Elton John, conducted by John Beal (September 3), and John Williams’s score to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi with the complete film on screen, conducted by Christopher Dragon (September 18-19).

The San Diego Symphony will move its fall season, which would normally take place at Copley Symphony Hall, to The Rady Shell, offering seven Masterworks programs, including seven concerts led by Rafael Payare. Aram Demirjian will conduct the San Diego Symphony in a summer favorite,Beethoven by the Bay (August 20), with pianist Andrew Tyson. Gemma New will lead the Orchestra in the 1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular(September 10), featuring works by Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Khachaturian. Distinguished pianist Inon Barnatan joins Payare for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, in a program that also includes Reinaldo Moya’s Siempre Lunes, Siempre Marzo and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (October 8). Payare and the San Diego Symphony will again perform Mahler in two performances including Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, featuring mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 (October 16 and 17). Principal Guest Conductor Edo de Waart will return to lead the Symphony in two matinee concerts at The Rady Shell (November 13 and 14).

For the full season of concerts, visit


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