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Brian Wilson, Gladys Knight, Jason Mraz head San Diego Symphony’s Rady Shell at Jacobs Park debut lineup

Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, with marina
The San Diego Symphony will open its debut season at its new $85 million Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on Aug. 6.
(Courtesy of San Diego Sympony)

In February 2020, barely a month before the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shuttered all live events, the San Diego Symphony announced the summer lineup for the 2020 summer debut season of its new outdoor concert venue at Embarcadero Marina Park South, The Shell.

This August, 13 months after its originally scheduled July 2020 opening, the newly renamed Rady Shell at Jacobs Park will belatedly open with a lineup that boasts stars from the worlds of classical music, rock, R&B, jazz, mariachi, Broadway and beyond.

Confirmed acts include at least three Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees: Motown vocal icon Gladys Knight, Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson and Police co-founder Stewart Copeland, who will drum at the Aug. 27 world premiere “Police Deranged for Orchestra” concert.

Series tickets go on sale at theshell.org. The full season lineup appear below.

Other confirmed artists range from vocal wizard Bobby McFerrin, genre-leaping guitar star Pat Metheny and the Indigo Girls to multiple Grammy Award-winning Oceanside troubadour Jason Mraz and Brazilian pop mainstay Sergio Mendes. In addition, top San Diego trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos will lead a tribute concert saluting the music of jazz giants John Coltrane and Lee Morgan.

George Varga on San Diego News Fix:

The symphony — led by its music director, Rafael Payare — will perform at more than two dozen of the season’s 45 concerts announced thus far, starting with its 2021 season “Opening Night and Annual Gala” on Aug. 6.

“There is so much we can do, and I can’t wait to start,” Payare said. “We are really in a privileged position. That’s not just because of the beautiful weather in San Diego, but also because the audio quality of Rady Shell at Jacobs Park gives us the opportunity to make music that will sound as if we are in an indoor concert hall.”

Designed and built as a year-round venue, Rady Shell at Jacobs Park will enable the symphony to dramatically expand its calendar of programming after years of performing on temporary outdoor stages each summer. This year, the new bayside venue will host at least part of the orchestra’s fall season while its downtown indoor home, Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center, remains shuttered because of the pandemic.

Using the far larger Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is a doubly sound move at a time when it is unclear what the indoor concert landscape will look like this fall — or how comfortable audiences will be to return to an indoor venue while some health protocols and social distancing may still be in effect.

Health a priority

“This is the other leap of faith we are taking — normally, we announce our summer season in February or March, and our fall/winter season in May,” said symphony CEO Martha Gilmer. “A lot of that is changing. We will announce the second part of our season coming up, and you’ll see some commonalities between our (outdoor and indoor) seasons.”

Health considerations for concertgoers, musicians, staff and volunteers is of paramount importance to Gilmer and the 111-year-old orchestra. It is striving to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by closely following the most current information from local, state and national health officials.

Accordingly, all Rady Shell at Jacobs Park concert attendees will need to provide proof of vaccinations, completed at least two weeks earlier, or of negative COVID-19 tests from 72 hours prior to the concert. They will also need to wear masks at the venue, which has a 10,000-capacity but is planning to keep attendance at most of this season’s concerts at under 3,500.

These steps will enable audiences at the venue to attend without physically distanced seating. Ticket-buyers will receive information from the symphony about protocols in advance of their performances, based on local, state and national health updates.

“We really deliberated over when the right moment to begin (our 2021 outdoor season) would be,” Gilmer said.

“At one point, I thought it would be early September. But once the vaccine roll-out began, we saw the number of people here receiving vaccines. We look at the science on a regular basis, and we surveyed our audience and felt that Aug. 6 would be a reasonable date to open our season.

“For about eight days, we toyed with whether to move the opening up to July. Then, it became clear that we were comfortable with the August date. You have to pay attention to what is happening in your city as well as your state.”

If all goes according to plan, people beyond San Diego will pay attention to the new programming the symphony is introducing.

Former Police drummer Stewart Copeland’s Aug. 27 “Police Deranged” concert and Jason Mraz’s Sept. 26 concert are both new orchestral collaborations. Each will make its national debut here.

“We’re the first — and we want to be known for this kind of innovation,” Gilmer said.

At least 11 of Mraz’s best-known songs are now being arranged for his full orchestral performance here. Copeland’s concert will feature the Police co-founder drumming with the orchestra, an electric guitarist and three or four singers, according to Lea Slusher, the symphony’s vice president of artistic administration and audience development.

“Stewart’s tour doesn’t start until two months later. But because he’s based in Los Angeles we’re able to have the premiere here, which is great,” said Slusher, whose job includes booking the artists who perform at Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

“Jason’s arrangements are being done by Sean O’Loughlin, who will also conduct the concert here,” Slusher continued. “Sean did the arrangements for the Indigo Girls, who are also part of our upcoming season, so we put him together with Jason.”

Slusher estimates that at least a dozen of the concerts originally announced for the symphony’s postponed 2020 summer season have been rescheduled for this year.

“Some artists told us they were going to wait until 2022 before they tour again, and we have dates on hold,” she noted.

“Everybody is working together and doing their best, so we all have to be flexible. We’re all working to get everything back up.”

The theatrical circus company Troupe Vertigo
The theatrical circus company Troupe Vertigo will perform with the San Diego Symphony on Aug. 13.
(Courtesy San Diego Symphony)

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park 2021 inaugural season lineup

All concerts listed will begin at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Additional concerts and events to be announced. Ticket information appears below.

Friday, Aug. 6: Opening Night and Annual Gala: Rafael Payare conducts the San Diego Symphony featuring Ryan “Speedo” Green, Jean Yves-Thibaudet, Alisa Weilerstein, hosted by Vivian Scott Chew and directed by Gary Griffin, $45-$250

Saturday, Aug. 7: “The Best of Broadway,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Rob Fisher, $45-$250

Sunday, Aug. 8: Gladys Knight, $45-$250

Friday, Aug. 13: Troupe Vertigo in Space, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Enrico Lopez-Yañez, $25-$95

Saturday, Aug. 14: Sebastian Maniscalco, $49-$125 (on sale Monday at 10 a.m. at ticketmaster.com)

Sunday, Aug. 15: “The Music of Stevie Wonder,” $25-$95

Tuesday, Aug. 17: Ledisi, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Thomas Wilkins, $25-$95

Thursday, Aug. 19: Roger Daltrey, $45-$200

Friday, Aug. 20: “Beethoven by the Bay,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Aram Demirjian, $25-$95

Saturday, Aug. 21: Smokey Robinson, $45-$200

Sunday, Aug. 22: Not Our First Goat Rodeo, featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan, with guest singer Aoife O’Donovan, $45-$250

Friday, Aug. 27: Stewart Copeland: “Police Deranged for Orchestra,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Edwin Outwater, $36-$120

Saturday, Aug. 28: Music of the Knights, with the San Diego Symphony conducted by Stuart Chafetz, $25-$95

Sunday, Aug. 29: Mariachi Los Camperos, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Stuart Chafetz, $25-$95

Tuesday, Aug. 31: Brian Wilson, $45-$200

Friday, Sept. 3: Rocketman-Live in Concert, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by John Beal, $36-$120

Saturday, Sept. 4: “The Goonies in Concert,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by John Beal, $36-$120

Sunday, Sept. 5: “The Finest Hour: Celebrating the Music that Ended World War II,” featuring Davina and The Vagabonds and Hot Club of Cowtown, $25-$95

Friday, Sept. 10: “1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Gemma New, $25-$95

Saturday, Sept. 11: “Classics Albums Live Presents: Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon,” $25-$95

Sunday, Sept. 12: “Classic Albums Live Presents: The Beatles Abbey Road,” $25-$95

Tuesday, Sept. 14: Sergio Mendes, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Sean O’Loughlin, $36-$120

Saturday, Sept. 18, and Sunday, Sept. 19: “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” in concert, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Christopher Dragon, $36-$120

Friday, Sept. 24: “Frank & Ella,” featuring Capathia Jenkins and Tony DeSare, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Steven Reineke, $25-$95

Sunday, Sept. 26: Jason Mraz, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Sean O’Loughlin, $45-$250

Wednesday, Sept. 29: Bobby McFerrin, $25-$95

Thursday, Sept. 30: Pat Metheny Side Eye, featuring James Francies and Joe Dyson, $25-$95

Friday, Oct. 8: “Payare, Barnatan and Mahler,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Rafael Payare, $25-$108

Sunday, Oct. 10: Indigo Girls, with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Sean O’Loughlin, $45-$200

Friday, Oct. 15: “Steve Hackman’s Brahms vs. Radiohead,” $25-$95

Saturday, Oct. 16, and Sunday, Oct.17: “Song and Symphony,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Rafael Payare, $25-$108

Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23: “Chicago: The Musical in Concert,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Rob Fisher, $36-$120

Sunday, Oct. 24: “The Music of John Coltrane and Lee Morgan,” with Gilbert Castellanos and guests, $20-$75

Friday, Oct. 29, and Saturday, Oct. 30: “Fate Now Conquers: Simon and Beethoven,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Rafael Payare, $25-$108

Saturday, Oct. 31: “Ofrenda: A Día de los Muertos Celebration,” $25-$95, 6p.m.

Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Nov. 6: “Beethoven, Bartók & Biss,” with the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Rafael Payare, $25-$108

Sunday, Nov. 7: “An Evening of Frank Loesser, with Ted Sperling, $25-$95

Saturday, Nov. 13, and Sunday, Nov. 14: The San Diego Symphony, conducted by Edo De Waart, $25-$108, 4 p.m.

Tickets: Series tickets go on sale today online at theshell.org, by phone at (619)-235-0804 and at the symphony box office at 750 B Street, downtown. Single tickets go on sale June 22, with prices initially ranging from $20-$250. Flexible pricing will change ticket prices depending on demand.

Packages: Series ticket packages are as follows

Friday “A” package: 6 concerts, $153-$645

Saturday “A” package: 6 concerts, $170-$750

Sunday “A” package: 6 concerts, $160-$880

Friday “B” and “C” packages: 3 concerts, $76-$335

Saturday “B” and “C” packages: 3 concerts: $76-$440

Sunday “B” and “C” packages: 3 concerts, $84-$440

Jacobs Masterworks at Rady Shell “Complete” packages: 5 concerts: $105-$540 (the series features performances by the symphony on Oct. 8, Oct. 16, Oct. 17, Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, and on Nov. 5, Nov. 6,Nov.` 13 and Nov. 14)


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