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Lila Downs “Dia Los Muertos” Show // San Francisco

Lila Downs (Oaxacan singer-songwriter and multi Grammy-award winning artist) joins the SF Symphony in her symphonic debut, with new album, Balas y Chocolate.

November 7th at the San Francisco Symphony’s Annual Día de los Muertos Community Concerts and Celebration.

This year there will be two performances: 2pm and 8pm. Prior to each show there will be complimentary refreshments, live music and dancing, colorful altars, traditional crafts, and more.

The event includes a range of art forms, including orchestral music, visual art, traditional crafts and dance. The celebration focuses on the Oaxacan region of Mexico in recognition of Downs’s heritage and the region’s colorful folk art and traditional music and dance.


$20 – $90. Half price for ages 17 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket. Tickets are available at
sfsymphony.org, by phone at 415-864-6000.




Family-friendly festivities begin in the lobby one hour prior to each performance.

The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) celebrates the Latino community and its heritage with music and festivities for all ages at the eighth annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Community Concerts, Saturday November 7 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm in Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

The event includes a range of art forms, including orchestral music, visual art, traditional crafts and dance. Concerts this year feature vocalist Lila Downs singing selections from her new recording Balas y Chocolate (Bullets and Chocolate) which encompasses music inspired by the Day of the Dead. Downs and several of her musicians will make their symphonic debut with the Orchestra in these concerts.

Festivities begin one hour before each concert in the Davies Symphony Hall lobbies. In addition to special artwork and altars on display, activities planned prior to the matinee concert are more family-friendly, while evening activities will appeal to adults. In both cases, musicians and dancers will entertain the attendees, and complimentary pan de muerto and Mexican hot chocolate will be available for all concertgoers. The celebration focuses on the Oaxacan region of Mexico as a nod to Lila Downs’s heritage and the region’s colorful folk art and traditional music and dance.

Círculo Cultural opens each concert with a procession into the hall to Eugenio Touissaint’s Procesión from Día de los Muertos. SFS Resident Conductor Donato Cabrera leads the Orchestra in two classical pieces by Arturo Márquez, Conga del Fuego and Danzón No. 2, along with Sobre las Olas by Juventino Rosas. Vocalist Lila Downs and several of her musicians join the orchestra for the second half of the concerts, singing a mix of her original songs and traditional favorites. The Día de los Muertos Community Concerts are part of the San Francisco Symphony’s commitment to providing compelling musical experiences that celebrate the diversity of its community.

A pre-concert brunch is offered in the Wattis Room at Davies Symphony Hall—a fundraising event  produced by the Symphony’s San Francisco League to support the SF Symphony’s education and community programs. Brunch packages include a seated brunch with mimosas, sangria, live music and other Dia de los Muertos surprises, followed by premium seating at the matinee concert, and are available for children at a reduced rate. The brunch will conclude by 1:00 pm so that guests may enjoy the pre-concert lobby activities. Brunch packages also include an invitation to a private tour of the Día de los Muertos altars with the artists on Monday, October 26, followed by a reception. Call the Volunteer Council for details at (415) 503-5500 and purchase tickets after September 25 on the Symphony’s website at www.sfsymphony.org Ticket exchanges and group discounts not available. 

Pre-Concert Festivities

The San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos celebration Saturday, November 7, begins one hour prior to each concert when attendees are invited to participate in the rich traditions that are a significant part of San Francisco’s cultural life. This year’s festivities share the flavor of the Oaxacan region of southern Mexico. Beginning at 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm, five roving musicians from the city of Oaxaca will perform outside the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office and around the block welcoming guests to the festivities.


Inside Davies Symphony Hall, members of Círculo Cultural theater company dressed as Catrinas and Catrines from the seven regions of Oaxaca, greet visitors in the hall, and later lead a procession of Monotes de Calenda (tall moving puppets) into the hall according to Oaxacan tradition.

Unique altar art includes an installation by Calixto Robles dedicated to the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero who disappeared in September of 2014. It is inspired by the Tapete de levantada de cruz (sand paintings) made in his hometown of Oaxaca and incorporates symbols and images of peace, hope, healing and resistance. Altar maker Viviana Paredes creates Cuando Muere Una Lengua (When A Language Dies) an installation about the loss of languages, particularly 13 of the most endangered languages of Mexico, including some dialects form the region of Oaxaca. Other altars include Reflection of Life Passing by Victoria Canby; an interactive kite altar by Indira Urrutia honoring journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano; a traditional altar from Xoxocotlan (Xoxo) Oaxaca by artist Eduardo Antonio and more.

Attendees are invited to bring photos or objects from deceased loved ones to place at the two community altars. Bilingual volunteers from San Francisco’s Mexican Museum will act as docents to explain the significance of each altar.

Special artwork includes include 6-9 feet alebrijes, or brightly colored OaxacanMexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures by Manos Creativas collective; a skull sculpture conceptualized by artist Demetrio Barrita large enough for visitors to enter; an arch spanning the stairway by artist Colette Crutcher inspired by Pre-Columbian architecture and sculpture; a painting display by Jean Foss; and paper Catrinas decorating the windows. 

Bilingual lobby activities prior to both concerts include face painting, paper flowers, skull banner making and tortilla art making activities run by Activities Coordinator Indira Urrutia as well as two photo booths by photographer Marc Hors. Afternoon activities also feature a sugar skull decoration and demonstration by artist Irma Ortiz and performances of festive songs from Mexico and Latin America by the Community Music Center’s senior choirs Coro Solera and Coro de la 30. Prior to the evening concert only, dancers from Rueda con Ritmo invite guests to take a dancing lesson, and a special tequila tasting by Tequila Don Julio will be offered to all patrons purchasing Loge section tickets.

The Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall’s lobby will offer a Día de los Muertos pop-up shop during the event, partnering with Mari Arreola of Shop Spanglish. The shop will feature clothing, stickers, prints designed by Maldición, face tattoos, CDs, sugar skull kits, accessories, wine glasses, cook books and more.  


Donato Cabrera headshot NEW 2012 (c) Kristen Loken 296KBDonato Cabrera has been the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) since 2009. In 2014, Cabrera was appointed Music Director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra and has been Music Director of the California Symphony and the New Hampshire Music Festival since 2013. As SFS Resident Conductor, Donato Cabrera works closely with San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, and frequently conducts the San Francisco Symphony throughout the year, including the SFS’s annual Día de los Muertos Community Concert, Concerts for Kids, Adventures in Music, and Music for Families concerts, which annually draw more than 60,000 young people and their families from throughout the Bay Area to Davies Symphony Hall. In 2010, Cabrera was recognized as a Luminary by the Friends of Mexico Honorary Committee, a group led by San Francisco’s Consul General of Mexico Carlos Félix dedicated to celebrating Mexico’s bicentennial in San Francisco. He was honored for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area

Lila Downs is the daughter of a Mixtec Indian woman and a Caucasian American father, and grew up both in Minnesota and the Mexican state of Oaxaca where she was born. Her original music is a fusion of international sounds and musical genres, incorporating styles like the blues, jazz, soul, cumbia, rock, rap and klezmer music. Downs weaves various musical forms with traditional Mexican and native Mesoamerican music, singing in Spanish, English, and the languages of the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya, and Nahuatl cultures. She has recorded nine studio albums, garnering a Grammy and three Latin Grammys. According to Downs, her new album Balas y Chocolate (Bullets & Chocolate) was inspired by both “the Day of the Dead offering and celebration, and also from my personal dance with my partner’s possible death.” While the lively sound of the album centers around danceable fusions of “mostly cumbias, klezmer-like norteña, hip hop and pop,” the serious and timely lyrical content is a fierce condemnation of the current violence and corruption engulfing Mexico. Balas y Chocolate spotlights Downs’ concerns over the erosion of civil rights and justice, the still escalating threats to the country’s journalists, the excess in modern life, lost love and more.

Downs has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious festivals and venues, and was invited to sing at the White House. She sang on the Latin Grammys 2012 telecast, as well as the 75th Academy Awards televised ceremony, performing with Caetano Veloso the Oscar nominated song “Burn It Blue,” from the movie Frida.

Her music has been included in additional feature films including The Counselor, Tortilla Soup, Real Women Have Curves, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Carlos Saura’s Fados, Mariachi Gringo and Hecho en Mexico. Says the Associated Press:  “Fluency in Spanish isn’t necessary to understand Lila Downs’ shape-shifting voice: It transcends language, carrying pure emotion.”

November 07 2015


Date: 11/07/2015
Time: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Cost: $20
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Website: Visit Event Website


Davies Symphony Hall

Grove Street, between Van Ness and Franklin
San Francisco, CA United States

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