La Oferta

September 24, 2023

The San Francisco Symphony presents Ninth Annual Día de los Muertos

Community Concerts and celebration Saturday, November 5 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Davies Synphony Hall
On-stage performances feature La Santa Cecilia, Mariachi Flor de Toloache, the women of the SF Symphony Chorus, and Casa Círculo Cultural

Pre-concert festivities in the DSH lobbies include original art installations and altars, dancing, candy skull decorating and other crafts, and family-friendly holiday festivities

La Santa Cecilia.
La Santa Cecilia.

San Francisco, October 2016 – The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) celebrates the Latino community and its living heritage at its ninth annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Community Concerts on Saturday, November 5 at 2pm and 8pm in Davies Symphony Hall. On-stage performers include La Santa Cecilia from Los Angeles, the all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache from New York, the women of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in a selection of Mexican folk songs, and Bay Area theater group Casa Círculo Cultural. Festive Día de los Muertos activities for all ages, including art installations, dancing, arts and crafts, and complimentary food and beverages take place 75 minutes prior to both performances.

The San Francisco Symphony’s yearly Día de los Muertos event offers a multidimensional immersion in the vibrant cultural traditions of the holiday, marked annually in Mexico and throughout Latin America to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have died. This year’s performances are headlined by the Los Angeles-based group La Santa Cecilia.

Accompanied for these concerts by a 10-piece string section performing new arrangements of their music, La Santa Cecilia incorporates dance-friendly rhythms ranging from cumbia, bossa nova, tango, bolero, jazz, rock, and klezmer music. The band cites influences as broad as Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Mercedes Sosa, and Ramon Ayala.

The barrier-breaking, all-female mariachi group Mariachi Flor de Toloache performs on the first half of the concerts, giving audiences a taste of its unique mélange of modern and traditional mariachi. The diverse cultural backgrounds of the women in the group infuse its sound with influences from a sophisticated, worldwide spectrum of music. The women of the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus open the concert with a selection of Mexican folk songs, accompanied by dancers from Casa Círculo Cultural.

Mariachi Flor de Toloache.

75 minutes before each concert, the Día de los Muertos celebrations start in the colorfully decorated Davies Symphony Hall lobbies. Families and children can roam through original art installations and altars built by local artists to honor the dead. Guests are invited to bring objects, photos, and offerings to contribute to the two community altars. Children and families will also be able to decorate and take home candy sugar skulls, make papel picado, banners, and other arts and crafts. Musicians and dancers will provide additional entertainment in the lobbies, and complimentary pan de muerto and Mexican hot chocolate will be served.

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. In response to the overwhelming success of previous Día de los Muertos concerts, in 2015 an 8pm performance was added to the festivities.

An 11am brunch prior to the afternoon performance will be offered in the Wattis Room at Davies Symphony Hall as a fundraising event produced by the Symphony’s San Francisco League to support the Orchestra’s education and community programs. Brunch packages include a seated brunch with mimosas, sangria, and other Día de los Muertos surprises, followed by premium seating at the 2pm matinee concert. The brunch will conclude by 1pm 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 altar artists on Tuesday, October 25, followed by a reception. Call the Volunteer Council for details at (415) 503-5500 and purchase tickets on the Symphony’s website at Ticket exchanges and group discounts not available.

Please note: The Orchestra of the San Francisco Symphony does not perform on these concerts.

Pre-Concert Festivities
The San Francisco Symphony’s 2016 Día de los Muertos celebrations on Saturday, November 5 begin 75 minutes prior to each concert, when attendees are invited to participate in the rich Día de los Muertos traditions that are a significant part of San Francisco’s cultural life. Beginning at 12:45pm and 6:45pm, dance company Cuicacalli and Mariachi Juvenil la Misión from Buena Vista/Horace Mann Middle School will lead a procession outside of Davies Symphony Hall that incorporates traditional music and dance from various regions of Mexico, welcoming guests to the festivities.

Inside the lobbies, members of Casa Círculo Cultural theater company, dressed as Catrinas and Catrines, the iconic figures of Día de los Muertos, will greet guests. Costumed in the Pachuco style from the 1950s, the Casa Círculo Cultural actors will also lead a procession into the concert hall to begin the performance. Casa Círculo Cultural will create enormous butterfly-winged skeletons to adorn the towering glass windows of the Davies Symphony Hall lobbies, drawing on the theme of immigration and the ancient legend and spiritual significance of the monarch butterfly, a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. Casa Círculo Cultural will also create a giant arch spanning Davies Symphony Hall’s grand stairway, anchored by two trees covered in monarch butterflies made by children. Artists from Creativity Explored, the San Francisco-based organization providing artistic opportunities for people with developmental disabilities, will create a gigantic transparent altar, and participants can write notes to the departed to attach to the altar. Prominent Bay Area artist Ester Hernandez will offer an installation honoring her grandmother, who emigrated during the Mexican Revolution and hid coins and bills inside the hems and ruffles of clothing, bedding, and curtains.

Other unique altars will include an installation by Adela Juarez, who will create an altar inspired by Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. A self-taught artist and second generation Mexican-American, Juarez worked as a farmworker along with her parents, both migrant farm workers living in the San Joaquin Valley. Sculptor and visual artist Viva Paredes will honor the 49 victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre, many of whom were Latino, with a commemorative altar. Sculptor Indira Urrutia’s altar will be in the shape of a teardrop, to which guests can attach paper flower petals. Sculptor and set designer Fernando Escartiz has created a paper maché skeleton holding a suitcase carrying more than clothes: the immigrant brings memories, music, culture, smells, and flavors from his homeland to contribute to his new country. Attendees are invited to bring photos or objects honoring their own deceased loved ones to place at the two community altars. Bilingual volunteers from San Francisco’s Mexican Museum will be present to explain the significance of each altar.

Bilingual lobby activities prior to both concerts include face painting, paper flower making, papel picado and skull banner making, and tortilla art making, organized by Children’s Activities Coordinator Indira Urrutia, and two photo booths by photographer Marc Hors. There will also be a sugar skull demonstration and decoration by Irma Ortiz. Dancers from Rueda con Ritmo will entertain guests and invite them to join in the celebrations.

The Symphony Store in the main 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. Artist Adela Juarez will show and sell her original artwork. Beautiful Huichol skulls from the Mexican Museum will be available for purchase, as will author Mary Andrade’s books on the different Día de los Muertos traditions practiced throughout Mexico.



The Los Angeles-based group La Santa Cecilia, named after the patron saint for musicians, incorporates dance-friendly rhythms ranging from cumbia, bossa nova, tango, bolero, jazz, rock, reggae, and klezmer into its music. The six-member band has been performing around the Los Angeles area since they were teenagers. La Santa Cecilia’s 2016 album Buenaventura includes the song “Calaverita,” depicting a Día de los Muertos-inspired dance party to awaken the spirits of departed loved ones and celebrate their passions. The group won a 2014 Grammy Award for its album Treinta Días. Its song and video ICE El Hielo, in collaboration with filmmaker Alex Rivera and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, portrays the conflict and heartbreak of illegal immigration from the perspectives of both undocumented immigrants and law enforcement.

Mariachi Flor de Toloache, the Latin Grammy-nominated, barrier-breaking all-female mariachi group was formed in 2008 in New York City. Led by singers Mireya I. Ramos and Shae Fiol, the group started as a trio and blossomed into a fully orchestrated mariachi ensemble. The women hail from diverse cultural backgrounds such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Australia, Colombia, Germany, Italy and the United States, bringing a unique mélange of influences and sound. While working to preserve centuries-old traditions of mariachi, they blend traditional and modern music in a new way. The group recently toured Europe and the US as the opening act for Dan Auerbach’s (The Black Keys) new group The Arcs, and they been featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and on the BBC 2’s Later with Jools Holland. Their new album is due this fall. Watch a video of Mariachi Flor de Toloache’s Blue Medley here:

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus, led by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin since 2007, is one of America’s most distinguished choruses. The Chorus celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013-14, and each season performs more than 26 concerts. Comprised of 32 professional and 120 volunteer members, the Chorus recently recorded Beethoven’s Mass in C major with SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra for SFS Media. Prior to that, members of the Chorus were featured on the Symphony’s recording of Bernstein’s score for West Side Story, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Recordings featuring the SFS Chorus have won a total of eight Grammy awards, including three for Best Choral Performance. This season, the Chorus performs at Davies Symphony Hall with the Orchestra in Verdi’s Te Deum; Allegri’s Miserere; a semi-staged version of Mahler’s Das klagende Lied; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary; and Berlioz’s Requiem and Roméo et Juliette. The Chorus also performs its own concert in 2017, singing Orff’s Carmina burana and David Conte’s Invocation and Dance.


Casa Círculo Cultural is a vibrant, grass-roots, multidisciplinary art organization dedicated to creating cultural programming reflective of the experiences of the Latino communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. This year, they perform for the seventh time at the San Francisco Symphony’s Día de los Muertos Community Concerts.

Under the direction of Consul General Gemi José González López, The Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco serves the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma and Trinity of the State of California and the entire state of Hawaii. It provides consular services, protects and defends the rights and interests of the Mexican community and promotes the interests of Mexico and its culture. Since 2014, the Consulate develops the multidisciplinary festival MEX I AM, which showcases the best of Mexico in arts, gastronomy, culture and ideas.

Through its programs, The Mexican Museum voices the complexity and richness of Latino art throughout the Americas, encouraging dialogue among the broadest public. The museum continues to offer educational and public programming throughout the San Francisco Bay Area while preparing for its new home in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Arts District.

Creativity Explored, founded 30 years ago and based in San Francisco, provides artists with developmental disabilities the means to create, exhibit, and sell their art in its studios and gallery, and around the world. The organization supports these people in their quest to become working artists, and to promoting their work as an emerging and increasingly important contribution to the contemporary art world. To do so, Creativity Explored has established a supportive studio environment in which developmentally disabled artists receive individualized instruction from mentoring artists, quality art materials, and professional opportunities to exhibit their work.

The Día de los Muertos Community Concerts are made possible by supporting partner U.S. Bank and are presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Calendar editors, please note:
Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 2pm (lobby festivities begin at 12:45pm)
Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 8pm (lobby festivities begin at 6:45pm)

Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA

La Santa Cecilia
Mariachi Flor de Toloache
Casa Círculo Cultural theater group
Women of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus

Bring the entire family to a celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), with Los Angeles’s Grammy Award-winning La Santa Cecilia, the all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache from New York, the Bay Area’s own Casa Círculo Cultural theater group, and the Women of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Entertainment and activities begin 75 minutes prior to each show, when the dramatic, light-filled Davies Symphony Hall lobbies will be decorated with Día de los Muertos altars designed and created by local artists, guests can make traditional and contemporary Día de los Muertos-related crafts, dancers and musicians will entertain the crowd, and free refreshments will be served.

Please note: The Orchestra of the San Francisco Symphony does not perform on these concerts.

Tickets: $20-$90. Half price for ages 17 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket. Tickets are available at, by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office, on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street in San Francisco. Brunch and concert packages that include a private tour of the altar installations on Tuesday, October 25 are available by calling the San Francisco Symphony Volunteer Council at 415-503-5500

Recommended for ages 7 and older. Group discounts not available.