For its 100th birthday, the SF Symphony is offering itself new works to unwrap all season long. This week: Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra by British composer Tom Adès, one of the hottest commodities in the business today. It's only a west coast premiere, since the world premiere happened with the New World Symphony in Miami, an orchestra founded and led by SF Symphony music director Michael Tilson-Thomas. And this gift is a keeper. This is an Adès week-end, with the composer - a talented pianist in his own right- performing work of his and others at Cal Performances with the Calder Quartet in Berkeley, and Inon Barnatan playing Adès' Darkness Visible at Music@Menlo in Atherton.
Polaris was created specifically for the opening of the Gehry-designed new concert hall of the New World Symphony, a building with sail-shaped sound panels that could double as video screens. And since Ades' partner is video artist Tal Rosner, Polaris comes with an added visual dimension: shots of beaches in a wintery golden light with two women taking thoughtful poses.