May 23, 2018

San Francisco Symphony launches distribution partnership with Warner Classics

Warner Classics Label Services adds SFS Media to its growing roster.

San Francisco Symphony launches a new global distribution collaboration with Warner Classics Label Services this month, for the orchestra’s in-house record label and production company, SFS Media.

At the helm of the recordings on SFS Media is Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), the longest-tenured music director at any major American orchestra, celebrating his 23rd season as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony during the 2017–18 season. He is an international classical music spokesperson, acclaimed composer and a passionate educator. 

Global distribution of SFS Media will be managed by Warner Classics Label Services, in collaboration with Alternative Distribution Alliance Worldwide (ADA), across physical, download and streaming platforms from April 2018. SFS Media joins the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Munich Philharmonic on Warner Classics Label Services’ roster.  

San Francisco Symphony Executive Director Mark C. Hanson said: “The San Francisco Symphony is looking forward to its partnership between Warner Classics and our award-winning in-house record label SFS Media. Our recordings have always reflected the identity of the Orchestra and its unprecedented artistic partnership with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas as a leading voice in music. We look forward to Warner Classics helping us share their incredible music-making with the widest possible audience in the changing climate of today’s music industry.”  

Markus Petersen, Senior Vice President Global Marketing & Operations, Warner Classics and Erato, said: “We are thrilled to be working with SFS Media to further develop their media strategy and their international representation in both physical and digital channels. The San Francisco Symphony is undoubtedly among the world’s leading orchestras – as much dedicated to its rich history as striving to be at the forefront of innovation, education and audience reach. In this, the SFS label has many synergies with Warner Classics and is a perfect match for our Label Services program, which offers a global, comprehensive and tailored classical service to select orchestras, artists and independent labels.”

The San Francisco Symphony has a long and distinguished history of using new technology to reach audiences and bring classical music to millions around the world. Named one of the world’s Top 20 Orchestras (Gramophone), it made history in 2001 as the first American orchestra to establish its own audio-visual label for its live and studio recordings and filmed performances. The prestigious catalogue of more than 30 live albums features the complete Schumann symphonies collection and the multiple GRAMMY Award-winning Mahler cycle, along with albums devoted to iconic American composers including Leonard Bernstein, John Adams and Charles Ives. SFS Media continues to enrich its catalogue with new releases each season.

See all the label's releases here.

The next album to be released late June is Tchaikovsky Symphony No.6.

ABOUT SFS MEDIA: SFS Media is the San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) in-house label, launched in 2001. SFS Media records and releases audio and visual material reflecting the Orchestra and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas’s (MTT)  commitment to showcasing music by maverick composers as well as core classical masterworks. The recordings reflect the broad range of programming that has been a hallmark of the MTT/SFS partnership.

Recorded live in concert and engineered at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, the audio recordings are released on hybrid SACD and in high-quality digital formats. SFS Media has garnered eight GRAMMY awards, the most current for its recording of John Adams’ Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine and seven for its recordings of MTT and the SFS in all nine of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies, the Adagio from the unfinished Tenth Symphony and his songs for voice, chorus and orchestra.  

Its 2014 recording of Bernstein’s West Side Story garnered an International Classical Music Award in 2014 and was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Musical Theater album. Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine was also honored by the German Music Critics’ Association with an ECHO Award. With a slate of new recordings and releases of music by Mason Bates, John Adams, Harrison, Cowell, Varèse, Bernstein, Beethoven, Ives and Copland, the Orchestra’s recordings continue to reflect the artistic identity of the San Francisco Symphony’s programming.  
In addition to live concert recordings, SFS Media produces and releases documentary and live performance videos, including the SFS’s national public television series and multimedia project Keeping Score, which included three seasons of television episodes, eight documentaries and eight concert films designed to make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds, available as digital downloads and on DVD and Blu-Ray. Keeping Score includes an innovative website,, live performance audio CDs, radio broadcast series 13 Days When Music Changed Forever and an education program for K-12 schools to further teaching through the arts by integrating classical music into core subjects.  

Other videos of the San Francisco Symphony available from SFS Media include A Celebration of Leonard Bernstein, Opening Night at Carnegie Hall 2008 and San Francisco Symphony at 100, the centennial season’s Opening Gala live concert video paired with a documentary about the Symphony’s history, which won a Northern California EMMY Award for Historical/Cultural Program or Special in 2012.