SF Symphony Orchestra holds pride concerts after cancelling North Carolina shows

Concert night at Davies Symphony Hall took on a more colorful timbre.

Crowds came out to pack the hall for the San Francisco Symphony's Pride Concert, as a rainbow-colored stairway and arch greeted the audience members at the lobby entrance.

"I think it shows that San Francisco supports the people who live here and I think that it's a great way to use art to show that support," said Jamie Yuen-Shore of San Francisco.

"We're going to celebrate our commitment and our solidarity to the truths that we hold to be self-evident," said Maestro Michael-Tilson Thomas, as he welcomed the sold-out crowd.

The concert was born from recent controversy, after the passage in North Carolina of a bill that barred transgender people from choosing which bathroom they would use.

"Symphony Pride actually replaces two concerts that the orchestra was scheduled to perform this week in North Carolina as part of our East Coast tour," said Derek Dean, Interim Executive Director of the SF Symphony.

San Francisco Symphony violinist Elio Lev says it was heartbreaking. He had played in the Charlotte Symphony before he went through his life-changing gender transition.

"I was looking forward to seeing some of my friends there, but at the same time it was still very scary and uncomfortable  to think about being there and possibly get in trouble," Lev said.

Now he and his fiance are heartened by this Pride Concert and the affirmation it represents.

"It's a really wonderful feeling just to know that your employer supports your humanity," Lev said.

The program was a celebration of inclusiveness and diversity. It featured the works of LGBTQ composers and artists.

"It was really MTT (Michael Tilson-Thomas) and his partner Joshua Robison who came up with the idea of doing something celebratory," said Dean.

In addition to the music, the SF Symphony made another choice that will resonate throughout the community. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to five LGBTQ community groups.

"We're getting more support from our advocates and a lot more acceptance. and that's not everywhere unfortunately. But it is a great thing and I came out to support this because of what they're doing for us," said Joey Smith of Richmond.

Showing that times of discord can lead to a greater sense of harmony and the human spirit.