San Diego's Rady Shell summer season includes Audra McDonald, John Legend, Los Lobos, Jewel, Big Boi

George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

SAN DIEGO— The San Diego Symphony’s $85 million Rady Shell at Jacobs Park has earned international acclaim and featured an array of music legends and rising talents since opening in 2021.

But with nearly 20 artists set to make their Shell debuts this season — including Audra McDonald, Harry Connick, Jr., Los Lobos, Sister Sledge, The Avett Brothers and rising classical violinist Geneva Lewis — the symphony isn’t ready to rest on its laurels when it comes to programming at its outdoor concert venue.

All told, more than half of the 36 concerts announced today for The Shell’s 2024 summer season and pre-season will spotlight bands and solo acts who will be performing there for the first time. Two of those performances — “The Music of Marc Shaiman” on July 3 and “Field of Dreams in Concert” on July 19 — will be world premieres.

“It’s important that we have artists who think of The Shell as their home in Southern California, whether it’s The Beach Boys, Trombone Shorty or the Gipsy Kings — who are all returning to play for us this year — but we are always looking for new performers,” said San Diego Symphony Vice President of Artistic Administration and Audience Development Lea Slusher.

Previously Carnegie Hall’s artistic projects director in New York, Slusher has booked each of The Shell’s four summer concert seasons. She and her husband, Steve Hornsby, have the distinction of being the only couple — so far — whose marriage ceremony was conducted on the stage of The Shell.

“It’s very important for the audience, and for us, to have something new to look forward to each summer,” Slusher continued. “And it’s important for us to extend our programming by presenting all types of artists.”


Orchestral-pop trend

Both here and nationally, a growing number of non-classical-music performers are embracing the opportunity to share the stage with orchestras. That trend is continuing, judging by the number of pop artists who will be accompanied by the San Diego Symphony at The Shell this year.

Last year saw the venue host orchestral concerts with everyone from Mariachi Los Camperos and hip-hop mainstays Cypress Hill to the rock bands Guster and Airborne Toxic Unit.

This year, artists who will perform alongside the symphony at The Shell include John Legend and reggae dynamo Ziggy Marley — both of whom played at the venue, sans orchestra, last year — Pink Martini and Jason Mraz, who first teamed up with the symphony at The Shell in 2021.


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