SF Symphony: Music For Ordinary Citizens

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Today's outdoor SF Symphony concert in Justin Herman Plaza was fun and exciting, but for vastly different reasons than their usual concerts. The amplified sound quality was impeccable, and the playing was great, but - most importantly - the Symphony got to share their music with a much wider audience than they normally access.

The concert was markedly informal, even for famously-lax conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and its outdoor nature added a fresh flavor of unpredictability. At one point, Tilson Thomas held a particular note for 15 seconds when the wind flipped a page in his score. A few moments later, he continued conducting with his right hand, while reaching over and grabbing a binder clip from the concertmaster's music stand.

The general atmosphere of the concert was also dramatically unpredictable. Sirens and horns mixed periodically with Beethoven and Berlioz, and bells from the Ferry Building delayed the start of two separate pieces (at the hour and half-hour). Add that to the mixed audience of families, businesspeople on their lunch breaks, schoolchildren, homeless people, and one guy in a baseball cap tap-dancing along to the music, and you've got yourself a cross-section of San Francisco's population.

Still, the best part of the performance was Tilson Thomas' decision to play real music for ordinary people. Lots of orchestras will choose to play "pops music" in their more public concerts, sticking with easy-to-listen-to favorites like "Stars and Stripes Forever" and well-known movie themes. Tilson Thomas, however, has always been dedicated to connecting regular listeners with the great works, and today was no exception. Wagner and Tchaikovsky, Berlioz and Beethoven, even some rarely-played Delibes provided the audience with a wonderfully-broad survey of fine Classical music. And even if the students in the audience weren't paying much attention, isn't that the music to which we should expose them?

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://www.eastbayreview.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/289

Leave a comment

Older reviews