This has been an eventful year here in San Francisco: the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge and the amazing fireworks display that celebrated the event (my photos and post here), and the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Symphony!
When the Stoid was visiting, we happened upon a tour of Davies Symphony Hall, the Opera House, and the War Memorial Hall. Probably because of my love of the Symphony, I especially enjoyed that part of the tour. Things to highlight from the tour include:
- Participating in the San Francisco Symphony is considered a “destination chair” (as well it should be)
- The Symphony pre-auditions in case of a tragic, unexpected vacancy.
- Pre-auditionees can not be seen by members of the auditioning panel, only heard. They are completely and totally blind auditions. They can not be heard walking (or rolling in a wheel chair) into or out of the audition, only their playing can be heard.
- While international auditions are held, only one player is currently from abroad: the concert master is Russian. As the US performs at A440, few international artists/performers audition for US symphonies.
- The sound cloud above the performers is adjusted for each concert.
On Saturday, June 16, 2012, we heard Michael Tilson Thomas conduct. The program was sensational: Fauré’s Pavane, Opus 50 (1866) opened the concert followed by Sibelius‘ Symphony No. 3 in C major, Opus 52 (1907). Naturally the Pavane was transcending, but, much to my shock, I was unfamiliar with the Sibelius. This work was so forward leaning for its time. I was enraptured: loved, loved, loved it! This was also the first time I heard and saw MMT conduct. I just have no words.
And while Yuja Wang did a great job on the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Opus 30 (1909), she really had to exert her body weight into the instrument in an effort to be heard over the orchestra in several of the most climatic moments of the work. She’s rather petit. While her playing at times therefore lacked the full-bodied grandeur the piece may demand, her playing was without doubt technically extraordinary. Her red dress was stunningly stunning to the third power of stunning. In fact, the stunning-ness of her dress was only exceeded by the extreme height of her shoes!
Because the Sibelius was new to me, I bought the SFS’s recording of the entire Sibelius symphonic works conducted by Herbert Blomstedt, who I also got to see/hear conduct the SFS this season. Another master with music that flows from his very breath!
Fantastic recording. Highly recommend. Tim likes!