Thursday, July 19, 2007
Blogger Night at The Symphony
The San Francisco's "Summer in the City" continued on Wednesday at Davies Hall with a "Classical Romance" program. It consisted of three rather schlocky pieces, Tchaikovsky's "Romeo & Juliet Overture," Richard Strauss' tone poem "Don Juan" and Rachmaninoff's fiendish Piano Concerto Number Three, the one that drove Geoffrey Rush insane in the movie "Shine."
These summer concerts used to be held in Bill Graham auditorium in the Civic Center, with very inexpensive seats in the balcony and tables on the main floor where you could bring picnics and bottles of wine, but those "people's concerts" are long gone, and the ticket prices now are almost as expensive as the regular symphony season.
However, I didn't need to worry about buying a ticket on Wednesday evening...
...because I had been invited by the Symphony PR associate Louisa to a free "Bloggers Night at The Symphony," complete with cookies and coffee in the press room.
There are a number of good local writers who have blogs dealing with classical music, and I've come to know a few of them personally, but none of my friends were invited which seemed very odd.
Instead, the crowd seemed to be a really strange mishmash of people who just happened to have a local blog...
...and since most of them tend to be extreme introverts anyway, it was an odd little gathering.
Though I loathe nametags in general, this was one of the few times they would have actually been helpful.
When I asked Eddie Codel (click here for eddie.com, one of his many great sites) if he actually listened to classical music, he smiled and shrugged, "Hey, anything to get me out of the house."
What the marketing people didn't seem to understand about blogs is that the best of them are literal nodes of information that radiate to a wider community of interest, such as the ones hosted by the couple meeting in person for the first time (above), the San Jose oboeist Patty (click here for Oboe Insight) and the San Francisco singer and cultural clearinghouse M-C. (click here for The Standing Room).
The conductor James Gaffigan was brought in for a short Q&A at intermission and admitted that these concerts were fairly underrehearsed for lack of time, but the orchestra was so good that it didn't matter.
Maybe it doesn't matter for Mozart and Beethoven, which a smaller ensemble played beautifully and freshly the previous week, but with the huge forces required for Wednesday's composers, the orchestra sounded sloppy and all over the place.
The young Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martinez, with her blonde ponytail flying around during the entire Rach3 Concerto, looked disconcertingly like a Mexican TV talk show hostess and her playing was all wrong for the difficult piece, with way too much mechanical precision and not an ounce of Russian poetry.
It didn't help that Gaffigan and the orchestra seemed to be playing an entirely different piece than Ms. Martinez, and at wildly differing tempos. Oh well, it was still a fun evening, the cookies were delicious, and I now feel officially co-opted.