Thursday, January 15, 2009
Inauguration Day in Civic Center
The San Francisco Boys' Chorus and the San Francisco Girls' Chorus, in a fairly rare bisexual collaboration, previewed their Obama inauguration concert program for Washington, D.C. in San Francisco's City Hall on Thursday afternoon.
The event started with an overlong, blustering speech by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, ending with the presentation of two city plaques for the choruses.
The chorus then launched into "America The Beautiful" in a beautiful, ethereal rendition of that durable tune.
The conductor was Ian Robertson (above), the director of the San Francisco Boys' Chorus and also the director of the San Francisco Opera Chorus. If ever there was an unsung hero of San Francisco's classical musical life over the last 20 years, it would have to be the chain-smoking, wryly funny and utterly brilliant Scotsman Mr. Robertson, and it's great news to hear he's representing San Francisco in Washington, D.C.
I went to the top of City Hall's dome to hear the angelic strains of the childrens' choruses reverberating through the building.
There is a an exquisite, unweathered quality to a well-trained childrens' chorus that is inimitable, which is probably why so much church music has been written for their perfect soprano voices over the centuries.
I had read there was to be an Obama inauguration celebration in Civic Center Plaza on the Tuesday the 20th, complete with large screen, but when trying to find any confirmation of the event at "The Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services," I ran into a nasty middle-aged receptionist who treated my question as if it were a personal affront. "There's something going on at Bill Graham Auditorium that's open to the public, but it's not a city event, so I don't know anything about it. Go over there if you want any information," she said with vinegar dripping from her voice
I did go to Bill Graham Auditorium across the Plaza and asked an elderly security guard if there was anything scheduled for Inauguration Day on the 20th and he actually went back to an office and found out that no, there was nothing scheduled for that day. I returned to City Hall and ran into the newly elected District 11 Supervisor John Avalos who was extraordinarily sweet and helpful, and who gave me a printed postcard announcing that yes, there was to be a public simulcast in Civic Center Plaza from 7AM to 12 noon. It's being produced by a group out of the Mission called NextArts, which I called this evening to make sure the event was still on. The answer was yes, and all they are asking for is a donation of "socks or underwear (new)" to distribute to poor people. (Click here for more info.)
I returned to the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services and politely handed the receptionist the printed postcard with the inauguration info, and her response was, "I told you this wasn't a city event! What's your problem? I don't know anything about this," as she angrily returned the postcard to me. I told her I thought she might be interested just so she could share the information with others, but she was doing everything but spitting out "screw you" so I left, but not without taking a few photos of the lady with her hand in front of her face, along with her young assistant who decided to dance around like a fool before they called for a deputy. The two of them struck me as perfect gatekeepers for Mr. Newsom's administration.
Update: Heather Knight at SFGate wrote a piece this morning confirming what jerks the Newsom administration are being about inauguration festivities in San Francisco, while our Mayor hangs out with Senator Feinstein in Washington, D.C. Click here to read it.