Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Tchaikovsky Night at America's Cup
On Saturday evening, the San Francisco Symphony made their debut at the America's Cup Pavilion with an evening of Tchaikovsky favorites. These included music from Sleeping Beauty, the Violin Concerto, the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, and the 1812 Overture.
Outdoor summer music festivals are a tradition for orchestras around the country, from Boston's Tanglewood Festival to the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Hollywood Bowl concerts, but San Francisco instead puts on a series of pops concerts in Davies Hall with a few outdoor excursions to the sunnier suburbs of Sonoma, Mountain View, and Concord. The chance to hear an outdoor symphonic concert on the San Francisco waterfront this year was enticing, but in reality the heavy amplification was annoying and the weather was bone chillingly cold. Also, unlike the Hollywood Bowl where people can bring in lavish picnics and booze if they so desire, the America's Cup Park will only allow an empty water bottle for provisions, perhaps as an enticement to purchase $11 cocktails and $9 beers from an army of vendors.
The performance of the Violin Concerto was lively and fun, with two 26-year-olds leading the way, Teddy Abrams as conductor and Nicola Benedetti as the soloist above. Although Benedetti is from Scotland and should be used to inclement summer weather, she looked like she was freezing to death when not sawing away on her instrument. There was also the odd detail of the America's Cup trophy perched at the front of the stage through the entire concert, blocking everyone's view of Abrams, who we secretly hoped would make a sweeping conducting gesture and knock the thing over.
The crowd was enjoyably unsophisticated, applauding not only between movements of the violin concerto but after every one of Benedetti's solos, as if she were an athlete or a ballet dancer. We didn't stay for the 1812 Overture because there was nothing we wanted after an hour at the concert more than a warm blanket and a hot brandy, which were unfortunately stashed at home.