Wednesday, September 04, 2013
SF Symphony Gala Opening 2013
The 102nd season of the San Francisco Symphony started with a society gala that was an altogether charming party.
There was a concert in the midst of all the festivities, with music critics such as Janos Gereben (above with Dalia Kim), trying to keep their critical perspective. (Click here for Janos's accurate and amusing description of the evening.)
The concert started with the 15-minute Jazz Symphony of George Antheil from 1925. Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas gave it a humorously disparaging introduction, saying the 25-year-old composer had borrowed a bit from Stravinsky, a bit from 1920s jazz, and a bit from the avant-garde musical movements of the time. Whatever the case, the music was bizarrely bracing and contemporary and fun all at the same time, completely overshadowing Gershwin's overplayed 1928 An American in Paris which ended the concert. And horn principal Mark Inouye's jazzy solos in both pieces made everyone sit up and feel excited to be in the hall.
In between the two American Jazz Age Pieces, there was a concert by Broadway star Audra McDonald singing 10 songs, half by Bernstein and half by an assortment of composers, with the orchestra relegated to back-up band. By operatic standards, McDonald has a good-but-not-great voice, but by Broadway standards her voice is exquisite and legendary. Part of the reason is that she has the best English diction I have ever heard. During the concert she channeled a too-smart Roz Russell in A Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man from Wonderful Town in a way that communicated this was an artist who was scary smart herself.
The after parties on Grove Street and the Lake Louise Tent were exuberant but filled with odd moments.
At one moment I found myself dancing with my charming date, Diane Harrigan above...
...next to the Godfather who still runs San Francisco, Willie Brown, Jr., who was dancing with his companion Sonya Molodetskaya above left.