Sunday, September 17, 2017

SF Symphony Gala 2017

An old friend, Joshua Contreras, had left a pair of Stacy Adams wingtips in our closet for the last 10 years, lost and forgotten. Last month he sent an SOS from El Paso, asking if they happened to still be in the closet, and they were. Before sending them off to the Lone Star State, though, I took them out for a last spin at the San Francisco Symphony Gala Opening last Thursday.

I was joined by my friend Steve Susoyev above who was wearing the other pair of fancy footwear as he guided Frances Hsieh around the Prosecco Promenade in the Davies Hall lobby.

Frances managed to upstage us both.

The annual fundraising gala opens with a quintet of dinners and cocktails at City Hall, a party tent next door, and the tiny Wattis Room for the truly elite.

After dinner, the crowds join each other in the lobby to see and be seen.

This year's edition was younger and mellower than usual, and the people watching was perfectly delightful.

There was also an opening musical concert wedged in with music director Michael Tilson Thomas leading the audience in a sing-along Star Spangled Banner, a Happy 90th Birthday arrangement which he sang to Bernard Osher who was perched in a stageside box, and a quartet of classical music bon-bons with the orchestra.

The concert started with a rambunctious performance of Bernstein's overture to Candide, which the orchestra will be presenting complete in January. This was followed by the star of the evening, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, playing the Saint-Saƫns Cello Conerto #1 and Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations. This was the first time I had heard Yo-Yo Ma play live, which felt a bit like checking off a box on a bucket list. Decades ago, I heard an older Isaac Stern make a mess of a Mozart violin concerto so I was a bit apprehensive about encountering another legend late in their career (Ma has been performing in public since child prodigy days in the early 1960s), but there was no reason to worry. It was easy to hear why he is a legend.

The concert ended with yet another traversal through Ravel's Bolero, followed by parties and dancing in the tent and outdoors on Grove Street. Even with our magic shoes, we were wimps and only lasted about an hour, but the food and drink and people were fun.

4 comments:

Janos Gereben said...

Delighted to see Leslie Katz's listing of the "Bolero" musicians in her SFEx review:

"Tim Day, flute; Carey Bell, clarinet; Steve Paulson, bassoon; David Neuman, e-flat clarinet; Russ deLuna, oboe d’amore; Raymond Riccomini, trumpet; David Henderson, soprano saxophone and Patrick Posey, soprano saxophone. Jacob Nissly, the source of the constant rhythm on snare drum, deservedly got a huge round of applause."

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Janos: Bolero, Schlomero.

Jack said...

An evening of chestnuts, but who cares when ya got hot shoes on? Haven't seen Yo Yo in years. Does he still look like he's having an orgasm when he plays?

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Jack: He actually looked like he had a bad back, and I give him props for not canceling, and playing as well as he did. But no orgasmic gestures for the chestnuts this particular evening.