This was a mid afternoon trip, and so we had a little time to kill before dinner at Farallon, which we wasted wandering about, though it was quite chilly. San Francisco was very much cooler than Berkeley that day. With no play to go to, we had longer to spend over the meal than we had planned, so we told them when we arrived and they seated us in a different area where we had a great view of everything going on and were able to enjoy the meal with no sense of urgency or rush.
I had missed the first rehearsal of my choir (the East Bay Jewish Folk Chorus), which was on my birthday while I was in NYC, but started my season by going to the rehearsal at the JCC on Monday night. As always, it was sheer pleasure to be singing and seeing my friends again for the new season. I had listened in advance to some of the music, which Achi, the Director, posts on a web site so we can download the scores and the MP3s of our parts. I was already a bit familiar with a couple of the Hebrew songs and one of the Yiddish ones, Lomir Ale in Eynem, which it seems to me is always sung at Jewish weddings and Barmitzvahs in Melbourne - though none of the other singers had ever heard it, so presumably it is a lot less popular in California! We have a couple of concerts scheduled for the beginning of Hanukkah, and Barry thinks Tom Lehrer's "I'm Spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica" will bring the house down. Here is a youtube of the song - and I think Achi's four part choral arrangement will sound pretty good.
As we each had periods when we knew we'd be travelling, we had booked operas and theatre to fit around the absences, which at time perhaps led to a greater concentration of arts than is ideal. In this week, we had an opera on Tuesday evening (a lovely performance of the Marriage of Figaro at the SF Opera House, see the link below:
The conductor, Nicola Luisotti, took it all at breakneck speed, and the sets looked just a little bit tired, but I always enjoy this Mozart romp and the singers pretty much did it justice without being spectacular. The subscription department rings you up and very charming young men talk you through the options for making up your season, and though we decided it was too expensive and we wouldn't subscribe this year, we have ended up with even more expensive seats this year, having vowed not to go back to the still expensive but very uncomfortable seats we have had in the past two years - no leg room for us, and we're not that tall! At least in these seats we are comfortable.
Then on Thursday night we went back into San Francisco's Civic Centre area to a Symphony concert, the first half celebrating Latin American composers Revueltas, Villa-Lobos and Varese, the second half Beethoven's 7th. The Varese piece, Ameriques, was scored for a very large orchestra indeed, including nine percussionists, one of who plays both a siren and sleigh bells. I quote from the programme:
In Music Since 1900 , the encyclopaedist Nicolas Slonimsky, famous for his ability to compress much meaning into few words, summed up Ameriques by remarking that it was "titled in the plural to embrace all Americas, abstract and concrete, present and future, scored for a huge orchestra and set in dissonant harmonic counterpoint built of functional thematic molecules, proceeding by successive crystallizations in the sonorous mass of organized sound."
The audience at its premiere in 1926 certainly wouldn't have expected to hear anything like this at a symphony concert, and as I hadn't looked at the programme in advance, nor did I, but I liked it. Michael Tilson Thomas (or MTT as he is generally referred to), the director of the SF Symphony, conducted Beethoven 7 at a cracking pace, but maybe not as fast as I expected from having heard him before. It is a lovely work and I hear new things in it every time I hear it performed, however familiar it is.
|Cute little electric run-around parked in our street|
|More conventional-looking electric car charging in carport.|
|Flavours of the day at Ici on College Avenue.|
|Ilana, Barbara, Stephanie, Barry at Circus Oz|