Sunday, October 05, 2008

SF Symphony at Justin Herman Plaza

San Francisco SymphonyBenjamin Shwartz, conductor
San Francisco Symphony
Bernstein: Overture to Candide
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Gershwin: An American in Paris

The rain held off Friday afternoon, so it was a fine day for the San Francisco Symphony to give its free noontime concert at Justin Herman Plaza. We had to sit through a few obligatory speeches & the national anthem, but we were rewarded with an all-American program of dance-inspired popular classics lead by Benjamin Schwartz.

The orchestra is just back from their New York tour, & the playing was very crisp. The amplified sound system sometimes made the oboe solos sound unusually prominent, but fortunately they were also beautifully played. I liked the trumpet soloist's tricky pitch pending in the Gershwin.

Classical music becomes very susceptible when performed outdoors. The Ferry Building clock struck the half-hour mark loudly & right on top of Nadya Tichman's delicate violin solo in the West Side Story suite. A trolley horn barged into An American in Paris. The musicians took it all in good humor.

The crowd of office workers eating their lunches was very large & quite respectful. This was good evidence for Loen Botstein's article debunking the death of classical music in that day's Wall Street Journal. The audience did interrupt the Gershwin with applause after a big climax, but this was quite acceptable given the setting.

After the concert, I visited the KDFC table & filled out a raffle entry. A tall man with a familiar voice was behind the table chatting with listeners. A man suddenly said to him, "Are you Hoyt Smith? It's so weird to see your face!" I, on the other hand, refrained from asking Hoyt why they only play 1 or 2 movements from a symphony.

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