Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An evening with MTT and the Symphony

The city is built,
To music, therefore never built at all,
And therefore built forever.
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King

San Francisco's symphony space / Davies Symphony Hall.

In both sight and sound, music moves us toward beauty ~ and, in a city full of beautiful imagery, we are blessed with a lovely symphony space to enjoy classical music. And, in Michael Tilson Thomas, we have a dynamic and visionary music director to conduct our San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

The maestro / Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFSO.

My wife and I spent part of our holiday season last Friday at Davies Symphony Hall in the San Francisco civic center, enjoying an evening of fine classical music performed by the SFSO.  It's something culturally we like to treat ourselves to every so often, just like we enjoy the culture and atmosphere of seeing a Giants baseball game in person.

Holiday color / Christmas trees added to the decor.

On this December evening, Davies was decked out in splendid holiday colors ~ a pastiche of greens and reds ~ and the Christmas trees in the lobby, donated and decorated by businesses and organizations from across the city, added to the festive atmosphere.

Lots of greens and reds, and Cal Bears, too! /
Each Christmas tree had a different theme.

Our seats in Section L of the First Tier afforded us a good sight line of the Symphony, and especially of Maestro Thomas and the concert's featured soloist, violinist Gil Shaham.  We've seen the young and artistic Shaham (age 39) perform a couple of times over the years with the Symphony ~ the last time in 2009 when he masterfully performed the Berg Violin Concerto ~ and he and Thomas (age 65) always strike a nice rapport.  They are like a couple of happy, old friends when they're on stage together.  A wink and a nod go a long way between these two.

The featured soloist and the Stradivarius / Gil Shaham and MTT.

After the Symphony performed Henry Cowell's Synchrony from 1930 to open the concert, Shaham arrived on stage with his 1699 Countess Polignac Stradivarius violin in tow to perform Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major K. 219.  Composed in 1775, its performance provided an occasion for a bit of wit and ingenuity as well as for an open tempo.  Shaham's virtuosity showed throughout the piece and his playing evoked many emotions: feelings of hope, joy, love and happiness.

The composer and the conductor / John Adams and MTT.

Following intermission, the Symphony concluded the concert with the dynamic and percussive Harmonielehre, a three-movement, contemporary classical piece for large orchestra written in 1985 by the American composer John Adams, whom MTT invited out on stage for a bow following its conclusion. The two, along with the Symphony, received multiple standing ovations. 

The City comes alive at night / Holiday-hued San Francisco City Hall. 

Like an enjoyable buffet, there was a little something for every one's aural pallette on this holiday night at the symphony and we left feeling nourished and satisfied.  The sights and sounds of the City always come alive at night.

All photographs by Michael Dickens, copyright 2010.

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