Fulfilling Mahler’s Ninth at the San Francisco Symphony

Gustav Mahler

Michael Tilson Thomas’ final concert this past Saturday for the SF Symphony’s 2018-19 season featured Mahler’s last full symphony, the Ninth. It was a noteworthy moment and an extraordinary experience from start to finish. MTT’s final season with the SFS after a 25-year tenure as innovative director will start this coming September and conclude next June, but it seems as though loyal symphony-goers and fans had already started saying their long goodbyes in 2017, as soon as the conductor’s decision was announced publicly. In addition, MTT took a medical leave promptly after this last Sunday matinee performance in order to undertake a cardiac procedure. 

Mahler Ninth’s association with irregular heartbeats — especially Bernstein’s hypothesis that the hesitant rhythmic motif that starts and ends the symphony is a direct transcription of Mahler’s own heart condition — has been longstanding. While Mahler’s inward compositional intentions will, as ever, remain clouded by history — and, therefore, produce all sorts of equally plausible hypotheses — it is not fit to conflate myth with news and to romanticize MTT’s genuine health concern as so many one-liners and headers to sensational news have done for the past few weeks. 

Read full story
Archived in these categories: Orchestral


Music of Jubilation: Symphony Silicon Valley Finale

Tatsuya Shimono

Conductor Tatsuya Shimono led the 2018-19 season finale of Symphony Silicon Valley on Saturday, June 1, at the California Theatre. The program featured choral music by Dvorak and Beethoven, featuring guest soloists and the gifted Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale, whose Music Director is Elena Sharkova. Besides the rarely performed 1891Te Deum of Antonin Dvorak, the powerful draw came in the form of Beethoven’s mighty 1824 Ninth Symphony, the “Choral.” Among the pedestals of Western Music, this last symphony of Beethoven casts a perpetual spell over performers and auditors alike, compelling us to examine the very foundations of the musical art.

Read full story
Archived in these categories: Choral, Classical Era, Orchestral, Romantic Era


Monterey Peninsula College Orchestra — Spring Concert

Conductor David Dally and the MPC College Orchestra

The MPC Orchestra we heard last night at the MPC Theatre is a living testament to Conductor David Dally’s thirty odd years of successfully transforming a small Monday-Evening String Class into a thriving community orchestra that presents two major concerts every year. Yes, there are a few MPC students among the orchestra players, but there are also many distinguished local musicians from our community — among them are clarinetist Erica Horn, oboist Claire Horn, percussionist Greg Bullock, trombonist Suzanne Mudge, cellist (and former violinist) Vernon Brown, tuba player Jim Paoletti, and many others who regularly appear with other distinguished orchestra ensembles during the concert year.

Read full story
Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Concerto, Monterey Peninsula College, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era


YMMC – Love Side Stories

YMMC concerts are family events, and we do mean big family events. When you add together all the young musicians from OITS (Orchestra in the Schools), and the young musicians from YMMC’s Youth and Honors Orchestra, it amounts to about 125 young players, who with their parents and siblings bring to each concert a capacity audience that fills Sunset Center in Carmel. It is also gratifying to see the level of generous community support as evidenced by the long list of donors and angels in the printed program — with Patricia & George Yellich, deserving a special mention as sponsors of this afternoon’s program.

Read full story
Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Classical Era, Concerto, Orchestral


Brahms in Rome

A spectacular all-Brahms concert in Rome with pianist Yefim Bronfman and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Daniele Gatti offered the Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 2 at the Sala Santa Cecilia on May 5. Arriving by bus in a torrential rainstorm, it nevertheless was exciting to see the Auditorium at the famed Parco della Musica, a huge modern building that contains several concert venues north of the city center.

Of interest to this retired orchestra player was the concert etiquette of the orchestra. Unlike symphony orchestras in the United States, here the players do not enter the stage early to tune and warm up. There is no pre-concert noodling in front of the entering public as in the USA. At four minutes after the announced concert time the players file on stage to continuous applause. They take their seats and the concertmaster begins the formal tuning process.

Read full story
Archived in these categories: Cello, Concerto, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era