My afternoon at the San Francisco Symphony with Yuja Wang, Pianist

It was a shock to my nervous system to hear a LIVE concert! I had been getting so used to iPod fed classics and You tube streamed performances that I forgot what I was missing.


From my seat at terrace right, almost hanging over the stage, I heard amazing instrumental clarity and orchestral color, though the Steinway concert grand, with lid up, (reserved for a virtuoso) completely blocked out the pianist.

Still, it was not a deterrent to my musical pleasure and that of my concert partner and ticket benefactor, Sonya. We felt a rush of endorphins as Maestro Tilson Thomas served up a program of bon bons and ear charmers. (Before the conductor ascended the podium, he told the audience to hold back coughs and sneezes in deference to a recording for a CD in progress) Naturally a gush of noise filled intervals between short pieces:

San Francisco Symphony


Entr’acte No. 3 in B-flat major from Rosamunde

Legend No. 6, from Legends for Orchestra

The Last Spring

Piano Concerto No. 1

Scherzo from Concerto symphonique No. 4


(Not skipping a beat, I grabbed an opportunity to borrow “Iberia” as the musical backdrop for my “Afternoon at the Symphony” video)

What fabulous Davies Hall acoustics!

The tour de force, however, was definitely Yuja Wang playing Prokofiev Concerto No. 1, along with a splashy piece by Littolf. Audience applause was so booming and prolonged, that after 5 curtain calls, the conductor nudged the pianist to play a unique encore–Tilson Thomas’s own composition that wove a story of two former lovers meeting to “settle things.” (audience chuckles greeted the scenario)

Would it evoke Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti or his later released West Side Story? Michael had been once heralded as the heir to Lenny’s throne.

Well, it turned out to be a short, jazzy piece that is, in part, showcased here as Yuja performed it.

Finally, after Debussy’s Images for orchestra capped a memorable musical menu, I joined my concert mate for a delicious repast at Max’s at the Opera.

Little did she know that I would borrow the symphony opener (Faure “Pavane”) as the soundtrack for a series of imported pics that celebrated our friendship.

There’s Sonya savoring some delectable mouthfuls!

Eat and be Merry! Or as Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

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