It has seemed so very long this time, the gap between the 2009-2010 season and the commencement of the 2010-2011 season. Probably because the first performance in my subscription series, tailored to my tastes, didn’t occur until last Sunday, October 24th. Probably also because the summer was long, dry, and full of hard writing work. This year’s return of my symphony season coincides with a return of the rain. I’m not complaining; I love the coziness of overcast skies, rain, particularly after five months of its absence. I’m even cheerful about needing an umbrella, a raincoat, fighting the gusts of rain-infused wind that add unique and colorful elements to my attempts at a hairstyle.
Davies Hall, in San Francisco’s Civic Center, looks so majestic, so grand from my approach on Van Ness. Waiting at the final stop light, I see the patrons already inside, standing at the window, looking out onto the Civic Center’ classical architecture, onto on us, the poor sods in the gusty rain. A ticket allows me entry into this drier, brighter world. Inside, a festive atmosphere prevails. Marble floors gleam, the chrome and glass and chandeliers all complement the dressed-up, smiling patrons. There is a buzz of conversation, the clink of glasses, the popping open of another bottle of champagne that will always signal to me a sense of good cheer and prosperity.
I take my seat inside the concert hall. From my perch high in the first tier, I observe the activity below, the un-self-conscious actions of the musicians as they warm up. More musicians wander onstage. Some engage in conversation with each other, some sit to tackle a particular passage of music. Stands get adjusted, chairs moved an inch to the left, the back. Various music passages rise into the air, scales here and there, creating a whimsical dissonance that sounds like something Berg or Schoenberg might have composed on a light day.
Out in the lobby the three notes chimes, warning people to gulp down that scotch, that wine, and move to your seats, please. In my own seat, I begin to relax. The commute over the mountains, in wind and rain, was tricky. I left behind contention in my household. (With a belligerent pre-teen son, I’m beginning to wonder if there will be any other kind of environment for the next ten years.) My writing, of late, has challenged me, but a second draft of my novel-in-progress has just been completed. I have left behind the stress of driving in city traffic with its stoplights and impatient drivers and not-so-impatient pedestrians. My only job now is to listen and enjoy.
The buzz of conversation rises as patrons stream in and find their seats. Eventually the lights dim and the voices subside. A dulcet recorded voice over the speakers reminds us to please turn off all electronic and cellular devices. Tiny white screens appear from within the audience below me, hundreds of them, devices being checked and (theoretically) being turned off.
The concertmaster strides onstage, bows, and cues the oboist, who lets out a pure A 440 for the others to tune to. Instruments tuned, the musicians settle back in their seats. Finally we are all ready, musician and patron alike. We sit there, silent, expectant, and I savor this, as well—the final breathless moments of anticipation, just before the magic begins.
© 2010 Terez Rose
More entries: September 2010
Revisit Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles' coverage from Canada of the 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition, including her interview with gold medalist Marc Bouchkov.
Terez Mertes is from Boulder Creek, California. Biography
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