Tuesday, June 20, 2017

concert reviews

I was almost on my way out the door to the San Francisco Symphony last Thursday afternoon when my editor phoned and asked if I wanted to review ... the San Francisco Symphony. Well, that was easy.

I had my review in Saturday morning, but I don't think the copy-editors work on weekends, and it usually takes them most of a day to get the work up, so the review didn't appear until this morning. Now that SFS is moving all its first performances to Thursdays instead of Wednesdays, this will create a timing problem.

I'd like to add something about the process of writing a review like this. I'm a repertoire-oriented classical listener, not a performer-oriented one. When I talk about Lalo's orchestral style, or compare Rachmaninoff to earlier Russian composers, I'm speaking from long-standing personal knowledge of their full orchestral oeuvres. But the individual characteristics of performers, even distinctive ones, tend not to stick in my head. That's where having a dozen years of a blog in which I review all the concerts I attend, whether I'm covering them professionally or not, is useful. My statements about the styles of conductor Petrenko and violinist Bell (whom I barely restrained myself from calling "the famous Washington Metro busker") come from comparing what I thought this time with what I'd written about them before. That's the external memory function.

I used the same technique to write, for my other outlet, this preview article on tomorrow's (it's tomorrow's now; it was next week's when it was published) Garden of Memory concert. I waited until the list of this year's performers was posted, then I scarfed up descriptions I'd written of them from previous concerts, strung them together, and that's the article. I wrote this for publicity. Although it's already crowded enough in there, I'm still trying to get others to attend. I know lots of people who would love this event, but I've only occasionally seen any of them there.

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