Thursday, July 1, 2021

facing the concert series

Despite signs that the pandemic is about to return with a roar (perhaps less here than elsewhere, since we actually have a majority of eligible people vaccinated here), I've received renewal brochures for next season (2021-22) from both concert-providers to which I'm a long-time subscriber, the SF Symphony and SF Performances, which does chamber music and solo recitals.

And I have to decide what I want to do about it. SF is a ways off, and it seems farther since the pandemic (I haven't visited there at all, in all that time). I've only ever gone there frequently for concerts at all because the performances in such a cultural capital are so good. And whether I drive or take the rapid transit, it requires walking, more than I might feel comfortable with now.

SFP allows you to renew from scratch each year with no defaults, and looking through their program I find one series that most appeals to me: the Catalyst Quartet, whom I don't know, are doing four concerts of the music of Black composers. These are all composers I know - George Walker, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, William Grant Still, the Chevalier de St. Georges, and of course the indispensable Florence Price - and I'm eager to hear all of them. There's only one or two other programs, also string quartets, that at all attract me, and while there are others I'd go to if I had tickets anyway - or at least I would have in the past - and I have enough credit with them from last season to pay for all of this, I think I'll let it go at that.

The SF Symphony is tougher. First is the irritation that they don't list the programs in their program brochure, just one line indicating some of the music and/or performers. To get the full info you need to look up the website. If you search chronologically, you get dumped back out to this month every time you exit an item, and have to click through month by month to get back to where you were. You can also search by keyword if you just want to identify the concerts listed in the brochure, but that requires erasing the words "[object][Object]" that keep showing up in the search box. I object.

Then I have to decide whether to keep my series - of 12 concerts, that's a lot - and if I don't, likely having to get a new seat. So I look up all the various concerts, including the ones I might want to go to that aren't on my series. Some of them are a little dampening. Here's one whose description says "Mäkelä conducts Shostakovich 10." One of my favorites, but what else are they playing? The Berg Violin Concerto, a work I could really go without hearing again. So, drop it? I dunno - I remember the last SFS concert I attended, two Februaries ago. EPS, not yet music director, was conducting, and the program didn't really excite me. But the performances were so fantastically good I was totally won over. That's what I go to the City for, and maybe I should still do it.

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