My job tonight was running the house electrics at Davies Symphony Hall. I’m filling in for JJ who is on vacation. I’ve been doing this on and off for over a year now and I’m still not completely confident that I will remember all the little details.
Anyway, the Symphony is playing Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with a huge orchestra and chorus & I’m a little tense. MTT is conducting. I have a couple of internal cues so I have to hang in the light booth more than I might ordinarily. I can hear but only through speakers in the booth. About 30 minutes in I notice that the audience is unusually rapt and quiet during the very quiet parts. By the last 20 minutes – now over an hour into the piece – when the chorus stands up to sing, I can see that the audience is hardly moving they’re so intent. A couple sitting right in front of the booth just look at each other briefly as if to say, ‘Can you believe this?’
MTT is a man possessed and yet not. He’s in complete control. Sometimes I look at the monitor that shows the face that the orchestra sees and he is seemingly relaxed. From the audience he is willowy yet taut. Once again I have to reflect on the treasure we have here in San Francisco. Now that I’ve been here with the Symphony for a while, I know more of his story. He’s a living link to great artists of the 20th Century like Gershwin and Bernstein. He often seems mercurial when shows are in development such as what I’ve witnessed in SoundBox but the results are almost always astounding. He is a treasure.
Edit after (sort of) seeing this show two more times. The band is pretty good too! It was hard to quantify my own take the second and third hearings. Actually none of them were true experiences of the music. I saw Lolly Lewis at the Friday show and I expect she will put a review up on her blog. It’s not there yet but check out her writing anyway: https://lollylewis.wordpress.com/