Mahler’s glorious Fifth Symphony, regarded as one of his crowning achievements, was conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas last week. The San Francisco Symphony performance earned good reviews from local music critics and was warmly received by the audience.
The evening began with another entertaining divertissement also worth noting. Shortly before the concert began, several orchestra principals were wandering about the lower lobby with their instruments in tow. Most were engaged in lively conversations with ticket holders, and some even played a musical fragment to illustrate a point. One principal we recognized was horn player, Daniel Hawkins.
According to SFS spokesmen, this was spontaneous event generated by the musicians themselves, and not organized by the administration – which made it even more charming.
The evening opened with Berg’s Violin Concerto featuring the brilliant artist Gil Shahamm, who’s “formidable technique” has been praised by the New York Times.
When MTT reached the stage he turned to address the audience and explained that because the piece was being recorded, we were to make an extra effort to be quiet.
There was very little coughing or throat-clearing.
But at the end of performance…the room exploded with cheers and applause.