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The unspoken rule of Mainly Mozart

The sound of one man clapping

Gabriella Reyes sings Puccini’s “Si, mi chiamano Mimi,” from La Boheme 2.
Gabriella Reyes sings Puccini’s “Si, mi chiamano Mimi,” from La Boheme 2.

You know from the way the parking ladies are dressed that this is going to be a classy event. We’ve gravel-crunched from Diana’s car to Del Mar’s polo paddocks. Our ticket says “Table #8.” Heavens to Betsy. That puts us right in the front row of the first live Mainly Mozart concert since covid hit. Diana, Bénie, Caroline, and me. The rest of the polo field flickers with the lights of tabletop candles and the glints of diamond brooches. They wink at you like mini-camera flashes.

“Mainly Mozart is the first classical concert series in the United States since quarantine began,” says Diana proudly. It turns out that she rounded up the financing that made tonight possible. I am awestruck. Also at the champagne, which is out of this world. And the food, okay, the usual chicken and salmon, but nicely done.

Table #8: before the fall.

Then the clinking of glasses and the hum of chat dies down. The orchestra has settled in; the conductor, David Chan, lifts his baton, and the overture to Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro dances out of the sound shell and over the fields. And I realize how long it has been since I have seen an orchestra play right in front of me — actual people, playing, just yards away. Years. It is incredibly visceral, moving. At the end of the Figaro I am standing, clapping. I can’t speak for the tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat. 

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So we snack, sip and exchange little shakes of the head at especially moving parts of Puccini and Peter Lieberson’s “My love: if I die and you don’t.”  

Nationally, Mainly Mozart has led the charge back into post-covid live performances like no other, using top players from all over the country, as well as a youth orchestra. And as a side gig — and this is very UCSD — spending a lot of time exploring the neuroscience surrounding the connection between music and the brain. 

Whatever, this year, they have had the guts to power through the covid and somehow keep live music playing. Maybe it’s the champagne, but it makes me think of the young bugler leading the Charge of the Light Brigade.

My downfall? I blame Tchaikovsky. His suite number 4 in G major, “Mozartiana.” Opus 61. It’s such a bright opening, and when it suddenly ends, I’m on my feet again, clapping...until I hear that I’m clapping on my own. “First movement,” whispers Diana. Out of the darkness, owl eyes peer at me. All I can do is shrug. “It’s been a while,” I mutter. I mean, the fact is, this “let’s not clap between movements” custom is pretty recent. They say it originally came from Germany in the early 1900s. Not for any discernible reason, except it was an important way to distinguish between the cognoscenti and the Great Unwashed. So I guess I know where this places me. Silence between movements is the unspoken rule. 

I look around. Some in the crowd are smiling; others avoid my glance; still others look with their eyes full of pity. They don’t have to tell you, but you know: you’ll never eat lunch in this town again.

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Gabriella Reyes sings Puccini’s “Si, mi chiamano Mimi,” from La Boheme 2.
Gabriella Reyes sings Puccini’s “Si, mi chiamano Mimi,” from La Boheme 2.

You know from the way the parking ladies are dressed that this is going to be a classy event. We’ve gravel-crunched from Diana’s car to Del Mar’s polo paddocks. Our ticket says “Table #8.” Heavens to Betsy. That puts us right in the front row of the first live Mainly Mozart concert since covid hit. Diana, Bénie, Caroline, and me. The rest of the polo field flickers with the lights of tabletop candles and the glints of diamond brooches. They wink at you like mini-camera flashes.

“Mainly Mozart is the first classical concert series in the United States since quarantine began,” says Diana proudly. It turns out that she rounded up the financing that made tonight possible. I am awestruck. Also at the champagne, which is out of this world. And the food, okay, the usual chicken and salmon, but nicely done.

Table #8: before the fall.

Then the clinking of glasses and the hum of chat dies down. The orchestra has settled in; the conductor, David Chan, lifts his baton, and the overture to Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro dances out of the sound shell and over the fields. And I realize how long it has been since I have seen an orchestra play right in front of me — actual people, playing, just yards away. Years. It is incredibly visceral, moving. At the end of the Figaro I am standing, clapping. I can’t speak for the tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat. 

Sponsored
Sponsored

So we snack, sip and exchange little shakes of the head at especially moving parts of Puccini and Peter Lieberson’s “My love: if I die and you don’t.”  

Nationally, Mainly Mozart has led the charge back into post-covid live performances like no other, using top players from all over the country, as well as a youth orchestra. And as a side gig — and this is very UCSD — spending a lot of time exploring the neuroscience surrounding the connection between music and the brain. 

Whatever, this year, they have had the guts to power through the covid and somehow keep live music playing. Maybe it’s the champagne, but it makes me think of the young bugler leading the Charge of the Light Brigade.

My downfall? I blame Tchaikovsky. His suite number 4 in G major, “Mozartiana.” Opus 61. It’s such a bright opening, and when it suddenly ends, I’m on my feet again, clapping...until I hear that I’m clapping on my own. “First movement,” whispers Diana. Out of the darkness, owl eyes peer at me. All I can do is shrug. “It’s been a while,” I mutter. I mean, the fact is, this “let’s not clap between movements” custom is pretty recent. They say it originally came from Germany in the early 1900s. Not for any discernible reason, except it was an important way to distinguish between the cognoscenti and the Great Unwashed. So I guess I know where this places me. Silence between movements is the unspoken rule. 

I look around. Some in the crowd are smiling; others avoid my glance; still others look with their eyes full of pity. They don’t have to tell you, but you know: you’ll never eat lunch in this town again.

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Gaslamp ugly sweater pub crawl, Coronado ice skating, Nutcracker tea party, Del Mar Red Nose Run

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Jesse Daniel Edwards returns, Taz Taylor shoots, Swive performs, Sara Petite revues, and Roger! stays home

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