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Rady summer series kicks off with Berlioz, Moya, Mussorgsky

Sycuan Band comes up with $1.1 million

Rafael Payare
Rafael Payare

The Rady Shell 2022 Summer Season kicked off on Friday, June 24, with a concert by the San Diego Symphony conducted by music director Rafael Payare. Though the day was warm, the evening became chilly. Always, always, bring a jacket to the Shell.

At the beginning of the concert, San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer addressed the audience. She announced a $1.1 million cash donation from The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. This gift represents the single largest cash gift ever given to the arts and culture sector by a sovereign tribal nation in Southern California.

Video:

Berlioz - Le corsaire

overture, Op 21 - Järvi

overture, Op 21 - Järvi

The concert was entitled Orchestral Technicolor which led me to believe we would see the Shell access its array of color palettes and maybe even some projections as was the case at the opening of the Shell in August of 2021. This was not the case. The Shell maintained a violet hue for the duration of the concert.

The orchestra opened with Hector Berlioz’s Le Corsair Overture. This is the third title that was given by Berlioz. It was originally written during a trip Berlioz took to Nice where he did a lot of swimming in the Mediterranean. The first title was Le Tour de Nice or the Tower of Nice. The second title was Le Corsair Rouge which translates to The Red Rover — a popular novel from 1827. Berlioz finally settled on Le Corsair which is also the title of a poem by Byron.

The point here is that the title of the piece doesn’t matter. The music was inspired by an experience Berlioz had with the sea. That doesn’t matter much because Berlioz changed the title twice so he clearly wasn’t committed to his subjective experience. Trying to figure out what the composer intended with the music is a rabbit hole that leads to nowhere.

Video:

MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition (The Great Gate of Kiev)

Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Myung-Whun Chung

Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France Myung-Whun Chung

The experience of the music by the audience member is what matters and that will be different each time the music is heard. My experience of the music as performed by Rafael Payare and his San Diegans was terrific. Payare whipped up a storm and the orchestra rode the crest of his tempo from start to finish.

While the stage was rearranged for the next piece of music, Reinaldo Moya’s *Concerto for Piano, Strings, and Percussion, we got what amounted to a podcast episode featuring the composer. Moya was in attendance and answered questions about his composition posed to him by a representative of the symphony.

I do not like this practice. If a composer wants to talk about the structure of the music and how certain musical devices function within the piece, such as the key, meter, or tempo, that is great. However, as mentioned with Berlioz, the inspiration for the piece and what it is specifically trying to express do not matter.

Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition was the grand finale to the concert. It was spectacular. The only drawback was the outdoor venue, which can’t be helped. When we get to the “Great Gate of Kiev”, the confined air of a concert hall vibrates with the mass of sound coming from the orchestra. That effect was lost outdoors but it didn’t really matter much, as the performance still stormed the great gate and took the city, San Diego in this case, by storm.

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Rafael Payare
Rafael Payare

The Rady Shell 2022 Summer Season kicked off on Friday, June 24, with a concert by the San Diego Symphony conducted by music director Rafael Payare. Though the day was warm, the evening became chilly. Always, always, bring a jacket to the Shell.

At the beginning of the concert, San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer addressed the audience. She announced a $1.1 million cash donation from The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. This gift represents the single largest cash gift ever given to the arts and culture sector by a sovereign tribal nation in Southern California.

Video:

Berlioz - Le corsaire

overture, Op 21 - Järvi

overture, Op 21 - Järvi

The concert was entitled Orchestral Technicolor which led me to believe we would see the Shell access its array of color palettes and maybe even some projections as was the case at the opening of the Shell in August of 2021. This was not the case. The Shell maintained a violet hue for the duration of the concert.

The orchestra opened with Hector Berlioz’s Le Corsair Overture. This is the third title that was given by Berlioz. It was originally written during a trip Berlioz took to Nice where he did a lot of swimming in the Mediterranean. The first title was Le Tour de Nice or the Tower of Nice. The second title was Le Corsair Rouge which translates to The Red Rover — a popular novel from 1827. Berlioz finally settled on Le Corsair which is also the title of a poem by Byron.

The point here is that the title of the piece doesn’t matter. The music was inspired by an experience Berlioz had with the sea. That doesn’t matter much because Berlioz changed the title twice so he clearly wasn’t committed to his subjective experience. Trying to figure out what the composer intended with the music is a rabbit hole that leads to nowhere.

Video:

MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition (The Great Gate of Kiev)

Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Myung-Whun Chung

Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France Myung-Whun Chung

The experience of the music by the audience member is what matters and that will be different each time the music is heard. My experience of the music as performed by Rafael Payare and his San Diegans was terrific. Payare whipped up a storm and the orchestra rode the crest of his tempo from start to finish.

While the stage was rearranged for the next piece of music, Reinaldo Moya’s *Concerto for Piano, Strings, and Percussion, we got what amounted to a podcast episode featuring the composer. Moya was in attendance and answered questions about his composition posed to him by a representative of the symphony.

I do not like this practice. If a composer wants to talk about the structure of the music and how certain musical devices function within the piece, such as the key, meter, or tempo, that is great. However, as mentioned with Berlioz, the inspiration for the piece and what it is specifically trying to express do not matter.

Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition was the grand finale to the concert. It was spectacular. The only drawback was the outdoor venue, which can’t be helped. When we get to the “Great Gate of Kiev”, the confined air of a concert hall vibrates with the mass of sound coming from the orchestra. That effect was lost outdoors but it didn’t really matter much, as the performance still stormed the great gate and took the city, San Diego in this case, by storm.

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