Matthew Lickona 8:30 a.m., Oct. 20
San Diego Symphony (2 of 2)
During intermission, my concert companion noticed several youths sitting next to us. When asked if they were with a group they said yes.
They were all engineering students at UCSD. As it turns out, once a year the Jacobs buy concert tickets for the entire engineering department at UCSD as a way to help the students become exposed to classical music.
We looked around and there were students everywhere. The few we talked to claimed to be enjoying themselves.
The second half of the concert started with The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto. I must admit I didn’t know this piece existed. I found it to be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
The piece was written by two Chinese students in 1959. He Zhanhao received much of the credit for the piece as his was the famous main theme. This main theme did sound familiar to me. I can only guess that I’ve heard it during the Olympics accompanying a figure skater.
Chen Gang did the dirty work of writing the development sections. Tchaikovsky once said something to the effect that genius wasn’t in the inspiration of a great theme; it was in the ability to turn that theme into a piece of music.
Cho-Liang Lin was again the soloist and was again phenomenal. The orchestra played phenomenally and each time the main theme returned, there was an emotional aspect to their playing that was beyond the norm.
Speaking of Tchaikovsky, his Romeo and Juliet concluded the concert. This was Tchaikovsky’s first big hit. However, Nuvi Mehta came out before the piece was played and explained that Tchaikovsky received significant guidance from the venerable Balakirev.
Romeo and Juliet has its own famous ice skating theme. Romeo’s theme has become so famous that it is often a punch line. Take, for instance, Garth in Wayne’s World when he sees the “foxy lady”.
When I mentioned this to the engineering students, they didn’t know what Wayne’s World was. I’m not sure if that’s because Wayne’s World was made before they were born or if it’s because they’re engineering students.
The symphony’s performance of this warhorse was adequate. Everything was in place and the big moments all arrived but the performance wasn’t as taut as it could have been. That is not to say it was a disappointment.
I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. This music carries a tremendous amount of energy and it was conveyed to the audience by the orchestra.