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  • Writer's picturerhapsodydmb


Updated: 1 day ago

I dare you to watch this video "La Maestra" all the way through, and not smile. You have a special treat in store!

You will likely smile more than once, certainly at points where the Mexican conductor, Alondra de la Parra is vigorously dancing about on the conductor's stand, or walking off in rehearsals to take up the sticks of a drum to demonstrate and improve the tone and loudness by about 100%. (Watch at about 8 minutes in and for about a minute or so to see that happen.)

Watch the final few minutes of the video above, how she turns from a German orchestra to relate directly to the audience and make them a part of it! She starts clapping to the rhythm, and gets them all to join in. Notice the musician's faces as they are shown during this unique experience. They are laughing or smiling broadly. Everyone is having a blast. The clapping is not for just a few seconds; she obviously loves involving everyone in the music, and they persist clapping (with rhythm changes) for notable minutes in tandem with her all the way to the end when the hall erupts in ecstatic, wild applause.

Ecstatic, wild applause.

Now that is something I would like to participate in!

But my experience with the Symphony in the 22-23 season was completely different. Regarding six visits, "nice" is about the only word that comes to mind. Or perhaps ordinary, sweet. And I did get to accomplish one of my bucket lists: seeing Lang Lang in person.

Nice enough -- but I want more connection with the music. I want my body to feel it, my spirit to soar, chills to come down my back, or laughter to come to my lips or a tear come to my eye.

For me, music is about feeling; de la Parra makes me feel!

What a joyful noise -- every time I've found a YouTube video and de la Parra conducts! For me this is a new style of conducting and one that is simply divine! I want her to come to San Francisco, and not just come to guest conduct.

I want her here as the permanent Music Director, since Salonen has announced he is moving on after five years, now that his contract is up at the end of the 24-25 season. In news reports I've read (not interviews), he seems disgruntled, perhaps a bit jaded, and justifiably worn out from battling what I surmise are the economic woes of the downswing in money and symphony audiences during Covid.

The latest news is that some orchestra members are urging that the management meet Salonen's demands and also increase their pay. Some or many want him to stay. I'm for paying musicians commensurate with their skill and within a reasonable standard pay range, but I'm not equipped to enter this discussion or comment.

However, I do know that if de la Parra is appointed Director -- my partner and I would come back to attend the symphony, at least with a part-seasonal purchase and we would likely do that into the future. For now, we will not return.

I think de la Parra would sooner or later win over a non-plussed orchestra and ally with them. In the video, listen to some of the musicians talk about how she listens to them and works in partnership! She involves musicians. She loves her audiences and opportunities to lead major orchestras, and she clearly loves what she is doing.

I'll bet she can find new ways to make money and support the orchestra. This young woman has ideas about how to build symphony audiences, plus connect with the audience in new ways.

For example, for one orchestra she proposed to use empty studio facilities in that symphony hall and bring in elements of the community, such as teaching both children and their mothers in 30-minute instrumental classes taught by one of the musicians. Practical, do-able, and I've never heard of that.

Maybe master/mistress classes, or TED-talk like lectures or small group discussions could be offered to amateur musicians for a modest fee, like to me? Why not? (That's my idea).

de la Parra: New program ideas, thinking outside the box, devotion to serving the community, making music more accessible -- and well, just making a visit to Symphony Hall downright friendly to new and old audiences -- all are just what our SF Symphony needs.

De la Parra could deliver all that, and more - judging by this video.

I'm sorry that Mexico has apparently lost their conductor, and never really appreciated her (although she maintains a home there, as do her parents). The conservative establishment there did not embrace her, in part because she went to the US to study and abroad to start her conducting career. And let's consider her sex in a well-known macho culture. It hasn't been easy for her.

So be it; Mexico's loss could be our gain!


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