The morning began (for me) with another rehearsal for the Mass in B Minor, this time with the vocal soloists who, joined by their instrumentalist colleagues, made Bach’s heavenly music even more heavenly than I had expected. Our violin soloist in the Laudamus te aria exuded exactly the kind of rococo gracefulness that Bach had in mind, and flute, oboe d’amore, and continuo soloists brought their own careful and demonstrative phrasings to arias for all voice types. Everyone of them is a participant in this year’s Academy. How fortunate we are that they are here.
Then, with all 10 Biber trumpeters now having arrived in San Francisco, we had the fullest rehearsal so far of the Salzburg Mass. More than 70 musicians playing 53 completely independent parts filled the grand rehearsal room of the SF Girls Chorus building (the Kanbar Center on Page Street) and together we had a blast, preparing for this morning’s absolutely full dress rehearsal in the Conservatory’s concert hall. We’re placing two “choirs” of trumpets in the gallery above the performance platform, and the rest of the throng in rings at various elevations around the stage. A few visitors stopped by to hear some of the sonic splendor and their comments amounted to great big WOWs! Then it was off to the Opening Night Dinner at Dobbs Ferry restaurant in the heart of Hayes Valley. If you’re not a foodie, skip to the second paragraph below. But if you are a foodie, read on!
Dobbs Ferry is my new favorite restaurant. At the corner of Gough and Hayes, just across the street from Absinthe, owner and chef Mike Yakura put together a menu for our opening night patrons that was delicious, plentiful, and served by an extremely efficient and gracious staff. Savory warm olives, homemade russet chips toasted to a mahogany brown and served with a bacon and white bean dip, and their pate (light, fluffy, and horribly sinful) got things started. Then came plates of their house smoked rainbow trout. If you love smoked trout, you’ll find theirs to have the fantastically light consistency of a fine sushi-grade fish that is perfectly perfumed with the scent of apple wood. It’s great! Then came the main courses: a Chicken Scarpariello served up like the best you’d find in Italy, with sweet peppers, pepperoncini, little sausage morsels, and crispy fried potatoes that soaked up the wonderfully salty and tart broth. Sirloin steak slices with scallion butter medalions that melted slowly over the perfectly seared beef… Heaven. Then came plates full of heaping servings of all of their desserts. It was a knock-out finale to serve as a prelude for what would be a knock-out opening night concert.
Once or maybe twice a year we have a concert that I can actually listen to from the house. My work will start tonight with the Biber, but last night it was my esteemed colleagues who rocked the house. Each one of them is touched by magic. I don’t know how they do it, but they had the audience in the palms of their hands. The hall was absolutely silent as we all listened to some of the most delicate and detailed playing I have ever heard. I’m so lucky to know such experts. It was an evening of polish and shine.
Then I came home to find that the Giants had won 10-1. A fantastic day!