Spend Saturday night with Santana and the OEBS

I had the loveliest evening last night at the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

I try to make it there ever time the Symphony performs. I did pretty good last year. I think I missed only one show, and that was because I was out of town for the weekend. I always have a really good time when I go, and every time I go, I think to myself “Oh. I really should write a blog about how great this was.”

But somehow, I never get around to it. Partly, that’s because the Symphony will often have only one performance. So if you go and then want to write about it — well, there’s not a ton to say, right? I mean, you can be all “Oh, this was so cool!” But what use is that to your readers, since they can’t then go out and enjoy it?

A couple of times last year, the Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra did two shows — one on Friday night and then another on Sunday afternoon, which would have made it possible to write about it after going, except that the Sunday afternoon show was more convenient for me, so that’s the one I went to.

The other reason I don’t write about the Oakland East Bay Symphony that much is because I don’t really know anything about music. I mean, I really enjoy the experience of attending, but reading the programs in advance means absolutely nothing to me. I don’t know anything about scales or tones or notes, or what makes a symphony different than a concerto or a sonata or an étude. I even had to go look on Wikipedia to find all those words. I can’t listen to music and know whether a sound is coming from a cello or a violin or a harp or whatever.

Sometimes, I think that maybe it would be interesting to try to learn about all that, but the truth is, I actually really like doing things for entertainment that I’m not conversant in at all. It’s nice to just be able to enjoy the experience of something without having to think about it. I find it relaxing. For me, the only way that can work is if I don’t know enough about the subject to even form coherent thoughts.

However. While my total lack of knowledge about music makes for a really enjoyable concert-going experience, it does have some disadvantages as well. For example, it makes it pretty difficult to write a blog post about it. I mean, what’s there to say? “I went to this thing last night. It was cool. Um, I liked it.” It just doesn’t make for the most compelling reading.

But hey, I’ll give it a shot.

OEBS Season Opening

So the concert I attended last night, which will also be playing again tonight is the Season Opening for the Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra’s 2010-2011 Season. If you can’t make it tonight, you should check out their calendar and pick out a different show to try in the coming months.

Last night, the symphony was joined by Narada Michael Walden and Carlos Santana. I wore my Carlos by Carlos Santana shoes to the show, even though they are not rain shoes at all and I was terrified I was going to slip and like, crack my skull on the sidewalk or something during the very short walk over there. Happily, I survived.

I guess a lot of people who don’t usually go to the symphony went last night because of Carlos Santana. That wasn’t really a draw for me — I just wanted to go because I like to go to all their shows. I have nothing against Carlos Santana. I’m just not really into that kind of music. I mean, I don’t dislike rock music, but if given the choice, I will choose to listen to country music probably 9 times out of 10. Long guitar solos really just are not my thing.

I arrived a little late, so I missed the first piece they played. But I really dug the rest of the show. I had never been a particularly big fan of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but sitting in the Paramount and listening to it with Santana and the Orchestra playing? OMG, it sounded incredible. I was super into it.

The second half of the show, after intermission, was the World Premiere of a symphony by Narada Michael Walden called The Enchanted Forest: Seven Higher Worlds of Music. The orchestra was accompanied by Walden on drums and Santana on guitar for The Enchanted Forest.

I have to admit, after reading the program notes about this one during intermission, I was not expecting to think very highly of it. It sounded really, um, hippie-like or something, and not in a good way. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to it. I really liked some of the parts, and wasn’t that into others, but overall, I felt like hearing it was a good use of my time. At one point they brought out these adorable little girl ballerinas to dance. I am not good at figuring out how old children are, but some of these looked extremely young to me. They also looked like they were having just the best time ever doing their dance. It was adorable.

The people sitting near me really seemed to enjoy it. As I was getting my stuff together to leave, I heard the woman sitting behind me talking about how she was moved to tears by how beautiful it all was.

Go to the Symphony tonight!

Often when I mention the Symphony, people are like “Oh yeah, I meant to go to that but I didn’t” or “Oh, I should go sometime. Maybe next month” and so on. But I say there’s no time like the present. So if you don’t have plans tonight, why not check out the Symphony? It’s fun. It’s easy to get to. The Paramount is beautiful. There are plenty of places nearby to eat and drink either before or after the show. Don’t have anyone to go with? Wev. Go anyway. So you won’t have anyone to talk to during intermission. Big deal. Read the program. Read Twitter on your phone.

Anyway, here is the program.

You can still buy tickets — they’re available online through Ticketmaster and also at the Paramount Theater Box Office (open 11-3 on Saturdays, then again starting at 6 o’clock tonight before the show.)

Tickets start at $25, although if you order online it comes out to like $32.50 or something because of the handling fees. I assume if you just go to the Box Office and buy them then you can avoid that extra cost.

Oh, and here’s a good article about the show from San Francisco Classical Voice.

8 thoughts on “Spend Saturday night with Santana and the OEBS

  1. ralph

    I might just attend. I have been looking forward to this for weeks but it hasn’t been in the cards. Perhaps, I will treat myself.

  2. livegreen

    Thanks for the link Stax. I saw that on PBS a few months back & Prince (who i’m not necessarily a big fan of) was like WOW!

    I’m sure Santana had his own wow! rendition. It would be great if somebody recorded it last night!

    Two of the greatest guitarists of all times…

  3. Jim

    For those of us not sure about dress, what is the correct attire to wear. I mean I think of San Francisco’s symphony as a black tie affair. That’s one reason I avoid symphony concerts.

  4. ralph

    Jim, this does not help you much now for tonight but people were attired across the spectrum. Personally, I think it is always appropriate to dress smartly for the arts, but I am east coast born and reared. Yet, I wore jeans. Go figure.

  5. V Smoothe Post author

    stax –

    Thanks for the link. Yeah, Prince totally kills it there. I have a newfound appreciation for that song.

    ralph –

    I’m glad you treated yourself! Did you enjoy it?

    Jim –

    Sorry I wasn’t able to respond earlier, but for future outings, I definitely would not worry about attire. I enjoy dressing up, so when I go, I tend to wear a nice dress. Most people look nice, but are fairly casual – dressed as though they were going out to dinner or something. And of course there are always plenty of people in jeans. There’s not really any dress code. I mean, it wouldn’t be appropriate to show up in a swimsuit or something. But otherwise, just wear what you feel comfortable in and it’s fine.

  6. ralph

    Loved it. Put the whole plan together at 4pm. We dined at a local establishment, walked to the venue. Listened as Carlos, OEB et al perform. The little girl was adorable. Walked home. Whole evening was pure awesomeness with great company.

  7. Dave C.

    Jim, I wouldn’t let attire stop you from attending the SF Symphony either. When I’ve gone, I wore a regular suit and tie, but there were plenty of people wearing more casual attire also. Same when I used to go to opera, symphonies or ballet in New York too–many people would dress up more than I did, but I’d see tieless men in khakis or jeans there as well.