Noontime Concert (A pre-blog blog entry)

Blog entry
Authored by
22 February, 2007

A year ago, I was explaining blogs to a friend, and I wrote an example blog entry to show the sort of thing I would write, if I had a blog.

Herewith, then, that blog entry, from February 2006:

Decided to go to one of the noontime concerts today - Schubert's Sonata in A Major, except he wrote two of them, and the Noontime Concerts website doesn't say which one it is. So, last night I looked all over the internet for info on the sonata - either sheet music or MIDI files I could play on my computer, so I could get to know the work better. No luck. But a friend found the sheet music for me, so I printed those out nice and small (four to a page) and took them on the bus when I went over to Saint Mary's.

Saint Mary's is in the heart of Chinatown. It's an amazing old building, built in 1854 - when the 1906 quake hit, it was already a historic building. They're adding even more earthquake reinforcing, so they have a building fund going. We clustered on the steps in the sun, and just inside the doors looking at the displays about the history of the place. There were some great old photos dating back to earliest days for the church.

The pianist (a faculty member at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music) came out and spoke a few words about the piece he was going to play. Good thing - because the program listed the WRONG sonata! I shuffled my sheet music and found the right one, and read along as he played.

It made SUCH a difference.

I noticed things I probably would have missed otherwise - when the melody shifted from right hand to left, when he returned to the main theme - when he started a movement over from the beginning, playing it through twice! I didn't know classical composers did that! And by the end, I was scribbling little one-word notes on my score - when the music started sounding like a 1980s pop song, when he paused for a measure or emphasized a particular chord with a BANG! ... and when Schubert ruined the ending (in my humble opinion) by turning this lovely resolving ending into this showy montage of overdone arpeggios.

It was GREAT - wonderful to hear, and so delightful to get more out of it than just hearing a bunch of notes strung together, which is how classical music often sounds to me.

I walked out of the church humming - HUMMING! - the theme to myself.

I hopped on the bus - well, I just missed the bus, and I saw that the next one was about three blocks away, and since I was in the middle of Chinatown, I had just passed a tourist shop selling San Francisco post cards, 8 for a dollar, so I zipped back across the street, plucked eight postcards from the rack, pushed my way inside and plopped down a dollar and a dime, shoved my way back outside, zipped across the street AGAIN, and waited approximately two minutes for the bus.

The California Street bus is one of the prettiest rides in the city. It passes through Chinatown, crests Nob Hill right along the park and Grace Cathedral, reveals several glimpses of the bay and the Marin hills, and skirts the southern edge of Pacific Heights before heading out into the avenues, where I rarely travel, since my stop comes well before that. Today, I rode to Divisadero, enjoying the sunshine and the passing sights. I walked down Divisadero, wishing i hadn't eaten lunch already so I could stop into Falafil King, passing the sushi restaurant in the building where Mel Blanc grew up, peering into the new Mexican restaurant they're putting in where the Greek place closed a few weeks ago, and finally ending up at my branch library, where I never go anymore since I've started picking up all my requests at the Main. I had to drop off some stuff that was due today, so I did, and of course I couldn't resist a look around to see if there was anything else I might want to get. Five minutes later, I had five books in my arms (two of which I'd gotten out years before, "Art for Dummies" and a book on stretching), and I paused to take a look at the CDs before I checked out my books ... and lo and behold, I found a copy of the very sonata I'd heard an hour before. So I added that to my stack (along with some Mel Torme and Gershwin), then had a nice eight blocks of exercise walking home.

Whatever the workday brings - and today wasn't bad, as workdays go - how can it be bad, when you get a break like that at lunchtime?