Hello everyone! Kaz here to give you a less-than-brief update on one of the highlights of San Diego Comic Con; I’m talking about the San Diego Symphony Orchestra! For those attending the convention, they’ll be performing two concerts over the course of the weekend –one dedicated to Pokémon music and the other which will be Star Trek: Into Darkness with their orchestral accompaniment. While there will also be a performance by the name of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, it will not be performed by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. For those asking “why should I watch them instead of spending my time elsewhere in the con,” I can thankfully provide you all with a run-down of their organization.
Jahja Ling, the first and only Chinese music director the United States, leads the orchestra as its director and orchestral conductor. Having studied at both Juilliard and Yale, he has his doctorate in music and has served as the musical director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 1981-1984, the Florida Orchestra from 1988-2002 and from 2004 to present as the musical director and conductor of the San Diego Orchestra. While the number of works he’s been attributed to having a heavy hand in are staggering, I’d like to bring to attention to the fact he’s also conducted all of the major symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg and the aforementioned San Francisco. Considering his experience as an artist, a musician and having such an extended history as a conductor, our nerdy performances should be nothing short of awe inspiring.
In regards to the orchestra itself, their organization is as storied and as admirable as the man who leads the musicians. In the pursuit of showing our youth that music is not only an enjoyable experience, but one that can be fulfilling just as well, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra has a number of school a community outreach programs where they have members of the orchestra go out to “classrooms, churches, and senior living facilities giving performances both individually and in small ensembles.” Just to name a few of the numerous educational programs they offer:
While they certainly provide entertainment where they go, some orchestral members actively help young musicians hone their craft by providing masterclasses and coach as a requirement by the organization. Providing an opportunity to allow the elderly to escape the doldrums of a retired life is certainly nothing to scoff at either, largely due to the lack of stimulation that many retirees may experience after being moved from their prior domiciles. While I hadn’t seen any specifically named programs, it’s still great to know that they’re providing a great service to our elderly.
While the Orchestra is certainly famous for their outreach opportunities, their music is nothing short of a thing of beauty. While as a Sacramento resident, I haven’t had the pleasure of going to any of their shows, the content one can find online at least allows a listener the opportunity to relax and take in the beauty of classical music. I’ve been a fan of Classical for a long time, but have been limited to the occasional tune on Capitol City Radio; having a chance to research this group, I listened in on their Tchaikovsky Symphony and a couple pieces from their Symphonie Fantastique in order to get to know them a little better. Upon doing my own research, I found their recordings moving; they conveyed emotion and elegance in a manner that’s seldom found in formulaic recordings. I personally adored the adagio of their Scene Aux Champs as the notes flitted about my heartstrings like butterflies. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any videos of it, but guitarist of the band Megadeth, Dave Mustaine even did a collaborative piece with the orchestra which would have been a lovely session to listen to. Sadly, in the days leading up to SDCC, there’s only one show in June which limits one's opportunities to build any sort of judgments about the orchestra beforehand. Considering their overwhelming positive reception, I would definitely recommend any of their later performances at San Diego Comic-Con's conclusion.
All of this in mind, I have to say, I’m wholeheartedly looking forward to an experience with this orchestra. As an avid Pokémon player, I’m really looking forward to see what the Orchestra will do with my beloved franchise. I’m uncertain as to how exactly they’ll go about it but I’m definitely intrigued to see how the game’s music will be performed. The Star Trek event also sounds like it would be greatly entertaining because the movie itself was pretty great in its own right and if there’s any way to make it more emotional by adding in live music, I’d be all for it. If at any point, you’re in San Diego over the next couple months, I would definitely encourage you check out the group and the productions held at the Music Center. It’s well worth the trip and one certainly can’t go wrong with adding a little extra culture and refinement to their lives.