North America Branch
8921 Moydalgan Road
Telephone: 1 314 991 4816
2019 BRANCH CONFERENCE REPORT
San Francisco provided the venue for the Branch’s 2019 conference that took place on May 23-25. As usual, we met for our kick-off dinner on the Thursday, at which the wine and the bonhomie flowed sumptuously.
On Friday we spent the day in our hotel conference room, listening to three speakers’ reflections on Elgar’s music. The first was Alasdair Neale, Music Director of the Marin Symphony Orchestra, as well as incoming Conductor of the New Haven Symphony, replacing William Boughton. Maestro Neale was followed by Nalini Ghuman, the Mills College Professor of Music, who presented an incisive analysis of The Crown of India: An Imperial Masque. We ended the afternoon with Robert Ashens, a local music critic who regaled us with his encyclopedic knowledge of the Northern California classical music scene.
On Friday evening we moved on to Davis Symphony Hall for a pre-concert talk by Peter Grunberg, the Hall’s resident musicologist. Then came the concert, where the Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang gave a beautifully intimate rendering of Elgar’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Krzysztof Urbański, so different from what we heard from James Ehnes in Vancouver, but equally spell-binding. After the concert we trooped backstage for a chat with the maestro.
On Saturday, music critic Jeff Dunn, our resident Branch member, hosted an all-day tour of the city that included a dim sum lunch with music columnist, Janos Gereben. In addition to his thoughts on Elgar, Janos had fascinating stories to tell about growing up in Hungary as a child Holocaust survivor.
After the tour, we reconvened at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where two students, a violinist and a pianist gave us a custom-made recital that included Salut d’amour plus the three pieces – Une Idylle, Pastourelle and Virelai – that make up Elgar’s Op. 4, as well as the haunting Suite Hébraïque by Ernest Bloch and a flawlessly-rendered Beethoven Sonata No. 31 Op. 110.
Our brief business meeting saw the re-election of your correspondent as Chairman, as well as a discussion of the prospect of meeting in Pittsburgh next May for Alisa Weilerstein’s performance of the Cello Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra scheduled for May 15, 2020. Save the date! ∼ Arthur Reynolds, Branch Chairman