In my two years and five months of writing this column, I've found that the best and worst time doing it happened on the same evening.
The Vienna Philharmonic — widely considered one of the best orchestras in the world, if not the best — was playing in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. On the stands was Mahler's Sixth Symphony, a long-winded but mighty work. The third movement alone is worth the price of admission.
Furthermore, it was Vienna's first concert in Costa Mesa in nearly a decade.
It was heaven hearing that fabled ensemble. I would've traveled far just to hear them play variations on "Happy Birthday." They were, and are, that good.
I wrote at the time that Vienna's distinctive sound reminded me of "the morning air after a night's rain, after the countless tiny droplets leave the place fresher than it was before. It's a renewed bloom from the everyday norms."
What wasn't heaven or any kind of renewed bloom was the pair of ladies sitting in front of me that evening. They fidgeted for an hour before leaving mid-concert from their expensive seats.
In effect, they left a stage offering the highest caliber of music in the world from an ensemble that, thanks to the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, bothered to stop in little ol' Costa Mesa, aka the "City of the Arts."
I muse about that evening because this is my last "Classically Trained" column. And, like a good symphony, it's taken me awhile to get to this point. Good composers take their time, and I will too on this last movement.
This column regularly ran most weeks in the Daily Pilot's "Life + Arts" section, and sometimes in its sister papers, the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and the Huntington Beach Independent.
I've tried to write about the music scene of those areas, on things big and small, from the Vienna Philharmonic to a fundraiser for a young Newport Beach pianist who, while she didn't necessarily need the money, was helping her colleagues go on a music-making tour in Europe.
At one point, I interviewed or wrote about all the conductors of the Pacific Symphony — Carl St.Clair, Maxim Eshkenazy, Alejandro Gutiérrez and Richard Kaufman — the symphony's behind-the-scenes staff and Dean Corey, the retiring head of the Philharmonic Society. I sat down with and wrote about several of the symphony's musicians, as well.
I previewed and reviewed big-ticket events like the Chicago Symphony but never wanted to forget the folks at Orange Coast College and the All-American Boys Chorus, even an accordion festival. I dusted off my French horn for a series of columns about the Pacific Symphony's OC Can You Play With Us? initiative. That was fun, but a ton of work getting ready to play after a multiyear absence from my instrument.
It's been a tremendous honor and challenge keeping up with a busy music scene, especially Costa Mesa's. For most of the year, the city is home to the Pacific Symphony, Philharmonic Society concerts and the Pacific Chorale. No other city in the Orange County has as much professional-grade activity.
While this column may be gone, I'll still be at the Pilot. I cover Costa Mesa, its politics, mostly. It's a busy and important subject that deserves the newspaper's full attention, and for the past few months, I've been striving to do just that.
To those of you who've followed "Classically Trained" — jokingly referred to by myself and others in our newsroom as "Classically Strained" — thanks for reading. Perhaps I'll see some of you in the concert hall. I still plan on attending the ones that I can, though I won't be so conspicuous anymore.
I'll be keeping my reporter's notebook and pen in the car.
BRADLEY ZINT is a classically trained musician.