The Golden Gate Park Band

I’ve been wanting to see the Golden Gate Park Band with Peter for several years now. It’s the only brass band I know of in the entire Bay Area that gives public concerts, and they play in the Spreckels Temple of Music, a wonderful acoustic shell in the park’s main concourse surrounded by statues of famous composers.


Unfortunately, it was a chilly drizzly day when Peter finally got free and we got to see them yesterday. Even so, I loved them: it was beautiful music, we had great bench seats, and we were together in a gorgeous park. I thought the selections were awesome for a summer day in the park (even if it was overcast). We heard the “Oberon Overture” by Carl Maria von Weber, Part 3 from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, a violin concerto, and a Hungarian czardas. A recording from the best musicians in the world couldn’t have matched the experience of seeing the musicians play the music in the outdoors.

Peter, however, was displeased with the clarinet section, and with the lack of a full percussion section. We even got into a slight argument about it. I didn’t care: despite some wobbly clarinets, the music was just fine by me. Peter didn’t want anything to do with a band that was worse than his high school band. I pointed out there’s a difference between a daily classroom coached band and musical hobbyists who probably need to hold down a full time job as well as play new selections every week. But in the end, I think we agreed brass bands are probably best at marches, and since we’d left early, we missed their John Philip Sousa piece because we decamped to the De Young Museum before the concert was over.

1 Comment

  1. Chris

    Clarinets in a brass band? That makes no sense, given that clarinets are woodwinds, not brass…

    cjb adds: Yeah, I think they’re striving more to be a small orchestra and this concert featured a special solo violinist. But most of the instruments are brass (plus timpani and snare drums), and they don’t have a lot of orchestra instruments, so I’ve always thought of them as the brass band.


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