Written by Michael David Martin
San Francisco – The holidays are here, and the magic is in the air. What better way to experience the 2003 Christmas holiday classic movie Elf, starring Will Ferrell, than with my fellow San Franciscans? As usual, we arrived early at Davies Symphony Hall on Wednesday, Dec 21st, to check out the holiday décor. The halls were beautifully decorated with the Christmas spirit, and patrons mingled, drank, and shared good vibes in anticipation of the featured event. Once the call bell rang, we eagerly took our seats and watched the fantastic musicians take the stage. Conductor John Jesensky looked sophisticated and dignified, taking the stage with the confidence of a veteran. He immediately set the tone of high spirit by sporting a colourful green Christmas sweater, also the primary colour of Santa’s Elf’s wardrobe. Elf is a classic Christmas tale that stars SNL cast member and comedic movie giant Will Ferrel. To me, it’s one of his most memorable and heartfelt performances. He played Buddy the Elf, who made his way to the North Pole as a baby. He went on to be raised by Santa’s right-hand Elf, Bob Newhart, learning the ways of Christmas. The legendary actor Ed Asner played old saint Nick with warmth and cheer while the fabulous James Caan played the straight man as Buddy’s birth father. Seeing this classic with an audience amped up the comedy bits and is such a bigger experience than watching at home on my big TV. Most notable was the incredible film score played beautifully note for note by our SF Symphony. John Debney’s excellent score remained constant, highlighting every scene and widening all our smiles from ear to ear. If you’ve seen this movie, then you know Buddy the Elf’s childlike innocence and excitement gave wonder to even the simplest of things. Of course, one of the biggest lessons to learn in life is to appreciate the simple things.
Intermission is always my favourite part of the Davies Symphony Hall experience. This is when you can fully explore all the Holiday decorations in full detail and start a convo about the performance’s first half. We noticed a few attendees in full Buddy the elf costume and several elf hats throughout. Saying “it’s the most beautiful time of the year” is an
understatement at the symphony because they really go out to make you feel the spirit of any occasion. As intermission ended, we made our way back to our seats for the 2nd half to begin. Jesensky retook the stage without missing a note and waved his wand around. And like that, he commanded the musicians to play in time with the film. I’m always in awe of how a simple waiving of the wand and hand gestures can create so much magic. I don’t want to give too much away about the movie if you haven’t seen it, but let’s just say it’s one you can watch more than once. So, if you missed this concert experience, you’ll have to wait until next year to grab your tickets to experience it yourself. That is if we are lucky enough to have the film return. If not, there is constantly streaming, my friends. Unfortunately, that’s like watching a firecracker vs. an entire explosion of colour in the sky. Either way, be warned that you may find yourself singing along to a very special Christmas song, and who knows, you may again believe in Santa Claus or at least his most special Elf. Another outstanding performance by San Francisco’s beloved symphony. Movie nights really are a magical and musical treat!
San Francisco Symphony
Film Score Composer
For more info on the and to buy tickets go to: www.sfsymphony.org