The Christmas spirit is upon us again and in a gloomy time where a pandemic has continued to wreak havoc on our everyday life, sharing and feeling love is even more necessary. Love, of course, transcends time, it heals, brings us closer together, and of course, can sometimes be heartbreaking. As humans, we need love, we crave it, and most of us search our entire lives just to find that true love that resonates with our hearts profoundly and can be at times elusive. So, what better to lift the spirit than with a film that sparks hope that love indeed can exist, even in a World that can drag you down at times. That was the original premise and intention of the inspiring and wonderful romantic Christmas comedy film, “Love Actually,” which first came out in 2003, directed by Richard Curtis and with a beautiful musical score by Craig Armstrong. So how excited were I and many others to find out that the film was coming to a concert with San Francisco’s most beloved orchestra.
Davies Symphony Hall was alive again with a packed house on December 14, just a few weeks before Christmas. You could feel the good vibrations and spirit of the holidays and joy in the air as patrons arrived extra early, as though this was their first outing. Of course, given the pandemic lockdown, it was probably the first outing in a long time for many. Christmas décor was everywhere, lining the hallways with beautiful lighted trees and photo stalls and people dressed to the T. As we took our seats, the energy and anticipation were building as each orchestra member took their seats on stage. The young, energetic, talented conductor Thiago Tiberio took the reins for the evening and guided San Francisco’s finest orchestra. Once he took to the stage, the roars from the audience elevated the experience as we knew we were in for a magical night. The symphony opened with the Universal Studios-themed intro perfectly, and the crowd erupted into nonstop applause.
“Love Actually” is a magical film that’s become somewhat of a holiday cult classic and one that brings out every heartfelt emotion in you. The movie follows the pursuit of several intertwined characters living in London during Christmas time. With a massive cast ensemble that includes Hugh Grant, Keira Knightly, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Alan Richman, Emma Thomspon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and many others, all searching for love during the holiday season. Thiago was impressive and precise in his navigation, and the symphony was superb in highlighting every note of Craig Armstrong’s unique and inspiring original musical score. After a brief intermission, we retook our seats as Thiago returned to the stage and greeted us all. Initially, his mic was not working, but his charming demeanour flowed past the technical errors as he spoke highly of all the musicians. “Hello, and then you for coming. I wanted to tell you how amazing of an orchestra San Francisco has. It is not easy to hit each note and on time precisely. Directly behind you is a room that consists of wires and channels. If even one of those goes out, the night would be a disaster, and they have to coincide which each of the different parts of the music being played live for you tonight.” As we hit part two of the film, the crowd roared with approval, bringing more laughter, applause, tears, and inspiring love-filled moments until the final moments.
There was something different in the night that could be felt by all that attended. We have been apart for too long, most were probably thinking, and even though the World is still in an unpredictable state, I could tell that each person was taking in the total energy and love that filled the room. Nobody was rushing to the exits as we usually see after concerts or shows, and patrons took their time, looking around, sharing their appreciation for the performance, and just being part of a special night. I hope this inspiring trend continues forward and more people can learn to find the true love they seek this Christmas season. Knowing that sometimes love can be found in the simplest of life’s moments and where we often forget to take time to notice and appreciate fully, for that is, of course, “Love Actually,” is it not?
For more information on the SF Symphony go to: www.sfsymphony.org