The Santa Cruz Symphony opens its rehearsals at the Santa Cruz Civic to the public for free. I mention this because if you want to understand what a conductor does, and how an orchestra really works, that’s where to start. Far from the silent, stoic figure whose only means of communication seems to be wild gesticulations that are mostly lost on the general public, the conductor at a rehearsal is in constant verbal contact with the players in his or her orchestra, offering guidance, figuring out what passages are giving them trouble, and in a larger sense explaining what he or she is hearing, and in what direction it should go.
Sitting in on a Santa Cruz Symphony rehearsal, I was struck in particular by some of the things that Daniel Stewart—the conductor and artistic director, and the subject of my cover story this week—says to the players. Do you think a lot of symphony conductors out there are saying things like “let’s see what we can find in this song” and “let’s see what else we can discover?” I highly doubt it. Stewart brings an incredibly empathic energy to his role—not just while they practice, but also afterward, as a line of musicians stops to talk to him on their way out the door.
Running parallel to that gentle calm, though, is an incredible energy and passion that has pushed the Santa Cruz Symphony to its current level of acclaim and visibility. That profile is likely to get even higher with the return of pianist Yuja Wang on June 24 and 25. The story of how these concerts came to be, and the way in which Stewart and Wang’s shared vision for the future of classical music has created a bond between them, was fascinating to me. I hope you find it to be so, as well.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Thank you for the excellent article on the Ebb and Flow Festival and the San Lorenzo River (GT, 5/31). Articles like this are part of what we need in order to transform the wonderful positive energy of the festival into genuine stewardship for the river. I am imagining a future where ideas like “businesses turning around to face the river” are carried out in a way that reflect our community’s understanding and deep caring for the sensitive habitats that grace the center of our town.
Michael Levy | Santa Cruz
Re: Zone Defense (GT, 5/31): Excellent article by Jacob Pierce. How refreshing to read about both sides of the housing story. I hope that the YIMBYs and NIMBYs can find common ground. Santa Cruz really needs housing, and neighborhoods deserve to maintain their integrity. All parties must respectfully listen to points of view other than their own, refrain from anger and name-calling, and work toward a compromise that will benefit all concerned. I sincerely hope that this issue will not be exploited for political gain by anyone. Time will tell us whether the dialogue degenerates into an emotional brawl or whether there are any “adults in the room.”
Robert deFreitas | Santa Cruz
Re: Two-part series on future housing plans for the city of Santa Cruz: Good news! If you want to live in a place with increased density, five- and six-plus story buildings blocking sunlight and dwarfing trees, doubled traffic, and parking challenges reaching deep into residential neighborhoods, you can! It’s called moving somewhere else. Fantastic urban metropolises already exist, and I see zero reasons why we have to become one to accommodate the endless stream of people trying to move here with and without jobs or money.
Veronica Garrett | Santa Cruz
Re: “The Untold Story of Pete the Poet”: I am so saddened to hear about Pete. He was my teacher, my basketball coach, my confidant and my friend when I was 15. He was a very special person to me. So shy, smart and unassuming. He even babysat once or twice for my siblings and me the year my parents went out of town. After my freshman year in high school, my family moved away and we wrote letters during my first year away. I still have them. How kind he was to find the time and energy to do that. Then he moved on to other things, and I looked him up every few years when I was back in the Bay Area, but never managed to locate him. He seemed to just sort of slip away, despite the number of people who would have liked to be in contact with him. That may have been part of it—just all too much.
I had no idea about these other talents of his—poetry and music—and I’m so amazed to hear, and read, about this other Pete. He’ll always be 28 to me, patient, understanding, a bit dark, so handsome and so kind. I am glad to have finally found him now, and wish I’d had the opportunity to be friends as adults and enjoy these other talents of his. I miss him and would give anything to read more poetry of his. Thanks for sharing these lines, Steve.
Margaret Farmer Pringle | London, UK
In last week’s cover story (“Sea Changer,” GT, 6/7) misreported the name of former O’Neill CEO Dennis Judson. We regret the error.