I last left you as MG, the Ginger, Chad Newsome and I were off to celebrate the close of the decade and the start of a new one. We went to AsiaSF for dinner and the show which was hugely entertaining and full of fun people. Then we arrived somewhat late to the San Francisco Symphony's Masquerade Ball, but being NYE and all we didn't consider it to be much of a problem to arrive a bit late, unintentional as it was, and thankfully no one at the Symphony thought so either.
The Symphony's Masquerade Ball, was in a word, a blast. Initially I had some reservations about the appropriateness and "fun factor" of this event given that I'm the only one in our party over 40 and half it is still way shy of 30. This proved to be a completely baseless concern as I was pleasantly surprised by the number of younger people in attendance. It was a really mixed crowd, and more importantly, one ready to have a good time, which they (and we) did. The conductor for the evening, whose name I'm ashamed to admit I can't recall at the moment, was really a droll and engaging delight as the orchestra went through a light-hearted program of waltzes and music from operettas. Afterward, there was a big band on the main stage playing standards from the American Songbook and pop cover band Tainted Love in the upstairs lobby. Top this off with an elegant but fun crowd, free flowing food and drink, and we have what looks to be the beginning of a tradition as far as I'm concerned. We all had a fantastic time and would happily do this again. If you've never been, I strongly recommend it. The Symphony does this evening right and the Symphonix crowd seemed very well represented.

The next evening we had a small party at my apartment and among the party people were four other bloggers which was delightful to me but also great fun because most of the people there were into music of one form or another and everyone had an opinion or a talent to share. Tarot was performed and fine food was consumed. Sometime around 4 in the morning MG shut the whole thing down and I have to admit to not seeing that parting shot. Regardless, it was a fantastic ending to what has proved for me and many I know to be a trying year on many levels. The next day, spent recovering, was pleasant and languid.

And here we are well into 2010. The only thing I've seen so far is Cutting Ball Theater's production of Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano, which I caught last night with the Minister's Rebellious Daughter. This is the best Cutting Ball production I've seen with a uniformly solid cast (always a strength with this company) and a solid production translated and directed by Rob Melrose, who was involved in Berkeley Rep's disturbing Pillow Man a few seasons back. It runs through January 24th and I recommend it strongly. Don't let the whole absurdist theater/ anti-play moniker put you off- this an hour plus of solid theater.

Now that the holidays are over it's time to get serious and the Symphony is in the middle of the George Benjamin: Project San Francisco composer-in-residence program. Last year's program with Sofia Gubaidulina was a revelation and though I missed last weekend's concerts this weekend I'm going to attend. Patrick wrote a post about the Friday performance and it sounded interesting (6.5 nonsense aside). Lisa Hirsch went on Sunday I'm going to check it out this weekend.

Which brings me up to today, which is the price I pay for not having written anything significant in what seems like forever. The big news today is that Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol after this season. My friend Sugar T (who hates that moniker) says this is because Cowell knows Idol is in its death throes and he knows when to bail so he can turn "X Factor" into the next huge Fox franchise. She's probably right, but I can't imagine Fox turning its back on the world's most popular program even if its ratings are off 25% from their peak- it still kills everything else in its path. So they will replace Cowell with someone. The question is with whom?

This should be interesting. Paula Abdul, while a dominant presence on the show, was relatively easy to replace because she's not the heavyweight force behind it. Cowell knows the industry-side of things and had(?) a piece of the action of any records made by the winners. So the replacement should be a producer with a personality. How long is that list? I have five suggestions so far: Timbaland, Jay-Z, Mark Ronson, Rick Rubin and Jeff Lynne. Any of these guys would keep the show interesting and they know enough about pop music to keep the show from falling apart. Would any of them do it? I doubt it, though with a big enough piece of the pie I'm sure they would think about it. A friend also mentioned Harry Connick Jr. as a replacement which is an interesting idea, but I don't see Connick as the guy who can resuscitate the show after Cowell's departure.

So there you have it- one post covering the Symphony, absurdist theater and American Idol. I do believe I'm caught up- except I forgot to mention if anyone has an extra ticket for Nathan Gunn's recital tomorrow I would gladly skip the Idol premiere to attend it with you.

Happy New Year!