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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Farewell to Jorge Mester

My friend and I had dinner at a great café in Echo Park before attending a Symphony at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The surprise of the evening came when Jorge Mester announced that he was retiring and the performance we were attending was his last. It saddened me to see such a talented man retire. I must admit that I don’t know much about music, and basically listen to what I like. I don’t really care if something is popular or not, and I have never been one to follow trends. But to me, Jorge Mester has always been an amazing man. The first time I listened to him conduct a piano concerto, I knew how lucky I was to be in the presence of such a wonderful, energetic person with a great sense of humor and a deep passion for his work. As his orchestra followed his leadership, the music created touched me to the core.

On his last night, Jennifer Frautschi played the violin flawlessly, and later came back out after an standing ovation to talk to the crowd about her wonderful experiences as a child and how Mr. Mester had never given up on her and had kept inviting her back as she improved after each performance.

For me, it was tough to see Jorge Mester go as his colleagues showered him with flowers, champagne and gifts. But it was even tougher for his orchestra to say farewell as one of the performers read a letter addressed to him out loud with teary eyes and a lump in her voice. Yes, indeed the Pasadena Symphony will never be the same without him. The next conductor who replaces Jorge Mester will have to fill up a pretty big pair of shoes. I do not envy him or her. Here are some pictures of the memorable night.

We started at Masa, a bakery and café in Echo Park with great panini sandwiches and pizzas and a warm ambiance.

It’s still early and not all tables are filled. If you plan to go there, get there early or expect to wait a long time!

Their speciality: chocolate Bread pudding not to be missed because no other place makes it like here. Sorry, this picture doesn’t do it justice. The taste is absolutely extraordinary.

We left stuffed. This is the pix of the outside – low key but absolutely one of my favorite places.

We arrived at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, a beautiful piece of architecture with many intricate details which my old cell phone fails to capture.

Inside the auditorium, doors open, inviting the guests in. A raffle was going on for a Harry Winston watch. I almost bought a ticket but the cost of the raffle, a whopping $100 bucks, stopped me. I’m not a gambler nor do I need a $27,000 watch. If the ticket was $20, I may have bought one. And if I had won, I would've sold the watch and used a portion of the money to help out a friend of mine whose been having some bad luck and has been in a really terrible mood lately.

A blurry photo of the ceiling. You would think I would be able to take a good picture of something that’s not moving but then again I never said I was good at photography :)

Inside the Auditorium, getting ready to perform

The spunky Jorge Mester conducting

Flowers and gifts for Jorge Mester

Hugs and farewells…ahhh…so sad…

The Crowd leaving. There were young people there as well, even though my camera manages to capture mostly the mature audience.

People hanging in the lobby and a long bathroom line for the ladies at the end of the hall.

We’re outside and off to our car.

No limo for us! But they were picking up a group. I think there was a prom going on in the building behind the limo because when we first arrived, girls were dressed in sexy gowns and boys in their suits. So cute!

And the end...

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