As city’s with outstanding family activities go, San Diego tops the list with its many attractions. From the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park to The New Children’s Museum, Legoland, and Padres baseball at Petco Park, the great options are endless. Recently added to the list: The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, a permanent waterfront concert venue — and second home to the San Diego Symphony — on San Diego Bay. Parentology recently attended the opening night gala, which was, indeed, the perfect family affair.
Setting the Scene: San Diego Bay
Since there’s so much for families to enjoy in San Diego, an overnighter was in order. Accommodations at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront made for an easy stroll to Jacobs Park. A scenic one at that, as the sun was setting over seafaring vessels moored in the bay, downtown’s skyline, and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Not to be left out – the sight of The Rady Shell’s distinctive shape, a design envisioned and brought to life by Tucker Sadler Architects.
Bright red folding chairs and tables (in certain sections) welcomed for taking a seat. In lieu of picnicking on-site, myriad food and beverage options are provided by Chef Richard Blais, Urban Kitchen, Biga, Lola 55, Achilles Coffee, Marketplace Grille, Kitchens for Good and Minocqua Popcorn. Guests can purchase food from several kiosks, or, depending on their seats, order from wait staff. Word is the menu is evolving as The Rady Shell works through its growing pains.
At twilight, eyes were riveted to a white drape in front of the performance shell, which promised an unveiling. A delightful surprise occurred, as a spotlight created a whimsical shadow. The drape dropped, revealing San Diego Symphony Musical Director Rafael Payare. The Rady Shell Inaugural Season 2021 was officially underway.
The state-of-the-art sound design for The Rady Shell was ideal for the night’s diverse program:
MASON BATES: Soundcheck in C Major (San Diego Symphony commission, World Premiere)
ROMERO: “Fuga con pajarillo” from Suite para cuerdas
SAINT-SAËNS: Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33
GOUNOD: “Le veau d’or” (Song of the Golden Calf) from Faust
MOZART: “Non piu andrai” from The Marriage of Figaro
ROSSINI: “La calunnia è un venticello” from The Barber of Seville
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN: “This Nearly Was Mine” from South Pacific
GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue
STRAVINSKY: The Firebird Suite (1919 Version)
The evening’s guest performers elevated the line-up even further. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein brought sheer emotion to Camille Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor. Bass-Baritone Ryan Speedo Green delighted with selections from Faust, The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville and South Pacific. Befitting the evening’s setting was Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet on piano.
Future performances at The Rady Shell run the gamut musically with concerts from YoYo Ma’s Not Our First Goat Rodeo (8/22), Sergio Mendez (9/14) to Jason Mraz (9/26) and the Indigo Girls 10/10). Be on the lookout, too, for film series like Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert (9/18-9/19) and musicals like Chicago (10/23-10/24).
As for our evening, it concluded with fireworks, which reflected on the bay. As concertgoers made their exits, colorful pedicabs offered rides. We chose, instead, to stroll along the waterfront. Prolonging a magical evening.