• • • APRIL 2018 Issue • • •

 

Untangling an Albatross chick from plastic waste Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 

Not even recycling can fix this problem

 

 

To gain insight into the complexities of environmental health, I sat down with John Rizzo, a member of both the SF Group and Chapter Executive Committees of the Sierra Club. Rizzo is also a technical adviser to World Clean-up Day. We talked about his work around decreasing pollution in our oceans and waterways. Rizzo had just returned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Sixth International Marine Debris conference in San Diego.

 

At the end of our discussion, my head was spinning from the scope of the problem of plastics in our oceans. Impacts range from the now-famous Pacific Gyre, a floating mass of garbage that is twice the size of Texas, to small bottle caps that sea birds feed to their chicks (who then die), and all the way down to microplastics, tiny particles which are infecting everything in the world and whose impact has yet to be fully studied and understood.

 

Perhaps the best place to start is somewhere in the middle.

 

As an example, let’s study the life of a plasticized coffee cup from a coffee shop in Chicago. If that cup were thrown into the Chicago River, it could float down to the Mississippi and from there into the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Current could carry it across the Atlantic Ocean as far as the coast of Ireland. That is, if it didn’t break down into tiny microplastics. In that case it might end up on the ocean floor and be scooped up by denizens of the deep. Or algae could attach to it, and the plastic would be eaten along with the algae. (Maybe we should skip the seafood for dinner and go for the veggie special.)

 

What is certain is that our earth is being overwhelmed with debris, and, in the case of plastic, it is not going to disappear on its own. Plastics can not only poison and injure marine life but they can also disrupt human hormones, litter our beaches, and clog our streams and landfills.

 

Recycling is not going to take care of this massive problem. Even with concerted efforts at recycling, only about 9% of plastics are recycled worldwide, and that is only in the countries that have developed the infrastructure to do it. Poor communities just don’t have the resources to develop recycling programs. At the NOAA conference, one speaker showed pictures of beaches in poor communities littered with plastic garbage, while the wealthier areas enjoyed pristine coastlines.

 

Compostable bags and utensils are also, apparently, not the answer - at least not yet. Rizzo learned that there are no standards for biodegradable bags or utensils as there are for, say, organic vegetables. Some materials break down easily, others do not. Some bio-degradable bags were even found to have microplastics in them! The conscientious NOAA conference provided metal forks, cloth napkins and china cups. Come to think of it, for all of us tired of eating off of plastic, this is a pleasant solution to a serious problem.

 

Plastics are all around us - a complex problem with many moving parts that must be addressed on multiple fronts, including governmental regulation. As much as some folks might complain about more rules, regulation is one way to ensure not only compliance but also a level playing field for the businesses involved. Why should an environmentally-conscious business have higher costs than one that foists the cost onto the rest of us by polluting the planet?

 

To help staunch the flow of plastics into our environment, the following legislation has been introduced in Sacramento.

 

Assembly Bill 2779 (Stone) will require companies to produce a bottle cap that stays attached to the bottle after opening. Senate Bills 835 and 836 (Glazer) ban smoking on state beaches and in state parks. (You guessed it -- cigarette filters contain plastic.) And Assembly Bill 1884 (Calderon) requires restaurants to provide single-use plastic straws only upon request.

 

 

What you can do:

 

• Use as little plastic as possible.

 

• Support AB 2779 (Stone), SB 835 and 836 (Blazer) and

 

AB 1884 (Calderon).

 

• Join up with others on World Clean-up Day

(September 15th, 2018).

 

• More to come on that in a few months!

 

Did I say to use as little plastic as possible?

 

Katherine Howard is a member of the Executive Committee of the SF Group of the Sierra Club.

• • • Also in the April Issue • • •

Kathy Amendola has owned Crusin’ The Castro Tours since 2015. Photo: Tony Taylor

 

Interactive LGBTQ History Lesson on Foot

 

 

Since buying Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours 13 years ago, Kathy Amendola has taken more than 10,000 people on her tour. The tour spotlights several historical points of LGBTQ interest throughout the neighborhood and offers an inside perspective on how the Castro became known as the “Gay Mecca” of the world. Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ community that has lived in the Castro for decades or a straight tourist visiting San Francisco for the first time, Cruisin’ the Castro offers something new for everyone.

 

“There are several companies that offer Castro walking tours, however none of them offer the extent of LGBTQ history such as Crusin’ the Castro Walking Tours,” Amendola said. ”None of the others are conducted by a professional tour guide, community activist and local resident.”

 

Amendola truly loves her job and her community. In addition to running Crusin’ the Castro, she is a Founding Board Member & Emeritus of the Rainbow Honor Walk, on the Advisory Board of the Pink Triangle Park & Memorial, on the Planning Committee with the SF Planning Department for LGBTQ Historic Place and on the Planning Committee for the LGBTQ Cultural Historic District.

 

Originally from New Jersey, Amendola moved to Maui to work in the hospitality industry as a sales manager for luxury resorts in the 90s. She identified as bisexual at the time and didn’t want to move back to the New York area because it wasn’t accepting.

 

“The East Coast is conservative and New York has no real community,” she said. “It takes more than a rainbow flag hanging outside of a bar to make a community. What makes San Francisco so great is its out and proud community.”

 

Amendola transferred to San Francisco with her position at a major hotel in 1999. She moved to the Castro and finally felt like she fit in. After the dot-com bubble burst, she found herself jobless and came upon a unique opportunity. Trevor Hailey, an orator for the LGBTQ community in the Castro, and the founder of Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours, was ready to retire. Hailey had been giving tours of the Castro since 1989. Amendola bought the company from Hailey in 2005. The walking tours have evolved alongside the gay rights movement over the past 29 years.

 

WhenCastro Courier took the Cruisn’ the Castro Walking Tour, it started just below the giant rainbow flag that flies on the corner of Castro and Market Street. Over the course of two hours, Amendola explained how the San Francisco Gold Rush in 1849 created the city’s first gay community (known as the lavender cowboys) and how World War II, the Summer of Love, civil rights leader Harvey Milk, and the AIDS epidemic created the heart and soul of the Castro’s LGBTQ community. She touched on how Harvey Milk’s arrival in the 1970’s lead to the creation of the Rainbow Flag, and addressed the ever-growing “LGBTQIQAPT” alphabet, gay subculture flags and gay handkerchief codes.

 

Amendola led the group up to the Pink Triangle Memorial Park where participants learned why the pink triangle is significant to LGBTQ history. Fifteen triangular granite columns are dedicated to the tens of thousands of homosexual men that were killed during Hitler’s Nazi regime. The triangle theme recalls the Nazis forcing homosexual men to wear pink triangles sewn to their clothes as an identifier and badge of shame. Homosexual women, on the other hand, wore black triangles and were often forced into prostitution.

 

In the center of the park is a loose rock-filled triangle covered in rose quartz crystals. Visitors are encouraged to take a crystal as part of the memorial experience. Amendola explained that a German politician who once took her tour kept the piece of rose quartz he took from the park in his pocket for seven years. He later came back to tell her that he had been a crucial part of the movement to legalize gay marriage in his country.

 

The tour continued down Market Street to admire a piece of the AIDS quilt displayed in a restaurant and the bronze sidewalk plaques honoring famous LGBTQ people who made significant worldwide contributions in history. The group visited the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial library, analyzed the HIV/AIDS mural, crossed the rainbow crosswalks on 18th and Castro Street, stopped by the GLBT Museum and took a peek at a mural painted on an elementary school dedicated to teaching civil rights. The tour ended at the Human Rights Campaign Action Center, but not before catching a glimpse of Hank’s infamous Billy Doll, “the first out and proud gay doll” collection.

 

“This is such an important time in our world for civil and equal rights,” Amendola said. “I personally can’t do this all by myself, and my tours enable me to educate and empower others to return to their corner of the globe to do so. This is how we change the world, one heart at a time.”

 

Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours run Tuesday - Saturday from 10 am - 12 pm. The cost is $25 for adults and children under five are free. The tour includes adult situations and sexual contents, and parental discretion is advised.

• • • Also in the April Issue • • •

Honey Mahogany, one of 18 co-owners of The Stud, is a San Francisco native. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Queer, gender-non-conforming drag queen of color earns Democratic honor

 

 

When you talk to Honey Mahogany, you don’t get the “yas kween” vibes that permeate queer culture these days. Instead, her engagement is articulate, intellectual, gentle; it wouldn’t be a surprise if she ran for office someday.

 

Honey is a busy bee working the San Francisco scene in multiple variations. The political activist and self-described quadruple threat is a queer drag queen of color who identifies as gender non-conforming.

 

At The Stud, a remaining nightclub holdout in the disappearing dissolution of San Francisco’s queer performance spaces, Honey is one of 18 co-owners working on the preservation of a popular destination facing displacement after the building’s sale put the club’s lease in peril.

 

As co-president of Harvey Milk Democratic Club and a member of the Democratic County Central Committee, she has a foot in local politics. She’s also a founder of Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, the nation’s first ever transgender district, named after Compton’s Cafeteria where the first recorded LGBT civil rights uprisings in America took place.

 

When I met with Honey at Reveille Cafe in Castro, she was as poised as ever. Dressed in a casual knit sweater under a black leather moto jacket, a gray head wrap swirled atop her head — her signature out-of-drag look as of late — and with her clean-shaven, makeup and blemish-free brown skin, Honey was just as striking in natural face as she is in full drag.

 

After brief introductions — she’d done her homework on me just as I had on her — she was all business and ready to answer questions.

 

We started by talking about The Stud, which is approaching its final months on the two-year lease the collective negotiated in 2016.

 

Honey shared that the owners are exploring real estate options that won’t “break the bank.” In a real estate economy that’s unrivaled, The Stud is very much a small business that, like many others, is struggling to make it work.

 

When the bar was initially in danger of closing, The Stud’s then-owner Michael McElhaney disclosed that the rent was going from about $3,500 per month to almost $9,000, and that he was leaving San Francisco for Hawaii.

 

Eighteen individuals with varying levels of experience in nightlife, business, and community organizing stepped in and became co-owners; many of whom, according to Honey, have spent a good chunk of their capital trying to make the best choices so that the bar can continue to be successful. They negotiated a continuation of its lease and created one of the first worker-owned nightclubs in the world.

 

Now, they are considering options to buy a location, rather than rent one, which, according to Honey, will take a bit more “magic.”

 

“I think in the long run it will have been a huge boom for the queer community,” Honey said regarding the option to rent or buy. “Raising rents is a way of pushing out minority communities. If we own the building, we can prevent that. We really hope to keep the [queer] culture of SOMA alive and well for years to come.”

 

According to Slate Magazine, as rents in urban areas rise and dating apps make some queer people (mostly men) feel the need for in-person connection less acutely, gay bars across San Francisco and worldwide are closing.

 

“I love being part of something really queer and being part of the movement. I think it’s all relevant to fighting what’s happening in the world right now,” she said.

 

The Stud’s contract ends in December, giving them eight short months to find a new home. Honey said most of the places they’re considering are within the SOMA Leather District.

 

“The Stud is the crazy old uncle of gay bars in SF. A little eccentric, a little more punk rock, avant-garde and unpolished,” she said. “I hope we can keep that energy in SOMA.”

 

A project within The Stud that Honey is especially fond of is Black Fridays, a monthly dance event catering to queer people of color. She started the event as a way of using her platform to create space that highlights black performers.

 

This month, Black Fridays celebrates its one year anniversary on April 27th. The anniversary show will also be the official after party for the San Francisco premiere of Grace Jones’ documentary, Bloodlight and Bami.

 

“It’s a reality that SF has a small black population and when you break it down to queer black people, it’s even smaller,” she said. “A lot of people who produce [drag] shows are not of color and bring their own perspectives to the type of shows they are producing. And it’s their right to produce that art.

 

“I wanted to produce an opportunity for black performers that didn’t turn blackness into a gimmick or a joke, and really highlighted their strengths and celebrated them and allowed them to perform their blackness however they chose to.”

 

Honey, a Capricorn and admitted control freak, has been putting together shows for six years. In addition to hosting Black Fridays at The Stud and co-hosting viewing parties of RuPaul’s Drag Race (from which she’s a Season 5 alum) with Sister Roma at Oasis, she used to host Mahogany Mondays at Midnight Sun.

 

She has her finger on the pulse of nightlife.

 

Earlier this year, state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 905, a five-year pilot program known as the LOCAL (Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night) Act that would allow six cities (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and West Hollywood) to extend the deadline for serving alcohol from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.

 

However, many organizations including California Alcohol Policy Alliance, Alcohol Justice, and the Institute for Public Strategies and Behavioral Health are against the LOCAL Act. A statement from the groups read, “SB 905 will spread alcohol overconsumption, loss of life, injury, and nuisance across the state.”

 

Honey feels differently and is in support of SB 905.

 

“If you want to fight substance abuse within the LGBTQ community, then address the underlying causes of homo/transphobia, family rejection, and discrimination,” she said. “Bars are a safe space for LGBTQ people to find alternative family.

 

“Additionally, I think it’s something that small bars will benefit from,” she added. “Lots of us are struggling to pay rent where square footage is at a premium. Most of our profits are made between midnight and 1:30 a.m. If we can extend that for one hour, it could have a huge impact on our ability to stay in business.”

 

Honey has trained for a life of both advocacy and performance. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Musical Theater at USC in Los Angeles; and later, a master’s degree from UC Berkeley in Social Work.

 

Born Alpha Mulugeta in 1983, Honey was raised in San Francisco’s Sunset District in a tight-knit, sheltered, Ethiopian-Catholic household, where homosexuality was rarely discussed; and when it was, the context was homophobic.

 

“I knew from a young age that I was different,” Honey shared. “I remember reading Cinderella [in school] and [the boys] all wanted to marry the princesses and I wanted to marry the prince.”

 

The first time she did drag was at the request of a film student at USC. “You’re the only guy that I think would look good as a girl,” she recalls being told. After that, she didn’t think much more of it until moving back to San Francisco for grad school.

 

“There was a lot of experimenting going on,” she remembered. “It was right after the end of [Hecklina’s popular weekly drag party] Trannyshack, there was a sort of lull and people were finding new ways to do drag.”

 

When she saw a drag queen singing live, that’s when she knew: “I want to be a drag queen who sings live.” And based on the two Revlon makeup colors that were closest to her skin tone, Honey Mahogany was born.

 

She began posting pictures of herself in drag onto MySpace and befriending a lot of the local drag queens like Virginia Suicide and Bebe Sweetbriar. Her first official drag gig was in Oakland at Velvet Lounge, a lesbian burlesque bar known for drag kings.

 

Bebe Sweetbriar said it’s been almost 11 years since she first met Honey.

 

“We immediately hit it off, primarily connecting as singers, and recognizing that we were two queens who did not necessarily represent the queens that were regularly seen at Trannyshack at the time,” said Bebe via email. “We somehow found a way to make it in the drag scene.”

 

Bebe believes the underlying foundation of Honey’s success as a performer and political advocate is her ability to connect with “all sorts of folks.”

 

“No matter where you’re from or where you’re going, Honey finds something to genuinely relate to in their experience and journey, and forms an authentic connection,” Bebe said. “That’s a gift that will carry her far in whatever she does.”

 

When asked about identifying as Alpha versus her drag persona, Honey said the two have come together. She identifies as gender non-conforming, having allowed her gender to evolve over time.

 

“For a long time I thought they were different, but they really weren’t,” Honey said. “I always felt strangely about how negatively some men would react to being called feminine. I always thought of women as very strong and powerful and I deeply identified with women and femininity. I don’t consider myself a woman, but as a child, when I thought of myself in the future or when I dreamed, I often envisioned myself as a woman.”

 

While her masculine and feminine energies are balanced, she says her “femme energy” is leading more often these days, identifying with the transness because she doesn’t identify as a man specifically.

 

“There are all these cues that I perceive in the world that acknowledge my femininity, that call my gender into question. These interactions helped me better understand myself and I want to honor those experiences,” Honey said. “It’s not just about what’s being imposed on me by what people see, but this is who I am and others are seeing it. I’ve just accepted this is who I am.”

 

Honey says that in today’s political climate, “identity politics are real.” Photo: Tony Taylor

 

More recently, Honey has been working specifically with city government around the creation of Cultural Districts, Compton’s Transgender Cultural District being one of them. As part of that work, she’s advocating for the trans community by ensuring voices are heard on all levels of government.

 

In addition to being co-president of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club and shortly after beginning work for the Transgender Cultural District, Honey was asked by chairman and former district supervisor David Campos to sit on the Democratic County Central Committee, a group comprised of local Democrats elected by voters in each Assembly District.

 

“It was a lot all at once,” Honey admitted. “I’ve been working in this capacity for a long time and in today’s political climate, identity politics are real. Being a quadruple minority with a certain education background and job experience uniquely positioned me in a way that people wanted me to be involved.”

 

Just as she’s had the door held open for her by white, cis, and straight allies, she wants to hold the door open for the rest of her community. “Even though it’s a lot very fast, I feel very energized,” she added.

 

With hard work comes recognition; and later this month, Honey will be awarded the Sergio Alva

 

Rising Star Award by the San Francisco Young Democrats (SFYD), a political club for Democrats age 35 and under who either live or work in San Francisco.

 

SFYD Co-President Courtney McDonald said they are thrilled to honor Honey at this year’s Spring Awards.

 

“This award recognizes young individuals who have served their communities with distinction and amplified the voices of those who have long been silenced, and that’s exactly what Honey does,” McDonald said via email. “[Her] work in organizing the queer community to use art and performance as political expression is empowering and inspiring, and we admire her dedication to advocacy, leadership, and disenfranchised communities.”

 

When she isn’t busy running around being all things Mahogany, Honey likes to garden and spend as much time as possible with her partner of three years, whom she affectionately calls, “the love of my life.”

 

She also likes to go out in support of her drag and nightlife family; although sometimes, she said, even just the act of going out is a lot of work.

 

This summer, Honey will be hosting the main stage of Pride Sunday with Sister Roma; and in July, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club will hold its annual gala.

 

“There are things coming down the pipeline and I’m just trying to keep all the plates spinning,” she said as we bid our farewells at the corner of 18th and Castro Street.

 

In a city overcrowded by Ubers, Lyfts, and tech buses, Honey proved once more that she’s an advocate for the preservation of traditional San Francisco culture: she hailed a yellow cab. And with a flash of her radiant grin, she was off to her next engagement, a meeting at City Hall.

 

Honey Mahogany will be awarded the 2018 Sergio Alva Rising Star of the Year Award by the San Francisco Young Democrats on Tuesday, April 24th at 111 Minna Street. Tickets are available at sfyd.org.

Honey poses with mayoral candidate Jane Kim Photo courtesy of Instagram

Paul Lewis will perform three nights at Davies Symphony Hall this month. Photo Courtesy Josep Molina, Harmonia Mund

 

British pianist debuts Beethoven #3 at Davies

 

 

One of the world’s most celebrated, accomplished, and highly respected concert pianists, Paul Lewis, will be making his San Francisco Symphony debut on April 12th at Davies Symphony Hall. He has performed with nearly every notable major symphony orchestra and has been the recipient of countless awards within classical music, in recognition of his stunning recordings and performances. As a further tribute to his contribution to British society, Paul Lewis was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2016.

 

Paul Lewis is especially well known for his extensive interpretations of the works of Schubert and Beethoven, whose 32 sonatas and five concertos have all been performed by the artist. He will be performing Beethoven’s Concerto #3 with the San Francisco Symphony for three nights, April 12th - 14th. He chatted with Castro Courier about his upcoming concert at Davies Symphony Hall, past work with conductor Daniel Harding, Midsummer Music, and more.

 

Wendy: You are the only artist to have played all five of Beethoven’s concertos in a single season, at BBC Proms. Out of the five concertos, what sets Concerto #3 apart for you?

 

Paul: It’s really the first concerto in the cycle with that definitive Beethovenian stamp on it. The first two piano concertos, the C major and the B flat, though they were written the other way around, do have more of a Mozartian, Haydnesque influence about them. You can see where they come from, but the third concerto absolutely stands on its own, with its C minor character, and its drama, and its turbulence. It really is unmistakably middle period Beethoven. [It’s] the first time that a cadenza is written as an integral part of the first movement, whereas a cadenza would have been improvised before; Beethoven writes it out. It becomes part of the dramatic structure of the movement; that’s one of the things that sets it apart.

 

Wendy: The introduction leading up to the piano in Concerto #3 is really quite a launching pad at nearly three minutes in length. What are you listening for or thinking of during the introduction?

 

Paul: I’m really sitting there being inspired. You’re already in the mindset of the piece when you walk out; what you’re absorbing while sitting there is crucial, in terms of how you’re playing reacts to what you’ve just heard. Each orchestra and each conductor is different; everything is going to be slightly different, so your own playing is going to be different because you are reacting, to some extent, to what you’ve heard. All these characters are being laid down in the opening tutti, and it sets the scene in your own mind. For those few minutes, you’re as much a listener as anyone else, as well as being a soloist.

 

Wendy: On YouTube, there’s quite a heated debate about those who applaud after the first movement. How do feel about that personally?

 

Paul: We can’t complain if audiences want to show us that they enjoyed something. There are places where one really shouldn’t clap, where you want tension; you want to hold the silence, and of course, if there’s applause, you do lose that. After first movements it doesn’t worry me too much if an audience wants to applaud. If they’re telling you they liked it, that’s fine by me.

 

Wendy: Also making his debut with the San Francisco Symphony will be Daniel Harding, whom you’ve worked with before. Tell me about your past work with him.

 

Paul: Daniel and I have worked together a lot in the past. We’ve recorded together as well, the Brahms D minor [piano concerto with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra]. Actually, we went to school together, when we were at Chetham School of Music in Manchester, in the ‘80s, so we go back quite a while. He’s one of my favorite conductors to work with. There’s a real connection; in many ways we feel that we look in the same direction musically. I always feel inspired and learn a lot when I work with him, so I’m really looking forward to this week.

 

Wendy: You’re known to be a passionate and thoughtful pianist. Do you have particular narratives or visualizations that you use while playing, both in general, and also specifically for Beethoven’s Concerto #3?

 

Paul: I don’t really. Very occasionally I do, for instance there are some Schubert sonatas, where it’s not exactly a visualization, but the feeling is very clear, the feeling of nostalgia, or regret, or reaching out for something that you had that you can’t have anymore, that feeling of longing. There are things that go with that, but not particularly for this piece.

 

Wendy: How do you prefer to spend your day in preparation for a show?

 

Paul: Doing as little as possible, other than preparing for the concert. I usually rehearse in the morning, and then try to relax in the afternoon, maybe even nap for an hour or so. I try not to do too many stimulating things on the day of a concert, ‘cause I just want my mind to be fresh and I want to have all the energy that I can.

 

Wendy: Which symphonies or artists, classical or otherwise, do you always go to see when you have the opportunity?

 

Paul: I’d love to be able to go to more, but I play about 100 concerts a year and with all the traveling that goes along with that [it just isn’t possible]. When I’m home, we have three kids, so family life is busy as well. There’s actually not a lot of opportunity to go to things, so what I end up doing mainly is sitting out in the second halves of orchestral concerts where I’ve played the concerto in the first half, as I just did two days ago. I played Mozart K503 with Bernard Haitink and the Orchestra Mozart in Lugano and listened to Schubert’s Ninth Symphony in the second half. I loved every minute of it and wished that I could do more of it.

 

Wendy: You grew up in a household that was not based in classical music, and you discovered it on your own, by frequently visiting a music library that was near to your childhood home. You were born in Liverpool at a time when Liverpool was internationally known for one thing - The Beatles. What was it about classical music that spoke to you so much more than the popular music of that time?

 

Paul: I don’t know why I felt so drawn to it when there was none of it around growing up. The local radio played the pop music of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Perhaps it was for precisely that reason. Maybe it was because it wasn’t there, that I felt that I needed to go and seek it out. I was fortunate that the local library was very well stocked with records, so I could discover classical music. Eventually my parents took me to Liverpool Philharmonic concerts, so that all was an important part of my musical upbringing. I don’t know why it spoke to me as an eight-year-old kid, but like I say, I think it may have been because it was something that I knew existed that wasn’t really surrounding me at home. I felt it was my thing; I felt it was something that I’d discovered for myself.

 

Wendy: You and you wife, Bjørg Lewis, co-founded what looks to be a lovely music festival, called Midsummer Music. It features an informal, relaxed setting, but is a well-curated gathering of some of the best musicians that you know and would like to play with, or alongside. What would you most like for people to know about what you seek to create within Midsummer Music, should they plan to attend?

 

Paul: It’s a beautiful little festival; it’s very intimate. We wanted to create something that was close to where we live, where the audience feel that they can participate, that they can be part of what goes on there. It’s not just a question of coming to listen to a concert. I think that there’s an intimacy about the festival which people appreciate, and they do feel involved in a way that you perhaps don’t in a bigger venue. This year we’re moving venues, moving towns, to a church in Old Amersham. [It’s] not very far, it’s only 10 minutes from where we’ve had our festival for the past nine years. Old Amersham is a beautiful, picturesque, old English town, with lots of nice places to eat and stay. I think it adds to the whole experience; you can feel comfortable there. It’s a unique experience; it is for us at least. We invite wonderful musicians who we admire, people we want to work with as well. Everybody has a good time, and I think you can really feel that from the stage; the audience feels that people are enjoying themselves.

 

Wendy: Aside from working with the San Francisco Symphony, what do you most look forward to, in regard to your visit to San Francisco?

 

Paul: I have friends in San Francisco so am really looking forward to seeing them, and [to] just being in San Francisco. What a wonderful place to be, beautiful city, great food, and great weather. I’m English, so I would say that. Most places have great weather compared to where I come from. [There are] lots of things about San Francisco I really appreciate. Looking forward to spending the week there.

 

 

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