• • • November 2018 Issue • • •

Symphony plans moving tribute with

Diary of Anne Frank

Photos: San Francisco Symphony

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony will present From the Diary of Anne Frank Nov. 15th through 18th.

 

 

After the tragic and senseless mass-shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at a time when hearts and minds are going out in unison to the Jewish community, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony will be presenting From the Diary of Anne Frank, over the weekend of November 15th through 18th. The timing is purely coincidental, but unfortunately, still timely. In fact, five of the eleven victims of the November shooting had survived the Holocaust. From the Diary of Anne Frank was composed by MTT in 1990, and soon thereafter was performed with the New World Symphony, and narrated by Audrey Hepburn. The moving tribute to Anne Frank premieres in our city with the San Francisco Symphony during this month’s performance.

 

Tilson Thomas wrote the piece for Audrey Hepburn when she assumed her role as Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF in 1989. He says that Hepburn inspired and informed From the Diary of Anne Frank equally to Anne Frank herself, “I now realize that so much of this work is a reflection not only of Anne Frank, but of Audrey Hepburn. Audrey’s simplicity, her deeply caring nature, the ingenious sing-song of her voice, are all present in the phrase shapes of the orchestra. The work would have never existed without her, and it is dedicated to her.”

 

Audrey Hepburn grew up in the same time and place as Anne Frank, during World War 2 Europe, and the two were, in fact, exactly the same age. Always one to empathize greatly with children who have found themselves in unspeakably horrid circumstances, and obviously through no fault of their own, Ms. Hepburn was more than keen to honor Anne Frank’s short but remarkable life. Of course, had Audrey Hepburn been born Jewish, their fates could have easily turned out much thev same way. The actress toured the world tirelessly via her work with UNICEF, even traveling to Somalia only four months prior to her passing, in 1993. She had been grateful throughout the course of her lifetime to UNICEF for the aid that they had provided to struggling children and families during and following World War 2. Narrating the part once read by Audrey Hepburn, will be Isabel Leonard, for the San Francisco Symphony production.

Photo: Michael Tilson Thomas with Audrey Hepburn in 1990 during From The Diary of Anne Frank

 

Michael Tilson Thomas’ family did not endure the atrocities of the war, as his family had emigrated to the states in the 1880s. His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were renowned in New York City’s Lower East Side, where they had settled, for bringing Yiddish theater to their new home. The Thomashefskys delivered, by way of their own theatrical contributions and by way of their provisions of platforms to other artists, a great sense of homecoming within a new land, and cultural grounding to a community who were finding their way toward settling in an entirely new environment. Although Bessie and Boris separated in 1911, they individually went on to achieve a list of artistic accomplishments that is beyond impressive. One of Boris and Bessie’s children, Ted Thomas, met and married Roberta Meritzer in 1937. The couple relocated to Los Angeles and had a son, Michael Tilson Thomas.

 

From the Diary of Anne Frank signifies a full circle experience for MTT, as it brings a powerful story, and one which he creatively interpreted for the stage, together with the San Francisco Symphony, where he has been conductor and has found an artistic home for the past 24 years. The piece is part of a two weekend tribute in celebration of The 70th Anniversary of The United Nations’ Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. The declaration was written following World War 2 to insure that human rights are protected around the world, and was constructed and is supported by multiple nations around the world.

 

The weekends of November 15th through 18th, and November 23rd through 25th pay homage to the declaration in total, but focuses on Article 27, which states, “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” Alongside the symphonic performances, there are to be onstage pre-concert talks, and an exhibit within Davies Symphony Hall, 1st Tier lobby, entitled “Music as a Human Right.”

 

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony in three other works over the course of the two weekends. The first weekend, which debuts From the Diary of Anne Frank, also features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Opus 55, Eroica. The symphony is especially notable due to it’s emotional spectrum and transcendent qualities, and is considered by many to mark the introduction of Romanticism into the composer’s works, which in turn, influenced much music from that point forward. The second weekend offers works that invite in a host of special guests to accompany Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Berg’s Seven Early Songs is to feature soprano Susanna Phillips, who will appear again as the soprano voice in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Opus 125. Joining Ms. Phillips will be Kelley O’Connor (mezzo-soprano), Nicholas Phan (tenor), Davóne Tines (bass-baritone), and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, directed by Ragnar Bohlin. Together they will sing “Ode to Joy,” the poem by Friedrich Schiller, within the fourth movement of Symphony No. 9, which is often said to be the greatest piece of classical music ever written.

 

Tickets are available via SFS’ website, sfsymphony.org, by phone at 415-864-6000, or at the Davies Hall Box Office on Grove Street, between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.

 

• • • Also in the November 2018 Issue • • •

 

 

STRIKERS DISRUPT HOTEL INDUSTRY

 

 

On Thursday October 4 when nearly 2500 San Francisco Marriott workers walked off their jobs, Kaushik Roy was faced with a tough decision. With over 500 guests expected to attend The Shanti Projects annual gala at the Palace hotel the night, as executive director of the organization, Roy knew he had to cancel.

 

“We can’t cross the picket lines,” Roy told Castro Courier of his decision. ”It was a difficult choice, not because of if we should do it or not. It was a big financial hit to Shanti. This was bigger than Shanti.”

 

Shanti Project, an organization offering quality of life services to people with terminal, life-threatening or disabling illnesses or conditions since 1974, is one of many companies who have pulled business with the world largest hotel company after union workers dropped their tools and picked up protest signs last month.

 

The Human Rights Campaign moved its October 20 auction and gala from the Westin St. Francis, according to its website. Chicana Latina Foundation and Bay Area Wilderness Training have also canceled business with Marriott.

 

In ten different cities, nearly 10,000 total Marriott workers are striking. In San Francisco, employees are striking at St. Frances, St. Regis, The Palace, Marriott Marquis, Marriot Courtyard, Marriott Union Square, The W.

 

Union officials are calling for higher wages, safer workloads and job security for the company’s housekeepers, kitchen workers, bartenders and bellmen.

 

The union’s five-year agreement with Marriott ended August 15. During that contract, the median income for its hotel workers was $44,000, according to Unite Here, the hotel union behind the strike. That’s low in a region where the federal government recently said a family of four earning as much as $117,400 could be classified as “low-income.”

 

Outside the Westin St. Francis, 60-year-old p.m. housekeeping supervisor Candida Kevorkian who has worked in the hotel for 16 years, told Castro Courier that she’s willing to strike “as long as it takes” until Marriott signs a new contract.

 

“The job is stressful and demanding. I’m sick and taking pills [for pain]. It’s too much work.” Kevorkian said she manages as many as seven housekeepers, who together clean more than 100 rooms a night. That’s too many rooms for too few workers in too short a time, she said.

 

“Another issue is wages,” she added. “The city of San Francisco is too high, the rent is too high and what we make is not enough for a two-bedroom apartment. My son and wife had to move in with me. I gave up privacy and my life changed in order to pay the apartment and live close in the city where I work. Survival is why we’re striking.”

 

Marriott, who has remained open during the strike, released a statement saying, “We continue to believe that the best place to resolve these issues is at the bargaining table. We are disappointed with some of the tactics the union has deployed including the noise levels. We continue to work with local police to address these issues and we are grateful to our guests for their patience during this time.”

 

Now entering its fifth week, the strike is disrupting Union Square around the clock with chanting from 6 a.m. to midnight and shouting on bullhorns from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

According to travel site reviews, Marriott has lacked transparency with its guests about details of the strike. One St. Regis guest wrote, “Don’t stay here!!! When booking the room it was not mentioned there would be non-stop shouting. Refused to be accommodating or trying at all to help. Room service doesn’t run.”

 

A review for The W hotel read, “Windows in lobby covered in cardboard, limited services available. Pretty awful experience. Picketers blowing horns at all hours. This hotel should be ashamed that they don’t warn people traveling to them that they are a war zone. It should be illegal.”

 

Legendary rabble rouser Cleve Jones has been pitching in on the picket lines, but told Castro Courier that his main focus has been getting organizations who had booked events in hotels before the strike began, like Shanti, to show their solidarity with the workers and their families by pulling out of their agreements with Marriott.

 

“I’ve been so proud and grateful for the response from our community,” Jones added. “Shanti is an organization that did not need any persuasion at all to do the right thing by the workers.”

 

Cancelling the Shanti gala was a “financial hit,” costing the company somewhere between $200,000 to $250,000 in losses, but Roy said the strikers “are the ones who are making the real sacrifice.”

 

Unite Here Local 2 representative Ted Waechter, 22, who is on the picket lines every day calls the the union members “the backbone of the hospitality industry.”

 

“Cancelling business is the way to show that you’re standing with workers,” Waechter said. “We’re grateful to conferences, business, individual people, and swell of community of support.”

 

Two weeks after the strike began, Mayor London Breed met with leaders of the union.

 

“We met with Mayor Breed and apprised her of the issues and status of contract negotiations,” Unite Here Local 2 President Anand Singh said in a statement to San Francisco Chronicle. “She naturally is supportive of what we are fighting for — to make one job enough for working people in San Francisco. We will remain in close communication and look forward to the mayor’s support as we go forward.”

 

“I gave up privacy. My life changed in order to pay the rent. Survival is why we’re striking.”

 

••• Also in the November Issue •••Ma

 

Matthew, You Are Safe Now

 

Back in December of 1998, when my son Andy and I had occasion to drive from Denver to the Bay Area, we were as shocked as many people had been at the recent hate-filled murder of 21-year old Matthew Shepard in Casper, Wyoming. Since our route took us through Casper, we stopped and tried unsuccessfully in the cold and snow-covered landscape to find the location where the gay college student had been taken by two men, robbed and pistol-whipped, tied to a fence in near-freezing temperatures and left for dead. For Andy and me it was something of a pilgrimage to the site of this shocking symbol of violence and hate against gay people.

 

Some years later, with a friend in New York, I would attend the re-creation of the time and tragic events in the play, The Laramie Project, which brought attention to the problem of homophobia.

 

It is now 20 years later and an important though happy event has just occurred on October 26 in Washington, D.C. It was on this Friday in October that the ashes of Matthew Shepard were laid to rest in an emotional ceremony in the crypt of the Washington National Cathedral. Given the unsteady state of public acceptance of the gay community at the time, and the noisy presence of anti-gay militants at Matthew’s funeral in Wyoming, his parents did not want to risk any desecration of his final resting place and waited these twenty years.

 

A number of developments have occurred with the passage of time to make this final resting place possible. Matthew had been an altar boy in the Episcopal Church, and Bishop V. Gene Robinson had come out as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2003. He cited the ensuing progress on civil rights for L.G.B.T. people and the legalization of same-sex marriage, as well as a 2009 law that expanded the definition of federal hate crimes to include those committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation. In addition, there was the 2013 documentary “Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine”, about Matt’s life and death, which had been reviewed in the Castro Courier at the time.

 

The service at the cathedral was open to the public and filled to its 4,000-person capacity. Bishop Robinson told attendees that LGBT rights are still contentious in this country and citizens need to unite against the forces determined to erase transgender people. Shepard’s father, Dennis, told NPR that “Matthew loved the church . . . and that it was a safe place for anyone who wanted to enter.” Bishop Robinson concluded, “Gently rest in this place, you are safe now. Matthew, welcome home.”

© Castro Courier 2018 No part of this website or artwork portrayed may be redistributed or republished without the express permission of the Castro Courier. Opinions expressed are strictly those of the writers and do not reflect the opinions of the publisher or staff.

• • • November 2018 Issue • • •

Symphony plans moving tribute with

Diary of Anne Frank

Photos: San Francisco Symphony

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony will present From the Diary of Anne Frank Nov. 15th through 18th.

 

 

After the tragic and senseless mass-shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at a time when hearts and minds are going out in unison to the Jewish community, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony will be presenting From the Diary of Anne Frank, over the weekend of November 15th through 18th. The timing is purely coincidental, but unfortunately, still timely. In fact, five of the eleven victims of the November shooting had survived the Holocaust. From the Diary of Anne Frank was composed by MTT in 1990, and soon thereafter was performed with the New World Symphony, and narrated by Audrey Hepburn. The moving tribute to Anne Frank premieres in our city with the San Francisco Symphony during this month’s performance.

 

Tilson Thomas wrote the piece for Audrey Hepburn when she assumed her role as Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF in 1989. He says that Hepburn inspired and informed From the Diary of Anne Frank equally to Anne Frank herself, “I now realize that so much of this work is a reflection not only of Anne Frank, but of Audrey Hepburn. Audrey’s simplicity, her deeply caring nature, the ingenious sing-song of her voice, are all present in the phrase shapes of the orchestra. The work would have never existed without her, and it is dedicated to her.”

 

Audrey Hepburn grew up in the same time and place as Anne Frank, during World War 2 Europe, and the two were, in fact, exactly the same age. Always one to empathize greatly with children who have found themselves in unspeakably horrid circumstances, and obviously through no fault of their own, Ms. Hepburn was more than keen to honor Anne Frank’s short but remarkable life. Of course, had Audrey Hepburn been born Jewish, their fates could have easily turned out much thev same way. The actress toured the world tirelessly via her work with UNICEF, even traveling to Somalia only four months prior to her passing, in 1993. She had been grateful throughout the course of her lifetime to UNICEF for the aid that they had provided to struggling children and families during and following World War 2. Narrating the part once read by Audrey Hepburn, will be Isabel Leonard, for the San Francisco Symphony production.

Photo: Michael Tilson Thomas with Audrey Hepburn in 1990 during From The Diary of Anne Frank

 

Michael Tilson Thomas’ family did not endure the atrocities of the war, as his family had emigrated to the states in the 1880s. His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were renowned in New York City’s Lower East Side, where they had settled, for bringing Yiddish theater to their new home. The Thomashefskys delivered, by way of their own theatrical contributions and by way of their provisions of platforms to other artists, a great sense of homecoming within a new land, and cultural grounding to a community who were finding their way toward settling in an entirely new environment. Although Bessie and Boris separated in 1911, they individually went on to achieve a list of artistic accomplishments that is beyond impressive. One of Boris and Bessie’s children, Ted Thomas, met and married Roberta Meritzer in 1937. The couple relocated to Los Angeles and had a son, Michael Tilson Thomas.

 

From the Diary of Anne Frank signifies a full circle experience for MTT, as it brings a powerful story, and one which he creatively interpreted for the stage, together with the San Francisco Symphony, where he has been conductor and has found an artistic home for the past 24 years. The piece is part of a two weekend tribute in celebration of The 70th Anniversary of The United Nations’ Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. The declaration was written following World War 2 to insure that human rights are protected around the world, and was constructed and is supported by multiple nations around the world.

 

The weekends of November 15th through 18th, and November 23rd through 25th pay homage to the declaration in total, but focuses on Article 27, which states, “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” Alongside the symphonic performances, there are to be onstage pre-concert talks, and an exhibit within Davies Symphony Hall, 1st Tier lobby, entitled “Music as a Human Right.”

 

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony in three other works over the course of the two weekends. The first weekend, which debuts From the Diary of Anne Frank, also features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Opus 55, Eroica. The symphony is especially notable due to it’s emotional spectrum and transcendent qualities, and is considered by many to mark the introduction of Romanticism into the composer’s works, which in turn, influenced much music from that point forward. The second weekend offers works that invite in a host of special guests to accompany Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Berg’s Seven Early Songs is to feature soprano Susanna Phillips, who will appear again as the soprano voice in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Opus 125. Joining Ms. Phillips will be Kelley O’Connor (mezzo-soprano), Nicholas Phan (tenor), Davóne Tines (bass-baritone), and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, directed by Ragnar Bohlin. Together they will sing “Ode to Joy,” the poem by Friedrich Schiller, within the fourth movement of Symphony No. 9, which is often said to be the greatest piece of classical music ever written.

 

Tickets are available via SFS’ website, sfsymphony.org, by phone at 415-864-6000, or at the Davies Hall Box Office on Grove Street, between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.

 

• • • Also in the November 2018 Issue • • •

 

 

STRIKERS DISRUPT HOTEL INDUSTRY

 

 

On Thursday October 4 when nearly 2500 San Francisco Marriott workers walked off their jobs, Kaushik Roy was faced with a tough decision. With over 500 guests expected to attend The Shanti Projects annual gala at the Palace hotel the night, as executive director of the organization, Roy knew he had to cancel.

 

“We can’t cross the picket lines,” Roy told Castro Courier of his decision. ”It was a difficult choice, not because of if we should do it or not. It was a big financial hit to Shanti. This was bigger than Shanti.”

 

Shanti Project, an organization offering quality of life services to people with terminal, life-threatening or disabling illnesses or conditions since 1974, is one of many companies who have pulled business with the world largest hotel company after union workers dropped their tools and picked up protest signs last month.

 

The Human Rights Campaign moved its October 20 auction and gala from the Westin St. Francis, according to its website. Chicana Latina Foundation and Bay Area Wilderness Training have also canceled business with Marriott.

 

In ten different cities, nearly 10,000 total Marriott workers are striking. In San Francisco, employees are striking at St. Frances, St. Regis, The Palace, Marriott Marquis, Marriot Courtyard, Marriott Union Square, The W.

 

Union officials are calling for higher wages, safer workloads and job security for the company’s housekeepers, kitchen workers, bartenders and bellmen.

 

The union’s five-year agreement with Marriott ended August 15. During that contract, the median income for its hotel workers was $44,000, according to Unite Here, the hotel union behind the strike. That’s low in a region where the federal government recently said a family of four earning as much as $117,400 could be classified as “low-income.”

 

Outside the Westin St. Francis, 60-year-old p.m. housekeeping supervisor Candida Kevorkian who has worked in the hotel for 16 years, told Castro Courier that she’s willing to strike “as long as it takes” until Marriott signs a new contract.

 

“The job is stressful and demanding. I’m sick and taking pills [for pain]. It’s too much work.” Kevorkian said she manages as many as seven housekeepers, who together clean more than 100 rooms a night. That’s too many rooms for too few workers in too short a time, she said.

 

“Another issue is wages,” she added. “The city of San Francisco is too high, the rent is too high and what we make is not enough for a two-bedroom apartment. My son and wife had to move in with me. I gave up privacy and my life changed in order to pay the apartment and live close in the city where I work. Survival is why we’re striking.”

 

Marriott, who has remained open during the strike, released a statement saying, “We continue to believe that the best place to resolve these issues is at the bargaining table. We are disappointed with some of the tactics the union has deployed including the noise levels. We continue to work with local police to address these issues and we are grateful to our guests for their patience during this time.”

 

Now entering its fifth week, the strike is disrupting Union Square around the clock with chanting from 6 a.m. to midnight and shouting on bullhorns from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

According to travel site reviews, Marriott has lacked transparency with its guests about details of the strike. One St. Regis guest wrote, “Don’t stay here!!! When booking the room it was not mentioned there would be non-stop shouting. Refused to be accommodating or trying at all to help. Room service doesn’t run.”

 

A review for The W hotel read, “Windows in lobby covered in cardboard, limited services available. Pretty awful experience. Picketers blowing horns at all hours. This hotel should be ashamed that they don’t warn people traveling to them that they are a war zone. It should be illegal.”

 

Legendary rabble rouser Cleve Jones has been pitching in on the picket lines, but told Castro Courier that his main focus has been getting organizations who had booked events in hotels before the strike began, like Shanti, to show their solidarity with the workers and their families by pulling out of their agreements with Marriott.

 

“I’ve been so proud and grateful for the response from our community,” Jones added. “Shanti is an organization that did not need any persuasion at all to do the right thing by the workers.”

 

Cancelling the Shanti gala was a “financial hit,” costing the company somewhere between $200,000 to $250,000 in losses, but Roy said the strikers “are the ones who are making the real sacrifice.”

 

Unite Here Local 2 representative Ted Waechter, 22, who is on the picket lines every day calls the the union members “the backbone of the hospitality industry.”

 

“Cancelling business is the way to show that you’re standing with workers,” Waechter said. “We’re grateful to conferences, business, individual people, and swell of community of support.”

 

Two weeks after the strike began, Mayor London Breed met with leaders of the union.

 

“We met with Mayor Breed and apprised her of the issues and status of contract negotiations,” Unite Here Local 2 President Anand Singh said in a statement to San Francisco Chronicle. “She naturally is supportive of what we are fighting for — to make one job enough for working people in San Francisco. We will remain in close communication and look forward to the mayor’s support as we go forward.”

 

“I gave up privacy. My life changed in order to pay the rent. Survival is why we’re striking.”

 

••• Also in the November Issue •••Ma

 

Matthew, You Are Safe Now

Audrey Hepburn grew up in the same time and place as Anne Frank, during World War 2 Europe, and the two were, in fact, exactly the same age. Always one to empathize greatly with children who have found themselves in unspeakably horrid circumstances, and obviously through no fault of their own, Ms. Hepburn was more than keen to honor Anne Frank’s short but remarkable life. Of course, had Audrey Hepburn been born Jewish, their fates could have easily turned out much thev same way. The actress toured the world tirelessly via her work with UNICEF, even traveling to Somalia only four months prior to her passing, in 1993. She had been grateful throughout the course of her lifetime to UNICEF for the aid that they had provided to struggling children and families during and following World War 2. Narrating the part once read by Audrey Hepburn, will be Isabel Leonard, for the San Francisco Symphony production.

Ma