All Bets Are Off

12 May 2013 in Music

San Francisco, 1996. I walked down the four scruffy, psychedelic blocks from my apartment on Ashbury to the end of Haight Street, cutting across Stanyan and over to Kezar Stadium, the once-upon-a-time home of the San Francisco 49ers. That night, host to a high school football game, the stadium hummed with an expectancy that could mean only one thing; it was the Bruce-Mahoney, the game played each year in memory of two alumni who had lost their lives in World War II.

For many years, the two rival high schools played their basketball games in the adjacent Kezar Pavilion, and I could easily recall the din of squeaky sneakers, referees’ whistles, and screaming spectators as I took my seat on April 26 for the West Coast premiere of David Lang’s battle hymns. Presented by Volti and the San Francisco Choral Society, battle hymns benefited from its setting in ways that no one could have imagined. Kezar is an old gymnasium, no stranger to passion and commitment, and the 75-minute, soul-baring performance of battle hymns seemed right at home there.

Read my full review at NewMusicBox.