Heaven on earth—the Reign of God came near!
Friday evening tame breezes glanced off the waters, the Coronado Ferry glided past in both directions, and a near-capacity crowd at the San Diego Symphony's Summer Pops on the Embarcadero listened to music passionately performed by world-class musicians, including The Romeros. Celebrated to a storied degree and without any doubt the world's premiere guitarists, the Romero family's permanent residence is a little north of here in Del Mar! For most of the first half of the concert program we enjoyed al Sur a Flamenco Quartet comprised of dancer, vocalist and artist, Graciela – "Grace" – Perrone, guitarist Gareth Jones, Sidney King on acoustic bass and percussionist Brian "el Blanco" Kushmaul. They were phenomenally excellent, especially Graciela's singing and dancing, and from my very first row front and center Champagne Cabaret seat (thanks, Lea Ann and Pat of WalkerVision videographers), I hardly needed to watch the jumbotron (the screens actually were uncomfortably out of my sightline). Both quartet groups stole the evening, but still I need to credit conductor Matthew Garbutt, who has another life as the SD Symphony's principal tuba.
The Romeros had tremendous rapport with us, the audience. Watching them interact as musicians and as family was so very fun and cool! An added bonus was that three of them played guitars built by luthier Pepe Romero, Jr., who was in the audience—I think the entire Romero family was there! Their main piece of the evening was Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto Andaluz, written for the Romero Quartet. Pepe and Celin are sons of the group's founder, the late Celedonio Romero; cousins Lito and Celino are Celedonio's grandsons. The guitarists got a standing ovation and graced us with two encores. Way to go!
Heaven on earth! the Reign of God came near!
A garden well-tended and cultivated eventually grows into a city...having a clue about desert geography and climate, the sometimes challenging, frequently life-giving wilderness topography of southwestern Spain, of the middle East, and of the less far away from here Mojave and Sonoran deserts, all the concert long I kept visualizing hot dry winds (blowing into southern California from the Santa Ana range), searing sands, blazing sun and hidden life teaming underground giving modal, instrumental and tonal accents to the music. I felt shimmering colors of turquoise, camel, olive, azure and coral—as common to the seacoast as to the desert.
Joshua 18:1 – Then the whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh and set up the Tent of Meeting there. The land lay subdued beneath them...
Jeremiah 7:12 – "Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name..."
The city Shiloh, was one of the shrines of the tribal confederacy(!), yet the first settled place for the Ark of the Covenant—then the world learned of "something greater than the Temple," Jesus Christ, and now we have something else again, the people of God in Christ Jesus – us – as dwelling-place for God in the Spirit, as dwellings for the Name of Jesus Christ.
Friday evening Heaven covered this corner of the earth! You could claim Summer Pops is an expression of the Winter Symphony series, not usually considered a vernacular art form, and I know tickets for both are expensive, though I get to go when someone gives me a ticket, but at this concert a lot of the community's and the world's resources came together in close to a eucharistic way. Oh, San Diego being a border city, with San Ysidro qualifying as the busiest land border in the world, daily I see and hear too much evidence of social, cultural, educational, and economic stratification, know of and experience too many misunderstandings, but I trust the power of the Pentecostal Spirit of Life in our prayers, our desires and our efforts to live with justice and righteousness will bring this part of the world more closely together to live more fully as the Reign of Heaven on Earth!
Short version: Friday evening was fabulous!