Culture Spotlight: Bayside Summer Nights
Posted on July 10, 2017
For more than a century, the San Diego Symphony has been one of the leading arts organizations in Southern California, and perhaps no facet of the organization is more anticipated every summer than its Bayside Summer Nights program. Taking place outdoors along the Embarcadero, music lovers of all ages can experience a wide range of performances, featuring pop bands, Hollywood themes, and a host of surprises, all while nestled among the downtown skyline, the bay, and the night sky. Patrons have the option to spread a blanket on the back lawn or purchase tables up near the stage, dine, and sip wine.
“It’s a communal experience,” explains CEO Martha Gilmer, “and these days when we’re all so focused on digital technology and looking at our phones, taking the time to be with other people in a shared experience is incredibly meaningful.”
Just as the name recently changed from the Summer Pops to Bayside Summer Nights, the Symphony continues to expand and improve upon this beloved San Diego mainstay. The 2017 season is no exception, having kicked off June 30 with the Symphony’s famous Star Spangled Pops and progressing into an eclectic roster that includes new and unexpected choices.
A jazz series, newly introduced last year and curated by San Diego-based Latin jazz trumpeter Gilbert Castallanos, will return this year. “Gil has developed a stellar jazz series this summer with some very high-profile musicians,” says Gilmer.
Some of those musicians include Dr. John and the Night Trippers, as well as talented Latin jazz musicians coming together to perform the music of Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, and La Lupe.
This season’s star power also includes Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr., Wynonna Judd, Air Supply, Boz Scaggs, Grace Potter, and The Commodores, among others. Tony Bennett, whose duet record with Lady Gaga a few years ago has garnered him a revitalized, younger fan base, is sure to be a major draw.
“We’re very proud to be presenting Tony Bennett this year,” says Gilmer. “Last summer, our Diana Ross concert sold out and I suspect Tony Bennett will as well.”
Bayside Summer Nights prides itself on featuring festivities for all ages, especially children, and this year’s movie nights will be no exception. Last summer, the Symphony installed a new digital state-of-the art screen that makes watching the performers and the films a pleasure from any seat.
“We have been presenting films during the summer for several years now,” says Gilmer. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second of all eight Harry Potter films that we will be presenting over four years, so the opportunity to present during the summer is part of a long-term project. The wonderful Steven Spielberg classic, E.T., just seemed like a natural to show outdoors under the stars.”
The season will end in September as it always does, with a spectacular fireworks display set to the music of Tchaikovsky. 619.235.0800, sandiegosymphony.org Ryan Thomas