The 4 part video / podcast series features music from jazz, hip hop, Mexican, and Chinese cultures.

By Michael P Coleman

In the midst of a socially distant global pandemic, The San Francisco Symphony has miraculously managed to bring us a little closer together with Currents.

The superb, four episode digital series shares the music and tells the stories of a variety of Bay Area communities, while highlighting the influences of jazz, hip hop, Mexican, and Chinese cultures. The series is available via video or podcast.

In all honesty, I expected to be moved by Currents’ jazz and hip hop episodes. I did not expect to tear up during the Mexican and Chinese segments, as I did this morning. The series reminded me that music is the ultimate unifier.

“Once people have heard music from another culture, they tend to integrate it into what they’re doing,” says Michael Morgan, curator & host of Currents.

Morgan also is the Music Director at the Oakland Symphony and Artistic Director of the Oakland Youth Orchestra. He’s been connected with the San Francisco Symphony since 1994, when he first led Concerts For Kids performances.

“I am thrilled to be helping the San Francisco Symphony share all the wonderful things they do with a wider and more diverse audience,” Morgan says. “In this series, an array of Bay Area artists perform with members of the SF Symphony and we visit locations that played a role in the creation of these various styles of music, all of which together are part of the musical atmosphere of San Francisco. With the Symphony, we have musicians with almost every musical interest. We wanted to share our broad interests with our audience, old and new.”

The SF Symphony is sure the attract new fans with Currents. It’s hard to pick a favorite episode of the four, but I have to tell you about pianist Tammy L. Hall, who’s featured in the series’ Episode II — Bay Area Blue Notes.

“Jazz is honest, and all inclusive,” Hall says. “It’s radical. It’s about the truth. Jazz is black American music. And jazz is an honor for me to be able to express.”

Tammy Hall. Photo courtesy of Irene Young Photography.

“We’re living in a perilous and pernicious…I dare say, a vicious time, and there’s still room for beauty and truth to shine through,” Hall continues, as her eyes began to glisten with tears. “Music is my water, it’s my breath, it’s the blood that’s running through me.”

In that moment, I felt connected with Hall, via those eloquent words and the stirring piano performances that bookended them, and I shared similar moments with other local musical titans as I watched Currents. The series is a continuation of the exceptional programming we’ve come to expect from the San Francisco Symphony.

As we navigate this increasingly challenging time, Currents is more than worth a bit of your time.


Check out Currents here.

Published by Michael P Coleman

Freelance writer. I used to talk to strangers and get punished. Now I talk to strangers and get published.

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