Symphony tackles football history with NFL Films

Cheers and yells could be heard from the crowd in all directions. Completely normal behavior for an NFL game, but these outbursts were heard inside Davies Symphony Hall.

The San Francisco Symphony teamed up with NFL Films this week for the Concert of Champions, joining the rest of The City in celebrating Super Bowl 50 just days before it rushes into the Bay Area.

A collection of short documentaries were projected on a large screen while the orchestra played accompanying music, the culmination of bringing football and high society together.

Hosted by Hall of Fame running back and former Raider Marcus Allen — who refused interviews with media — featured elegant music playing along with classic NFL Films clips, both old and new.

Photos by Martin Bustamante/SFBay

The anticipation of a Super Bowl taking place in the bay area has made the excitement among the community reach new places, some of those unexpected.

Amelia Kusar, senior publicist at the San Francisco Symphony, said they were excited to be a part of Bay Area-wide jubilance over Super Bowl 50:

“The symphony is a part of that community so we thought we want to be involved in this as well. You can’t turn any corner without seeing anything that is Super Bowl related. I think Its really good for fans that are coming into town to have a wealth of different things that they can do aside from just the game.”

NFL Films is known for its original thunderous and humorous scores, and the orchestra did well in bringing back lost memories. Brassy music made for a heroic sounding score all night, while the big screen showed classic players and clips, including long-lasting images of frozen tundra, Americas team, and, of course, The Catch.

Along with other iconic Bay Area football moments, scenes of The Catch evoked a strong reaction from an engaged crowd, who broke into cheer during Raiders and 49ers highlights as if they were in real-time.

Megan Cox, a group manager at a public relations agency in San Francisco, noticed it was not an average symphony atmosphere:

“I think the real unique part of it was the passion behind the crowd. In a symphony nobody usually cheers.”

The night proved to be a unique combination where sport and culture come together, a connection Amanda Weiss, a barbershop general manager in Oakland, was able to appreciate:

“I think a lot of times regular sports fans feel like not included in teams when really sports are such a huge part of other people’s lives. It’s almost like a little secret for high society people, that they aren’t allowed to say that they like to drink beer and watch football. So I think its cool they are together here tonight.”

The dramatic music produced emotion audience members including Cox, who ended up experiencing more than they expected when the show was over:

“It exceeded my expectations. I love music and I love football. I think at one point I actually stated tearing up and I was like, why are we all tearing up right now.”

The emotions were a change of pace from the symphonies Daniel Oppenheim, a retired Broncos supporter who flew out from Denver, was used to seeing. He also felt a similar connection to the symphony:

“Its really about the culmination of football and music. It wasn’t an intellectual symphony but a passionate symphony. Tonight’s program wasn’t here to make you think it was here to make you feel and it was a very emotional experience.”