Linda Japzon is a fan of classical music, but driving to a live performance? Not so much.
At 81, the San Leandro resident is timid about navigating freeways at any time of day to attend the annual concert series in Berkeley she enjoys so much.
“You don’t see as well,” said Japzon, adding that she doesn’t much like jockeying for parking spots close enough to the venue that she can manage the walk with the help of her cane.
But several years ago, she discovered a solution to her dilemma: Four Seasons Arts, the Berkeley nonprofit that presents the concerts, also provides door-to-door transportation for any East Bay resident disinclined to take on Bay Area traffic.
“This was perfect,” Japzon said. “They come to your door, pick you up, bring you back … it’s just so ideal.”
Four Seasons Arts offers the service as part of its Crescendo Series, a specific collection of performances among those that it holds from fall through spring.
The $315 subscription to this particular lineup — this season, it comprises five concerts featuring string and saxophone quartets, a piano duo, along with violin/piano and cello/piano duets — ensures customers a stress-free experience from the time they walk out their front door until they return.
Each of the volunteer drivers — all of whom have undergone background checks and had their driving records vetted — picks up two to three ticket holders in an area that extends from Hayward and Castro Valley to Richmond and San Pablo and drops them off at the Berkeley church that hosts the concerts.
“It’s like a big puzzle matching passengers with drivers,” said Four Seasons Arts’ development director Mary Jo Hudgel in describing the weeks’ of planning involved before each concert to ensure that every subscriber who wants a ride will have one.
About 70 people this year will be taking advantage of the convenience, including a 103-year-old woman from the Richmond area, Hudgel said.
The challenges of nighttime driving are a non-issue this year with the decision to hold all concerts in the afternoon for the first time, but some people are nervous about finding their way to unfamiliar places and others don’t drive at all or would rather have the company of others on the journey, Hudgel said.
The transportation service is available to anyone who has bought tickets to the Crescendo Series regardless of age.
The only requirement is that individuals must be able to walk on their own, Hudgel said; if they need a caregiver to accompany them, they must buy season tickets for that person as well.
Apart from the practical help they offer, Hudgel says the volunteer drivers make it possible for customers to reap the emotional benefits of getting out of the house.
Many season ticket holders have said that during the first year of the pandemic when the concerts were all online, they missed socializing with friends they would see at the events, Hudgel said.
“People expressed how they felt isolated and didn’t feel good,” she said. “It was apparent to me that this kind of function is important.”
To donate to or volunteer with Four Seasons Arts, visit https://fsarts.org/support/.
How to sign up for the Crescendo Series
Although much of the transportation planning for this season’s kickoff concert on Oct. 8 already has taken place, would-be subscribers hoping to line up a ride still can call to see if there are drivers available in their area, said development director Mary Jo Hudgel.
It’s “quite likely” that Four Seasons Arts can accommodate them, she said, adding, “we want people to enjoy the music so we try.”
Reach Four Seasons Arts at (510) 845-4444.