“We are not butterflies, winged and free, all splendor, released from our pandemic chrysalis … by 2021’s end,” writes Mark Swed in Friday’s (12/17) Los Angeles. “Still, we emerge. And in a heartening number of instances, we have done so in glory, thanks to the many extraordinary first-emergers who made it happen…. Gustavo Dudamel rose to new heights … as he led the Los Angeles Philharmonic back to public performance at the Hollywood Bowl and … at Walt Disney Concert Hall…. Esa-Pekka Salonen gave early indication that he will be bringing some of his trailblazing rethinking [to the] San Francisco Symphony…. Rafael Payare … has been spectacularly rejuvenating the San Diego Symphony…. Black conductors and musicians have rightfully been more prominent…. San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra music director Anthony Parnther made impressive appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and on the Jacaranda new-music series, as did Berkeley Symphony music director Joseph Young in his debut with the Pasadena Symphony…. Many an American orchestra … got the message that playing works by lively and provocative young Black composers like Jessie Montgomery and Carlos Simon is essential…. The San Diego Symphony’s outdoor concert venue opened in the summer.”