One thing that I’ve noticed since joining the PSO conducting staff this
season – – the caliber of guest conductors at the Pittsburgh Symphony
is very high! Most sport some pretty incredible gifts, like wonderful
ears for hearing intonation and tone color, physical ease of
conducting, musical phrasing and pacing, technical mastery, imagery,
the ability to articulate what they want verbally and/or physically,
the list goes on.
It’s always such a treat to have someone like Pinchas Zukerman, who
has many of these gifts, but most notably, he’s a wonderful violinist
and can rehearse from a technical standpoint. (I first met Maestro
Zukerman in Colorado about 5 years ago and he invited me to conduct his
National Arts Centre Orchestra as a part of his Conducting Programme
with Jorma Panula).
Maestro Zukerman is here conducting some concerts as a part of
Mozart’s 250th Anniversary Celebration. In today’s rehearsals of
Mozart’s 41st and final Symphony, Maestro Zukerman rehearsed very
technically. He would say things like "on the D string" and all the
violins would change how they were fingering notes in a particular
passage, giving it a darker sound. He even singled out one violinist
for not playing a long enough bow for a certain section.
He rehearsed largly without a score and would refer to sections as
"the Eb major section" or would simply sing the passage that he wanted
played. He has perfect pitch and hears different keys in different
characters (for example, he would say "warm Eb major" or "sunny C
major." Throughout the rehearsal, he experimented with different
fingerings and bowings on the fly and sculpted passages for the maximum
It should be a great concert!