I am asked if I still remember my first concert @ the PSO, what comes
to my mind is not the first concert I had listened to, but the one I
back a quarter of a century: We were a young Israeli couple immersed in
graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Beyond campus life
almost everything was unfamiliar. Nothing felt like home. Than, we
discovered the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra through a special program
for foreign students: Every Thursday morning, a dozen free tickets were
given out for that weekend’s performances. First come, first served.
Well, classical music was familiar, we even heard about this great
orchestra in Israel and free tickets for poor students?!!! This was a
treat we could not miss! From then on, my husband would get up early on
Thursday mornings to make sure he would be the first in line.
never missed a concert. True, the seats were not always perfect. (mind
you, these were leftovers of unsold tickets) but they were free.
Pittsburgh, which we perceived at that time as being a provincial place
compared to the cosmopolitan Tel-Aviv, started to “grow on us”.
year later, almost at the completion of my studies, while we were
seated (in not-so- perfect seats…) we noticed in the program that the
following month Isaac Stern will perform the Sibelius Violin Concerto
with the PSO. We got excited! We remembered him playing with the
Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra & we loved Sibelius! We decided that
it should be a special occasion; we would not rely on those free
tickets but would purchase tickets in the best section of the hall!
There was only one problem: I was expecting a baby and the concert was
scheduled just two weeks after the baby would be born. “Does this make
sense?” we asked ourselves: “What if the baby will be sick? What if no
one will baby-sit for such an infant?” We brushed it all off. We were
sure that after two weeks all will be just fine.
daughter was born eight days after her due date. I left Magee Women’s
Hospital three days later. The concert would be in three days! We felt
a little uneasy… Friends came over, brought cute little presents &
admired the new born. One couple offered help. “Can we do something for
you? “It’s so nice you asked,” I said, “You see, on Saturday evening we
have tickets to the Symphony…” The husband (a mathematician teaching
Logic…) replied right away: “Sure! My wife will hold her in her arms
the whole time! Go and enjoy yourselves. You deserve it!” So we went.
It was a cold night but it was the first time I felt “normal” again. I was light & excited.
entered Heinz Hall, went up the monumental stairs to the Dress Circle,
sat down in our perfect expensive seats, looked around and admired the
great view of the stage from up above, the musicians greeting each
other and tuning their instruments. We looked at each other with a
sense of accomplishment: it worked! And now we are ready for our
beloved Sibelius and Isaac Stern!
next thing was unexpected: A thunderous noise!!! What’s going on? Where
am I? What are all these people doing here? Bewildered, I see my
husband at my left, his head on his shoulder, sleeping… Oh my God! I
just woke up! The audience were on there feet clapping & shouting
Bravo!!! Bravooo!!!!! My husband woke up and looked at me puzzled…And
then it downed on us: The Concerto was over…we slept through it…Isaac Stern and Andrei Previn
gave their last bows and left the stage smiling. We were stupefied…An
elderly, kind looking women, sitting to my right, leaned over and
whispered: “You both looked so tired… I did not have the heart to touch
you, you know…” Sheepishly I whispered back: “Yes, we are very tired…
we almost didn’t sleep for the last three days… we have a baby…”
was intermission. We gathered our coats and left. Driving home we
hardly spoke. I can’t remember what I really felt. It was probably a
combination of humiliation, stupidity & extreme fatigue…
Over the years other great soloists performed this Concerto with the PSO. I haven’t missed those concerts (I will never forget Midori,
still so young and delicate producing such an amazing, powerful
sound!) And in the meantime my seats improved greatly (Family Circle,
Left of Center). My CD collection includes at least half a dozen
different performances of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto (one of them Stern plays with the Israeli Philharmonic…).
daughter is twenty-six years old, getting ready to leave town (again…)
for Graduate School. She loves classical music, she loves Sibelius. She
will accompany me to the concert on March 25th when Sarah Chang will perform this great Concerto. I can’t wait.
one day, after having her first born baby, she will ask me to baby-sit
so she can go to the Symphony, I will not refuse. Why? It is the
privilege of the young to take risks.