What better topic to address than gratitude in a time like this for the PSO? With the astounding generosity and the incredible thoughtfulness of the Simmons family I get excited once again for the future of this fantastic orchestra. The gift is so multi-faceted that it challenges the entire organization to become involved in its own future. Every part of the PSO will be determined to make the most of this opportunity. Personally I believe words fail to express the feelings we all have as a result of this event……..genuine thanks is just the start.
Another thing that we can all be grateful for is that a conductor like Manfred Honeck will come to lead us in performance on relatively short notice. "Lead" is putting it mildly. Reading today’s Post-Gazette article on this week’s Honeck appearance gives some insight into what makes this conductor so great. I’ve written about him before, and once again his astounding memory for the score (right down to rehearsal numbers and measure numbers) is abundantly evident in his rehearsal. Also very apparent is his penchant for attaining the detailed sound that he has in his head. He has the ability to be insistent on a result without being negative in any way. His leadership is also apparent in the quietness on stage during a rehearsal. He speaks softly (on purpose, I believe) and requires the orchestra to be quiet and attentive to hear what he’s saying. Being quite far from the podium I know that chatter can be abundant, and it’s minimized quite naturally by this conductor. There was a point in the rehearsal that another conductor might have made some attempt at "shush-ing" the voices on stage, but Honeck just stood in a state of preparation and focus and brought the entire orchestra into it. It takes a leader to pull that off with such grace. This guy’s the real deal.
I would blather on about this week’s concert knowing as I do that it’s going to be great, but the little red button just popped up on the turkey, and it’s time to whip up my vein-clogging mashed potatoes! Happy Thanksgiving.