Every once in a while the stars align and things are truly amazing to behold. The Simmons family gave us cause to feel positive about the future of the PSO, generously giving and creating a framework for others to do their part….and today we received news that we’ll have a new music director in 2008….we got Manfred Honeck! I’ve written a couple of things about his weeks here with the PSO and I’m looking forward to many more posts about the effect this guy is going to have on us (I have joyfully high expectations). But that doesn’t come close to conveying the extent of the happiness that I’m feeling. About the only thing that comes close is the Snoopy dance (I confess I did my own little rendition of it when I was out of public view). Another thing that I’ll admit is I have a hard time focusing on good things because I fear they will disappear before I’m ready to let go, but for this news I will celebrate….openly and repeatedly.
After Maestro Honeck’s last visit here I went up to Bob Moir (Vice President of Artistic Planning) and said, “In my opinion we ought to be doing anything that we can to get him here.” I don’t think my perspective is any more valuable than anybody else’s, but if I saw him get a Music Directorship with another orchestra instead of us I would’ve wondered if my complacency had some role in it. I know that Honeck wouldn’t come here if he didn’t want to, but I give a huge amount of credit to Bob Moir and the great work he does for us day in and day out. That’s a guy who obviously loves his job…..and he’s great at it.
As I’ve said before, Maestro Honeck’s rehearsal style is really intense. He is in such command of the music in front of him that he doesn’t need a score even for the first rehearsal (except for the world premiere of Reza Vali’s "The Being of Love" that he conducted with us). His demeanor on the podium is one of musical energy, enthusiasm, and respect. I remember a moment in Verizon Hall in Philadelphia when we had a rehearsal for the program we were about to play there. Honeck wasn’t convinced that we were playing our softest pianissimo. Instead of delivering a dismissive negative comment, he paused in silence and looked up toward the ceiling high above us. Then he asked if we heard the faintest buzzing coming from the lights up there (I think it was an e-flat). When he heard the murmur from the orchestra that meant “yes, we hear it” he responded, “Play softer than that”. The result was astounding. There’s nothing like the sound of an orchestra when everybody on stage understands the goal and plays an equal part in achieving it. The future holds many more of these experiences for us all, I hope everybody takes full advantage; it’s going to be a special time.
The announcement came suddenly as I’m sure things of such a sensitive nature need to. I traveled to the hall with two of my colleagues and we speculated as to what the announcement could be, and we all agreed that this would be the best possible reason to be coming in to Heinz Hall for special news. When the announcement was made there was a spontaneous shout and a standing ovation (which I dutifully recorded with my camcorder and hope to post on this blog soon). The applause went on and on until Maestro Honeck held up his hands and got everybody to be seated again. His first words were, “I’m so happy ladies and gentlemen that you react on my sign.” As funny as that was, it hits on one of the reasons that I think that this new relationship is going to be so special. This orchestra likes to work hard. We’re eager to be challenged and we don’t shy away from getting to the details of a work, and I think that Honeck is the perfect compliment for that work ethic.
I didn’t make it to the toast after the announcement in the Mozart room at Heinz Hall, the horn section had an outreach event scheduled that we needed to leave for. So here I am raising my glass………<<tink>>