With all the news that has come out recently, Manfred Honeck becoming music director in the 2008/2009 season, And when I got an invitation to hear about the coming season my curiosity was piqued.
My girlfriend and I went to Heinz hall on a cold Thursday night, and welcomed warmly to the reception. It was a welcome sight to see members of the staff that I have not seen in months, and to be introduced to others for the first time.
The program opened, not with the presentation of the program, but with Emanuel Ax coming down from a break from practicing to say hello. Then the program began in earnest as Robert Moir (VP for Artistic Planning) came to walk us through next years Mellon Grand Classics program. And as he did some things came to mind. Noticing John Corigliano (The Red Violin) is the PSO composer of the year, and several of his pieces including one commissioned by the PSO were in store. Andre Previn coming to conduct his own Harp Concerto (which was commisioned for PSO harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen). Alfred Brendel, who is so picky about the environments and conditions under which he plays, coming to Pittsburgh, just because he will be in the States anyway. Benjamin Hochman, pianist, whom it turns out my girlfriend knows coming in May. And Chee-Yun, whose chamber concert I enjoyed here in Katz auditorium last year, returning to play with the full PSO (and also coming here this March.)
I’ve been asked by friends in the past why I so enjoy attending live
classical concerts instead of being satisfied by listening to
recordings. And I do enjoy listening to recordings. I’m listening to
a recording of Emanuel Ax playing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 as I
write this. And with the standard canon, listening to recordings does
take the risk away, I can limit myself to recordings that are already
been established as being of the highest quality based on the
willingness of the record label to produce the album and by reviewers
who have rated it. But, along with the joy of hearing an artist
provide an interpretation of the music and responding to an audience,
it is with the new music that the potential is the highest. Of having
John Corigliano being PSO’s Composer of the Year, and providing
feedback and interacting with the conductor and orchestra as they
rehearse and perform his music and jointly building an interpretation.
The anticipation of Previn conducting his own piece, and bring his
vision of what was in his mind as he brought it forth, and maybe
jointly discovering something new along the way. These are things that
benefit from an orchestra that has the direction that Sir Andrew Davis
and the leadership of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and I continue to look
forward to each concert that this season and next bring.
Being in a group of people more musically educated than I, it was
interesting watching and feeling the reactions of the people around
me. I confess to not recognizing the names of most of the guests
artists, conductors, or even composers of the coming season. But as
Robert went through the program, in addition to the items I did notice,
their excitment and sense of anticipation for next season was
palpable. And being a relative newcomer to Pittsburgh, I was
especially welcomed by Bill Frederick, going out of his way to greeting
this newcomer amongst the group Friends of the PSO. Among other
things, being satisfied by listening to recordings would mean missing
out on interacting with other who love classical music, and the
investment is small compared to that benefit.