A Frenchman in America Conducting An American in Paris – Blog Host Jeff

As a self-proclaimed cheerleader of the PSO, each season, my
wife and I pick a handful of “easy win” concerts – performances that feature
works with immediate mass appeal – and invite a small group of friends to join
us for the evening. We’ve been doing
this since we were dating in college, focusing on friends who may not otherwise
venture into a concert hall.

As it turns out, the PSO is currently in the middle of a
“Jeff’s popular favorites” 3-week marathon with a weekend of Gershwin
sandwiched between two weekends of Rachmaninoff. This weekend’s concert, as it so happens, has
been on my “easy win” list since before the season was announced.

Here is a list of what we’re playing with accompanying
program notes.

All year, I have admired the implicit irony in the
programming for this weekend. PSO Principal
Guest Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier, a Frenchman in America,
will lead the orchestra in Gershwin’s An American in Paris. I must say that I laughed for some time after
our programming head Bob Moir pointed that one out. An American in Paris
is simply on of these great pieces that succeeds in painting a vivid aural
picture of an experience (just listen for the taxi horns and you’ll see what I
mean) – perfect for non Symphony nerds. 

On top of that and among other works, we’re playing a piece
by Composer of the Year Chris Theofanidis called The Here and Now. Chris, in my mind, is one of the leading
composers in a movement shift the public’s greater perception of “contemporary
music” from yuck or ouch to wow (in a good way) or oh yeah. His works are deep yet immediately appealing
to the average Joe.

This stellar “easy win” lineup combined with our incredible
orchestra, in my opinion, is the perfect way to win over new listeners. So, come on down to Heinz Hall regardless of
if you’ve been before and I guarantee that you’ll have a great time!

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May 3