Top Ten Reasons the PSO Gets Better and Better

10. More people at the Will Call stations.  Every window was manned, and the huge crowd in the lobby seemed to go through with record speed.  Or maybe they were just really excited about the program.

9. Perfect temperature.  I’m never too hot, I’m never too cold.  Whoever is in charge of Heinz Hall heating and cooling deserves a big gold star.
8. Talent showcase.  The weekend show began with 2012-13 Composer of the Year Mason Bates’ Desert Transport.  It was a short little piece, 13 minutes total, but it certainly packed a punch.  Tons to do for the horn section and strings.  Gracious, if a bit nervous, Mason Bates came on stage at the beginning and told the audience about the inception of the piece as well as some things we could expect to hear, like a recording of Pima Indians at the end.  To be honest, I had forgotten about that and whenever the chanting started, very softly, I thought Oh my god!  Who is talking!  How rude can you get!  And then I realized it was the Pima Indians.  Ooops.  After that, I was fine.
7. Desert Transport.  As said above, the show started off with this piece.  I adored the beginning – the crescendo in the first minute is a thing of real beauty – relaxed into the short middle half, and then got totally offended by the third (read above).  But what the PSO does so well is that they are so adaptable.  One minute, these musicians are playing with sharp bursts and rhythms to emulate helicopter blades, the next they’re playing a warhorse.
6. Versatility.  The PSO isn’t afraid to tackle music that may or may not be a household name.  Sure, everyone knows Moonlight Sonata and The Four Seasons, but Bernstein’s Serenade?  In fact, during an interview the luckier than life Jim Cunningham got to do with Joshua Bell, they both said it’s been quite a number of years since it had been played, and that Joshua found it refreshing to do.  The PSO refreshed Joshua Bell.  You go, Glen Coco.
You know what else was really versatile?  The crowd.  The age range was enormous Saturday night.  I saw little boys as young as four and teenage girls and young men and older couples.  It was great to see.
How big of a purse would I need to steal this????
How big of a purse would I need to steal this????
5. Guest superstars.  Joshua Bell.
4. Godlike talent.  Joshua Bell.
3. End notes.  Can I say, for the record, the PSO really knows how to end a song?  The end note of Desert Transport was loud and biting and strong.  The end bars of the Bernstein were just awesome in scope.  And Brahms….I think the program notes say it best: As the end of the movement nears, the tonality returns to F major, and there is a 
strong sense of struggle passed. The tension subsides, and the work ends with the ghost of the opening movement’s main theme infused with a sunset glow.  Yeah, that’s about right.
The Post Gazette said the Brahms was a bit sluggish, and yeah…I guess you could say it was a sort of slow moving.  Maybe it was just because everyone was so hyped up from Joshua Bell?  They just felt so alive after meeting him?  It was still a glorious piece though – Brahms is a genius – and the PSO did a worthy job of it.
2. Surprising Communication.  After Joshua Bell finished the Bernstein piece and received four ovations, (though not enough for an encore damn it!) he met with a huge crowd afterward in the lobby to sign programs.  He was also gracious enough to take pictures with nearly everyone in line, even though the ushers told us to not take pictures. (They were just doing they’re jobs!  The crowd did not listen!  Hey, one of Joshua’s mantras is You Only Live Once.  So yeah, total rule breaker to live once and get a picture taken.)
However, what was not surprising was how talkative everyone in line was!  The girl behind me talked about how excited she was to meet Mason Bates (even more than Joshua!!).  And the group behind her, and the group behind them.  Everyone was so happy you could feel it.  The PSO clearly made the night of a lot of people.
1. Lifetime opportunities.  Joshua Bell.  Touching my elbow.  With his left hand.  Thank you PSO!

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