Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pittsburgh: Final Thoughts

After completing my first position at a major orchestra, I have a few thoughts about my time at the Pittsburgh Symphony:

1.) While a large orchestra has vast amounts of resources in terms of people and money, it is hard to create change without destroying a history of internal culture and sacrificing many talented staff members.

2.) It is perfectly acceptable to be interesting in things you know nothing about. By the end, you may just end up learning a few things.

3.) Make concerts exciting to attend, especially new works. Educate your audience.
Know before you go!

4.) Subscriptions, while providing stable income, should not be the main revenue source. Current audiences need flexibility and choice.

5.) Great music is made by great people, both onstage and off.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One step closer

Today I completed another portion of my journey to complete my research paper. After spending several hours of my weekends here in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie Mellon Library, I finally have over 17 years of orchestra hiring history recorded. While I am not comfortable sharing the raw data yet, I can be comfortable saying my original estimations are holding true. I am thrilled at every new year of data I input and then map out. Hopefully I complete the data collection by March and have everything ready for publication by June.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pittsburgh Symphony Orcherstra - Concert No. 8

Every conductor knows the legend of Leonard Bernstein's debut on the New York Philharmonic podium to take over for Bruno Walter. It make him an overnight sensation, and cover conductors now dream of the opportunity to one day repeat in the footsteps of history.

Leonard Slatkin, while having the same name as Maestro Bernstein, did not have no rehearsal time before being required to cover for the orchestra. Slatkin was stepping for Sir Andrew Davis on a month's notice, and came prepared to conduct a perfectly designed program.

John Corigliano's Phantasmagoria on "The Ghosts of Versailles” for Orchestra matched well with Mozart's final symphony. Corigliano's opera finds its material in the classical age, in which Mozart flourished. In between Anne Martindale Williams, the PSO's Principal Cellist, performed Elgar's poignant Cello Concerto. This work truly speaks with a human voice, the cello singing the sorrows of a country devastated by war. Elgar's last major work is truly one of his greatest.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - Concert No. 7

As a singer, it is a real treat to hear a vocal work on an orchestra program being performed by one of the great voices of our time. Dawn Upshaw, known for her work with 20th century repertoire, has been a favorite of mine since I got into the performance business. Ms. Shaw performed Luciano Berio's "Folksongs," a collection of eleven folks songs from nine countries. A set of love notes to his wife, Berio takes these classic tunes and applies his distinct character to them, making each one distinct with an original voicing in the orchestra. While Ms. Shaw's voice was occasionally swallowed by the orchestra, I enjoyed the acoustic sound of her voice filling the hall, as a representation of one of the last temples devoted to unaltered sound.

The closing piece was "Roman Festivals" by Ottorino Respighi. The final of in his trilogy of works based on Roman themes, I had never heard this work performed live before. The amazing brass of the Pittsburgh Symphony blew full life and color into the melody describing the circus games. Maestro Noseda left no musical stone unturned, unleashing the full force of the symphony onto Heinz Hall, and it was met with great acclaim.