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<<  -- 3 --  Kelly Ferjutz    A SPECIAL PERFORMANCE


The main concert hall has three levels of seating with a total capacity of 2660. The result is an awesome example of working together to make something wonderful happen! To see for yourself, the PSO site offers a virtual tour of the building. Although there are other spectacular lighting fixtures throughout, be sure to notice the twelve chandeliers in the middle of the auditorium ceiling. They are truly spectacular. They're huge, and oval in shape, looking as though they were done in a pavé style (as in diamond rings, for instance) out of multi-colored star-shaped lights. It's nearly impossible to take your eyes off them if you're seated in the upper level. As to other decorations, I particularly liked this sentence: ... the original auditorium also had many 3-dimensional fleur-de-lis and gargoyles that were removed because of their detrimental effect on the acoustics in the hall. See it all online.

The orchestra itself is now 110 years old, and thriving, by all accounts. It is pioneering a new approach to the Music Director/Conductor concept, by employing a triumvirate of experienced 'residential' conductors as well as frequent guest conductors. Each of the residents has a different area of responsibility, which would appear to be a very sensible tactic. Sir Andrew Davis is Artistic Advisor, and will emphasize music of British and American composers, plus that of Dvorák. Yan Pascal Tortelier will concentrate mainly on the French repertoire, plus contemporary and new music, while Marek Janowski will explore the great classics of the German-Austrian composers. (Composer Marvin Hamlisch is the principal conductor of the Pittsburgh Pops series.)

All three gentlemen are great favorites of the musicians in the orchestra as well as audiences, at home or on tour. Because there will still be some open weeks on the schedule, the PSO has been able to secure notable guest conductors such as Pinchas Zukerman, who will conduct two weeks each season, plus other highly-regarded and internationally renowned conductors Christoph von Dohnányi, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Charles Dutoit. The American born Marin Alsop is also a frequent visitor to the PSO podium.

Of course, it was the music that took me to Pittsburgh, especially for a program featuring Brahms and Beethoven. The selections were so different from each other that one could hardly have asked for a better first-time concert experience. The three choral works by Brahms were different from each other, too, but each of them was concerned with fate, as was the Beethoven Fifth. Betsy Burleigh devoted great care and attention to the still new-to-her Mendelssohn Choir, which augurs exceedingly well for the future.

Betsy Burleigh
Betsy Burleigh

With luck, she'll find a few more male singers to complement the female portion and this will provide a bit better balance. There were no discernible difficulties with either pitch or diction, and textures throughout were silken in nature, at whatever volume was asked for by composer and conductor. It was quite obvious that meticulous attention had been given to every detail of each piece during rehearsals.

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Copyright © 7 November 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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