Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Symphony

The act you’ve known for all these years

My brother Jude and I attended the Classical Mystery Tour performance at the PSO Friday night, and you can read my blog post about it on the Pittsburgh Symphony Blogs: “The act you’ve known for all these years.”

Something I forgot to mention in that post: They played part of the side 2 medley from Abbey Road, “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” In the Beatles recording of “The End,” the guitar solo is really three guitar solos, with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison each taking a few bars in turns, and each playing in a distinct style. (I learned this only a few years ago, thanks to the Beatles edition of the Rock Band video game.)

When Twist and Shout started to play, I was interested to see how each member might handle his solo. But they didn’t play it that way. Instead, the George Harrison fellow played all three parts, using effects on his guitar to create the different Beatles’ guitar sounds and changing his style to match their styles. It was impressive, but I was a wee bit sad not to see the band recreate the mini-guitar duel from the recording.

Fresh (on PSO Outside)

FOLHA FRESCA (Fresh leaf), originally uploaded by jonycunha.

I posted on the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra blog today, “Fresh.”

I wrote about the lovely performance I attended Friday, the PSO performing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Haydn’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Gil Shaham. In classic blogging form, I spent much of the post talking about myself, but it was to make a larger point (honest!).

This weekend’s concerts also included Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which was so lovely I didn’t know what to write about it. I think I’m storing up a bunch of Mahler thoughts that will come bursting out one of these days.

The angels are weeping

There’s a new blog post by me on the Pittsburgh Symphony blogs, “Lacrimosa dies illa.” It’s about the wondrous performance of Mozart’s Requiem I heard Friday at the PSO.

I like to post photos with my blog posts, as you know, and I typically find lovely images at Flickr. For this PSO post I started out looking for a photo with the tag “requiem,” and eventually came upon a nice image of a memorial to Mozart.

But then I had the inspiration to search for “+weeping +angel,” and this produced many interesting images. I loved the photo I eventually chose most, although I was drawn to “Angel of Grief” with its sweeping wings. This is apparently a common pose for crying angels.

Fans of the latest incarnation of Doctor Who will appreciate many of these photos as well. Here’s the one you’re probably most interested in.


I have a new post on the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Outside Perspective blog, “A year in 39 minutes.” It’s about the lovely performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons I attended Friday night.

In the course of writing the post, I discovered a few movie trailers that use The Four Seasons as their soundtrack. Here’s the one I enjoyed most, sort of for the music but mostly for the reminder of what a fantastic movie it is:

Maybe you’d like to hear the music without a voiceover? Here’s an impressive performance (not the one used in the movie above):

Vivaldi Four Seasons (Winter) Gil Shaham violin

Musical landscapes, Big Sur, and me

Big Sur - Aug06

I’ve posted a new entry on the Pittsburgh Symphony blog, “Music, stories, and the world around us.” It’s in response to this weekend’s concerts, which featured The Dharma at Big Sur conducted by the composer, John Adams.

Adams has said he wrote the piece to reflect his feelings on coming to Big Sur for the first time, an East Coast native encountering the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The music definitely conveys a sense of wonder and awe.

I visited Big Sur just once in my years living in San Francisco, and my feeling was not like Adams’s. I had been living in the Bay Area for a while, so part of the difference would be that the newness had worn away.

But my memories of Big Sur aren’t even of the coast, cliffs, and ocean. They’re of dark forest and massive trees — a side of Big Sur that is less flashy but no less full of wonder.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see the part of Big Sur that included the stream and chairs above. They add a bit of whimsy and magic to the splendor, and I would have liked that.

(Photo credit: Big Sur – Aug06, originally uploaded by Waldo647.)

Pittsburgh Symphony Insider with John Adams — talk to one of America’s most admired and respected composers

Saturday morning, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will host a Talkshoe interview with John Adams, PSO Composer of the Year.

Listen to and participate in a FREE live podcast with PSO Composer
of the Year John Adams! Ask questions of this Pulitzer Prize-winning
composer and get insights into the concerts he will conduct of his own
works on January 16th & 17th at Heinz Hall, including Doctor Atomic Symphony, On the Transmigration of Souls and excerpts from Nixon in China.

Visit www.talkshoe.com
this Saturday, November 15th at 11:00 am. Simply click on the live
podcast posted by Pittsburgh Symphony Insider and then click “Join In”!

News in the “how I am a very lucky person” category: I’ll be interviewing Adams tomorrow morning for the PSO Blog. He published a memoir this fall, Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life, and I’ll be asking him about that as well as about life as a composer in the Internet Age.

Did you try…? Shouldn’t it be a bit more…? Or this. This!

I have a new post on the Pittsburgh Symphony Blogs: “A night in Vienna.”

I’m sorry to say that, until this weekend, my major experience of Mozart had been via the Movie and stage play Amadeus, and the soundtrack to the movie. In reading about Mozart’s shockingly productive yet short life — he died at age 35, having created over 600 works, many of which are considered pinnacles of their genres — I’ve come to understand just how far the movie and play stray from the facts of Mozart’s life.

Still, the movie is so entertaining it’s easy to over look its faults. Plus, it seems faithful in depicting Mozart’s talent, especially for improvisation and for performing. Here’s an edited clip of one of my favorite sequences from the film: Mozart plays the music of his rival, Salieri.

Liveblogging the Pittsburgh Symphony

A quick note from the blogging event at the Symphony: You should be here. I’m very sorry you’re not.

We’ve enjoyed amazing performances of three wonderful works, plus the bonus of meeting the composer Christopher Theofanidis. For the second work, Beethoven’s Concert No. 1 in C major, the soloist was Yefim Bronfman, who I am learning is a star. Today he played with such delicacy and wit — and was kind enough to come back out for an encore. And then the Mahler? Fabulous.

Now we’re hanging out at a reception in a delightful little side room, with cookies and coffee, plus a special wi-fi network set up just for the occasion. People are talking about the concert, plus the scandal about the recordings of Joyce Hatto — in brief, recordings that she claimed to have made have recently been revealed to be recordings by other people … one of them Yefim Bronfman, to tie it to today’s concert.

I’ll write more later, about today and last night’s performance by the Butler County Symphony Orchestra. Right now I’m going to be a little less anti-social and get off the blog. Back soon.

What to do this weekend

Here he's a nearly naked man Three activities this weekend that will make it worth your while to dig yourself out from the snow:

1. The Muckleman is playing at City Theatre through February 18. At the opening night party I asked some people at the bar to help me summarize the play in ten words. We came up with this:

Naked man,
in sand:
Twilight Zone meets Splash
in Newfoundland.

If you’d prefer a real review, check out the Post-Gazette, the Trib, and City Paper. There’s also a mysterious website dedicated to the play, to get you in the mood.

2. If classical music is more your style, on Saturday, February 17, the Butler County Symphony Orchestra will be presenting "Gold." The music will include Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #6 and Shostakovich’s “Age of Gold Polka,” and the guest performer will be glass harpist Jamey Turner, who plays brandy snifters and wine glasses and must be seen and heard to be believed.

3. And then on Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Symphony will be presenting Bronfman Plays Beethoven, which will include works by Mahler and Christopher Theofanidis. Plus, "Accompanying the performance of Theofanidis’s "Rainbow Body" on Heinz Hall stage, the PSO will show spectacular images of dying stars taken by the Hubble Telescope." Interested local bloggers can attend free — see the announcement on Pittsburgh Bloggers for details. You’ll need to sign up by Friday at 2pm for the free tix.

Photo courtesy City Theatre. Pictured (l to r) Nathan Blew, Tami Dixon, Robin Walsh. Photo credit: John Schisler.