Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Musical Miscellany

I'm glad to see here that at least one of the two PSO concerts in Western MD sold out and that the one that didn't (Friday night) had a respectable showing. (I wonder if 7:30 is too early for a Friday night concert in the summer--you would have to leave DC, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh by 4 to make it and more like 3 to be comfortable and have time for dinner. Maybe try for 8:30 next time?) And I'm glad to see that talk about a PSO residency at Deep Creek continues.

In other classical music news, I have to admit that I've never heard of the New York Philharmonic's choice of music director. But reading about the decision in this New York Times article makes me think it's an interesting and bold choice. Interesting to appoint Ricardo Muti at the same time as principal guest conductor (or the equivalent). In many ways, I think this is similar to what the PSO has just done: appoint the up-and-comer as the music director (Manfred Honeck) and the veteran who has already been a music director at a major American orchestra as the principal guest conductor (Leonard Slatkin). Curious that the parallel did not occur to the NYT writer.

My wife has always made fun of me for mishearing a line in "Sound of Silence" as "Hear my words that I'm an angry Jew." But this article in today's Post-Gazette tells me that I'm not alone in being unable to decipher the sung word. And a quick Google search for "Simon and Garfunkel" AND "Angry Jew"* turns up this comprehensive site for misheard song lyrics including this very mistake and gives me a comfort that I'm not alone on this one.

*I tend to put in the Boolean operators even though Google has helpfully reminded me many times that they are not needed.

Monday, July 09, 2007

PSO in Deep Creek: The Details

Go here.

And look at these ticket prices! This is a huge bargain:


Ticket prices: $25 Adults, $7 Students and
Free for children five years and younger."

(Compare to Tanglewood prices here).

If these concerts are not sold out, there is no hope for classical music in America.

Culture in Deep Creek

Immediately after the last posting, I thought: maybe I'm being unfair to Deep Creek on the culture and entertainment front. So I looked and found "Deep Creek Blog." I'll stick to the view that there's more going on in the Berkshires (in an absolute sense), but next time I'm in Deep Creek I'll pay attention to this site and patronize what looks like a pretty decent arts scene (per capita).

PSO in Deep Creek: Tanglewisp?

Soon after we moved to Pittsburgh, we discovered the Deep Creek Lake area of western Maryland. 2 hours from Pittsburgh, 2 and a half hours from Washington and Baltimore. Since I have family in DC, it's a perfect meeting place for a family vacation.

But there was one thing we noticed right away. We also vacation a lot in the Berkshires, and while Western MD can compete with Western MA on the outdoors stuff, there's not nearly as much going on in the culture department in the former.

So the first time I went there, I said: this is where the Pittsburgh Symphony should make its summer home. Our favorite place in the Berkshires is Tanglewood, the premier summer music festival in the US. While it would be very difficult to replicate Tanglewood (without a few tens of millions of dollars and a resurrected Leonard Bernstein), I have often thought that a good part of Tanglewood's success is that it is close to two major metro areas (NY and Boston). Thus, Deep Creek seemed like a good spot for the PSO to develop a summer home, drawing on not only a Pittsburgh audience but also DC and Baltimore. And just as there are a good number of New Yorkers who donate to the BSO (instead of, or in addition to, the NY Philharmonic), I thought the PSO could gradually build a base of Washingtonian supporters and that this would be a good long-term move for the orchestra.

So I am very glad to see this report that the PSO will play at Wisp Resort at Deep Creek this summer.

The PSO will play indoors at Wisp. But maybe if all goes well and the PSO becomes a regular summer part of the Deep Creek scene, the Bashford Amphitheater at Mountain Lake Park could be rebuilt with a shed (a la Tanglewood) but open to the fresh summer air?

On the other hand, maybe the all-indoor venue is smarter given the problems Tanglewood has been having with the weather in the last few years. Lots of rain last summer and a general trend of declining ticket sales have a lot of people up in the Berkshires asking "whither Tanglewood?" (See this editorial in the Berkshire Eagle.) So of course, the PSO will have to tread carefully financially (as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story linked above makes clear).

But I can have my dream, can't I?