Monday, July 09, 2007

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?

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