May 20 2009
The new 2009 World Games Stadium at Kaohsiung has been initiated with the joyous and thunderous sound of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony. Fireworks during the 1812 and at the end of the evening went off without a hitch. Not as impressive as Zambelli, of course, but still great fun. The singers in the choir all had winning cheerful faces and sounded rich even through the amplification.
A police escort sped the Pittsburgh Symphony’s bus motorcade to the stadium entrance through soupy heat and humidity. The hotel room window is covered with fog and condensation as the hot night meets air conditioning. No rain. I loved the food fair — like the Three Rivers Arts Festival — next to the stadium. The crowd of 35,000 was very polite and extremely quiet during the concert. There was only one short welcome speech. Even the Mayor declined to speak. More than a dozen low flying birds zoomed over the heads of the musicians while they played. The fireworks in the 1812 exploded from the rim of the stadium, but the display at the end was behind the stage putting it beyond the sight lines of many. The area in the front of the stage was filled with thousands of folding chairs, but they were more comfortable than most for an outdoor event.
PSO Music Director Manfred Honeck told me earlier today that the future of classical music may be here in Asia as the audience grows. He conducted the fastest 1812 Overture I’ve ever heard, making it even more sensational than it is by nature.
A terrific day, one of the sunniest on the tour, even if it was hot. No one gets much sleep tonight, with a 5:00 am departure. The return trip (for those not on extra side trips) heads to Taipei by China Air, then on to Tokyo and Chicago before Pittsburgh. Watch this spot for more photos, and if we can get some editing in over Memorial Day we’ll post some video clips. Thanks so much for traveling along!