Sep 05 2017

Pittsburgh at the Proms

Published by at 3:11 am under PSO 2017 European Tour

The Beatles suggested in A Day in the Life that we now know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. Albert’s  hall was filled with fans of the Pittsburgh Symphony  September 4 from the prommers standing 800 or more at the front of the stage in the Arena to the seven levels of seating with more standing at the top most level. They cheered, they stomped, they heard a Bach encore from Anne Sophie Mutter after her Dvorak Concerto and two more encores by Johann Strauss after the Mahler First Symphony on the second half. The horns stand dramatically and tilt the bells of their instruments to the side in the last few measures making you feel like the roof could blow off. It all went out live on BBC Radio 3. You can hear it on demand for the next month by simply Googling BBC Proms Pittsburgh Symphony. The BBC’s Petroc Trelawny who hosts morning drive and conductor Nick Chalmers were the hosts. They sit near the stage in a box on the audience left describing the action.

The prommers occasionally chant statements in unison. This evening they encouraged the audience to contribute to their benevolence fund saying that they had raised 97,000. pounds so far.

Anne Sophie Mutter

Anne Sophie Mutter was radiant as ever in a fire engine red gown, harmonious with the burgundy and  red details in the color scheme of the hall.

The prommers in the Arena standing throughout

I sat next to Associate Conductor Francesco Lecce Chong and Westmoreland  Symphony/Duquesne University/ Erie Philharmonic/Asheville Symphony Music Director Daniel Meyer and his son Leo. Behind me was Bill Flanagan of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and Allegheny Conference who we have seen on Channel 11 Sunday mornings for the past thirty years. Bill was next to Rebecca Bagley the Vice Chancellor for Economic Partnerships at the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Katrina Kelly-Pitou, the Manager for Strategy and Business Development at the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt with expertise in Electrical Engineering and representing the Center for Energy at Pitt. They’ve put together a panel discussion with experts in the field of energy creation taking place at K and L Gates in London to tell European business leaders Pittsburgh’s energy story as the birthplace of power generation going back to  Westinghouse and Tesla and how the city manages its power resources for growth today.

They’d all been in the hall early in the prince of Wales Room talking up Pittsburgh to potential business partners. I met Tony Griffiths, Managing Partner for Europe and the Middle East at K and L Gates, one of Pittsburgh’s largest international law firms with his wife Janet. Tony works with Bob Zinn who we see at Pittsburgh Symphony concerts where he serves as board member and whose wife Darlene was a producer for WQED-FM working on our concert broadcasts recorded in the area. The patrons and friends were out in force to greet London guests including John and Carol Walton, Jim and Cheryl Redmond, Joanne Rogers, Holly Wald, Ali Gelormino,Frank and Angela Grebowski, PSO Board Chief Devin McGranahan,  Jim and Jane Knox (parents of Principal tuba Craig Knox) , Ann and Chris Donahue and Rick and Laurie Johnson. They made it backstage to congratulate Manfred Honeck.

Tony Griffiths,K and L Gates Managing Partner Europe and the Middle East with Janet

Bill Flanagan, Chief Corporate Relations Officer for the PRA on right with Richard Kilner, Managing Director of the European Investment Office, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Alvaro Alamillo Head of International Partnerships for Santander

PSO Board Chief Declan McGranahan with Barbara Egan, Frnak and Angela Grabowski, Jon and Carol Walton and Melia Tourangeau PSO CEO

PSO Associate Conductor Francesco Lecce Chong

Manfred Honeck with Principal Tuba Craig Knox and Jim and Jane Knox

Joanne Rogers

Ali Gelormino

Craig Knox and his Mom and Dad with Manfred Honeck

The Pittsburgh Symphony had a full rehearsal from 11 to 12:30 under the watchful eye of the founder of the proms Sir Henry Wood. I enjoyed speaking with David Patrick, BBC Proms Director, who formerly lead the Glyndeborn Festival and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  David welcomed the orchestra at rehearsal and expressed delight at hearing the Pittsburgh Symphony for the first time in person. He is feeling good about the future of classical music presiding over an operation that touches millions around the world. Bass Jeff Grubbs was onstage delighted to share Dvorak, John Adams, Mahler and Johann Srauss Jr.

BBC Proms Director David Patrick

Anne Sophie Mutter rehearsing Dvorak’s Violin Concerto

The statue of Proms founder Sir Henry Wood

Starburst Magazine backstage at the Royal Albert Hall

Story Title “Father of the Dead”

Pittsburgh Symphony Bass Jeff Grubbs

While waiting backstage to interview David Patrick, the Royal Albert Hall stage door guard offered me a new glossy magazine to read, Starburst, with coverage of science fiction and cult films. George Romero, the creator of the Zombie craze with his Night of the Living Dead was the first article in the magazine. George used the money he earned in public television working at WQED for Fred Rogers making films on subjects such as how light bulbs were made to finance production of his ground breaking film. That movie starred Karl Hardman who appeared in a documentary produced by WQED-FM on the Spanish Civil War.