Wednesday, July 08, 2009

PSO: Independence day at Hartwood Acres

[also posted to the Pittsburgh Symphony Website (give them a couple days) http://pittsburghsymphony.blogs.com/outside/]

I went to school in the north suburbs of Chicago, and every year one of the highlights was the Ravinia music festival, where the Chicago Symphony and others would perform outdoor concerts on summer nights. My friends and I would pack a picnic dinner and picnic and enjoy ourselves, and then be treated to a wonderful concert under the darkening sky.

And a friend let me know about this July 4, when PSO was playing a summer night outdoor concert not too far away from home. So we went in anticipation of just a fun concert.

PSO plays at Harrison Hills Park


For an outdoor concert it was a bit of ambitious. Strauss, and Beethoven, with a cello concerto by Herbert for the first pieces in the program, with the rest of the program the more conventional Americana of Copland, Ives, and the Armed Forces Salute. Finishing with the almost obligatory 1812 Overture and Stars and Stripes Forever.

The Strauss, Herbert and Beethoven pieces were almost trying to hard. While nice pieces, they seemed to get swallowed up in the open air and grass and trees (and the ambient noise of the park).

Copland's Variations on a Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring reminded me of Gabriela Montero's concert back in January, when she brought with her Air and Simple Gifts for its live debut after the presidential inauguration. This and the Ives Variation America provided a feel of Americana that you would want in a concert on that day.

The Armed Forces Salute as well as 1812 Overture and Stars and Stripes Forever are almost mandatory for a July 4 concert (it was getting dark by then, so I did not see our veterans stand in their turns).

But something was missing. Oh. "Musical fireworks" were advertised, but no actual fireworks??? It would have been a fun way to cap the night if this happened to be coordinated with some nearby town holding their fireworks to coincide with the last part of the show. *sigh*
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