The Pittsburgh Symphony's 2013-14 classical season wrapped up this weekend with a great show of all-Strauss works in honor of the composer's 150th birthday. In my review, I couldn't go into a couple of things that were somewhat outside of the music.
First, I mentioned PSO retirements but didn't say who was bowing out from the orchestra. They are:
Irvin Kauffman (cello; 50 years)
Lauren Scott Mallory (cello; 45 years)
David Gillis (violin; 42 years)
Hampton Mallory (cello; 36 years)
Ronald Schneider (horn; 36 years)
Gail Czajkowski (cello; 35 years)
Damian Bursill-Hall (flute; 17 years)
Speaking of musicians, the PSO put together this pre-concert video explaining the trials and tribulations of playing Strauss. It is light-hearted and fun, and gave a few insights into the musical process. For example, violinist Christopher Wu guessed that every PSO violinist had played "Don Juan" at least 1,000 times, since it is on the repertoire lists of most orchestra auditions.
I'm always for efforts to expose the audience to the behind-the-scenes nature of performing classical music. The PSO also presented a video of the local composers who had contributed to group composition "The Elements" earlier this year; it also presented two in-concert "lectures" as part of its Behind the Notes series. Other organizations such as Pittsburgh Opera make similar efforts to deepen the musical experience through education and casual gatherings. I was chatting with two subscribers sitting next to me at Heinz Hall Friday night and asked what they thought of the video, given that they're already committed to the concerts and presumably already very learned listeners. One said she appreciated the video; she thinks classical musical organizations ought to do these sorts of things to bring in new listeners. I agree: the more the merrier.