Lately, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has occasionally changed programming without telling the public or even its patrons, at least not right away. Remember the Brahms symphony switch last year?
This season it has switched the program for Nov. 20-23 subscription concerts and just changed it on its Web site. Manfred Honeck was to conduct Bruckner Symphony No. 7 and now will conduct Bruckner Symphony No. 4. There's a world of difference between those works and the audience deserves to be specifically told about which one will be played, even if the fine print allows for changes in programming to be made at any time. It's not the end of the world, but a courtesy -- especially since people do fork out a lot of money to go to concerts and want to know what they are hearing, some (the hard-core fans the PSO needs) far ahead of time.
UPDATE: I changed the above a bit because I didn't mean to say that the PSO would never tell the public about the switch (Indeed, I was told today the latest season mailings had the Bruckner change and a press release is planned for about a month a head of the concert), but that the orchestra should have mentioned it to the public (not just the press) when it knew (in July, I was told). As I have said before, the PSO needs to think of the music it performs as being crucial. The PSO should consider itself on the same level as a civic institution as the Steelers or Penguins -- and news about a change in the time of a game gets reported to newspapers and the public as soon as it is known. Also, since subscribers were sold on the season back in Feb., it is important to let them know about program alterations as soon as possible -- and with specific notice, not just a change nested in the midst of other material coming out. If you think a programming note can wait a few months, you are essentially saying it is not crucial news. I think it is.
The good news is that Honeck's Bruckner Four is amazing. I heard him conduct the Vienna Symphony in it at the Musikverein and was blown away by his reconceptualizing it as a nature symphony and not a grand work in the now typical Brucknerian tradition. So you are in for a treat. I just wish we had been notified about it when the change happened. Hopefully that process can be developed.
On a positive note, on the Web site, the PSO's VP of artistic planning Robert Moir is now providing nice commentary on the subscription programs. They are brief and could be enhanced, but they give a good overview of the composers and pieces and are a welcome addition.