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What would a Stanley Cup-style PSO parade look like?

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

In June, when I was tweeting about the Penguins' Stanley Cup parade, Pittsburgh composer John Arrigo-Nelson jokingly replied, "This reminded me of the parade the city threw for the PSO when they returned from their European tour last year."

Well, a few Twitter messages later, John, who works with contemporary music group Alia Musica Pittsburgh, sent me a short, Onion-esque news story about a Pittsburgh Symphony welcome-home parade. Turns out he's contemplated the intersection of classical music, sports and comedy before. 

"My friend and I have an idea (more a joke-concept) for a sports-classical music mashup podcast and blog called Pardon the Intermezzo," he told me.

The PSO's 2017 European festivals tour starts Aug. 28, so now is a great time for Pittsburghers to start planning for the orchestra's parade. It's bound to attract the 650,000 people who supposedly showed up for the Penguins' parade. 

Here's how John imagines the PSO parade will go (and feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments): 

It was a spectacle with which Pittsburghers have become quite familiar: this city's beloved champions proudly rolling down Grant Street in resplendent victory after another successful season. Even as the cheers and chants from last year's parade were still reverberating, the time had come, yet again, to celebrate the triumphant return of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from its riveting European tour.

On this sunny and hot afternoon, an estimated 800,000 people showed up to see their heroes in person, and to catch a glimpse of Lord Haydn's Cup.

"We made the trip up from North Carolina to be here for this," said Dale Kovarsko, a Pittsburgh transplant and die-hard PSO fan. "We loaded up the minivan and put the Strauss Tone Poems CD on repeat and made it in one shot."

While PSO fans were certainly revved up for the celebration, it was clear that the players, too, were thrilled to be back on home turf again. Noted for being laser-focused and locked in all season long, PSO music director Manfred Honek, who conducted the orchestra in five European countries, could finally let loose after reaching the summit yet again. As fans chanted his name in unison, the elated Austrian conductor ripped off his tuxedo jacket and hoisted the Cup high for all to behold, lowering it only to take a big, splashing gulp.

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The Connecticut Yankee's eclipse

Written by Peter Smith on .

Eclipse Day brings to mind Mark Twain's 1889 novel "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." It gets less attention than "Huckleberry Finn" but is as pertinent to modern times as that anti-racist classic. (And after events earlier this month, we need Huck as much as ever.)

"A Connecticut Yankee" begins as a farce and ends as a bleak modern tragedy. A 19th century practical-minded New Englander, Hank Morgan, finds himself transported back to the days of Camelot, where the strange outsider is immediately condemned to burn at the stake. It just so happens that he knows his astronomical tables, however, and that his execution date coincides with a solar eclipse. So he warns the court that if he's killed, he'll blot out the sun. When he appears to be making good on his threat, he gets a reprieve and he agrees to return the sun.

Much of the book is then taken up by his war against superstition (represented by Merlin) and religious monopoly (the medieval Catholic Church) and in favor of industrial and scientific progress. England gets an industrial revolution centuries ahead of its real one. It all sounds good until an army of knights makes war upon Morgan and his fellow advanced thinkers. Morgan sets up a defense of electrified wires and guns, and any last vestiges of romantic Arthurian escapism in the novel are lost. There's a wholesale slaughter of the knights, supposedly in a good cause, but Morgan and his supporters are ultimately trapped by the heaping, decaying bodies, and it doesn't end well.

The scenario describes uncannily well what would happen a quarter century later with the trench slaughters of World War I. And if anyone doubted the dark side of technological progress, the industrialized genocide of Nazi Germany proved it all too well.

The novel ends with less hope than love. After the pyrrhic victory -- spoiler alert -- Morgan lies dying, muttering calls to his one true love, the medieval lady he nicknamed Sandy.

Twain was an unapologetic skeptic of religion, and is often depicted by secular groups in their pantheon, or, pan-atheon, of heroes. But he also sounded an alarm about unintended consequences.

 

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Budget Collapse

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai has mentioned in passing that he might be interested in running for Governor of this great Commonwealth. That's like the iceberg applying to be captain of the Titanic. 

20170821 Budget Collapse

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Solar Eclipse

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Dark days are upon us ... dark days indeed. 

20170820 Solar Eclipse

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GOP Statue

Written by Rob Rogers on .

I know the GOP members of Congress are afraid of Donald Trump because they saw what he did to the republicans who challenged him in the primary, but come on! White Supremacists murdered a woman in broad daylight and he comforted the White Supremacists! What does he have to do? 

20170818 GOP Statue

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