Concerts

Reviews of professional, semi-professional and university ensemble concerts.


  • Unbelievable Performances

    The first time I had the occasion to watch a broadcast of The Kennedy Center Honors was in December of 2012 when, among others, Led Zeppelin were recipients. Wow! Since then, I’ve watched every award broadcast (this year, Martha Argerich, The Eagles, Al Pacino, Mavis Staples, and James Taylor will be honored) and researched back many years – many performances are available on Youtube. In short, The Kennedy Center Honors are the finest produced award shows you will ever witness. I have listed below my favorites, some are artist introductions, most are wonderful, heart-stopping performances. Please watch all of these…

  • PSO – J.S. Bach: St. John Passion

    Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra March 6, 2016 J.S. Bach: St. John Passion Manfred Honeck, conductor Sam Helfrich, director Vocalists: Martin Lattke, Paul Armin Edelmann, Sunhae Im, Andrey Nemzer, Thomas Cooley, Lucas Meachem, Alexander Elliott, Jeffrey Klefstad, Amelia D’Arcy, Jonathan MacDonald The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh Bach, Beethoven and Brahms – the classical music triumvirate, the original killer B’s. I have been a huge fan of J.S. Bach’s music since I had the opportunity to sing his B Minor Mass as an undergraduate music student in Cincinnati. Universally acknowledged as a genius, his music is not programmed by symphony orchestras as much…

  • PSO – Conrad Tao: Pángu

    Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra November 1, 2015 Tao: Pángu Gershwin: Concerto in F major for Piano and Orchestra Strauss: Symphonia Domestica Conrad Tao: Pángu When I select PSO concerts each season to include in my subscription, as a composer, I naturally focus on concerts that include contemporary works. And so my primary interest in this concert was Conrad Tao’s Pángu. Pángu is a short, concert overture length work (7 minutes) for full orchestra. The composer’s program notes first relate the Chinese creation myth of Pángu and then proceed to detail how the composition reflects various aspects of the myth. Pángu is…

  • Casablanca

    Casablanca Released: January 23, 1943 Michael Curtiz, director Max Steiner, composer I’m embarrassed to say that, until the PSO presented it on February 15th, I had not seen the movie Casablanca. I understood well that it is a classic; among the finest movies created, but while I love movies, most of my collection is post-2000. I am a huge fan of film scores, however, and am actually in the process of developing a continuing education course on the history of film scores. So when I received an email from the PSO announcing that they would be presenting Casablanca at Heinz Hall with…

  • Pittsburgh Camerata: Dec 20, 2014

    Pittsburgh Camerata Recounting the Nativity St. Andrews Episcopal Church This was the one concert on my list that I anticipated most. I’ve had the pleasure to sing with the Pittsburgh Camerata and was their assistant conductor for a year back in the early 1990’s. It was the most polished ensemble I ever had the opportunity to conduct and I had a blast. The Camerata was a semi-professional choir back then; it is a fully paid, professional ensemble now and their sound yesterday evening was wonderful. For me, the litmus test for a choir’s sound, professional or not, is the tenor…

  • Duquesne Choirs: Oct 17, 2014

    Duquesne Choir Concert Epiphany Catholic Church General Comments The choice of concert venue has a huge effect on how a program will sound. Epiphany Church’s sanctuary offers ample reverberation and such live acoustics are a pleasure to sing in. It helps carry the voice throughout the entire space and can take the edge off any harshness while adding smoothness and warmth to a choral sound. For a relatively small group performing vocally demanding works such as Brahms’ How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings or Copland’s The Promise of Living, live acoustics are a huge help. But they can also have detrimental…

  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: Sept 21, 2014

    Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Mason Bates: Rusty Air in Carolina (2006) Sergei Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934) Johann Sebastian Bach: Air from Suite No. 3 (performed in memory of Lorin Maazel) Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique (1830) Bates: Rusty Air in Carolina My main interest in this concert was the work of Mason Bates. Bates, the Pittsburgh Symphony Composer of the Year for their 2012-2013 season, has been brought back in that same role for the 2014-2015 season. What I admire about Mason Bates is his commitment to and passion for merging electronically generated sounds with the acoustic sounds…

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