Pittsburgh Symphony gets into gear

With the advent of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's new season, a vast, awe-inspiring realm of classical music has opened itself to its unsuspecting audience. CMU students have a special chance to discover music in a whole new form, for our local professional musicians have lined up an outstanding gamut of musical prospects. On September 9, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) showcased world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a televised blockbuster performance that gave a scintillating beginning to a promising season.

On September 16, I experienced the PSO in full blast as they ripped through Stravinsky's powerful [ITAL]Rite of Spring[ITAL]. The orchestra's powerful, primal rhythm tore consciousness and thought apart, and for the second concert of the season, the PSO put their best foot forward. If this truly is the harbinger of things to come, no amount of reason should keep anyone away from Heinz Hall this school year.

With a renewed membership from its successful subscription campaign last season, the PSO stands poised to give a knock out set of concerts. Among the season's delights are Holst's "Planets," Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, and Beethoven's Third Symphony, subtitled "Eroica." Last weekend the PSO performed Carl Orff's masterpiece [ITAL]Carmina Burana[ITAL], a review of which can be found in this issue. Jennifer Higdon, as the PSO's resident composer for the season, will have her music performed throughout the following months. Her new trombone concerto will be premiered in February, and the PSO will perform her transcendent "blue cathedral" in November as a beautiful example of good modern music. Many conductors will be joining in on the amazing season, including Hans Graf from Houston, Robert Spano from Atlanta, Christoph von Dohn?nyi from Cleveland, and Charles Dutoit.

For those who don't prefer esoteric classics, the PSO also has a great series of "pops" concerts with such selections as [ITAL]Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat[ITAL] and pieces by Cole Porter.

So instead of partying one night, try out the symphony. Here are some recommendations:

Respighi's "Pines of Rome" and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto: Nov. 10?12
Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto: Feb. 10?12
Holst's "The Planets": April 21?23
Vaughan Williams' "The Lark Ascending": April 27?30

Obviously, this does not even begin to cover all of the what the PSO has in store. Check out their website, [SLANT 12]www.pittburghsymphony.org[SLANT 12], to see a full season schedule and find out more about the most dynamic cultural force in Pittsburgh.

Historic Heinz Hall is the PSO's home, and directions are simple. All you have to do is take any 61 bus downtown with the amazing bus pass and get off at Fifth and Market. Cross the street, and few blocks later Heinz Hall will be on your right.

Need tickets? As students, everyone can go to the concert hall two hours in advance and get rush tickets for $14 with ID. If you get to Heinz Hall early enough, your seats could be astonishing. My rush ticket got me a seat nine rows from the stage! And in the two hours you have to kill, there's a Starbucks right across the street from the hall, and an informative pre-concert lecture one hour before the event. After the concert, the symphony provides a "talk-back" session to speak with other audience members and musicians of the PSO about how the performance went. The talk-back session after [ITAL]The Rite of Spring[ITAL] found everyone still buzzing from Stravinsky's intensity, and I particularly enjoyed the experience of being able to share this emotional high with others. Our conversation knocked off an entire hour without any of us noticing. It's a whole evening of good entertainment for $14 that cannot be found anywhere else.

One of the nation's top orchestras resides right here in Pittsburgh, and it is giving us all the best chance to enjoy some of the finest music known to man. The concert hall is a venue for magnificence one can access easily and affordably. With a legacy of centuries supporting the efforts of the modern orchestra, classical music concerts remain the zenith of beauty and pleasure. So take advantage of your time in Pittsburgh and go see a concert this semester!