Pittsburgh Symphony takes Stock in its BNY Mellon Grand Classics opener
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's annual gala was the appetizer for a season of classic orchestral music — old and new, some with instrumental soloists or singers, and with a wide array of conductors on the podium.
While top orchestras have recognizable characteristics, they also are chameleons ready to change personality and style according to the music they play as seen by the conductors.
Music director Manfred Honeck will conduct three vocal soloists (Lisette Oraposa, Andrey Nemzer and Hugh Russell), the Mendelssohn Choir and the Pittsburgh Symphony for the start of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics series at concerts Oct. 4 to 6 at Heinz Hall, Downtown. The program is Ludwig van Beethoven's “Fidelio” Overture, the world premiere of David Stock's Symphony No. 6 and Carl Orff's “Carmina Burana.”
The Orff is the marketing attraction, a big, colorful and highly rhythmic 20th-century setting of medieval song texts that have been recorded dozens of times and been used in film, television and commercials.
But the symphony's opening program highlights this season as the year of Pittsburgh composers, starting with the world premiere of Stock's Sixth Symphony, which was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Stock is a Pittsburgh native who founded the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and led it for 23 years, and also founded the Duquesne University New Music Ensemble, which he led for 19 years. He also taught composition at Duquesne.
Stock completed his new symphony in March, after working on it for about six months. It is in three movements — the first quite rhythmical, the second encompassing the most diverse material, and the finale filled with Jewish music.
Stock has found that the influence of his Jewish heritage can't be avoided. It's present in his Symphony No. 3, his as-yet-unperformed Cello Concerto, in which the solo instrument is very cantorial, and other pieces.
In the case of his Sixth Symphony, Stock says he had no idea where he would go to in the third movement and what came out were Jewish melodies, such as the prayer “Shema Yisrael.”
The long horn solo in the last movement is “literally, note for note, the blessing before the reading of the Torah,” he says.
A lifetime of composing has taught Stock to respect the mystery of creation.
“There are composers who have to plan things in advance, but I always tell my students you have to listen to what the piece wants,” he says. “The piece will tell you where it wants to go. I'm not a preparer, in the main. I sometimes know what the outcome will be. I think one is foolish to resist that.”
Stock grew up in Stanton Heights and graduated from Peabody High School and Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University.
“I'm only the second-best conductor to graduate from Peabody,” he says. Lorin Maazel graduated from the same school, and “I had no chance to reach his level,” he says.
“If anyone had told me 40 years ago that Celia and I would spend most of our adult lives here, I would not have believed them,” Stock says. They returned to Pittsburgh in 1975 after a “hideous” year in Cleveland, which followed several years in Boston while Stock was a graduate student and a year in London on a fellowship.
They live in a condo near Chatham University, having sold their home on Darlington Road in Squirrel Hill more than three years ago.
The Stocks have three grown children and seven grandchildren. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary shortly after the premiere with a trip to Chile.
Mark Kanny is classical music critic
for Trib Total Media. He can be
reached at 412-320-7877 or
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rusted Root will headline the Allegheny County Music Festival
- Classics radio still has a home on Western Pennsylvania dials