'Arlington Sons' changes Pittsburgh Symphony plans
It was opportunity that led Leonard Slatkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to change their plans for his first concerts of the season.
Usually, changes result from a soloist becoming unavailable, either because of an illness or a scheduling conflict, or, more rarely, because a new work isn't finished on time.
Instead, the symphony seized the opportunity to give the world premiere of the orchestral version of Scott Eyerly's “Arlington Sons,” a unique score for father and son singers exploring family, honor and patriotism.
Slatkin will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in concerts featuring pianist Olga Kern and singers Richard and David Pittsinger on Friday through Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown.
The lyrical qualities of “Arlington Sons” will provide a good contrast, Slatkin says, with the music that follows — William Schuman's highly dramatic Symphony No. 3. The Schuman is an American classic, written in 1940-41, which Slatkin studied in high school after being turned on to it by Leonard Bernstein's first recording with the New York Philharmonic.
Kern, who gave a remarkable account of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Slatkin here in October 2010, will play the Russian composer's much-bigger and more-popular Piano Concerto No. 3 to complete the concert.
“Arlington Sons” is an inspired gift from father to son.
“It stemmed really from my work on Broadway and at the (Metropolitan Opera) at the same time,” bass-baritone David Pittsinger says. There were days when he performed “South Pacific” in the afternoon and “Hamlet” in the evening. Pittsinger sang a dozen roles with Pittsburgh Opera from 1986 to 2008, including Sarastro in “The Magic Flute” in 1990.
“My son, Richard, lives in New York City, boarding at the St. Thomas Choir School — where he is soloist and head chorister. He saw what a ride I was on,” Pittsinger says.
At the same time, the senior Pittsinger was “in awe” of the musical progress Richard was making. In wondering what he could give his son that would mean something, he began talking with Eyerly, his son's music-theory teacher and a member of the Juilliard School faculty.
“I knew Scott Eyerly's work as a composer, and he knew my voice and Richard's voice. It seemed a perfect fit,” Pittsinger says. He had realized that what he wanted was a piece about fathers and sons to perform with his son, “a piece of Americana, and art song or an operatic scene.”
In talking with the Pittsingers, Eyerly heard about a family visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where David's father, Richard Mayne Pittsinger, had served as a member of the honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. The visit served to introduce the younger Richard and his twin sister, Maria, to a grandfather they had never known.
The composer knew it was time for him to revisit Arlington. He wrote notes of his impressions on the train ride back to New York City from Washington, thoughts and images grew into the text and music of the piece.
“Arlington Sons” was performed on 9/11 this year at the Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church — near where the World Trade Centers stood — by the West Point Band and New York Philharmonic principal cellist Carter Brey. The experience taught David Pittsinger a practical lesson, that “in order to perform this piece, you have to keep your emotions in check.”
Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Kaboly: Steelers fill biggest needs by drafting defensive players
- Kennywood Park opening day ends early because of disruptive crowd
- Bird flu ravaging commercial flocks remains mysterious
- Penn State tight end James, a South Allegheny grad, goes to Steelers in 5th round
- Off and running: Marathon takes over streets of Pittsburgh
- Steelers notebook: Harrison will play fewer snaps this season
- Rossi: Pittsburgh could show NFL a draft party
- Njoroge wins Pittsburgh Marathon; Santucci repeats as women’s winner
- Residents return to fire-damaged highrise in Wilkins
- Coroner called to Hempfield car crash
- Steelers get their corner with Mississippi’s Golson