by Christopher Wu
One of the most unique aspects of the Pittsburgh Symphony family are the close relationships that have developed between board members and musicians. Music can draw people together, but it is undoubtedly the friendships that have helped the organization grow.
I met Doug Stirling playing hockey a number of years ago. At first, he mistakenly thought I was the tuba player of the PSO and started calling me Tuba Wu on the ice and to all of our teammates! Not sure if it was old age or wisdom but, thankfully, our collective hockey careers ended after a couple of seasons. However, Doug continued to inquire about the orchestra and was very keen about concerts and music education for his children. At the time, fellow PSO violinist Susanne Park and I served on the board development committee and, inspired by his love of music, encouraged Doug to join the board.
There is a saying that good friends bring joy into your life, and great friends bring music. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has a great friend in board member Doug Stirling. In September, Doug helped organize and sponsor a wonderful concert at Allegheny Country Club that brought together musicians, board members, friends and families. It was a fun-filled evening that raised over $35,000 for the PSO and, more importantly, gave people a rare opportunity to come together as a community through music.
The vision for the evening was conceived during various rounds of golf and the strong desire to bring people together during this pandemic. After weeks of conversations about safety and logistics, the appointed evening finally kicked off with a FaceTime welcome from Sweden by PSO Music Director Manfred Honeck. Music of Mozart, Rossini, Gershwin and Pittsburgh composer Michael Moricz followed and filled the hills of Sewickley. There was even a surprise guest appearance by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Steve Thomas singing “Your Song” by Elton John. The guests were treated to delightful food and drinks and interspersed with the music were wonderful stories about the PSO and the evening concluded with an encore of music by Copland.
We are so grateful to Doug for his thoughtfulness, generosity and friendship. It was a blessing to experience joy, laughter and great music during these trying times. Music is certainly a gift that unites and it is the sincere hope of all of the Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony, that we will be able to continue to share this gift throughout our beloved City of Champions……….Pittsburgh.