by Lorna McGhee
As you know already, the musicians have had to learn to adapt to new performing conditions due to the pandemic, such as playing at a great distance from each other and playing outside. These changes and challenges are obvious to any observer. What is less obvious, and what we would like to honor in this newsletter is the tremendous work of our management team and hall staff who have workeed tirelessly behind the scenes to make our performing environment safe and effective. Their work has allowed the music to go ahead. They have had to adapt and go above and beyond the normal scope of their daily work and we want to take this opportunity to offer our deep gratitude.
First of all we thank all of our hall cleaning staff led by Paul Bell. We thank our symphony stage hands, Rocky Esposito, Richard Aversa, Bill Weaver and (until he retired in October) John Karapandi, who set the stage and take the time to meticulously measure the appropriate distances of our stands/chairs. They are always at the ready with disinfectant spray to clean stands and chairs when personnel move about. We know they keep us safe and they keep us smiling with their jokes and banter!
Thanks go to Mike Karapandi, our Stage Technical Director and also Tom Furey stage technician. Huge thanks to Tabitha Pfleger our VP of Orchestra Operations who along with our Personnel Manager, Beth Paine, Christian Schornich and Carl Mancuso devised such well-laid plans for logistics such as entry and exit into the Heinz Hall (as well as all of the external venues we have played at such as Hartwood Acres, Hazelwood Green, Fallingwater etc) and separate stations for each musician to unpack instruments etc., thereby controlling the environment to protect everyone from possible cross-contamination. Thank you to Carl Mancuso for coordinating aerosol and airflow tests to give us the data we need to move forward safely.
We are in awe of Beth Paine for managing incredibly intricate personnel castings for all our digital broadcasts. Normally our schedule is relatively straightforward, but for our digital episodes on any given day, Beth might have up to five or six different groups to accommodate with separate rehearsal times. On top of this each musician was given a specific check-in time for the health check prior to entering the building. This was all worked out with military precision, so that at no time would there be a bunch of people waiting in line.
We need to give a special shout out our music librarians, Lisa Gedris and Grant Johnson. While they are part of the orchestra, not the administration, the sheer administrative workload on their shoulders has been enormous. In the shift from live concert performances to digital episodes, the goalposts completely changed in terms of music licensing. Lisa and Grant worked with our VP of Artistic Planning, Mary Persin, to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle were in place so the episodes could proceed artistically as planned. Thank you, Mary Persin (Artistic Planning), Shelly Fuerte (Popular Programming), Suzanne Perrino (Learning and Community Engagement) and Byron Stripling (Principal Pops Conductor) for your thoughtful programming.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our recording engineer, Harold Chambers who worked miracles to make the sound quality of the music truly excellent despite traffic noise, crickets and the cavernous distance between us! Thank you for always making us sound great Harold! We are also grateful to Earl Lee and Andres Franco for their editing assistance. We are grateful to Ed DeArmitt for his invaluable help corralling all of our Bright Spot videos for our Extraordinary Measures.
Thank you Julie Goetz, our Director of Communications for keeping the PSO in the news! Thanks to Aleta King VP of Marketing and Sales for her assistance with the digital episodes.
Last but not least, we thank our COO Chrsitian Schörnich and CEO Melia Tourangeau for their commitment to keeping the music going in these difficult times. Thank you! We appreciate your coordination with medical professionals to keep everyone who works at the PSO safe. We give special thanks to Christian for his incredible work on the forthcoming Digital Concert Hall technology soon to be installed at Heinz Hall, providing a world class system for a world class orchestra. Congratulations! More news to come on that front! A special thanks to Melia too for showing leadership in addressing DEAI issues within our organization. This is important work and now is the time.
Most of all we are grateful to everyone for keeping the music going!! Thanks to you all from the bottom of our hearts!