By Susanne Park
There are many components that go into making a “night out” into something special for our listeners. Our primary goal, of course, is to always give our audiences a great concert. As the Musicians of the PSO, we endeavour to give you more than just what’s written in the music; our goal is to create transformative experiences, to take you with us beyond the boundaries of the ordinary, shake off the dust of a long day and have you leave Heinz Hall feeling somehow changed. This is what we have trained our entire lives to do; share the regenerative power of music.
A great concert experience, however, begins before the first note is played. It begins the moment you enter our doors, with the first person who welcomes you into our hall. This is why we chose Dennis Walker as the recipient for this month’s Bouquet. Dennis has been a doorman at Heinz Hall since 2010, and his warm greeting brings a smile to concertgoers and passersby alike. His responsibilities often require him to remain until the last concertgoer has departed, so he listens to concerts either in the hall or over the internal audio system. Though he grew up listening to soul and jazz, he has developed a healthy appreciation for classical music over the last decade. He learned to play trumpet, guitar, and piano as a youth, but his great passion is photography. From onstage we’ve often seen extra thoughtful gestures from him such as bringing wheelchairs to the seats of solo patrons before the applause has ended, so that they can get a head start on exiting crowds. We’ve seen people on the street greet him as they would an old friend; when asked about their relationship to Dennis, some of the responses we’ve gotten have been, ”Oh, I don’t know him at all except from coming to events downtown for years. I try to stop by and say hi even if I’m headed somewhere else, because he’s such a nice guy,” and “Dennis always has a smile and friendly word for us.”
When he’s not having a chat with a patron, you’ll often see him telling passersby, “Come hear your world class Pittsburgh Symphony tonight! They’re playing (insert composer name) tonight and you don’t want to miss it. Come on in.”
There are many great folks who make up our organisation, working behind the scenes to help us do what we do best, and we appreciate them all. But we’re especially grateful to have an exceptional member of the PSO family out front, making all who enter Heinz Hall feel special right from the start. In his own words; “We, here in this entire region, are so fortunate to have a world class, world renowned classical orchestra to appreciate and educate us to the value of an art form that has and will forever remain and survive the test of time because of its greatness.”