Mood in Munhall anything but blue for concert treat
August 9, 2013 4:00 AM
The Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall.
By Susanna Fussenegger
Thursday mornings are my favorite. As an early morning reader of the Post-Gazette, coffee mug in hand, I get to open the paper that is thicker and fuller than it is on any other day except Sunday.
On Thursday it reports to me more news from around the world or from the next street over. I read about happenings I already saw on TV the night before, yet in print they speak to me more, and I have things to share around the water cooler.
And sometimes, the news leads me to pure joy! This is exactly what happened last week.
It being a Thursday, I could peruse the Weekend Magazine for shows, movies, fairs galore and previews of not-to-be-missed upcoming events. It tells me whether I need to buy tickets online in a hurry, for seats are scooped up in minutes if the artist is well known or special.
As I turned the page, I saw a humble line about an event coming up at Carnegie Music Hall. I was thinking, "In Oakland, right?" but with a quick reread I noticed this was not in Oakland at all, but the Carnegie Library Music Hall -- also built by the generosity of our Andrew Carnegie, but this one located in Munhall.
"Here I thought I knew my city well," I mumbled in surprise.
The information that really grabbed me was the artist who was to perform there : the lead singer of -- "Oh my God!" -- The Moody Blues! The "Nights in White Satin" Moody Blues!
I was online in an instant, and PayPal helped me purchase the surprisingly affordable and available seats. My husband and I crossed the Homestead High Level Bridge the very next day, and we were also crossing our fingers that the artist, Justin Hayward, still had The Voice. He must be our age, after all, and possibly a grandpa himself!
Turning off the main avenue at the prompting of our iPhone GPS, we found ourselves on a steep hillside street in front of an imposingly beautiful building overseeing a stately old neighborhood.
Pittsburgh's fabulous past surrounded us. The theater itself was another surprise. Intimate yet grand, historic and elegant. A carved golden balcony loomed above us, and the plush red curtains framed a stage with slender organ pipes on one side and the most modern sound equipment in the middle, reassuring us that this was the 21st century after all.
The old-fashioned wooden seats were full, and there was a hushed excitement in the house. We were a seasoned audience, full of nostalgia and anticipation. As we stared at the softly lit stage, a tall gentleman in everyday jeans and a turtleneck walked up to the microphone.
There in front of us stood The Artist! The surprised roar of our applause at that moment could be heard as far as Oakland, I'm sure. The music began with his famous "Tuesday Afternoon," and in that minute we knew -- the man still had his glorious voice.
First he mesmerized us with his new compositions. We did not mind at all, for they were lovely. He sure captivated us, as did the young musicians around him who seemed to be not making -- but actually painting -- music.
He entertained us with heartfelt tales from his life in England's exciting 1970s music scene. With each song his voice became warmer and more soaring then the one before, all enhanced by the glorious acoustics of that old hall.
On our feet, stomping and applauding after each melody, we feverishly anticipated the grand finale. We were dying to hear that one song we always turn up to full blast in the car when lucky enough to catch it on the oldies radio station.
And then came the magical opening chords of "Nights In White Satin"! Ah, he knew it well, of course. His young musicians knew it too, as the keyboardist had given us little hints all night long that it was coming. Our collective anticipation by that time was at a fever pitch.
The humble man on stage in jeans and turtleneck finally bent down and picked up his special guitar, leaned over the microphone, and ever so slowly sang as soulfully as he did when he was young -- and when we were young like him.
Oh, the music of our glorious youth! I wish Mr. Andrew Carnegie were there, too. He would have been glad that he built that hall for us.
Susanna Fussnegger, a counselor from Harmar, can be reached at email@example.com.The PG Portfolio welcomes "Raves" submissions about favorite Pittsburgh experiences and places, in addition to other reader essays. Send your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222. Portfolio editor Gary Rotstein may be reached at 412-263-1255.