Fawzi Haimor could have a stethoscope in his hands, but his main tool is a baton. He was headed toward medical school until his love of classical music began to tug harder and harder. A longtime violinist, he eventually switched his major to music, got master's degrees in conducting from the University of California-Davis and Indiana University. That was a good move: the Upper St. Clair resident is now the new assistant conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Born in Chicago, Mr. Haimor, 29, lived in Saudi Arabia (his father worked for the United Nations) until he was 11, when his family relocated to San Francisco. His father is Jordanian Lebanese, and his mother is from the Philippines. He was assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony prior to the PSO appointment. He will be responsible for conducting the PSO's education and community concerts, leading pre-concert talks and, splitting time with resident conductor Lawrence Loh, helping music director Manfred Honeck in rehearsals.
What deceased composer would you have loved to meet? Leonard Bernstein. He changed the way we listen to and appreciate music.
What living composer's music blows your mind? Lately, it's been Kevin Puts, but this answer changes frequently.
Your perfect weekend: Saturday morning, work on the yard with my wife, Houda, then take a trip to the playground with our 15-month-old daughter, Aleena, and finish off watching a movie at home that evening. The next day, Sunday brunch, followed by a Kaylooli (the traditional Middle Eastern afternoon nap), and then in the evening, get back to reading the book that I neglected all week.
Three things always in your refrigerator: Aleena's favorite flavored yogurt, Nala's leftover cat food and Kishek (a traditional Lebanese dairy-based potato soup).
What is a composition you would play "to get someone into" classical music, especially someone under 30? Probably "Symphonie Fantastique" by Hector Berlioz. It's extremely exciting, but also comes with program notes by the composer. The program notes can help guide the new listener's imagination while listening to the music.
Did you have a conductor as an idol growing up or in college? Yes, Carlos Kleiber, definitely Carlos Kleiber.
What is it like to wave your arms and get back the sound you get from a symphony orchestra -- especially the PSO? Mind-blowing. It's amazing how an orchestra, especially ours, responds to not only our gestures but they are also able to anticipate what we are thinking and what direction we are going with the music. It's evidence that mental telepathy exists.
Your favorite spot in the 'Burgh ... Home.
You have $20 and four hours to spend in Pittsburgh. What do you do? Take my daughter to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. She loves watching the penguins.
Can't live without ... Family.
Best piece of advice you've ever received ... My father always tells me, "You were given two ears and one mouth. Speak less and listen more."