I had the pleasure of interviewing Pavilion Talk’s Ira Black this past week and what a great time it was. When I first came to The Pavilion and heard of Pavilion Talk, I thought there was no way this guy can make Mozart sound fun. Luckily, he proved me wrong. Ira’s “pre-game warm ups,” as he likes to call them, are fun and engaging. His passion for the fine arts is so contagious that he makes you ten times more excited for whatever performance is lined up that evening. A completely down-to-earth guy, he has a great sense of humor that made talking to him exciting. Check out his interview below and make sure to stop by the next Pavilion Talk before most performing arts shows at The Pavilion!
Can you tell us a little about your background?
“I have two university degrees in English, one in theatre philosophy (doctoral level). Retired teacher of high school and college. Spent 25 years at Houston Community College and 10 years in classical music fine arts broadcast. I was operations manager for a radio station that doesn’t exist anymore, an actor and a writer. I’ve had a checkered career. In the middle of that are three wives and two sons. My greatest achievement, that I’ve had nothing to do with, is my grandchildren.”
How long have you been doing Pavilion Talk?
“I think I started doing it when The Pavilion started doing classical concerts. I have a long-term relationship with the Houston Symphony, because I do their pre-concert talks. I prefer to call them pre-game warm ups. I don’t like concert talks. It makes people sit up straight, straighten their ties and zip their flies.”
Can you tell me how Pavilion Talk came to be?
“What I think may have happened, and this is very convoluted. In radio I was doing a lot of interviews with people in the arts and basically encouraging the arts. What I did is what KUHA does and does so well. Now that ended in 1986, but I had a TV show on cable through the college and I believe David Gottleib (former Pavilion CEO) was my guest, because The Pavilion was just opening. I was thinking, ‘Great, let’s give them prom. This is a great new venue.’ I think that’s where my relationship started. He knew about my work in the city because back at that time I had certain notoriety, much like Jack the Ripper did, and then things got rolling here. He really wanted to establish this, as George Mitchell did, as a cultural center.”
What is it about theater that draws you to it?
What has been your most memorable moment while leading Pavilion Talk?
What has been your favorite show at The Pavilion that you’ve attended?
What would you say is the best part about working at The Pavilion?
Most important question ever…Dr. Pepper or Root Beer?
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
“’Magic Flute’ by Mozart; it’s a spiritual trip. When I have been down, it has brought me back. I’ve got three videos and several recordings of it.”