Monday, March 20, 2017

Carlynton Community Arts Extravaganza

Landscape, Jaime Williams 8th Grade

 Students at the Carlynton School District are getting a chance to exhibit their work at a prime venue in Carnegie.  More than 90 pieces of art will be on display, enhanced by several performances by student instrumentalists.

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie Studio is an ideal venue to showcase student artistry -- and the behind the scenes dedication, talent and commitment of their terrific teachers!

March 24, 6:00 - 9:00
March 25, 11:00 - 5:00
Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall,300 Beechwood Avenue in Carnegie
Phone 412-276-3456

(The art will remain in the ACFL&MH Studio through the community Open House on  April 2.)

2nd Grade Arttists
Indya Hainesworthe and Alexis Kowal, Both 12th Grade

Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Daddy Long Legs" Spins a Web of Romantic Duplicity

Danielle Bowen and Allan Snyder Star in "Daddy Long Legs" Credit: Michael Henninger

Mention the words orphan and theater in the same breath and most people will think "Annie," the perennially popular musical about a spunky redheaded waif whose life is changed by a beneficent protégé.

Thanks to the efforts of the staff at Pittsburgh Public Theater, area audiences are now getting their first look at another orphan girl, this one a little more mature and reserved than her brash younger counterpart.

The setting for "Daddy Long Legs" is 1908-1912 New England, and the two character musical. certainly evokes the mood and sensibility of the period. The lights go up on the oldest orphan in the John Grier Home, the graceful, poised 18-year-old Jerusha Abbott. Parent-less from birth whoever named her borrowed her first name from a tombstone inscription, her last from one of the first entries in a phone book.

Early on she eyes a Daddy Long Legs spider crawling about in her room. Soon after, she fleetingly spies the long and slim shadow of one of the orphanage trustees as he walks away. It belongs to Jervis Pendleton, a man soon to become her benefactor.

Into her rather humdrum existence comes a consequential message that promises a way out of her dead end life. An anonymous donor preferring to go by the name John Smith has decided to finance her way through a prestigious college. The only catches are that she must write him one letter each month, that they never meet and that he will never respond to her missives.

The structure of the narrative is rather unusual in that it’s not only almost entirely sung but also that the dialogue consists almost solely of the contents of Jerusha’s letters, either as she pens them or as Jervis reads them. As she discloses to her benefactor her coming-of-age experiences - learning French, making consequential friends at school, spending the summer on a farm, writing a first novel and visiting Manhattan for the first time, Jervis is drawn in by her prose and becomes first curious, then attracted, then controlling and manipulative of his charge, ten years younger than himself.

Providing the musical accompaniment to the play’s nearly two dozen songs is a trio made up of  a piano, cello and guitar, played by musicians who sit stage left and perform  solidly under the command of music director F. Wade Russo. As befitting the tone of the musical, the songs are both simple and pleasant enough but lack variance and "memorability."

Danielle Bowen  is a glowing and optimistic Jerusha who comes with a sweet disposition, a probing intellect and an active imagination. She sees her benefactor as a tall and gangly octogenarian and wonders, then comes right out and asks in a letter, is he bald? Is he old?

Little does she know what the audience knows - that he’s neither. When Jervis comes to visit her on surreptitious occasions under the guise if visiting his niece, who’s also a student at the same college, he grows ever more attracted to her. She in turn, develops an ever-growing affection for him and writes of her maturing esteem and regard for him in letters to her benefactor.

Despite his wealth and prominence, Jervis is neither bloated not pretentious. Instead, Allan Snyder imbues his character with down-to-earth sensibilities, although he’s not above deviousness when interfering with Jerusha’s plans that involved a male friend and possible rival she’s encountered.

A Dulcet Duet Credit: Michael Henninger
World’s apart socially and economically, the two characters are also separated on stage. Jervis occupies the upper back half of the proscenium where set designer, Michael Schweikardt, creates a handsome study with volumes of books lining the backdrop of shelves. Meanwhile, Jerusha moves around the front of the stage going from chest to chest, pulling out props and costumes when needed and singing rhapsodically with a sunny disposition.

Both actors are making their Public Theater debut, have splendid singing voices that are especially resonant in duet and are buttressed by the solid direction of Ted Pappas, the theater’s producing artistic director..

With motifs akin to "Cinderella" and "My Fair Lady," one of the play’s major themes could be women’s role in society. Set in the era before the fairer sex had the right to vote and when not many attended college, Jerusha questions her inability to participate fully in political life and pursue a career that goes much beyond housewifery.

Near the end of the musical, when Jerusha is rudely awakened to the reality of Jervis’ duplicity, she, embarrassed by her confidential and intimate admissions to her benefactor, recoils in shame and disgust. Her drawing back seems an imposing obstacle to further romance that cannot be resolved.

Like the patron who walked out of the theater before me wondering to his partner how the playwright could overcome this plot-blocking hurdle, I tried to untangle this Gordian knot in my own mind in the waning moments of the play. Alas, to no avail, and I left that job to the playwright.

Speaking of which, John Caird is credited with writing the book, abetted by Paul Gordon, who wrote the music and lyrics. The duo penned the Tony Award-nominated musical, "Jane Eyre," based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel about yet another orphan. If you go, you can read their impressive credentials in the playbill.

The story has even deeper roots that go back to a novel of the same title written in 1912 by Jean Webster, the grand-niece of Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain.
Seven years after the book was published, actress Mary Pickford was cast in a silent film version. Years later, in 1955, Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron starred in another rendering loosely based on the book.

This feel-good, benign story of an eccentric romantic entanglement is appropriate for all ages and will probably appeal most to a certain more sedate segment of the theater audience. But for those looking for more in the way of dramatic action, a bit of emotional tension and a more complicated and challenging plot, the show might induce a mild sense of arachnophobia.

"Daddy Long Legs," a Pittsburgh Public Theater production, is at the O’Reilly Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh through April 9. For tickets, phone 412-316-1600 or order online at

PSO to Feature Works by Mussorgsky, Ravel and Paganini

Guest Conductor Lionel Bringuier Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents master works from Mussorgsky, Ravel and Paganini during the BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” March 31 and April 2 at Heinz Hall.

Originally a suite of 10 piano pieces, Modest Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition in grief-stricken tribute to his friend, artist Victor Hartmann, who died at only 39 years old. The piece walks the audience through the 10 pieces in an exhibition of Hartmann’s work that took place in spring 1874. Maurice Ravel’s 1922 orchestration is a model for technical genius, interpretation and respect for the composer, as well as a stunning display for the virtuosity of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Principal Viola Randolph Kelly will shine in Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola, a showpiece that was given its Pittsburgh subscription premiere by Kelly in 1987. The program opens with another piece by Ravel, Ma Mere l’Oye (Mother Goose), an exquisite ballet that was originally composed as a five-movement piano suite for children.

The weekend’s program will be led by debut guest conductor Lionel Bringuier, a young French conductor who frequently appears with top orchestras and was named chief conductor and music director of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2012 at age 26.

A pre-concert talk, open to all ticketholders, with Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco will occur on stage one hour before each concert. On Friday, the Fairfield High School Choir will perform one hour before concert start time in the Grand Lobby of Heinz Hall. Both pre-concert presentations are free and open to ticketholders. Program notes for the weekend are available online at and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting

About the Artists

French conductor LIONEL BRINGUIER’S artistic maturity, interpretive depth and distinct programming have quickly established him as one of the most engaging conductors of his generation. He appears frequently with top orchestras to great acclaim, all of which led to his being named chief conductor and music director of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2012 at age 26. Entering the sixth season since his momentous debut with the Tonhalle, Bringuier’s bold vision and boundless energy – both on and off the podium – are breathing new life and vitality into a historic ensemble.

During the 2017-2018 season, Bringuier will be making two appearances with Orchestre National de Lyon in November 2017 and May 2018. Bringuier’s 2017-2018 season also includes appearances with Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Finnish & Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestras, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Malaysia Philharmonic among others. Bringuier has appeared as a guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Philharmonia Orchestra and Israel Philharmonic, to name just a few.

Following the landmark inauguration of the Creative Chair Initiative for the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in his first season as chief conductor and music director, this season Bringuier will collaborate with the composer Brett Dean as TOZ Artist in Residence. The first ever Creative Chair role in Zurich was held by Esa-Pekka Salonen, followed by Jörg Widmann in the 2015-2016 season and Peter Eötvös in the 2016-2017 season. Previous TOZ Artists in Residence, Yuja Wang, Lisa Batiashvili and Martin Grubinger remain close collaborators. At the start of the 2017 season, Bringuier and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich embark on their first season at the Maag Hall and open the season with Beethoven’s ninth Symphony and Brett Dean’s Viola Concerto with the composer also as soloist.

Bringuier has conducted numerous premieres, including the world premiere of Bernard Rands's Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra with soloist Robert Walters and the Cleveland Orchestra, and the world premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Karawane with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. He has also led numerous regional premieres of works by John Corigliano, Marc-André Dalbavie, Magnus Lindberg, Bruno Mantovani, Gubaidulina and more. This season, Bringuier will lead the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and harpist Xavier Maistre in the premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s “Trans” for Harp and Orchestra. He frequently collaborates with renowned solo artists, including pianists Yuja Wang, Nelson Freire, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Lang Lang; violinists Lisa Batiashvili, Renaud Capuçon, Leonidas Kavakos, Gil Shaham and Ray Chen; and cellist Gautier Capuçon.

His discography includes two Ravel compilations on Deutsche Grammophon, the latest being a complete survey of the composer’s orchestral works, with performances by Yuja Wang and Ray Chen. Lionel and Nelson Freire are featured on a Decca CD release of Chopin pieces, as well as a DVD capture of Bringuier’s debut at the BBC Proms. Additionally, Lionel, along with violinist Renaud Capuçon and cellist Gautier Capuçon, put forth an album of Saint-Saëns concerti on the Erato label.

Bringuier has received several awards recognizing his artistic achievements, including the "Médaille d'or à l'unanimité avec les félicitations du jury à l'Académie Prince Rainier III de Monaco" and the "Médaille d'or" from the city of Nice. He was also honored with prizes from the Schweizer Stiftung Langart and the Cziffra Foundation.

In 2007, after accepting an assistantship with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and an associateship with the Orchestre de Bretagne, he was chosen from nearly 150 applicants to serve under Esa-Pekka Salonen as assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and became (at 21 years of age) the youngest to do so in the orchestra’s history, and the youngest person to ever conduct at Disney Hall. His extraordinary rapport with the orchestra, critical acclaim and instant connection to the audiences, led to his reappointment under Gustavo Dudamel and subsequent promotion to resident conductor in 2011. Bringuier embarked on a concurrent three-season tenure as music director of Spain’s Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León in 2009 where he returns regularly.

Bringuier studied cello with Philippe Muller and conducting with Zsolt Nagy at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris. He received further career guidance via master classes from Péter Eötvös and Janos Fürst. Bringuier made his professional debut at the age of 14, conducting a live concert on French national television, followed by a triumph in Besançon at age 19 that launched his career.

Randolph Kelly Credit: Peter Khan
RANDOLPH KELLY has enjoyed a distinguished and multifaceted career as principal violist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  He was signed by André Previn in 1976, and has since played under the direction of Lorin Maazel and Mariss Jansons.  Previn once wrote that Kelly "transformed his section into what I believe is the best viola section of any orchestra in America."

One highlight of Kelly's tenure with the Pittsburgh Symphony was performing the world premiere of a viola concerto written for him by Samuel Adler, which was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for its 2000-2001 season. In addition to his orchestral career, Kelly's virtuosity as a soloist and chamber musician has been celebrated around the world.  He has collaborated with such artists as Yo-Yo Ma, André Previn, Pinchas Zukerman and Truls Mörk, among others.  He has recorded and toured extensively with the Los Angeles Piano Quartet.  In reviewing an LAPQ performance, the German Press Passaver Neve stated, "Randolph Kelly is in a class of his own.  He has a richness of tone such as one seldom hears..." Additionally, Kelly has been invited to perform as a guest artist at chamber music festivals in Japan, Australia, Europe, China, Taiwan and Russia.

As a soloist, Kelly has appeared on some of the most prestigious concert stages in the world.  He performed the New York premiere of Sir Michael Tippet's Triple Concerto in Carnegie Hall.  He made his European solo debut when Lorin Maazel invited him to play the Walton Concerto with the National Orchestra of France.  James DePriest conducted the Oregon Symphony when Kelly played the Bartók Viola Concerto.  The review in The Oregonian stated, "guest soloist Randolph Kelly provided the evening's highlight... it was a breathtaking performance." In addition to his rigorous performing schedule, Kelly has recorded a wide range of music for the Albany, Naxos and Music Masters labels.  He also appeared on national TV, performing Don Quixote as part of a series entitled Previn and The Pittsburgh.

Kelly is a graduate of The Curtis Institute, where he worked closely with the esteemed violist Joseph DePasquale.  He is committed to performing new music, and he generously volunteers his time to educational programs in an effort to bring a wide range of musical experiences to young audiences.

Friday, March 31, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 2, at 2:30 p.m.

Heinz Hall
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS: Pictures at an Exhibition

Maurice Ravel                                  Ma Mère l'Oye [Mother Goose] (complete ballet)
I. Prelude
II. Spinning-wheel Dance
III. Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty
IV. Tom Thumb
V. Conversations of Beauty and the Beast
VI. Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas
VII. The Enchanted Garden

Nicolai Paganini                                             Sonata for the Grand Viola
Mr. Kelly


Modest Mussorgsky                        Pictures at an Exhibition
(Orchestrated by Maurice Ravel)                Introduction: Promenade
I. Gnomus
II. Il vecchio castello
III. Tulleries
IV. Bydlo
V. Ballet of Little Chicks in their Shells
VI. Two Polish Jews
VII. Limoges
VIII. Catacombae - Cum mortius in lingua mortua
IX. Baba-Yaga - The Hut on Hen's Legs
X. The Great Gate of Kiev

Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel at Heinz Hall

Conductor Michale Krajewski Credit: Michael Tammaro

The PNC Pops series gives the Grammy-Award winning music of Simon and Garfunkel the orchestral treatment during an evening of nostalgic hits with the “Sounds of Simon & Garfunkel” on March 24-26 at Heinz Hall.

Guest conductor Michael Krajewski and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will present favorite tunes like "The Sound of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," "Bridge over Troubled Water" and many more. Standing in for the eponymous duo are AJ Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle. A native of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, singer-songwriter Swearingen and vocalist Beedle have performed their tribute to the folk-rock duo to sell-out crowds with symphony orchestras across the country.

Showtimes are Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 26 at 2:30 p.m. Doors open one hour prior to concert start times. A Pops Talk will be held on stage following the Friday performance only. Pops Talks are free and open to ticketholders.

Tickets, ranging in price from $22 to $99, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or by visiting

Known for his entertaining programs and clever humor, MICHAEL KRAJEWSKI is a much sought after conductor of symphonic pops. He is the principal pops conductor of the Houston Symphony, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra - the first to hold such a title in Atlanta.

As a guest conductor Michael has performed with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras; the Boston and Cincinnati Pops; the San Francisco, Baltimore, Detroit, Indianapolis, Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis and National Symphonies, and numerous other orchestras across the United States. In Canada he has led Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, and the Edmonton, Winnipeg and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies. Other international appearances include performances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra in concerts in Belfast and Dublin.

Michael is the conductor of the video Silver Screen Serenade with violinist Jenny Oaks Baker that aired worldwide on BYU Broadcasting.  On recording he has led the Houston Symphony on two holiday albums: Glad Tidings and Christmas Festival.  In 2012/2013 Michael will be conducting his original Sounds of Simon & Garfunkel program all over North America featuring national touring artists AJ Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle. Michael's other collaborative programs have included such artists as flutist James Galway, mezzo Marilyn Horne, pianist Alicia de Larrocha, guitarist Angel Romero, and pop artists Roberta Flack, Judy Collins, Art Garfunkel, Kenny Loggins, Ben Folds, Doc Severinsen, Patti Austin, Sandi Patty, Ann Hampton Callaway, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Chieftains, Pink Martini, Rockapella, Cirque de la Symphonie, Classical Mystery Tour and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

With degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Michael furthered his training at the Pierre Monteux Domaine School for Conductors. He was a Dorati Fellowship Conductor with the Detroit Symphony and later served as that orchestra's assistant conductor. He was resident conductor of the Florida Symphony and for eleven years served as music director of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra.  Michael lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife Darcy. When not conducting he enjoys travel, photography and solving crossword puzzles.

AJ SWEARINGEN has been writing, performing and producing his own style of acoustic music for well over a decade. His voice is rich and uniquely soulful and his contemporary songwriting clearly pays homage to the standout iconic folk artists of the past.  In 2012, Swearingen merged with singer-songwriter Jayne Kelli to form the folk-pop duo, Swearingen & Kelli.

They released a fresh collection of songs in 2014 including Swearingen's "You're Not Here with Me," also recorded by folk icon Tom Rush. Swearingen’s musical journey started in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he honed his signature sound on vocals and guitar. Swearingen has shared the stage with recording artists including Kenny Rogers, Dave Mason and Livingston Taylor.

Vocalist JONATHAN BEEDLE has been a performing musician for more than 30 years. Harmony is Beedle’s forte. “I just gravitated toward harmony from the very beginning,” he says. “The parts just jumped out at me and those are the parts I would sing.” Collaborations with former partners and band mates seasoned Beedle as a performer and they came to rely on his innate musicianship. As a songwriter, his efforts early on won him a finalist spot in the 2003 Plowshares Songwriting contest.

Other contestants were soloist Antje Duvekot and Girlymans’ Tylan Greenstein – good company indeed! In 2005, he released his first CD “A Long Day Gone.” A disc full of rich and heartfelt songs in the storytelling style Jonathan was raised on. His voice was heard in the Season 1 finale of the HBO series Big Love, singing the Civil War-era classic, “Lorena.”

A partnership with Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, native AJ Swearingen resulted in the jointly produced CD, “Paper Walls.” Released in 2001, they created a national touring act that pays a heartfelt and loving tribute to the famed duo. Beedle has traveled all over the United States and has shared the stage with Steve Forbert, The Strawbs, Lucy Kaplansky and Jimmy Webb.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Thrilling Greek Tragedy Comes to Pittsburgh

Thought to have been first performed in 429 BC, OEDIPUS REX takes place in the plague-ridden city of Thebes. King Oedipus sends for a prophet who determines that an unsolved murder is the cause of the gods’ displeasure— and Oedipus is the killer. What follows is an unsettling investigation of the past, which begins at a three-way crossroad and ends in a moment of horrifying self-discovery. It is an age-old tale of the dangers of hubris, told by one of history’s original playwrights, and its themes continue to resonate with audiences today.

PICT Classic Theatre’s production of OEDIPUS REX is a world premiere adaptation by PICT’s Artistic and Executive Director Alan Stanford, who has set the play in the Mediterranean region of northern Africa.  “What the audience will experience will be similar to what the Greeks first presented as theatre,” said Stanford.  “Theatre then was performed very much as a ritual.  What the audience will see is a group of exceptional actors allowing a timeless story to unfold before their eyes.”
The play will star Justin Wilson as King Oedipus, Johnny Lee Davenport as Creon, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2015 Performer of the Year, James FitzGerald as Teiresias.

In pursuit of a diverse cast to best present the story of Oedipus within his concept, Stanford looked to Pittsburgh and beyond, casting Wilson from Chicago, and Davenport from Boston.

OEDIPUS REX is the fourth of five plays to be produced by PICT in its 2016-2017 season at Union Project, located at 801 Negley Avenue in Highland Park.  PICT Classic Theatre has partnered with Union Project in support of the organization’s mission of bridging gaps between communities through art.  The season has included critically acclaimed productions of SHIRLEY VALENTINE, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, THE LION IN WINTER, and will feature SIVE by John B. Keane in May, taking place upon a stage especially crafted for a theatrical experience within Union Project.

OEDIPUS REX performs March 23rd through April 8th 2017 with tickets and season flex subscriptions available at or by calling the PICT Ticket Office at 412-561-6000.  Student and senior discounts available.  An opening night celebration will be held at Union Project following the March 25th performance.

The Cast
Justin Wilson                            Oedipus
Lamar K. Cheston                    Theban/Polybus
Kevin H. Moore                        Laius/Corinthian
Tyler Jetter                              Telemon
Linda Haston                           Leader of the Chorus
Alexis Cash                              Merope/Ismene
Dominique Brock                     Young Jocasta/Antigone
Johnny Lee Davenport             Creon
Sharon McCune                      Jocasta
James FitzGerald                     Teiresias
Karen Baum                            The Sphinx

About Justin Wilson
Justin Wade Wilson is thrilled to be making his Pittsburgh debut with PICT. He was last seen as Jeff in Collaboraction's production of The Mars Assignment and Tim in Aston Rep's production of The Black Slot. He would like to thank PICT for this opportunity, Dana Dancho. and his family for the tremendous support. He dedicates this performance to the memory of Freeman Coffey.

About Alan Stanford
Alan Stanford (Artistic & Executive Director) is in his ninth season at PICT. He was, for more than thirty years, a principal and leading actor with the renowned Gate Theatre, Dublin, where he recently directed a box office record breaking production of The Constant Wife, and previously Pride and Prejudice, which was taken to the Hong Kong Arts Festival in February 2015. He founded Ireland’s Second Age Theatre Company.  PICT credits: Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, For the Tree to Drop, Great Expectations, Macbeth, Woman and Scarecrow, Macbeth, Pozzo in Waiting for Godot, Blithe Spirit, Don Juan Comes Back from the War, Lady Windermere’s Fan, and The Kreutzer Sonata. Other credits: The School for Scandal (Point Park Conservatory), works by Shakespeare, Molière, Noël Coward, Oscar Wilde, Shaw, Beckett, and Brecht.

About Union Project
Union Project is a historic space that community restored maintained; the space was transformed as a creative solution to provide a safe and open space for the community. Union Project has come a long way since 2001, but its work still centers on the transformative power of the arts. Union Project believes that art can create change, and help to build a more inclusive, empathetic, and just community.

PSO Springs into Music in Wilkinsburg

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents the 14th Annual Community Engagement Concert for the community of Wilkinsburg, “Spring Into Music,” on Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at Wilkinsburg High School.

A family-friendly evening of music, led by Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco, this concert features upbeat, popular classical favorites with an emphasis on spring, such as “Spring” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Copland’s Appalachian Spring, “the Swan” from Carnival of the Animals and more!

Wilkinsburg mayor John Thompson will welcome concert attendees and the concert will feature the Wilkinsburg Elementary Drum Ensemble, under the direction of music educators Lois Clark and Shawn Van Mastrigt, in a performance of “Spring, Spring, Spring.” The group will perform in front of the stage on African drums.

“The Wilkinsburg Community concert is one of our favorite concerts of the year,” says Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “Now, more than ever, it is important to keep the arts and music alive in the community. Our commitment to the community and access to music for children is unwavering.”

Tickets are $5 for students K-12 and $10 for adults. A group of 10 adult tickets is available for a discounted price of $75. Tickets can be purchased at the door the night of the concert (cash or check only).

All proceeds from the tickets sales directly benefit the music programs in the Wilkinsburg School District. To date, the Pittsburgh Symphony’s community concerts have raised more than $75,000 for the district’s music programs.

The Wilkinsburg Community and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s close relationship with the Wilkinsburg community has a long, fruitful history. In addition to the March 23 concert, symphony musicians visit Wilkinsburg schools, and Wilkinsburg community representatives participate regularly with the symphony’s Learning, Community and Inclusion advisory committees. Through its Learning & Community Engagement programs, the Pittsburgh Symphony builds connections not only with Wilkinsburg, but with numerous other Pittsburgh communities. The mission of the symphony’s Learning & Community Engagement programs is to engage individuals in experiences of the highest artistic and educational quality to create informed, enduring and evolving connections to music and to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

About the Artists

Having completed highly successful first seasons as music director of Tulsa’s Signature Symphony at TCC, as well as assistant conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, ANDRÉS FRANCO has established himself as a conductor to watch.

While maintaining his roles as principal conductor of the multimedia project Caminos del Inka, and artistic director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s summer festival “Concerts in the Garden,” he continues to delight audiences with his imaginative programming and energetic style. During the 2016-2017 season, Franco will make debuts with the Boise Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Texas Music Festival, and will return to conduct the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

A frequent guest conductor in the United States, Europe and South America, Franco has appeared with the Columbus, Elgin, El Paso, Eugene, Fort Worth, Houston, Lake Forest, Mississippi, Saginaw Bay, Springfield, St. Louis and Stockton symphony orchestras; the Chicago Sinfonietta; Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León/Spain; the National Symphony Orchestra of Peru, as well as with the National Symphony, Bogota Philharmonic, Medellin Philharmonic and EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in Colombia.  Festival appearances include the Cabrillo, Grant Park, OK Mozart and Oregon Bach Festivals.

Franco formerly served as music director of the Philharmonia of Kansas City, as associate and resident conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony, and as Leonard Slatkin’s assistant conductor during the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

A native of Colombia, Franco is dedicated to preserving and performing the music of the Americas. As principal conductor of Caminos del Inka, he has led many performances of works by Latin American composers, such as Jimmy López, Diego Luzuriaga and the famous Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla. Born into a musical family, Franco began piano studies with his father, Jorge Franco. An accomplished pianist, he studied with Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Jose Feghali, and attended piano workshops with Rudolph Buchbinder in Switzerland, and Lev Naumov in France.  He studied conducting with Marin Alsop, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Kurt Masur, Gustav Meier, Helmut Rilling, Gerard Schwarz and Leonard Slatkin.

Franco holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, as well as master of music degrees in piano performance and conducting from Texas Christian University. Franco is married to Victoria Luperi, associate principal clarinetist in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), André Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004).

This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986.

The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. Its “Pittsburgh Live!” series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.”

The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900 — including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

Thursday, March 23, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Community Concert
Wilkinsburg High School, 747 Wallace Ave, Pittsburgh
ANDRÉS FRANCO, conductor

Johann Strauss Jr.                                           Overture to Die Fledermaus (The Bat)

Aaron Copland                                                Variations on a Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring

Antonio Vivaldi                                              “La primavera,” No. 1 from The Four Seasons for Violin and

Astor Piazzolla                                                Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons in Buenos Aires)
                                                                                          Primavera Porteña

Camille Saint-Saëns                                       “The Swan” from Carnival of the Animals for Cello and Harp

Johann Strauss Jr.                                           Frühlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring), Waltzes

Johann Strauss Sr.                                           Radetzky-March

Tchaikovsky + Drake at Heinz Hall

Stage from Fuse Beethoven and Coldplay Credit: Wade Massie

PITTSBURGH – FUSE@PSO, the genre-defying concert series presented by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, returns to Heinz Hall on Wednesday, March 22 with “Tchaikovsky + Drake.”

Creative Director and Conductor Steve Hackman creates each FUSE@PSO experience by synthesizing a classical composer’s work with the music of a modern artist. In this concert, Hackman melds three movements from Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony and more than a dozen songs of Drake.
“It may seem like an odd pairing to some; downright repulsive to others,” says Hackman. “These two composers have much more in common than it appears, especially their pervasive sentimentality and the engaging and authentic way they express it."

Three vocalists and a rapper — India Carney, a former contestant on NBC’s “The Voice;” Malia Civetz, an a cappella champion who has been featured on two previous FUSE@PSO concerts; Mario Jose, who has recently been touring with Postmodern Jukebox; and Jecorey “1200” Arthur, who was featured in the June 2016 “Stravinsky’s Firebird” FUSE@PSO concert — will join with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to present this unique piece.

For most of the work, the melodies and lyrics of Drake will be superimposed over and co-exist with the original Tchaikovsky. Interspersed will be original vignettes, composed by Hackman, where Drake's music shines through- but with hints of Tchaikovsky and many extended solo passages for the orchestra.

“There are a lot of people that don't judge music categorically — they don't like or dislike it just because of the ‘genre.’ They understand that good music is good music, no matter what. No matter if it is a symphony orchestra or a synthesizer, a 100-piece chorus or a single rapper,” says Hackman. “In that case, there is no reason why Tchaikovsky and Drake can't live together in one concert experience. And I'm sure that the people who come to hear Drake will leave wanting to hear a little more Tchaikovsky — played by the incredible orchestra we have here in Pittsburgh.​”

In keeping with the mission of FUSE@PSO to engage and illuminate music in a way that excites and educates, the evening kicks off with a happy hour-type atmosphere, featuring mingling with musicians and fellow music lovers, happy hour-priced drinks and other activities. The Heinz Hall Garden will be open, depending on weather.

“FUSE@PSO: Tchaikovsky + Drake” begins at 5 p.m. with happy hour; the concert starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Tickets are on sale now online at, via phone at 412-392-4900 or in person at the Heinz Hall Box Office. Tickets are general admission and there is no intermission. Drinks are allowed in the concert hall at this performance.

About the Artists
Steve Hackman Courtesy Photo
Conductor, composer, arranger, producer and songwriter STEVE HACKMAN is increasingly in demand as one the most compelling artists contributing to a new landscape in classical music. Fluent in both classical and popular repertoire, he crafts virtuosic, cross-genre works and performances that intrigue the established audience and engage an excited new one.

Active across the country as a guest conductor of major symphony orchestras, Hackman presents programs he architects that synthesize orchestral and pop masterworks. He has performed his pieces such as Brahms + Radiohead, Beethoven + Coldplay, Copland + Bon Iver and Bartok + Björk with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Florida Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Columbus Symphony and Colorado Music Festival orchestra. Hackman's work as an artistic entrepreneur was most recently recognized by an invitation to speak at the TedX Conference.

In 2016, Hackman continues in his second season as creative director and conductor of FUSE at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, an innovative new concert series aimed at engaging a new young audience. The season will include the premiere of Tchaikovsky + Drake, a symphonic mash-up of the Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony and the music of Drake, as well as Bartok + Björk, a piece that fuses the former's Concerto for Orchestra with the latter's first three albums. For the final FUSE@PSO concert of 2015-2016, Hackman composed Firebird: Remix | Response, an original concept-album/remix of Stravinsky's Firebird, for full orchestra, chorus, singer, rapper, drummer, synthesizer and electronics.

From 2013 to 2015, Hackman was music director of the "Mash-Up" series at the Colorado Music Festival. CMF commissioned three premieres in this time — Bartok V. Björk, Copland V. Bon Iver and Beethoven V. Coldplay. Other highlight programs included collaborations with My Brightest Diamond, Aoife O'Donovan, Olga Bell (of Dirty Projectors) and San Fermin.

From 2009 to 2013, Hackman served as co-creative director of the Happy Hour at the Symphony Series with the Indianapolis Symphony, where, along with co-artistic directors Time For Three (TF3), he pioneered a new type of concert experience by producing, arranging/composing and conducting compelling presentations that blended classical with pop. He returns as guest conductor regularly, most recently in spring 2016 premiering a program commissioned by the ISO and Time for Three that combined symphonic movements of Dvořák with songs by Dave Matthews Band.

Hackman is the creative director of :STEREO HIDEOUT:, a music brand that represents the removal of barriers between classical and popular music and the skillful blending of the two. In 2014, he released the debut :STEREO HIDEOUT: album The Radio Nouveau, along with several music videos. The album was mixed in London by Gareth Jones (Grizzly Bear, Depeche Mode) and mastered in Brooklyn by Joe Lambert (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors).

Hackman’s work as a composer and arranger has met with considerable success. The string trio Time for Three and choral ensemble Chanticleer present his works as their showpieces; TF3's Chaconne in Winter highlights their recent release on Universal Records, and Chanticleer's Wait Fantasy can be heard on their recent album Someone New. He enjoys a continuing relationship as an arranger for Time for Three, and most recently contributed the arrangement for their appearance on From The Top, two pieces to their holiday EP Yuletime (Universal) and the music for their appearance on ABC's hit show Dancing with the Stars. Hackman's orchestrations for artists like Time for Three, The Five Browns, Michael Cavanaugh, My Brightest Diamond, Arlo Guthrie, Aoife O'Donovan and Joshua Radin have been performed by nearly all the major orchestras in America. This season marked his first collaboration with the world-renowned Tallis Scholars.

Hackman was a four-year member, producer and musical director of the a capella group The Other Guys at the University of Illinois, a group that under his direction placed runner-up in the International Competition of Collegiate Acapella at Avery Fisher Hall. He is a prolific songwriter, having written hundreds of songs and releasing several albums of original music. His song "The Pendulum Song" was chosen among tens of thousands as a finalist in the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Competition, and he has also received honorable mention in the Billboard songwriting competition. He has entertained as a dueling piano player at Howl at the Moon piano bar in Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville. In season seven of American Idol, Hackman was one of 164 contestants chosen from more than 150,000 to attend Hollywood Week. He finished in the top 64.

Hackman studied conducting under Otto-Werner Mueller and counterpoint/composition under Dr. Ford Lallerstedt at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He subsequently studied conducting with David Zinman at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen and received further instruction in orchestration from the prolific Broadway orchestrator and composer William Brohn (Miss Saigon, Wicked, Ragtime, and countless others). He served as the assistant conductor of the Reading Symphony for two seasons, where he led subscription, family, education and New Year's Eve programs.

JECOREY “1200” ARTHUR is a music educator, composer and performer from Louisville, Kentucky. He began composing music at age 10, and at age 12 purchased the KORG D-1200, which is where his nickname comes from. He quickly became a self-taught recording artist and producer, but decided to become classically trained instead of chasing music industry dreams. Prior to obtaining his Bachelor of Music Education at the University of Louisville, he had the chance to perform at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas, and the Jungfrau Music Festival in Interlaken, Switzerland.

During his undergraduate studies, 1200 was a student of Dr. Greg Byrne, director of percussion studies at the University of Louisville. Though 1200's compositions can be considered hip hop, he is heavily influenced by neo-classicism and fusion. While in college, 1200 co-founded a creative collective known as the United Legion of DOOM, which features musicians, artists, designers, producers and creative intellectuals from around the globe. 1200 has co-executive produced albums such as Nick B's Transcendence and Hwang's It Was Only Yesterday. 1200 additionally executive produced his own release, SYMPHONY I, in August 2014. SYMPHONY I is an exploration of life, narrated in an anachronist fashion. The music on SYMPHONY I features a variety of samples and influences from various genres including 1990s soul and contemporary classical works.

1200’s unique blend of talent, experience and polystylism also appears in Louisville music groups Citizens United and The Monolith. His most notable performance endeavor is his 1200 ensemble, a group of mixed musicians and designers that perform with him at concerts. This group often features DJ Deuce Carter, keyboardist and guitarist Nick B, light coordinator Lauren "Elmo" Morris and more. 1200's ensemble is known for performing unique shows that differ from previous ones. In December 2014, he performed at Headliners Music Hall, joined on stage by a 12-piece chamber chorus and string quintet. 1200 has also had multiple collaborations with Teddy Abrams, director of music for the Louisville Orchestra. The pair's most notable performance was LOWF4th (Louisville Orchestra Waterfront 4th), where 1200 performed for 35,000 people alongside the Louisville Orchestra on 4th of July in his hometown. Later that month, 1200 collaborated with Dr. Dundiff and performed at Forecastle Festival, even sharing a stage with My Morning Jacket's Jim James.

By day, 1200 is a music educator who specializes in percussion pedagogy. His most recent educational endeavor has been to serve as the music specialist at Hite Elementary School. He has also served as program director for AMPED (Academy of Music Production Education and Development) where he developed curriculum for students to learn the arts of rapping, recording and more. Alongside his performance and educational projects, 1200 is an event curator and has organized for PechaKucha, Kleisner Events, Resurfaced (City Collaborative and Louisville Downtown Partnership), Speed Art Museum and the Louisville Orchestra. 1200 graduated from the University of Louisville in May 2015 with his Master of Arts in teaching.

INDIA CARNEY is an American singer, songwriter, arranger and actress. Carney made her national television debut on NBC’s Emmy Award-winning The Voice. She wowed audiences worldwide, and four highly acclaimed celebrity judges as the former Top 5 artist, with her passionate vocal restraint and versatile evenness of tone. MStars News reported “Brooklyn native India Carney has a voice of gold. The New York Times columnist David Brooks gave Carney rave reviews for her version of Lady Gaga's dance hits. Carney performed for David Foster, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Jason Derulo and many others. Carney was a featured artist on Steve Hackman’s Tchaikovsky-Drake mash-up with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and The Joye In Aiken Festival directed by Janice Jennings and curated by pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe. She appeared on NBC’s A Pentatonix Christmas Special, ABC’s Christmas Show Production with CCC-Brooklyn, NY, NYC’s Apollo Theater, The Bitter End, L.A. Youth Network, The Navy Seals Gala and STAPLES Center. Musical theatre credits include Jay Sheib’s Carmen (Carmen), Aida (Aida) and A Chorus Line (Diana). Among Carney’s many awards are a 2011 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts and National Young Arts Award in Voice & Theatre, Brooklyn Conservatory Music Impact Award and a UBAA Maidie Norman Award at UCLA.

MALIA CIVETZ, a 2016 graduate of the University of Southern California/Thornton School of Music's popular music program, recently signed with Warner/Chappell Music, the global music publishing company of Warner Music Group. She was named the “Outstanding Blues/Pop/Rock Vocal Soloist” by Down Beat magazine's College Student Music Awards in both 2015 and 2016 and was a member of the 2015 International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella's (“real life” Pitch Perfect) champions, The SoCal VoCals.

Since 2015, Civetz has performed as a vocal soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Steve Hackman's symphonic mash-up of Beethoven + Coldplay and in two world premieres; one with the Colorado Symphony in Bartok + Bjork and another with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky's Firebird Remix-Response. She also joined Hackman at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in June 2016 to perform the 4th Movement of Beethoven + Coldplay with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In January 2017, she returned to Indianapolis for Happy Hour at the Symphony to perform several movements of Hackman’s mash-up of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 fused with songs of Drake and is excited to perform in the world premiere of that entire piece with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

As a member of the award-wining SoCal VoCals, Civetz had the honor of performing at the White House in December 2015 for President Obama, the First Lady and their staff. The dynamic a cappella group completed a two-week performance tour of Hong Kong in March 2016 kicked off with two sold-out performances at Queen Elizabeth Stadium. In May 2016, they performed a medley of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil songs at the BMI Pop Awards as the songwriting team was honored with the BMI Icon Award.

At USC, Malia was a proud recipient of a number of scholarships including the Manilow Endowed Music Scholarship, Las Vegas Hospitality Association Scholarship, Scott Borchetta Popular Music Scholarship and the Thornton School Faculty Scholarship. She graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts in 2012 as a theatre major starring with rave reviews as Tracy in Hairspray and as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. She is a regular to sing for professional sporting and special events at venues including Angel Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, StubHub Center, Honda Center and AT&T Park.

Her musical accomplishments are diverse with a long list of highlights including being selected to perform as a Star of Tomorrow at the Apollo Theater in New York at the age of 13, given the honor of singing for President Barack Obama when she was 16 years old and performing in Barry Manilow’s show at Paris Las Vegas at 17.

A San Francis Bay Area native, MARIO JOSE is a seasoned singer/songwriter, session vocalist and true entertainer. Jose attended Berklee College of Music and was a part of the award-winning a cappella group, Pitch Slapped. In his post-graduate life, Jose has been featured on several TV shows including NBC’s The Sing-Off, ABC’s Duets and on American Idol season 12, where he was one of the Top 40 male vocalists.

Jose has had the privilege to share the stage and studio with music icons including John Legend, Pentatonix, Prince, Meghan Trainor, Justin Bieber, Michael McDonald, Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind & Fire), John Elefante (of Kansas), Jim Peterick (of Survivor), Bill Champlin (of Chicago), Paula Cole, Lalah Hathaway, Ben E. King, Post Modern Jukebox and many more!

Jose released his first EP of original music Heart of Gold in October 2016 and has just finished as emcee and featured vocalist on Post Modern Jukebox’s U.S. winter tour.