Monday, February 8, 2016

FALL IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN AT ‘A MUSICAL VALENTINE: THE LOVE SONGS OF MARVIN HAMLISCH’

Lecce-Chong,Concert  Conductor

    Join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, February 13 at 8 p.m. and fall in love all over again with the music of Marvin Hamlisch during "A Musical Valentine: The Love Songs of Marvin Hamlisch."
Pittsburgh Symphony Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong leads the orchestra and special guests Doug LaBrecque (well-known as the Phantom of the Opera), Jessica Lea Patty (Cassie in the last Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line"), Anne Runolfsson and the CMU Drama Singers in tribute to the wonderful talents of one of the greatest contributors to music over the last century, Marvin Hamlisch.
    As a composer, Hamlisch won virtually every major award: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globes. On Broadway, he wrote the music for the long-running show, "A Chorus Line," "They're Playing Our Song," "Sweet Smell of Success," "Smile," "The Goodbye Girl" and "Imaginary Friends." His more than 40 motion picture scores include the Oscar-winning score and song for "The Way We Were" and his adaptation of Scott Joplin's music for "The Sting." This memorable concert will feature music from his vast array of timeless music.
    Tickets are on sale now and range in price from $25 to $85. Tickets can be purchased at the Heinz Hall box office, online at pittsburghsymphony.org/marvin or via phone at 412-392-4900.
About the Artists
    American conductor FRANCESCO LECCE-CHONG has worked with orchestras around the world including engagements with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. With the start of the 2015-2016 season, he begins his new position as assistant conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra after serving four years as associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO). He will return to the MSO throughout the season for several guest engagements and will make his opera debut with the Florentine Opera. He also will continue as associate conductor of the Grand Teton Music Festival.

    Lecce-Chong has earned a growing reputation and critical acclaim for dynamic, forceful performances, garnering national distinction, including the Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award and The Presser Foundation Music Award. He has also been featured in master classes with Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, David Robertson and Christopher Seaman, while working with the St. Louis Symphony, National Arts Center Orchestra and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich.

    As a trained pianist and composer, Lecce-Chong embraces innovative programming, champions the work of new composers and supports arts education. While working with the MSO, he curated and presented the works of both active and lesser-known composers, including two works commissioned by the orchestra, as well as two U.S. premieres. He also helped create the first MSO Composer Institute, providing performance opportunities for young American composers. Lecce-Chong has complemented his programming with a strong commitment to arts education for all ages. In Milwaukee, he provided artistic leadership for the MSO’s nationally lauded Arts in Community Education program — one of the largest arts integration programs in the country — and he continues to be a frequent guest speaker for arts organizations around the country.

    Lecce-Chong is a native of Boulder, Colorado, where he began conducting at the age of 16. He is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree with honors in piano and orchestral conducting. Lecce-Chong also holds a diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied as a Martin and Sarah Taylor Fellow with Otto-Werner Mueller. He has been mentored by many world-renowned conductors, including Edo de Waart and Donald Runnicles, with whom he continues to maintain a close working relationship.

DOUG LABRECQUE thrilled theater audiences as The Phantom and Raoul in the Harold Prince production of The Phantom of the Opera. In addition, LaBrecque has starred on Broadway as Ravenal in the Hal Prince revival of Showboat, a role he also performed in Canada and Chicago. He was featured in Oscar Hammerstein’s 100th Birthday Celebration on Broadway at The Gershwin Theatre, and toured nationally with Les Miserables. Regionally, LaBrecque has performed leading roles in Candide, A Chorus Line and Man of LaMancha among many others. A graduate of University of Michigan he was also featured in the world premiere of A Wonderful Life, written by Sheldon Harnick and Joe Raposo, and starred in the premiere revival of Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner’s Love Life.

    One of the most prolific concert performers of his generation LaBrecque has been a soloist with some of the world’s finest symphony orchestras including The National Symphony, The Israel Philharmonic (Tel Aviv), The Chicago Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony, among many others. In the last few years, LaBrecque’s U.S. appearances have included Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Dallas Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, The Utah Symphony and with Marvin Hamlisch both at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony, and with the Pittsburgh Symphony.
    In a tribute to Richard Rodgers, LaBrecque recently made his Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist with the New York Pops, the same season he debuted with the Boston Pops. Alongside Jeff Tyzik, he appeared with both the St. Louis and Seattle Symphony’s for their holiday celebrations as well as numerous performances with The Naples Philharmonic. With Peter Nero he was featured in "Broadway Showstoppers," a live recording with Nero’s Philly Pops. Other special engagements have included singing with Carole Bayer-Sager at Feinsteins’s in Manhattan and the Cinegrill in Los Angeles, performing alongside Broadway legend Jerry Herman with the Naples Philharmonic, and appearing onstage with Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch (singing together!) at Hickory Hill, the legendary home of Ethel Kennedy.
    International engagements have included the Korean National Symphony in Seoul, Korea, the Shanghai Radio Orchestra in China, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Vancouver and Calgary Symphonies in Canada, the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra in Rio De Janeiro, the Jerusalem Symphony and numerous return engagements with the Israel Philharmonic. LaBrecque recently appeared in Alba, Italy as the guest soloist in an all-Bernstein concert and returned to the International Music Festival in the Czech Republic.

    JESSICA LEA PATTY is a Broadway singer, dancer, actress and teacher working and living in New York City. She is a native of beautiful Palm Beach County, Florida. Music, singing and dancing were introduced to her at an early age. She studied classical ballet, jazz and modern for 13 years under the direction of Joan Miller at The Palm Beach Ballet Center and attended The Palm Beach County School of the Arts (now Dreyfoos School of the Arts) where she was a dance/theatre major. She discovered her true passion for musical theatre when she when she attended the Broadway Theatre Project under the direction of Ann Reinking.
    Patty was accepted as only one of four incoming freshmen for the BFA Musical Theatre Program at Florida State University. After graduating with with honors, she toured North America with Cats & Fosse for two years, and then made the big move to NYC. She hit the ground running landing a role in Northshore Music Theatre's production of West Side Story where she received her Equity card. Five months after moving to the city, the dream came true when she made her Broadway debut in The Boy from Oz starring Hugh Jackman.
    In 2006, Patty was cast in the Broadway Revival of A Chorus Line, where she began understudying the roles of Diana, Sheila and Judy. Shortly after, Maggie was added. Then a year after joining ACL, Patty was chosen to be the Cassie Alternate, performing the role every Sunday. ACL was followed by the original Broadway companies of 9 to 5 The Musical, understudying the role of Judy Bernly, The Addams Family as the Flapper Ancestor & understudying Morticia (originated by Bebe Neuwirth) and Wednesday Addams, The People in the Picture understudying the role of Red, and most notably understudying and performing the title role of Eva Peron in the Broadway revival of Evita alongside Ricky Martin and Tony Award winner
Michael Cerveris.
    Since Evita, Patty has performed in two productions for the City Center Encores! series, ...It's Superman     and The Most Happy Fella as well as the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists series starring alongside Broadway veterans and under the direction of Tony Award-winning, Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated David Zipple.  In fall 2015, Patty was featured in the NY Philharmonic production of Show Boat that aired on PBS.
    Patty is now using her 17 years of professional experience to guide others in their passion for theatre and dance. She teaches workshops and classes for many organizations in NYC like the Broadway Artists Alliance, Broadway Workshop and Broadway Classrooms, and is currently subbing at Broadway Dance Center for their theater dance classes. She also taught her workshops for major universities and theatre festivals across the country.

ANNE RUNOLFSSON is one of those rare artists whose unique versatility has allowed her a distinguished career not only in the theater but also in recording studios, intimate cabaret spaces, and concert halls throughout the world. The New York Times proclaimed, "Ms. Runolfsson has a flexible virtuosity, between ethereal melodiousness and piercing big-moment resonance." While the LA Times has called her, "A savvy and thoughtful performer."

    She recently completed a two-year run on Broadway as the tempestuous diva, Carlotta Giudacelli in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, the longest running show in Broadway history. Hal Prince referred to her performance as a "revelation." Prior to that, she made an absolute splash in Victor/Victoria as standby to Dame Julie Andrews and Liza Minelli. She performed the title role more than 120 times to great acclaim and went on to recreate the role in the national tour, which began in Seattle and Houston.

    Other Broadway and national tour credits include the role of Gretta Conroy in James Joyce’s The Dead, Fantine in Les Miserables, Roxane in Cyrano — The Musical, Lili in The Secret Garden and Aspects of Love. Off-Broadway and Regional credits include Listen to My Heart (Studio 54), Rags, Jack’s Holiday, Cather County, A Little Night Music, Showboat and Funny Girl. She has appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall (with Tenor Jose Carreras), The Kennedy Center, Town Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, The National Theater in Iceland, Rainbow and Stars, The Russian Tea Room, Bay Street Theater, The Pump Room, The Cinegrill, The 92nd St. Y and with The National Symphony, The Philly Pops, The Boston Pops, The Jerusalem Symphony, The Orchestra of St. Lukes, The National Symphony of Canada, The Hong Kong Philharmonic, The Cincinnati Pops, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, The Buffalo Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of San Francisco, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Indianapolis, Toronto, Milwaukee, Utah, Detroit, Dallas, Houston, Columbus, San Diego, Colorado, Minnesota and St. Louis, among many others. She was awarded the MAC award (Manhattan Association of Cabaret) for Best Female Vocalist, and was a Drama League Honoree for her work in Cyrano — The Musical.

    Her many recordings include the international cast album of Les Miserables, Listen to My Heart, Broadway Musicals of 1933 and her solo debut recording, At Sea, which was critically acclaimed nationwide and can be purchased at annerunolfsson.com She is the proud mother of Tess Adams, who has already made her Broadway debut in Les Miserables, and has sung with the National Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Boston Pops and the Seattle Symphony.

    The CMU DRAMA SINGERS are all undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious School of Drama. They are a combination of musical theatre and acting majors. They come from all over the country, and are directed by Claudia Benack, a member of the faculty since 1997. The group consists of seniors Ben Mathews, Caroline Pluta and Kelsey Tarantino. The participating juniors are Iris Beaumier, Hanna Berggren and Victoria Pedretti. The sophomores are Jimmy Brewer, Jada Mayo, Kevin Paul, Kyle Pitts and Jordan Plutzer. Freshman Patrick David rounds out the group.

    PITTSBURGH MUSICAL THEATER (PMT) is a nonprofit organization committed to providing quality, affordable musical theater to the Pittsburgh region, educating youth in the arts and employing and developing local talent. Pittsburgh Musical Theater was founded in 1990 with the vision of creating a regional musical theater company committed to quality productions of the best of Pittsburgh's own professional talent at a price affordable to all residents, especially children and families. As a nonprofit performing arts organization, the mission expanded to include a strong commitment to education, training, and outreach programs through the Richard E. Rauh Conservatory. Pittsburgh Musical Theater produces performances at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh's Cultural District, the New Hazlett Theater and Gargaro Theater. Pittsburgh Musical Theater also provides acting, singing, and dance classes for students at its arts education center, the Richard E. Rauh Conservatory – in the belief that the arts are for all!


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