Monday, February 15, 2016

The Police Drummer, Stewart Copeland, Performs Own Composition with PSO

Guest Conductor Marcelo Lehninger Photo Credit: Michael Lutch

    Percussion moves from the back and takes center stage during the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend, "Stewart Copeland Debuts," February 19 and 21 at Heinz Hall.
    Brazilian-born guest conductor Marcelo Lehninger, music director of the New West Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles, leads the Pittsburgh Symphony for the first time in a program featuring Stewart Copeland’s Concerto No. 1, "The Tyrant's Crush," and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1.
    Copeland, who is best known as the drummer for super group The Police, will join the orchestra for the performance of his own work. Described as "sparkling, sensual" by the Guardian, "The Tyrant’s Crush" features Copeland’s brilliant drumming plus complimentary parts for the members of the Pittsburgh symphony percussion and timpani sections — Andrew Reamer, Jeremy Branson, Christopher Allen and Edward Stephan — and an array of exotic percussion instruments. The work celebrates the virtuosity of the symphonic percussion section and also shows that the distance between rock drummer and timpanist is not as far as one may think.
    Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 1 as a graduation exercise upon completing his studies at the Leningrad Conservatory. His first work for orchestra, the symphony was an immediate success upon its premiere in 1926.
    The 20-year-old musician became a celebrity at home and abroad in a matter of months. (Each year for the rest of his life, Shostakovich set aside May 12 as the day he celebrated his "birthday as a composer.")
    A pre-concert talk, open to all ticket holders and led by Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco, will occur on stage one hour before each concert. During this talk, Stewart Copeland and the Pittsburgh Symphony percussionists will walk through the array of percussion instruments on stage that will be used in the performance.
     A Youth Chamber Connection quartet will perform one hour before the Friday evening concert in the Grand Lobby. This performance is open to ticketholders. A post-concert party in the Grand Lobby, open to ticketholders, will follow the Friday evening concert. Program notes for the weekend are available online at and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.
About the Artists
Brazilian-born MARCELO LEHNINGER is music director of the New West Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles.  For his work there, he was awarded the Helen M. Thompson Award for Emerging Music Directors in 2014 by the League of American Orchestras.  He recently concluded an appointment as associate conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
     The 2015-2016 season includes Lehninger’s debut with the Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Ft. Worth, Knoxville, Winnipeg and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies; the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; and The Orchestra Now, as well as return engagements with the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Grand Rapids Symphony and Minas Gerais Philharmonic.
    His 2014-2015 season included debuts with the Detroit and Milwaukee Symphonies, and Rochester Philharmonic; and return engagements with the Florida Orchestra and Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.  In Europe, he appeared with the Lucerne Symphony, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and Slovenian Philharmonic, and assisted Mariss Jansons on tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
     As a guest conductor in the United States, Lehninger has led the Chicago, Houston, Baltimore, Seattle, National, Jacksonville, New Jersey, Omaha, Hartford, Fairfax and Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Florida and Louisville Orchestras, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, New England Conservatory Philharmonia and Bard College Conservatory Orchestra.
    In Canada,     Lehninger has appeared with the Toronto Symphony, and Calgary and Hamilton Philharmonics.  In 2013, Lehninger recorded the work of composer Christopher Culpo for Radio France in Paris, conducting the Orchestre National de France.
     An alumnus of the National Conducting Institute, he made a successful debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in 2007 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and was invited to conduct the NSO again in 2008.
    Lehninger was music advisor of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas for the 2007-2008 season. Placido Domingo serves as artistic advisor for the ensemble, which is composed of 120 talented musicians from more than 20 countries throughout the Americas. In summer 2008, Lehninger toured with YOA and pianist Nelson Freire in South America, conducting concerts in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. He has led all of the top orchestras in Brazil as well as regular guest conducting in Argentina, and previously served as associate conductor of the Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra in Brazil.
    Before dedicating his career to conducting, Lehninger studied violin and piano. He holds a master's degree from the Conductors Institute at New York's Bard College, where he studied conducting under Harold Farberman and composition with Laurence Wallach. His mentors also include Kurt Masur, Leonard Slatkin and Roberto Tibiriçá.  A dual citizen of Brazil and Germany, Lehninger is the son of pianist Sônia Goulart and violinist Erich Lehninger.

Stewart Copeland Photo Credit: Shayne Gray

    STEWART COPELAND has spent three decades in the forefront of contemporary music as a rock star, acclaimed film score writer, and composer in the disparate worlds of opera, ballet, world music and chamber music. Recruiting Sting and Andy Summers in 1977, Stewart formed The Police, a rock band that became a defining force in rock music and reunited 23 years later for a 14-month world tour whose success was a testament to the enduring popularity of the band and its music.
     Stewart spent 20 years as a successful film and TV composer, working for the likes of Francis Ford Coppola on Rumblefish and Oliver Stone on Wall Street.  He returned to his drum kit to form Animal Logic with Stanley Clarke and Oysterhead with Trey Anastasio and Les Claypool, meanwhile finding time to win the Archie David Cup with his polo team (on a horse).  Stewart was commissioned to write a ballet for the San Francisco Ballet and his first opera, "Holy Blood and the Crescent Moon" for the Cleveland Opera in 1989.  In April 2011 he wrote a short opera based on the Edgar Allen Poe story "The Tell-Tale Heart," which premiered at the Royal Opera House in London.
     Recent commissions include his score for MGM’s silent film classic, Ben-Hur, which premiered at the Virginia Arts Festival and which will be performed in 2014 with The Chicago Symphony.  His new percussion concerto, "Poltroons in Paradise" was recently performed by The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
     In 2015 his new opera, "The Invention of Morel" will premiere at The Long Beach Opera.  Awards include the keys to the city of Milan, The Chevalier of the Order of Arts & Letters (France), five Grammys and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Through it all, a sense of humor and appreciation for his utterly unique career has shone through as he has enjoyed working in a remarkable array of genres.
Andrew Reamer Photo Credit: 

 ANDREW REAMER joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra percussion section in 1989. He was appointed associate principal percussion in 2003 and principal percussion in 2008. He earned Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Temple University. Reamer has taught at Duquesne University for 25 years and plays jazz with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra colleagues in The White Tie Group. He has composed a popular collection of etudes for marimba entitled "Reamer’s Elixirs Two-Mallet Fixers" and is an endorser for Zildjian Cymbals, Evans Drumheads and Innovative Mallets.
    He carries on a drum- and stick-making tradition that can be traced to the mid-19th century, and his work and innovations can be viewed at  His custom drums and sticks are used by the most prestigious orchestras and universities throughout the world. Reamer gets around Pittsburgh on a bike, a motorcycle or in a kayak regardless of the weather.

Christopher Allen Photo Credit: Rob Davidson
  CHRISTOPHER ALLEN joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra percussion section in September 1997.  Born and raised on Long Island, he began his serious musical training at the Juilliard School Pre-College division where he studied for four years. He later attended the Curtis Institute of Music, and continued his graduate studies at Temple University.
    During his final three seasons in Philadelphia, Allen performed as a percussionist in the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1983, he was appointed principal timpanist in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra where he remained until coming to Pittsburgh. During two of his seasons in Columbus, Allen took time off to return to performing as a percussionist in the Philadelphia Orchestra. He also spent eight summers playing in the Grand Teton Music Festival — four years in the percussion section and four years as timpanist. Allen currently teaches percussion at Duquesne University.

ed Stephan Photo Credit: Rob Davidson
   Principal timpanist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since 2010, ED STEPHAN is recognized as one of the most exciting and dynamic timpanists in the United States. He has been praised for his "strong and multi-faceted playing" as well as his "captivating command behind the instrument."
    Prior to his appointment in Pittsburgh, Stephan held the position of principal timpanist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and before that the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. While in Texas, he appeared twice as soloist with the FWSO and was awarded the American Airlines Distinguished Musician Award in 2006. Stephan began his percussion training at the age of six. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. He can be heard on numerous recordings with the North Texas Wind Symphony, as well as the FWSO, DSO and Pittsburgh Symphony. While living in Boston, Stephan performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the New Haven Symphony and the National Lyric Opera. He was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2000 and 2001. In recent years, Stephan has appeared as a guest with the Chicago Smphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony and the Dallas Opera Orchestra. He has served as the principal timpanist of the Crested Butte Summer Music Festival and is currently timpanist of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Stephan is in demand as a teacher and clinician. He presents regular masterclasses throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He is a co-host and presenter of the annual Washburgh Timpani Seminar and currently serves as chair of the percussion department at Duquesne University. Stephan proudly endorses Adams timpani, Pearl percussion products, Remo percussion products, Luft Timpani Mallets and Mike Balter mallets.
Jeremy Branson Photo Credit: Dal Lago

    Jeremy Branson is the associate principal percussionist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his appointment in the Pittsburgh Symphony, Branson was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. During that time he also played regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Branson has performed under the batons of such conductors as James Conlon, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Andris Nelsons, Leonard Slatkin, Gerard Schwartz, Robert Spano, Michael Tilson Thomas and David Zinman.
    He has performed with notable artists including Emanuel Ax, Sarah Chang, Renee Fleming, Hilary Hahn, Thomas Hampson, Lynn Harrell, Lang Lang, Yo Yo Ma, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Andre Watts. Branson has premiered works by composers such as John Adams, Richard Danielpour, Michael Gandolfi, Philip Glass, Jennifer Higdon, Gyorgi Ligeti, Steven Mackey and Christopher Theofanidis.
    Branson earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Texas State University. He then earned his Masters of Music degree from Temple University in Philadelphia under the tutelage of Alan Abel. During his education, Branson attended the Aspen Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, Roundtop Music Festival and the Texas Music Festival.
    When not performing Branson enjoys high adrenaline sports. As of 2015, he holds two world records in wingsuit skydiving in addition to several national records. He also can be found on the ski slopes in the Rockies during the winter whenever he has a few free days. Branson is also an avid endurance runner. Branson is the chair of the Percussion Department at Carnegie Mellon University.

Heinz Hall
Friday, February 19 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 21 at 2:30 p.m.

Stewart Copeland   Concerto No. 1 for Trapset, Three Percussionists and Orchestra, "The Tyrant's Crush"
Poltroons in Paradise
Monster Just Needed Love (But Ate the Children Anyway)
Over the Wall (or up against it)

Dmitri Shostakovich                  Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Opus 10 I.
I. Allegretto - Allegro non troppo
II. Allegro
III. Lento
IV. Allegro molto – Lento

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