Thursday, May 12, 2016

PSO to Perform Music from Two Strauss Operas along with Work Featuring the "Wizard of Percussion"

Martin Grubinger, a.k.a. The "Wizard of Percussion to perform with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Photo Credit: Feilx Broede

Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are known for their performances of the music of Richard Strauss. On May 13-15, music from the composer’s beloved operas, Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier, are center stage during the BNY Mellon Grand Classics at Heinz Hall.

The two wildly different operas provide a unique listening experience. After the world premiere of Elektra in 1909, one reviewer joked that Strauss’ next work would also include "four locomotives, 10 jaguars and several rhinoceroses." This Elektra symphonic rhapsody was conceived by Honeck and orchestrated by Tomás Ille. The great comedic opera Der Rosenkavalier brings a lighter tone, complete with passion, love and, of course, a waltz. Both Strauss works will be recorded this weekend for a future commercial release.

Also on the program, the "Wizard of Percussion" Martin Grubinger makes his Heinz Hall debut, performing Bruno Hartl’s Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra. Hartl, the former principal timpanist of the Vienna Philharmonic, wrote the piece in 2000 for the then 17-year-old Grubinger, crafting a score that calls for two dozen different percussion instruments.

Grubinger will be part of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s 2016 European Tour, which begins on May 17. He will perform the Hartl Concerto with the orchestra during concerts in Hannover, Germany, and Vienna, Austria.

A pre-concert talk, open to all ticket holders and led by Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, will occur on stage one hour before each concert. Program notes for the weekend are available online at and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.

During the weekend, beginning one hour before each concert’s start time, student musicians from the Youth Chamber Connection will perform in the Grand Lobby of Heinz Hall. These performances are free to ticketholders.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 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

Described by a Viennese critic as "A wizard of percussion," Austrian multi-percussionist MARTIN GRUBINGER makes his solo percussion performances real "must-see" events. A regular guest with many of the leading orchestras and at the world's top venues, Grubinger possesses an unusually broad repertoire ranging from solo works and chamber music with partners including his own Percussive Planet Ensemble, to percussion concertos.

In the 2015-2016 season Grubinger debuts with New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla and returns to the National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester Berlin, Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, Gewandhaus Leipzig and National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. He will be artist-in-residence at the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. Together with baritone Thomas Hampson he will tour a recital programme to Munich’s Gasteig, Wiener Konzerthaus, Teatro alla Scala in Milan and Heidelberger Frühling Festival. A tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Manfred Honeck will lead him into important halls across Europe.

Grubinger was artist-in-residence at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in 2008-2009 and has since followed this with residences with Camerata Salzburg and at the Philharmonie Köln, Philharmonie München, Wiener Konzerthaus and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival just now. He has appeared with orchestras including NHK Symphony and Oslo Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, Münchner, Hamburger and Dresdner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker, Bamberger Symphoniker and BBC Philharmonic. He guests regularly with leading orchestras in the United States, amongst them Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Amongst the growing number of works written for Grubinger are Avner Dorman’s Frozen in Time (2007) and Friedrich Cerha’s Concerto (2008), performed and recorded with the Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Peter Eötvös on Kairos, as well as Tan Dun’s concerto, Tears of Nature (2012). Spring 2014 saw the German premiere of Eötvös’ Speaking Drums with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer. His renowned percussion projects The Percussive Planet and the recently premiered Caribbean Showdown are further examples of his versatility.

Regular festival appearances include the Rheingau Music Festival, Beethoven Festival Bonn, Salzburger Festspiele, Baden-Baden Festspiele, the Brass & Percussion Festival in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. In 2013, he was artiste étoile at Lucerne Festival.

Winner of multiple prizes, Grubinger is recipient of the Bernstein Award by the Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival and the prestigious Jeunesses Musicales’ Würth Prize. Grubinger’s first CD, Drums‘n’Chant, was followed by a live DVD recording of The Percussive Planet — both for Deutsche Grammophon. He has since recorded a number of projects for various labels.

Born in Salzburg, Grubinger studied at the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz and at the Salzburg Mozarteum. He quickly garnered attention through appearances at several international competitions, including the second World Marimbaphone Competition in Okaya, Japan, and at the EBU Competition in Norway.

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