Monday, September 26, 2016

PSO Tackles Music of John Williams in Pops Concert

John Williams Collage Courtesy Photo

The 2016-2017 PNC Pops season begins with a bang as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Lawrence Loh take the audience to worlds beyond imagination with “The Music of John Williams” on September 30 through October 2 at Heinz Hall.

Loh, former resident conductor at the Pittsburgh Symphony, returns to lead the orchestra in a rousing, heart-pounding night of music from legendary composer John Williams. The evening includes music from “Harry Potter,” “Far and Away,” “Star Wars” — including music from “The Force Awakens” — “Hook,” “Superman” and “Indiana Jones.” Patrons are welcome to attend the concert in costume.
A Pops Talk will occur on stage following the concert on Friday, September 30, featuring Maestro Loh, a self-proclaimed “movie music nerd.” The Pops Talk is free to ticketholders.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Doors open one hour before concert start times. Tickets, ranging in price from $27 to $104, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting
The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank PNC for its 2016-2017 title sponsorship of PNC Pops. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

About the Artists
LAWRENCE LOH is a dynamic American conductor of impressive range and talent. He is the inaugural music director of Symphoria, founded by former members of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. He also holds the position of music director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic. Additionally, Loh was recently named artistic director and principal conductor of the Syracuse Opera.

Since his appointment as music director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic in 2005, the orchestra has made its mark as an ensemble of superb musicianship, performing electrifying performances year-round. Off the podium, Loh is very active in the region as an arts leader and music advocate. He created a very successful Apprentice Conductor Program in 2012, designed to help identify and train the next generation of young conductors.

From 2005 to 2015, Loh had a very successful association with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as assistant, associate and resident conductor. He worked closely with Music Director Manfred Honeck and conducted a wide range of concerts including classical, educational and pops. He was active in the symphony’s Community Engagement Concerts, extending the Pittsburgh Symphony’s reach into other communities and led the groundbreaking Sensory Friendly concert in 2015, one of the first of its kind. He made his debut on the main classical series conducting Handel’s Messiah in December 2008. For many years, Loh led the enormously popular Fiddlesticks Family Concert Series, playing the part of script writer, host and conductor.

While in Pittsburgh, Loh was also music director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. He led this world-renowned orchestra in concerts at Heinz Hall and throughout the Pittsburgh community. He led PYSO on two international tours to Central Europe and Italy.

Having a particular affinity for pops programming, Loh has been engaged for repeat performances with Chris Botti, Idina Menzel, Ann Hampton Callaway, the Texas Tenors and more. He has assisted John Williams on multiple occasions, and conducted numerous sold out John Williams tribute concerts. He is particularly adept at conducting concerts synchronizing live orchestral music with film and has led “Pixar in Concert,” “Disney in Concert,” “Wizard of Oz” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” among others.

Loh is active as a guest conductor, both in the United States and abroad. Recent engagements include the National (Washington D.C.), Knoxville, Florida, Dallas, El Paso, San Luis Obispo, Edmonton, Colorado, Charleston (SC), Detroit, Malaysia, Daejeon (South Korea) and Greater Bridgeport Orchestras. His summer appearances include the festivals of Bravo Vail Valley, Aspen (CO), Mann Center in Philadelphia, Breckenridge, Las Vegas, Hot Springs (AR), the Kinhaven Music School (VT) and the Performing Arts Institute (PA). Loh held the positions of assistant and associate conductor of the Dallas Symphony from 2001 to 2005. He was brought to national attention in February 2004 when he stepped in to conduct on short notice for an ailing Charles Dutoit, conducting Stravinsky's Petrouchka and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Prior to his Dallas appointment, Loh was appointed by Music Director Marin Alsop to be associate conductor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and was also music director of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra.

In May 1998, Loh received his Artist Diploma in Orchestral Conducting from Yale University, earning the Eleazar de Carvalho Prize, given to the most outstanding conductor in the Yale graduating class. He received further training at the world-renowned Aspen Music Festival and School. He received his MM in choral conducting from Indiana University while also studying clarinet with Howard Klug and voice with Roy Samuelsen. He began the DMA program in opera and instrumental conducting at IU before transferring to Yale. His received his BA and Certificate of Management Studies from the University of Rochester. In 2001, Lawrence Loh was the guest curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for “What Makes Music?” an interactive exhibit, offering the opportunity to explore the science of music and sound, as well as the role of music in culture.

Loh was born in southern California of Korean parentage and raised in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Jennifer, have a son, Charlie, and a daughter, Hilary. Follow him on Instagram @conductorlarryloh or Twitter @lawrenceloh or visit his website

Violinist JEREMY BLACK was applauded for his “musical fire” and “effortless technique” by the Chicago Tribune for his debut performance with the Chicago Symphony at age 12. More recently, his “fabulous tone” and “polished, reliable virtuosity” were noted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in his “sensational” solo debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Black has been a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's first violin section since 2002, and concertmaster of the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago since 2005. He has also performed as a guest concertmaster with the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Blossom Festival Orchestra, and in the violin sections of the Chicago Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra. He began his professional orchestral career in 2000 as a first violinist in the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago.

As a chamber musician, he performed and recorded the world premiere of Eugene O'Brien's Algebra of Night with the 21st Century Chamber Consort in Washington, D.C., and has performed numerous recitals throughout the Pittsburgh region, including Carnegie Mellon, Chatham and Duquesne Universities, West Liberty State College, and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

In addition to multiple performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Black has appeared as soloist with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Live Chamber Ensemble and in subscription concerts with the Chicago String Ensemble and Evanston Symphony. He won first prizes in the University of Michigan and Case Western Reserve University concerto competitions, the Society of American Musicians Competition, the Nordic Musical Arts Competition and the Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition.

A native of Evanston, Illinois, Black studied with Mark Zinger, currently professor emeritus at DePaul University and a former student and colleague of David Oistrakh. Black's secondary education began in 1996 at Case Western Reserve University where he studied with Linda Cerone at the Cleveland Institute of Music. After graduating, he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to pursue his master’s degree with Paul Kantor at the University of Michigan. In addition to private lessons, he coaches chamber music and leads sectionals for both Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Black resides in Pittsburgh's Highland Park neighborhood with his wife, Kate, and their two sons. He plays a violin made by Lorenzo and Tommaso Carcassi, dated 1783.

The TROMBONE CHOIR is under the direction of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra trombonist Jim Nova and is comprised of Pittsburgh Symphony members and current students and recent graduates of Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon University.

Pittsburgh Opera To Stage Verdi's La traviata

Party Scene from La traviata Photo: Eric Antoniou for Boston Lyric Opera © 2014

Pittsburgh Opera opens its 78th season with the Giuseppe Verdi favorite La traviata, at the Benedum Center October 8th -16th.

La traviata – the fallen woman – is a compelling tale of love, intrigue, money, and power in 19th century France.

It tells the heart-wrenching story of courtesan Violetta Valéry, played by Pittsburgh favorite Danielle Pastin. Alfredo Germont – played by Cody Austin in his Pittsburgh Opera debut – wins Violetta’s love and his father’s displeasure. His father, going behind Alfredo’s back, coerces Violetta into breaking up with Alfredo because their relationship threatens his daughter’s engagement and his family’s reputation.

Violetta will not disclose his father’s role in their breakup, so Alfredo erroneously believes she loves someone else. He publicly denounces her, leaving them both grief-stricken. Will they reconcile before it’s too late?

Pittsburgh Opera will be performing a production of La traviata which is new to Pittsburgh. Set in 19th century Paris, it does not shy away from some of the more ribald aspects of that society.

From the rousing “Brindisi” drinking song to touching arias, La traviata’s singing and music are sure to delight.

La traviata features a superlative cast, including:
Danielle Pastin (Violetta Valéry), a favorite of Pittsburgh Opera audiences, who last performed here in 2015’s Così fan tutte. Praised by Opera News as having “one of the most sheerly beautiful voices on the scene today,” the former Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist continues to gain critical acclaim for her engagements across the country and internationally. Ms. Pastin made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2011.
Cody Austin (Alfredo Germont), described as “beautifully talented” and “charismatic,” is making his Pittsburgh Opera debut. In March 2016, he sang this role with Opera Tampa, where the Tampa Bay Times said it was “a part he might have been born to play.” Mr. Austin has sung across the country to high praise.

La traviata - Previews on WQED-FM 89.3 and WQED.ORG
Saturday, October 1st from 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM and
Friday, October 7th from 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Hosted by WQED, and broadcast over the airwaves on WQED-FM 89.3 as well as the WQED website, the La traviata Preview gives listeners an engaging introduction to the singers, music, and story of the opera. For more information:

Pre-opera Talks for La traviata
One hour prior to each performance
Benedum Center

Ticketholders are invited to attend a free Pre-Opera Talk one hour before each performance’s curtain in the Main Floor/Orchestra section of the Benedum Center. Learn about the composer, the story and some juicy details about the opera!

Pre-Opera Talks are free to all ticketholders at all performances.

Audio Commentary: La traviata
Tuesday, October 11th, 7:00 PM
Benedum Center

Ticketholders with visual impairments are invited to use Pittsburgh Opera’s Audio
Description service at our Tuesday performances. Trained volunteers describe the scenery, costumes, and stage action. The listeners hear these descriptions via assistive listening devices. Those wishing to use Audio Description should reserve seats to the Tuesday, October 11th performance by contacting Regina Connolly at 412-281-0912, ext. 213 or Braille and large-print programs are also available.

Meet the Artists of La traviata
Tuesday, October 11th
Immediately following the opera, in the Benedum Center’s Lower Lobby

Ticketholders for the Tuesday, October 11th performance of La traviata are invited to gather in the Benedum Lower Lobby immediately following the performance for interviews with General Director Christopher Hahn and the stars of the opera. This event is free to all Tuesday performance ticketholders.

October Brown Bag concert
Saturday, October 15, 2016 Noon - 1:00PM
George R. White Opera Studio, Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters, 2425 Liberty Avenue

You're invited to Pittsburgh Opera’s free October Brown Bag concert. The program includes some of our 2016-17 Resident Artists' favorite selections. It's free and open to everyone. Bring a friend and bring a lunch! Meet the Resident Artists afterward in an informal reception.

Doors open at 11:30AM. Handicapped parking is available by reservation. For more information: 412-281-0912 or

    Sebastian Catana (Giorgio Germont), also making his Pittsburgh Opera debut. Originally from Romania, Mr. Catana first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in La bohème in 2003. Despite the fact that most of his performances are in Europe, Mr. Catana and his family live in Bethel Park.

On stage October 8, 11, 14 & 16, La traviata is an unforgettable way to open the opera season. Tickets start at just $12 and are available online.

Three facts about La traviata

La traviata is the opera that Richard Gere took Julia Roberts to see in the hit movie Pretty Woman. In the movie, Julia Roberts plays a prostitute who falls in love with a wealthy man, and La traviata moved her character deeply enough to exclaim “it was so good I almost peed my pants.”

As the most popular opera in the world, even non-opera fans know the music from La traviata. It’s been featured in TV commercials for all things Italian, and the Brindisi drinking song was the bedrock of a classic Heineken commercial.
Violetta wears a white camellia flower on her dress, which she removes in the first act and tosses to Alfredo. In the book Lady of the Camellias by Alexander Dumas, fils, which La traviata is based on, the Violetta character, also a prostitute, wears a white camellia to signify she is ‘available’ for customers, and a red one to signify she is not.

The story, in brief:

Pittsburgh Opera’s production of Verdi's La traviata takes place in France during the mid-1800s.

The story opens in Paris. Violetta Valéry has been out most of the night running from party to party with her friends, who are now continuing the festivities in her luxurious apartment.

An admirer of Violetta’s, Alfredo Germont, who has long adored her from afar, flirts with her in a rousing drinking song, the famous Brindisi “Libiamo ne’lieti calici.”

Alfredo then proceeds to confess to Violetta that he has loved her for more than a year. Moved, Violetta attempts to warn Alfredo, saying that she “doesn’t know how to love.” Besides, as you’ll hear in a stunning aria, Violetta wants to be ‘sempre libera’ – always free. “Free and aimless she must flutter, from pleasure to pleasure.”

Alfredo eventually wins Violetta over, and they move to a house in the country. Alfredo sings about how happy he has been ever since Violetta told him “I want to live, faithful to you alone.”

However, Alfredo’s father Giorgio Germont disapproves of Violetta’s relationship with Alfredo, because it threatens his family’s reputation and also his daughter’s engagement. He coerces Violetta into breaking up with Alfredo, then returns to console his son and remind him of his loving family back home in Provence.

Alfredo confronts Violetta at a party. She will not disclose his father’s role in their breakup, so Alfredo erroneously believes she loves someone else. Angry, he scorns her and storms off.

Violetta and Alfredo are both miserable. Six months later, Germont finally confesses his plot to Alfredo. Alfredo regrets the way he mistreated Violetta and attempts to reconcile. Violetta, however, is sadly succumbing to tuberculosis, and bids farewell “to happy dreams of by-gone days.” Alfredo's father enters with a doctor, regretting what he has done. However, it is too late – she dies in Alfredo's arms.

Tickets and Group Discounts:

Tickets to all performances of La traviata start at $12
All performances are at the Benedum Center, 7th Street and Penn Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District

To purchase tickets, call 412-456-6666, visit the Theatre Square Box Office, or buy online at
Group discounts are available. For discounted group tickets (6 or more), contact Regina Connolly at 412-281-0912, x 213

Three NPS Sites Will No Longer Charge an Entrance Fee

Ranger Doug Bosley at Staple Bend Tunnel Trail - Allegheny Portage Railroad Credit: National Park Service

Beginning October 1, 2016, three Western PA National Park Service (NPS) sites will no longer charge an entrance fee. This change includes Fort Necessity NB, Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site and Johnstown Flood National Memorial.

As of October 1, admission to Western PA’s NPS Visitor Centers, the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity NB and the Lemon House, and Engine House No. 6 Exhibit Shelter at Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS will also now be free. Flight 93 National Memorial and Friendship Hill NHS will continue to be fee free.

Also effective October 1, these three parks will no longer sell the America the Beautiful Annual Pass or the America the Beautiful Senior Pass. These passes are available at other National Park Service locations and are available online at  Please note that there is an additional $10.00 processing fee for all America the Beautiful Senior Passes sold online.
The America the Beautiful U.S. Military Annual Pass and the America the Beautiful Access Pass-both free-will still be available after October 1.

For More Information: phone 724-329-8131.

Students with Ranger Gregory Zaborowski along the Conemaugh River Flood Memorial Visitor Center in Background
Credit: National Park Service

Friday, September 23, 2016


Pinchas Zukerman Credit: Cheryl Mazak

Music Director Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra open the 2016-2017 BNY Mellon Grand Classics season with legendary violinist Pinchas Zukerman and Composer of the Year James MacMillan on October 7 and 9 at Heinz Hall.

Zukerman, who recently performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony during its residency at the Aspen Music Festival and School, will dazzle in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, famously described by the violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim as the “richest and most seductive” of all the violin concertos.

MacMillan’s bustling, patriotic orchestral fantasy Britannia kicks off the Scottish composer’s tenure as Composer of the Year with the Pittsburgh Symphony during the 2016-2017 season. This piece is a kaleidoscopic collection of march tunes, Irish reels, jigs and even a Cockney drinking song.

The concert concludes with the colorful “Enigma Variations,” in honor of the night nearly 100 years ago to the day when composer Edward Elgar himself led the Pittsburgh Symphony in this very work. Composed of 14 variations on an original theme, Elgar dedicated this work to “my friends pictured within,” as each variation was a musical sketch of one of his close acquaintances, including his wife, his publisher and even himself.

A pre-concert talk, open to all ticketholders and led by Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco, will occur on stage one hour before each concert. MacMillan will join Franco to discuss his work with a particular focus on Britannia. 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

PINCHAS ZUKERMAN has remained a phenomenon in the world of music for over four decades. His musical genius, prodigious technique and unwavering artistic standards are a marvel to audiences and critics. Devoted to the next generation of musicians, he has inspired younger artists with his magnetism and passion. His enthusiasm for teaching has resulted in innovative programs in London, New York, China, Israel and Ottawa. The name Pinchas Zukerman is equally respected as violinist, violist, conductor, pedagogue and chamber musician.

Zukerman's 2016-2017 season, his eighth as principal guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and his second as artist-in-association with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, includes more than 100 concerts worldwide. In January 2017, he serves as artistic director of the Winter Festival for three weeks of concerts and educational residency activities with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Guest conducting and soloist engagements include the Cleveland Orchestra and Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal Symphonies, plus overseas appearances with the Berlin and Israel Philharmonics, Camerata Salzburg, Sydney Symphony, Korean Chamber Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Miyazaki Festival Orchestra. European recitals with pianist Yefim Bronfman and chamber concerts with the Zukerman Trio round out the season.

Over the last decade, Zukerman has become as equally regarded a conductor as he is an instrumentalist, leading many of the world's top ensembles in a wide variety of the orchestral repertoire's most demanding works. A devoted and innovative pedagogue, Zukerman chairs the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music, where he has pioneered the use of distance-learning technology in the arts. In Canada, where he served as music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra from 1999 to 2015, he established the NAC Institute for Orchestra Studies and the Summer Music Institute encompassing the Young Artists, Conductors and Composers programs. He currently serves as conductor emeritus of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, as well as artistic director of its Young Artist Program.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1948, Zukerman came to America in 1962 where he studied at The Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian. He has been awarded the Medal of Arts, the Isaac Stern Award for Artistic Excellence and was appointed as the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative's first instrumentalist mentor in the music discipline.  Zukerman's extensive discography contains more than 100 titles, and has earned him two Grammy Awards and 21 nominations. His complete recordings for Deutsche Grammophon and Philips were released in July 2016, in a 22-disc set spanning baroque, classical and romantic concertos and chamber music. Fall 2016 sees the Analekta release of Baroque Treasury with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, cellist Amanda Forsyth and oboist Charles Hamann in works by Handel, Bach, Vivaldi Telemann and Tartini. Other recent releases include Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 and Double Concerto with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Forsyth, recorded in live performances at Ottawa’s Southam Hall, and an album of works by Elgar and Vaughan Williams with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Minerva Market Shoppers Credit: New Place Collaborations

Art Deco Landmark becomes unique boutique featuring regional designers, artists, authors, a lunch, and more on Wednesday, October 5.
Public Contact Information   Details:
Phone: 412-621-2353
E-mail: pam.york@

One of Pittsburgh’s landmarks is transformed into a delightful boutique when the Twentieth Century Club opens its doors to the community for the 15th MINERVA MARKET BOUTIQUE on Wednesday, October 5 from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm in the beautiful Art Deco Ballroom, open to the public for shopping at no charge.

More than 25 artists, authors and vendors from throughout the region are on hand with jewelry, clothing, accessories, art, books and gifts for anyone seeking a unique and personalize shopping experience.

Shopping is free, but reservations are requested for shopping and lunch package ($25). A buffet lunch will be served between noon to 1:30 in the Art Nouveau Dining Room. Reservations and information are available at 412-621-2353.

Minerva Market features:

Jewelry: Cristal Jewelry, Cristine Leslie’s Fine Jewelry, ESBE Designs, Maria Paul Kyros, Rachel's Cure by Design and Sabika.
Accessories, including purses, knits, scarves, and much more: Embroidery From the Heart, Envy Mack Collective, HM Designs, La Perla, Vera Bradley Accessories.

Books & Magazines: Lillie Leonardi, Dr. Shellie Hipsky
Clothing:  H. Baskin Clothier, La Perla, Magnolia on Main, Warm Wears,

Gifts:  HM Designs, Nell Mercier, Photos, Collages N’at

Home Accents, Deco and more:   Wilson & Wier

Beauty Products and food:   Nerium International and Pretzel Crazy
Passport to Pittsburgh

About The Twentieth Century Club

The Twentieth Century Club, a landmark in the heat of Oakland, is celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2014. A popular venue for regional events, weddings, parties and graduations, the TCC enjoys a history steeped in leadership and tradition as a private club whose membership has maintained the Beaux Arts building for more than a century.

Founded in 1894 by leading Pittsburgh women, the TCC today provides members with a wide array of professional, educational, cultural, social and travel opportunities. Community events bring audience to the TCC for performances by such groups as Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, and other arts and cultural organizations.

A uniquely Pittsburgh institution, The Twentieth Century Club occupies a distinguished position in the rich cultural history of Pittsburgh and uses proceeds from this sale to help in the continuous preservation of its more than a century old building.

Current members of both women and men represent the region’s legal, financial, academic, and cultural fields, among others, contributing to the club’s present and future through leadership and their individual community profiles. Members enjoy benefits including programs, networking, and use of Club facilities.

For event and membership information, contact Manager Andrew Hutchinson or Pam York at 412-621-2353 or pam.york@

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Today is National Punch Day

Over 400 years ago in India. British East India Company sailors discovered the exotic concoction we now call PUNCH. It was made with five ingredients—spirits, lemon, sugar, water and tea. But today there are hundreds of recipes to try and infinite ways to make your own. Discover the spirits you need to make it great at your local Fine Wine & Good Spirits store.

Here’s one recipe that’s perfect for welcoming fall.

Spiced Apple Punch
Spiced Apple Punch
Serves 8 to 12

• 4½ c Vin Vault Merlot
• 1½ c Basil Hayden's Bourbon
• 3 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
• 1½ c apple cider
• 3 oz sage simple syrup*
• 12 oz blood orange soda, chilled
• 8 to 12 pieces candied ginger, for garnish

Combine the first five ingredients in a large pitcher. Chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, top with blood orange soda; stir gently. Serve in rocks glasses filled with ice and garnish with a piece of candied ginger.

*Sage simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup each, cane sugar and water, and 5-6 sage sprigs. Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, let steep for 10 minutes, strain and cool completely.

Carnegie Museums to Get New Cafe with Menu by James Beard Semi-Finalist

Rendering: The Cafe Carnegie, viewed from the museum lobby

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh announces plans to create The Café Carnegie, a new restaurant at its Oakland campus. Dramatic contemporary design and a menu by James Beard semi-finalist Sonja Finn will make The Café Carnegie a centerpiece of the dynamic intersection of Forbes and Craig Avenues.

Located just off the Forbes Avenue museum plaza, The Café Carnegie will serve the community as well as visitors to Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. Opening in late-fall 2016, it will replace the current Carnegie Café, which closes for construction on September 26. Fossil Fuels, a walk-up café located on the ground floor of the Oakland campus, will continue offering a full menu of fresh, affordable, family-friendly fare.

The new restaurant will feature a comfortable, full-service dining area, and a new walk-up espresso and wine bar for a relaxing break on a museum visit. The bar will be open during all museum hours, while the dining room will serve lunch, weekend brunch, and light bites on Thursday evenings when the museums are open until 8 p.m.

The Café Carnegie menu will bring Chef Sonja Finn’s acclaimed approachable cooking to Pittsburgh’s favorite museums. As with her popular East Liberty restaurant, Dinette, The Café Carnegie will serve the best produce, meat, and seafood, responsibly sourced and simply prepared, and is sure to become a destination for dining in Pittsburgh.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh will announce The Café Carnegie’s first seasonal menu and opening dates as work progresses—please stay tuned!

Established in 1895 by Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The museums reach more than 1.4 million people a year through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Nature Wonder Wild Foods Weekend – Day 3

Dr. Don Gartman Leading the Opening Service
Day Three of my Wild Foods Weekend began with an opening service led by Dr. Don Gartman of Charleston, West Virginia ,who offered some weighty comments on such heady subjects as  theology and evolution, the number of the world’s religions, the age of the Bible and the writing of the King James version adopted by many Protestant sects. Whew!. All this even before I had my second cup of coffee!

It was not your typical Sunday sermon as Dr. Gartman starting the day with tidbits of church humor culled from Richard Lederer’s “Anguished English” and “More Anguished English.” As an example he cited the case of someone misreading the sixth commandment as “Thou Shalt not admit adultery.”

Dr. John Tumikel Wesring Euell Gibbon's Iconic Red Bandana and Giving Some Pithy Reflections
The short 30-minute long service included the reading of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Wilderness,” appropriate for wild foods and nature lovers in the assembly, and some insightful thoughts by one of the original wild foods weekend  leaders, Dr. John Tomikel of Erie, who reflected on  his long life its relation to both nature and spirituality. 

Music interspersed among their remarks was provided by guitarist, Ron Boone of Washington, Pa. who sang several songs, including “Leviathan” a hommage to the whale. The service ended with everyone joining in on a rousing version of “Country Roads.”

Vocalist/Guitarist Ron Boone
The final event of the weekend was a Wild Foods Workshop with Edelene Wood, Mike Krebill, Dr. Gartman and Leda Meredith as panelists. Titled “Encouraging Wild Foods in the 50 States,” the workshop explored the wild foods movement sparked by Euell Gibbons who initiated a change of attitude toward wild edibles from the notion that they were “poor man’s food” to one where they had evolved over the last five decades to be considered gourmet and now offered on the menus of multi-star, upscale restaurants.

Workshop Panel includes Edelene Wood, Dr. Don Gartman, Mike Krebill and Leda Meredith

Wood, one of the prime initiators of the Wild Foods Weekend, along with her mother, Hazel, gave a retrospective look back over the event’s last 49 years where themes included Civil War foods, wild foods of the various states and ethnic wild foods.

The panel advocated the start of additional wild foods events across the nation, with Meredith suggesting Facebook as a good way to contact people with similar interests in forming wild foods networks, advocacy groups and events.

For those interested in finding foraging instructors in any locale across the U.S., Krebill suggested logging on to websites such as The panel also provided information on wild foods festivals such as the High Rocks Nettle Fest in Hillsboro, West Virginia, each August and the Ramp Festival in Richwood, West Virginia.

The weekend concluded with a farewell shortly after 11 a.m. on Sunday, September 18. Many of the attendees had been coming to the annual event at North Bend State Park for a number of years, building bonds, renewing acquaintances and making new friends

 I suspect  that many left with the thought of next year’s wild foods weekend, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary from September 15 - 17, 2017. Hopefully, planners will make the golden anniversary get-together extra special and even more interesting and exciting than usual. For more information on the 2017 Wild Foods Weekend, phone 304-558-2754.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Nature Wonder Wild Foods Weekend - Day 2

The Lodge at North Bend State Park
Looking forward to my Wild Plant Hike, led by three wild plant gurus, I asked for a 8 a.m. wake up call on Day Two of my Wild Foods Weekend to get ready for  the 1.75 mile trek along the Euell Gibbons Trail at North Bend State Park. The hike promised a look at “nut bearing trees, paw paws, mushrooms and berry producing shrubs/trees.”

A few minutes after I got out of bed, I noticed a soft pitter-patter on the lodge roof. Rain, the curse of many outdoor enthusiasts, certainly put a damper on my zeal to start out. The fact that I was nursing a cold gave me even more reason to get back under the covers for a longer snooze.

When I finally awoke and gulped down my first cup of  joe, I could see some of the hikers returning to the lodge. Heartier folks than me, they seemed none the worse for their bit of less than clement weather. As they filed into the lodge lobby, the sun came out sporadically, intermixed with bouts of rain.

Three wild plant hikes were scheduled that morning – arranged according to length of the hike and in different areas of the park. One jokingly referred to as the geriatric hike took an easier route along the park roads and lawns.

Dana Babick

By 11, almost everyone had returned to the lodge, and their varying amounts of exercise seemed to have stoked their appetites. Just before the doors to the lunch buffet opened, I managed to chat with Dana Babick, a woman from Vienna, Ohio, who was attending her very first Wild Foods Weekend. By chance she also entered the Wild Foods Baking Contest and became the first place prize winner for her Black Walnut Cake with Nasturtiums.

“I used an old recipe based on carrot cake but added zucchini and black walnuts,” she said.
The baker tested a sample cake the week before, but somehow used only two cups of flour instead of the three the recipe called for. “It crashed and was a disaster,” she said.

Brave enough to try again the day she arrived at North Bend, she ended up taking first place along with $50 in prize money. “I’d never before entered a baking contest and this proves that anyone has a chance to win,” she said. “People think they have to be gourmet cooks to enter, but this shows that that’s not necessarily true.”

Glenn Roth

After lunch, just before the start of the Wild Foods Table Talk held out under a large tent on the lodge lawn, I managed to corner Glenn Roth , a wild foods advocate from Akron, Ohio who’s been “putting on” wilds foods dinners for 50 years. Roth gathers all the foods he uses for his culinary events over the course of a year starting with early greens in the spring and ending with the wild game he secures in late fall.

“Because I have to forage everything during its growing season, it takes me almost the entire year to get everything I need,” he said.

As an entrant in this year’s cooking contest, his crawfish fritters came in first place. Roth said he’s been making them for years and has been gathering the tasty crustaceans from the streams of Ohio since he was a boy.

“I still get a few nowadays but the ecology has really reduced their numbers,” he said. “There’s too many people and too much pollution. So I now buy the crawfish I need to cook with.”

I got it from the horse’s mouth that his recipe calls for a mix of corn, green pepper, eggs, cream, flour, sugar and baking powder. And of course, crawfish.

“I fry them in lard in an electric skillet,” he said. “I like cooking with lard because it gives everything a great flavor.”

Roth is no newcomer to winning at the annual Weekend get togethers. He’s won twice before for food and once for a beverage - a vegan tea made with 12 different wild herbs sweetened with maple water.

A little late for the Table Talk, I missed the first few minutes but got to listen to two of the most knowledgeable people on the subject of wild foods I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Leda Meredith from Brooklyn, New York, and Mike Krebill of Keokuk, Iowa, are both published authors.
Meredith is a lifelong forager and food preservation guide for She holds a certificate in Ethnobotany from the New York Botanical Garden where she is the gardening program coordinator for Adult Education .She is also an adjunct professor at Adelphi University where she won the Teaching Excellence Award. With a Ph.D. in creative writing, she’s been featured in the New York Times, New York Post and on the  Martha Stewart Show.

Krebill is a 7th Grade Life Science Instructor at Keokum Middle School and author of “The Scout’s Guide to Wild Edibles.” As a renowned forager and Scout leader, Krebill profiles 40 widely-found edible wild plants and mushrooms of North America in his book, available on In it, the author features color photos and positive-ID tips for each plant along with DIY activities and recipes.

Mike Krebill and Leda Meredith Lead the Outdoor Table Talk

In the table talk, the two authors explored wild edibles such as cattails, sumac and a variety of mushrooms and passed around samples of sumac-ade, and mock cattail pulled pork, served on crackers. Surprisingly, it tasted a lot like pulled pork.

“Euell Gibbons once called cattails the ‘Supermarket of the Swamp,’ Krebill said. “It has a wide variety of uses that includes parts like the stalk, the rhizome, pollen and the sheath of the flower head.”

Berdine's Five and Dime

With a little time on my hands, I drove to Harrisville five miles down the road for a look at Berdine’s, a 108-year old Five and Dime store that prides itself on purveying items found in similar stores a half century ago. Remember the wax soda pop bottles full of flavored water? How about the Octagon soap, Chinese paper finger traps and penny candy counters?

Berdine's Penny Candy Counter

The store is jam packed from floor to ceiling with everything imaginable, and browsing the historic building’s oak shelves and wooden counters under a tin ceiling should be a visit down memory lane for those over 50.

 Back at the park, before the 4 p.m. presentation of prepared wild foods buffet, I managed to spy on some of the attendees in the prep area getting the dishes ready for the buffet table. Just outside on the deck, I was drawn to Judy McCleod of Columbus, Ohio and Cathy Beckett of Westerville, Ohio who were busy making ice cream. What fascinated me most were the interesting flavors they were fabricating. But more on that later.
Judy McCleod and Cathy Beckett Making Delicious Ice Creams

When it came time to sample and graze, I have to admit the large crowd did a great job being civil as they made the rounds of the tables lined with unusual foods. No one was pushy or ill-mannered, and the entire feast went as smoothly as imaginable. Seems like the wild food crowd can also be civil and tame.

A Hearty Platter of Wild Rice with Purslane, Frog Legs and Duc
Some of the foods sampled were first time experiences for me. Others were first time preparations of things I’ve had before such as venison, elk, wild turkey, Canada goose, frog legs, fiddlehead ferns and persimmon.

In the first category, I had cicadas three ways – in peanut butter bars, in egg rolls and in chocolate cherry muffins, as well as barbequed raccoon, possum puffs and paw paw pie (one of my favorites).
 Interesting preparations of foods I’d had before included venison and elk meatballs; elk jerky and Alaskan fiddleheads with cream cheese; a platter of wild rice with purslane, frog legs and duck; turtle chowder; squirrel Mulligan; persimmon fruit cake and an array of interesting desserts, jellies, wines and beverages.

The ice creams proved to be special treats that came in flavors of butternut, elderberry, hickory nut and, my personal favorite – paw paw.

In short, I left the buffet room feeling something like Andrew Zimmer, the noted consumer of exotic foods and daring dishes .I was also amazed that there was so much variety and so much to choose from, and  I wondered how folks were ever going to be able to sit down for dinner, scheduled for  two hours after that most memorable feast.

Speaker Leda Meredith

The evening talk by Leda Meredith was a real eye-opener to the possibilities of foraged foods. Her slide presentation of beautifully prepared wild foods complimented her informative discussion titled “Wildly Nourishing: Foraging as Part of a 21st Century Sustainable Food System.”

The rationale for adding wild foods to our American dietshe explained  not only greatly reduced the carbon footprint on the environment, it also proves to be nutritionally beneficial and part of a healthy lifestyle that gets people moving outdoors in search of tasty comestibles that also come with a zero price tag.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Nature Wonder Wild Foods Weekend – Three Days in North Bend State Park

The Lodge at North Bend State Park
When I got the notice of the 49th Nature Wonder Weekend, it immediately struck my interest. Three days of wild plant hikes, a wild foods walking expedition, wild foods cooking contests with tasting, tasting and more tasting and nature and plant talks by specialists certainly sounded interesting.

Held at North Bend State Park in Cairo, West Virginia, located about 42 miles east of Parkersburg, the weekend runs from Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18. To accommodate the 80 visitors who pre-registered, the park offers overnight options that include  lodge rooms, cabins of various sizes and campsites in a wooded area replete with the state’s renowned rounded hills and cozy valleys.

Even before the three day event kicked off at 3 p.m. on Friday with a park tour by van, I managed to revisit the quaint village of Cairo, sited along the North Bend Rail Trail, which runs from Parkersburg to Clarksburg. Six years ago, I biked a 26-mile long section of the trail that started in Parkersburg, passed through two tunnels, one of the supposedly haunted, and ended in Cairo.

Tall and Narrow Bank Building in Cairo

The small village on the Hughes River is much as I remembered it – cozy, picturesque and full of friendly people. The tall and narrow bank building was still there as was the bike rental establishment, the old general store and three eateries, which included a bakery and Shemp’s, a restaurant and ice cream parlor run by a retired couple -  Three Stooges fans from Philadelphia.

A little out of Cairo, I pulled onto a gravel road, drove past a white clapboard Methodist chapel from the late 1800s and headed for the Log House Homestead B & B. Charming is not the word to describe the two story log home built in the 1880s style with hand-hewn logs harvested on the property, Period furnishings, candlelit windows, polished wooden floors, exposed ceiling beams and stone fireplace are complimented by modern amenities like a Jacuzzi for two, a  kitchenette with microwave and frig and central air and heat.

 Log House Homestead B $ B, Cairo, W. Va.
The owner, Richard Hartley, built most of the log house himself while his wife, Martha, the author of two frontier and early American cookbooks, was scheduled to be one of the guest speakers later that evening, talking on the topic of “Foods on the Frontier Table in Western Virginia (1776 - 1860).

An Upstairs Bedroom

Throughout the afternoon attendees wandered into the Lodge, some of them displaying natural foods and nature- related books, various crafts and glossy photos of the natural world. Each item is sold under the honor system, meaning buyers were trusted to make payment of their purchase at the front desk or to the sellers themselves.

Original founder, Edelene Wood addresses the audience

One of the fascinating luminaries to attend the weekend was Edelene Wood of Parkersburg. She and her mother, Hazel, tried to make ends meet and help the family survive through the Great Depression by gathering wild food stuffs. A chance encounter with famed wild foods advocate, Euell Gibbons, then still unknown to the general population, spurred Edelene on to organize the first Nature Wonder Wild Foods Weekend in September of 1968.

The spunky woman managed to get Euell Gibbons to be the weekend’s first keynote speaker, and the event has been held annually every September since. Over the years, Edelene has written several books on her favorite subject, recipes included. She also became president of the Natural Wild Foods Association, a title she still holds

 Each year, at the event, prizes are awarded to the winners of the Hazel Wood Wild Food Cooking Contest , named in honor of one of the weekend founders.

Starting at 3 in the afternoon, some of the attendees jumped into vans and Jeeps for a tour of the 2,500-acre North Bend State Park, a park ranger or employee behind the wheel. Up and down the windy roads we went, taking in the beauty of the well maintained wooded area, the swimming pool, campgrounds and dam, which holds back the waters of a beautiful lake, stocked with bounteous fish I was told.

Following a massive buffet dinner at 6:30, everyone moved into a conference room to listen to  chief judge, Bill Faust, discuss the ins and outs of the wild foods cooking contest and Martha and Richard Hartley, talk on Foods of the Frontier table in Western Virginia.

Robert and martha Hartley Dressed in Period Clothing Speak on Early American Foods
Glenn Roth from Akron, Ohio took first prize for his crayfish fritters, followed by Emanuel May from Raleigh, N. C. for his Alaskan salmon. Dana Babick of Vienna, Ohio won the prize for the best cake – a walnut cake with nasturtiums.
Following the announcement, attendees were invited to the lobby where a large buffet tale laden with the contest entries were available for tasting.

The following recipe won a previous year's prize for best Wild Foods Dessert:

Black Walnut Pie
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dark corn syrup. Bake until filling is set and pastry nicely browned, about 50 minutes. Cool and serve.
3 eggs
1 cup black walnuts
1 9-ince pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together sugar, butter, salt, corn syrup and eggs. Stir in walnuts and pour into pie crust.

Foods Entered in Wild Foods Cooking Contest Available for Sampling

Thursday, September 15, 2016


"...once more to the breach..!"

Thou art cordially invited...
Henry V, one of Shakespeare's great plays, tells the story of people striving against obstacles and overcoming odds. This 90-minute reading has been created particularly for audiences that are new to Shakespeare, with an on-stage "director" describing the play's action and "teaching" the play to the audience as he does to the actors playing the roles.

SEPTEMBER 30th at 7 p.m. and OCTOBER 2nd at 3 p.m. at
HOSANNA HOUSE, 807 Wallace Avenue Wilkinsburg, \

In person at Hosanna House
By phone by calling 412-561-6000

"...we happy few, we band of brothers..."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Edgar Allen Poe Comes to Mt. Washington Tavern to Kick Off Halloween Season

 Literary Historian Rob Velella portraying Edgar Allen Poe Credit: Courtesy Photo
Edgar Allan Poe- Master of the Macabre rises for special appearance at Mount Washington Tavern on Saturday, October 1.  Literary historian Rob Velella portrays Poe. He will read a combination of Poe's well-known and lesser-known works. Poe will also explain his reasons for writing the way he did and take questions from those in attendance.

Rob Velella is an independent literary historian and playwright specializing in American literature of the 19th century. As a scholar, Velella has published articles and presented academic papers on figures as varied as Margaret Fuller, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Walt Whitman. Nicknamed the “Prometheus of American literary scholarship,” he has taken his research outside of academia by lecturing at various historical sites, libraries, and colleges from Pennsylvania to Maine. He has worked on museum exhibits at the Boston Public Library and at Houghton Library at Harvard University.

In his ongoing efforts to bring the writers of yesterday back to the readers of today, he has dramatically brought to life literary figures Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, for which he has been featured on National Public Radio and the LA Review of Books.

This special evening program will be held at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield.  The recommended age for this program is 13 and up. Photographs are welcome.

Tickets are $10 per person and must be purchased in advance as seating is strictly limited. Tickets will be sold through Saturday, September 24, as long as space is available. Tickets may be purchased by check through the US Mail or electronically through PayPal.  Phone reservations are not available for this event.

To pay by check, you must mail your check (made payable to Friends of Fort Necessity) to Friends of Fort Necessity, PO Box 413, Carmichaels, PA 15320.  To pay electronically via PayPal, visit and send the payment to   Please include the following information with your payment:  a name for the party, preferred program time – 5 p.m. or 7 p.m., the number of tickets desired, and a phone number or email address to confirm the ticket purchase.

For more information, email or call 724-880-3897.. Fort Necessity is located 11 miles east of Uniontown on Route 40, the National Road.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Talk to Focus on Jefferson's Advocacy for Native Plants

The Washington County Master Gardeners, through Penn State Extension, will be offering a workshop entitled Thomas Jefferson: Advocate for Native Plants on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.  The workshop will take place at the John White House, 2151 N. Main St, Washington, PA  15301.  A $10 donation is requested.  Dr. Candy S. DeBerry will present information about the role Thomas Jefferson played in protecting and preserving our native plants.  Participants may enroll by contacting the Penn State Extension Office at 724-228-6881, email, or message Penn State Master Gardeners of Washington County on Facebook.

Monday, September 12, 2016

R & B Icon "JOE" at August Wilson Center on Friday, September 23

R & B Singer Joe Lewis  Thomas, aka Joe 
Soul Sessions kicks off its second season with R & B icon “JOE” at the August Wilson Center in Downtown Pittsburgh on September 23. Heralded for being a megawatt crooner, this Grammy nominated artist conveys a sexy, luminous mood with his heartfelt vocals. Performing songs from his new album “Bridges” which defines his new outlook on life’s relationships and where they have taken him – “JOE” is a classic R & B performer that should not be missed. For tickets, phone 412-456-6666.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

CLO Cabaret Goes "Toxic"

Evan Ruggiero in Pittsburgh CLO's THE TOXIC AVENGER | Photos: Archie Carpenter 

Meet Toxie!
THE TOXIC AVENGER opens September 22

Name: Evan Ruggiero

Role: Melvin Ferd the Third and Toxie

Tell us about your character(s): Melvin is an aspiring earth scientist who is out on a mission to save Tromaville from toxic waste and pollution. He's not that confident in himself and tends to get pushed around by the town bullies. One afternoon, the town bullies toss him into a vat of toxic waste. Out of the vat, Melvin reappears as...The Toxic Avenger, a large green mutant with superhuman strength!!!

Fun Fact(s) about You: I tap dance with a peg leg and have an arsenal of prosthetic legs for different activities, whether it be running, walking, dancing, swimming, or driving, including one that was made especially for this show! I also play multiple instruments including guitar, drums and piano.

Why will audiences love this show? Audiences will love this show because it's hysterical. Aside from that, there's a great love story behind the constant laughter and a positive message about overcoming adversity. Plus, who doesn't like 80's rock n' roll power-ballads?

"The Toxic Avenger" is at the Theater at Cabaret Square in Downtown Pittsburgh. For tickets, phone 412-456-6666 or visit website