Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jane Lynch Brings Her Talent to Heinz Hall

Performer Jane Lynch Credit: Jake Bailey

TV star Jane Lynch brings her unique blend of comedy, music and storytelling to a one-night-only experience, “Jane Lynch Sings the Great American Songbook (plus one Guatemalan love song),” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Friday, July 7 at 8 p.m. at Heinz Hall.

Three-time Emmy and Golden Globe winning actress Jane Lynch from “Glee,” “Best in Show,” “Hollywood Game Night” and more joins the Pittsburgh Symphony, led by assistant conductor Andrés Franco, in a rollicking musical journey. Along with pianist Brad Ellis — the silent accompanist from “Glee” — Lynch will perform hits from Broadway and other classic favorites, such as “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” “King of the Road,” “Mambo Italiano,” “I Feel Good” and more, while sharing humorous and heartfelt personal stories.

Tickets, ranging from $35 to $85, are available at the Heinz Hall Box Office, via phone at 412-392-4900 or online at

About the Artists

Actress JANE LYNCH was raised outside of Chicago and first cut her theatrical teeth at The Second City, Steppenwolf Theatre and in many church basements all over the greater Chicagoland area. No stranger to the stage, Lynch made her Broadway debut in the 2013 production of Annie as Miss Hannigan in a limited run at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theater in New York. Soon thereafter, Lynch decided to embark on her own musical comedy tour, See Jane Sing, in which she mixes her signature quick wit with beloved Broadway songs.

Lynch is the host of NBC’s Hollywood Game Night for which she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Host. Lynch also recently wrapped the final season of Glee on Fox for which she is an Emmy and Golden Globe winner for portraying the iconic television character, Sue Sylvester. Some of her other recent credits include the Starz series Party Down, Lovespring, a Lifetime original series, Desperate Housewives and Weeds, as well as the last season of The L Word opposite Cybill Shepherd. She also had recurring roles on Two and a Half Men, Criminal Minds and The New Adventures of Old Christine.

Jane Lynch Coming to Heinz Hall July 7
In addition to her television credits, Lynch’s recent film credits include A.C.O.D, Three Stooges, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Wreck-It Ralph, Julie & Julia, Shrek Forever After, The Post Grad Survival Guide, Paul and Brownie Masters. Lynch also authored the autobiography Happy Accidents, which topped several national best-sellers list, including The New York Times and LA Times. With her comedic timing, fantastic look, and remarkable wit, Lynch is an actress to watch.

You may recognize BRAD ELLIS as the curiously silent piano player on Glee who is killed in the final episode by Sue Sylvester. Other television includes Gilmore Girls, Bunheads, Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016) and the 81st Academy Awards. Film credits include Chicago, De-Lovely, and Beauty and the Beast. A long-time session player, Brad has led more than 6,000 performances of more than 400 different concerts and musicals in New York and Los Angeles, and orchestrates for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops Orchestra, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He's been the leader on 35 albums for RCA, DRG and Varese Sarabande. Artists he’s worked with include Matthew Morrison, Kristin Chenoweth, Billy Joel, Christoph Eschenbach, Ariana Grande, Rod Stewart and Tim Curry. He’s married to Jazz pixie Eydie Alyson, and they frequently perform as Ellis 'N' Alyson.

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.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Stroking Its Ego" - A Sensuous, Erotic Dance Performance That Strips away Societal Expectations

I've been to several of Elisa-Marie Alaio's dance performances and always came away amazed by the theatricality, expertise and intriguing subject matter she and her company come up with. The current dance creation, "Stroking Its Ego" seems a doozie, one that promises to peel back societal expectations in its choreographed exploration of sensuality and eroticism.

"Stroking Its Ego" runs for four performances starting tomorrow at the Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main Street in Carnegie. For tickets, go to or phone 724-873-3576. 

Famed British Actor included in Special Battle of Homestead Events

The Meet, Greet, Commemorate event with actor-activist Mark Rylance as guest of honor, acknowledges the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Homestead, when thousands of locked-out steel workers and townspeople clashed with Pinkerton guards hired by Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie. Rylance calls it "a story worthy of Shakespere." Rylance will meet guests, who can tour the steelmaking exhibits and artifacts at the historic Bost Building. The evening features light fare, drinks, and songs led by local musician Jason Kendall.

Friday, June 30, 7 to 10 p.m.
The Bost Building
623 East 8th Avenue
Homestead, PA 15120
Tickets are $90 and benefit the non-profit Battle of Homestead Foundation.
For tickets to these events go to

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Body in the Landscape of the Mind" at the Penn Gallery Starting July 7

"12 Tower Detail" Artist: Angela Biederman

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces Body in the Landscape of the Mind, work by Angela Biederman, will be on view Friday, July 7 through Sunday, July 27, 2017 at 707 Penn Gallery, located at 707 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. The opening of this exhibit will coincide with the quarterly Gallery Crawl, and an opening reception will be held on Friday, July 7 from 5:30-10:00 p.m. A talk with the artist will also be held on July 28 at 6:00 p.m.

The works in Body in the Landscape of the Mind resulted from two objectives bound by one cohesive goal.  Biederman’s first objective was to make ceramic sculptures that referenced the body by abstracting and merging components such as appendages, organs and bones.  Her second objective was to turn the mind and its thoughts into tangible art objects that resembled a landscape in which these body forms existed.

“Thoughts about the body resided in my mind, which came to be their environment, and resulted in depicting the body in the landscape of the mind. In perceiving the mind like a landscape, the natural world guided these manifestations, because growth, decay and regeneration are inherent qualities of both. Some forms, colors, and textures mimic those found in nature, and some materials were repurposed from my environment, appropriated, altered, and renewed, just as our thoughts often are or can be,” Biederman explains. “Together, these objects became a hybridization of personal and natural landscapes, and depict the internal and external self.”

Regarding further influences of work, Biederman also shares, "when I traverse the landscape, I am engaged in my environment, and simultaneously have the freedom to let musings enter, remain and develop in my mind. The features in the landscape correlate to these encounters and abandonments, and the unpredictable discoveries found in both nature and thought arouse curiosity, astonishment and a sense of calm in me.  It is this same experience that I undergo when making art, and attempt to ultimately uphold in final form.”

About Angela Biederman

Angela Biederman is a sculptural artist whose primary medium is clay. The natural world has always been the principle influence of her work, and it is often used to also recognize personal and human endeavors such as growth, relationships, and existence.

\Angela earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Ceramics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2010. She maintained a small, personal studio in Milwaukee for over four years before beginning her graduate studied in the ceramics department at Kent State University in the fall of 2014. Before earning her MFA in May of 2016, she taught ceramics at Kent State, and was the Curatorial Assistant in the School of Art Galleries.

She has exhibited nationally at NCECA’s Providence and Philadelphia conferences, locally where she resides in Pittsburgh, and regionally in Kent, Cleveland, Columbus, Milwaukee, and the John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
For more information, please visit

"Sometimes I Just Don't Know How to be in the World" Opens July 7 at Landmark Buiklding

Exhibit of Work by John Pena Opens July 7 at the Landmark Building

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is excited to announce Sometimes I Just Don’t Know How To Be In The World, works by John Peña, will be on display July 7 through August 31, 2017 at the Lantern Building, 600 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. The exhibit will open with the quarterly Gallery Crawl and an opening reception will be held July 7 from 5:30-10:00 p.m. An artist talk will be held August 10 at 6:00 p.m.

Sometimes I Just Don’t Know How To Be In The World consists of a series of three-dimensional word balloons that will be suspended off the ground with two-by-fours. The audience will be encouraged to physically navigate the space of the gallery in order to investigate the individual sentiments written on each object, completing the special narrative. “I want to continue exploring how the act of speech has the capacity to carry a significant intellectual and emotional weight,” shares Peña of the exhibit.

In addition to the word balloons, Peña will exhibit selected drawings from an on-going project titled Daily Geology. This project consists of a collection of daily compositions that Peña has drawn over the past seven years, recording a memorable moment from his day. “I am interested in slow and gradual actions that over a sufficient period of time begin to carve out and shape forms that are monumental and powerful. In effect, I am creating an art practice that mimics geological processes like drift and erosion. With “Daily Geology,” no given entry carries that much important. It is only when they are put together that they gain a momentum to illuminate a larger story, one that hopefully evokes an appreciation for the ordinary and daily experiences of my life,” Peña states of the process.

About John Peña

John Peña is a multidisciplinary artist, illustrator and educator from the desert of Washington state. He makes art as a way of exploring the natural world and his daily interactions. A few of John’s projects include: racing with clouds, sending a letter to the Pacific Ocean every day for the last twelve years, making daily drawings about his life and constructing large-scale plaster word balloons that are precariously balanced on two by fours. John has attended a number of residences including The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art & Fine Art Work Center in Provincetown, MA. He currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.

For more information about John Peña, please visit and follow him on Instagram @johnpenastudio.

Lantern Building
Donated by PNC, the Lantern Building, located at 600 Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh, is a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Gallery hours are Wed., Thurs. from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Fri., Sat. from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Sun. from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For more information about all gallery exhibitions featured in the Cultural District, please visit

Monday, June 19, 2017

"The Christians" - Theology Presented in a Most Entertaining Way

David Whalen and Mindy Woodhead in Kinetic Theatre's THE CHRISTIANS Credit: Rocky Raco

The Christians
Presented by Kinetic Theatre
June 16 - July 2
Pittsburgh Premiere
Written by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Andrew Paul
Musical Direction and Arrangements by Douglas Levine

Pastor Paul has spent 20 years successfully growing his church from a modest storefront to a gleaming megachurch, but he no longer believes in Hell, and he’s about to preach a sermon about it. He thinks all of the people in his church are going to be happy to hear what he has to say. He’s wrong…
The Christians is epic and unexpectedly intimate, an unflinching look at faith in America.
For tickets, phone 1-888-718-4253

I sat through this very thought-provoking play on opening night and got caught up in some interesting theological issues. So much so that II concluded I'd like to have attended a discussion group with a bunch of knowledgeable ministers afterward. The playwright, author of the much acclaimed "A Doll's House, Part 2" that's racked up 8 Tony Award nominations, including Best Play, poses some intricate food for thought about Hell and other doctrinal tenets most of us take for granted.

Joshua Elijah Reese, David Whalen, & choir in Kinetic Theatre's Pittsburgh premiere production of THE CHRISTIANS Credit: Rocky Raco
David Whalen as Pastor Paul puts in a valiant (and commendable) effort to get his points of view (beliefs)  across and opens up the gate to some heady reactions on the part of his congregation. Associate Pastor Joshua, played with passion and conviction by Joshua Elijah Reese, takes umbrage with Pastor Paul's debatable, (and perhaps heretical?) outlook and initiates the inevitable schism within the congregation.

Besides exploring the implications of the minister's new spiritual insights, the playwright includes some more practical concerns such as the economic impact his revelations has on both his church and the board of directors who govern it.

One of the most interesting elements of the practical argument comes from Jenny, a congregant (Gayle Pazerski), who confronts the minister with less than admirable motives some of his flock have attributed to the beleaguered cleric.

In addition to 90 minutes of scintillating dialogue, the audience gets treated to some fine Gospel music sung by Monteze Freeland, Natalie Hatcher and Missy Moreno that's part of the church service that anchors the play. It's like a mini concert full of spirit and electrifying harmony.

Coupled with the "Act of God," currently getting a staging at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, local drama lovers can certainly get their theological fix in a pair of contrasting plays that are both presented in an extraordinarily entertaining way.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

O'Jays Join Pittsburgh Symphony at Heinz Hall June 29

O'Jays Coming to Heinz Hall Credit: Courtesy Photo

Icons of the 1970s R&B and soul sound, the O’Jays, join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for a summer concert that’s sure to sizzle on Thursday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Heinz Hall.

The soundtrack of multiple generations, the O’Jays — with founding members Walter Williams and Eddie Levert — will perform their legendary hits with an orchestral twist provided by Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco and the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Throughout their career, the O'Jays have achieved 10 gold albums, nine platinum albums and 10 #1 hits. The audience will shake their groove things to songs from these Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees such as “Love Train,” “Put Your Hands Together,” “I Love Music” and many more.

Tickets, ranging from $39 to $119, are available at the Heinz Hall Box Office, via phone at 412-392-4900 or online at

About the Artists

THE O'JAYS are touring history, a connection to an era and a sound that formed the soundtrack for the lives of several generations. The O’Jays are still hitting the road with the same electrifying energy they’ve had for more than 50 years.

Walter Williams and Eddie Levert first met when they were the ages of six and seven respectively. As teenagers in Canton, Ohio, they formed a band originally consisting of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. In 1963, the band took the name The O'Jays in tribute to Cleveland radio disc jockey Eddie O'Jay. Several members have changed, but the core, original lead singers Eddie Levert and Walter Williams, continue to front the group.

In 1972, Gamble & Huff, a team of producers and songwriters with whom the O'Jays had been working for several years, signed the group to their Philadelphia International label.  With this magic formula, often called The Sound of Philadelphia, The O’Jays scored the first number 1 and million-seller, “Backstabbers.” Subsequently, they succeeded with various chart-topping pop and R&B singles including “Love Train,” “Put Your Hands Together,”  “For the Love of Money,”  “I Love Music,”  “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love),” “Livin’ for the Weekend” and  “Use Ta Be My Girl.” This success propelled The O’Jays to be the first black vocal group to perform in arenas throughout America during the ’70s and ’80s.

Levert and Williams have a rare lifelong bond that few of us will ever experience; friends and partners for almost 65 years.
“We still appreciate our friendship, dedication to each other and the group and our love for good music." Walter continues, "We probably could have had great solo careers, but I don't think either one of us could have ever have been as big as The O'Jays."

Williams has battled multiple sclerosis for 30 years and continues to execute his dance moves with perfection when performing onstage with the group. Williams is also a volunteer national ambassador for the MS Society and a spokesperson for MS Active Source. Levert is known for his raspy voice and has a range that takes him from alto to second tenor. Levert teamed up with his son, Gerald, for a duet on  “Baby Hold on to Me,” which hit number one on the R&B charts. Levert has also mentored his very successful sons, Gerald and Sean, who became major forces in the music industry.

The O'Jays were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005 and honored with BET's Life Time Achievement Award in 2009. In 2013, they were inducted into The Official R&B Music Hall of Fame. Today, the songs of The O’Jays are still being used in many movies, commercials and TV shows. “For the Love of Money” continues to be the theme song for “The Apprentice.”

Eddie Levert Sr., Walter Williams Sr. and Eric Nolan Grant, who joined the group in 1995, continue to thrill fans today. Throughout their career The O'Jays have achieved 10 gold albums, nine platinum albums and 10 #1 hits. It's been a long journey but thanks to the fans the LOVE TRAIN is still going strong!

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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Special Program Slated for Fort Necessity

The National Park Service will host an encampment at Fort Necessity National Battlefield on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25.  Troops and Native re-enactors will perform fort construction activities and military exercises.  They will present an accurate, historical portrayal of dress, customs, manners and activities of warriors and soldiers of the French & Indian War.  Their camps will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days.  

As the French were moving into the Ohio River Valley in 1754, Native nations wanted assurance from the British that they would be committed allies and trading partners.  The weekend’s events highlight the negotiations between the Natives and British about British commitment in securing the area from the French.

 Tanagharisson, known as the Half King, was a Seneca emissary in the Ohio River Valley, monitoring activities there for the Iroquois Confederacy.  Visitors can witness these discussions as they explore the campsites of Ensign Ward’s Company and Half King’s Native Allies History talks and demonstrations of historic black powder weapons will begin at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.  The 3:00 program will be a re-enactment of the surrender conference at Trent’s Fort.

Following the conference, at 4:00 p.m there will be an artillery firing Demonstration.  Admission to the park is free.  For more information on this and other programs at Fort Necessity, please call (724) 329-5512 or visit the park’s web site at

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Diana Krall Coming to Benedum Center June 27

Jazz Vocalist Diana Krall Credit: Mary McCartney

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning jazz pianist and world-renowned singer, Diana Krall, will perform on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at 8:00 p.m., at the Benedum Center, 237 7th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.  This performance is part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents Series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Tickets ($57.50-$157.50) are available at these Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s official ticket sources:, by phone at 412-456-6666, or in person at the Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue.

Special offer! Tickets for this show include a copy of Diana Krall’s most recent album. When ordering online, patrons will receive an email with instructions on how to redeem this offer following your ticket purchase. Please allow 7 business days for this email to arrive.

Ms. Krall announced the 2017-2018 World Tour in support of her new album, “Turn Up The Quiet” (released on Verve Records, May 5) earlier this year.  The new album celebrates Ms. Krall’s return to Jazz and The Great American Songbook, reuniting the artist with GRAMMY® Award-winning producer, Tommy Lipuma.

Krall's world tour kicked off in North America on June 2 in Minneapolis, MN at The State Theater.  The European leg of the tour will begin September 10 in Vejle, Denmark at the Musikteater and also features two nights at The Royal Albert Hall in London on September 27 and 28. For a complete list of cities on the tour, including Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center, please visit:

Diana Krall is the only jazz singer to have eight albums debut at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. To date, her albums have garnered five Grammy® Awards, eight Juno® Awards and have also earned nine gold, three platinum and seven multi-platinum albums. Krall's unique artistry transcends any single musical style and has made her one of the most recognizable artists of our time.
Pittsburgh Jazz Festival Outdoors Credit: Courtesy Photo

he Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is proud to present the 2017 Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival (PJLIF). This year’s festival kicks-off with a ticketed performance of multi-Grammy Award winner, David Sanborn live at the August Wilson Center on June 16 and closes with Latin uber group, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra on June 18.

“In its 7th year, the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival has developed a brand of excellence and commitment to our jazz roots while exploring many perspectives on this music we love,” shared Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President, Strategic Partnership and Community Engagement and Director of Jazz Programs at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

The three day festival also features internationally renowned and multi-Grammy award-winner Angelique Kidjo on Saturday June 17. Kidjo, is one of the greatest international music artists today and was named by Time Magazine as “Africa’s premier diva.”  Kidjo’s appearance is a ticketed performance at the August Wilson Center.

Free concerts on outdoor stages are always the highlight at the PJLIF, and this year’s festival will not disappoint with all-star group Hudson leading the way.  This quartet is comprised of legendary musicians, Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, John Medeski and Larry Grenadier coming together to create a distinct, remarkable sound. Internationally-acclaimed trumpeter/composer and Pittsburgh favorite, Sean Jones returns to this year’s festival, and will premiere a commissioned work reflecting the political and social discourse that we are experiencing in the U.S. Each new composition is influenced by the writings of James Baldwin, and will personify the current social and cultural issues plaguing the country.

To enhance the festival goers experience, the celebration will start Friday night with a bash at the 9th Street Stage – AFROHEAT!  – a 3-hour party featuring DJ SMI spinning deep & funky Afrobeat, Afrohouse, Afrolatin, Afrofuture and AfroBrazilian rhythm’s that will keep you dancing the night away! The PJLIF will also have a JazzLive pub crawl, jam sessions, artist booths, vinyl record boutique, food trucks and a craft beer garden.

The second installment of Rhythm & Groove 2017, a large scale jazz soiree takes place on June 16th at the August Wilson Center featuring the Caribbean vibes of Elan Trotman’s Topicality, classic, jazz standards by Allan Harris, Latin grooves of Noel Quintana’s Latin Orchestra and a special appearance by Sean Jones.  General admission and VIP tickets for Rhythm & Groove are available at $50 for the party and $250 for the full VIP experience that includes pre David Sanborn show cocktails, meet and greet with the artist, and a VIP lounge throughout the evening with open bar and hors d’ouevres, plus VIP seating at each outdoor stage during the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival.  Tickets for Rhythm and Groove 2017 are available at

Tickets for David Sanborn and Angelique Kidjo are available at these Pittsburgh Cultural Trust official ticket sources:, by calling 412-456-6666 or in person at the Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
The performances on the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival outdoor stages are free but also have VIP seating available.  To become a JazzLive Friend and receive VIP benefits visit

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pittsburgh Festival Opera Opens 40th Season with "A Gathering of Sons"

Pittsburgh Festival Opera's 28th world premiere has been created  by acclaimed Pittsburgh artists to open its 40th season at Mount Ararat Baptist Church, followed by five more unforgettable performances in intimate Pittsburgh venues.

The Story:  On a cold street, an officer believes he takes a young Black man’s life in secret. But the cover of night does not conceal. The police officer, Lockdown, steals something precious from the man, Victor. From above, a collection of Spirits observes this act. A Gathering of Sons expresses an experience of both loss and an understanding of the beautiful life flowing within all of us.

Music composed and conducted by Dwayne Fulton
Libretto by Tameka Cage Conley
Directed by Mark Clayton Southers
Commissioned by Pittsburgh Festival Opera as part of the Music That Matters series of new works. Explore our interactive website:

THUR & FRI, JUNE 15 & 16
Mount Ararat Baptist Church

Rodef Shalom Congregation

JUNE 28 & 29
Kaufmann Center

JULY 1 & 8
Festival Mainstage at Winchester Thurston School

All performances at 7:30 pm

Read the libretto at:

Box Office Number 412-326-9687.
40th Season
June 15 - July 23

Pittsburgh Festival Opera is not affiliated with Pittsburgh Opera.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gateway Clipper Fleet to Shuttle Passengers to Penguin Celebration

Gateway Clipper Fleet will provide shuttle service for fans that want to celebrate the Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Championship on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

Shuttle service will begin at 9:00 a.m . from the Gateway Clipper's Station Square Dock.  Shuttle service will drop fans off in the Point State Park area.  Shuttle to the event will continue through the start of the victory parade.  

Return shuttle from Point State Park will begin immediately at the conclusion of the celebration festivities and will continue to run back to the Station Square Dock for ONE HOUR POST CELEBRATION.




About The Gateway Clipper Fleet

Founded in 1958, The Gateway Clipper Fleet is the largest inland riverboat company in America. The Clipper's 5-vessel, 1,750 passenger fleet operates year-round with sightseeing, dining and entertainment cruises on Pittsburgh's three rivers - the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. The fleet employs over 45 full time team members and as many as 300 seasonal ones. To date, the Gateway Clipper Fleet has transported over 25 million passengers and now averages over 350,000 annually. For more information, call 412-355-7980 or visit

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Beatles Themed Concert Headed to Carnegie

Beatle's Iconic Album Cover

One O'Clock Monday at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie
Wednesday, June 21, 6:30 p.m.
(doors open at 6:00) Tickets are $10 at the door.

One O’clock Monday brings their unique harmonic vocal arrangements to favorites rock 'n' roll hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s – the Beatles to the BeeGees. Their quirky and eclectic style embraces folk, classic, classic rock, jazz and blues.   This concert was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Listen Locally Downstairs takes place in the ACFL&MH's urban hipster Studio space on the third Wednesday of the month.   Happy Hour timing, but great music in a relaxed atmosphere is the draw. Beverages by donation.

Kinetic Theatre to Stage "The Christians"

The Christians
Presented by Kinetic Theatre
June 16 - July 2
Pittsburgh Premiere
Written by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Andrew Paul
Musical Direction and Arrangements by Douglas Levine

Pastor Paul has spent 20 years successfully growing his church from a modest storefront to a gleaming megachurch, but he no longer believes in Hell, and he’s about to preach a sermon about it. He thinks all of the people in his church are going to be happy to hear what he has to say. He’s wrong…
The Christians is epic and unexpectedly intimate, an unflinching look at faith in America.
For tickets, phone 1-888-718-4253

WSO to Perform Willa Cather's Iron City Music”

For the first time, the Washington Symphony Orchestra will perform at
Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. “Willa Cather's Iron City Music” on
Thursday, June 15 is free and open to the public, but tickets are
required for admission.

The concert is being offered in conjunction with the 16th International
Willa Cather Seminar, June 11-17, 2017.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather lived in Pittsburgh from 1896
to 1906. She is best known for her “pioneer” novels, My Antonia, O
Pioneers!, and The Song of the Lark, but her output also included short
stories, newspaper columns and reviews, and a total of 12 novels.

"We are thrilled to play wonderful repertoire that Willa Cather enjoyed
and wrote about during her stay in Pittsburgh,” said WSO Music Director
Yugo Ikach.  “To sit in Carnegie Hall, close one's eyes and be
transported back in time to 1905 is a sublime treat for one’s senses and

Cather reviewed Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performances in the same
hall where the WSO will play on June 15. The program will consist of
pieces that Cather may have heard at the venue or were featured in her
work in some way.

“This will be a wonderful opportunity for those with musical, literary,
and/or historical interests along with those who might simply be curious
to take in a delightful, free concert at the Carnegie Music Hall and
experience firsthand some of the cultural riches of both Cather's
Pittsburgh and the present-day region,” said Dr. Kim Vanderlann, one of
the concert organizers.

Among the eight featured pieces are Mozart’s Overture to The Magic
Flute, Wagner’s “Siegfried’s Funeral March” from Götterdämmerung, and
Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville.

The concert is sponsored by California University of Pennsylvania,
Duquesne University, Penn State Greater Allegheny, Saint Francis
University, Willa Cather Foundation, and Washington Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets can be reserved by calling Brett Vanderlaan at 301-919-1835, or
emailing Tickets are also available at the
Peters Township Public Library and at Citizens Library in Washington.

For further information about the Willa Cather Foundation, go to For further information about the symphony, visit or connect with the WSO on Facebook
( and Twitter (

Friday, June 9, 2017

"An Act of God" - Public Theater’s Divine Comedy

Marcus Stevens in "An Act of God"

You can leave your preconceived notions of God outside the door of the O’Reilly Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh. While you’re at it, abandon all images of a gray-bearded old man with Walt Whitman-like wisps of long hair and a serious visage. Or Michelangelo’s rendition on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

In playwright David Javerbaum’s "An Act of God," you get a younger, more animated and, yes, psychologically transparent rendition of the Almighty with a bit of fey and camp thrown in for good measure.
The premise of this hilarious and, yes, at times silly, sometimes thought-provoking  comedy, is that God has channeled himself into the person of Marcus Stevens, an actor well known to local audiences and trained at Point Park University who’s gone on to distinguish himself on and off Broadway and elsewhere.

God’s motivation - to introduce ten new and improved commandments to his worldwide flock. It seems he’s grown tired of the old ones much like "Don McLean has grown weary of ‘American Pie,’" He says.
In his corporeal form, He announces them one by one on a minimal stage from a white couch at the top of a stairway to heaven surrounded by clouds and flanked by two archangels, Michael and Gabriel (Tim McGeever and John Shepard), two celestial sidekicks fitted with a pair of white wings that flutter as they walk.

As God, Stevens gleefully expounds on each commandment and sets right some of mankind’s misconceptions of the Creator’s intentions and motivations. Remember the sneering joke about Adam and Steve? There may be more truth in the concept than first believed.

In this laugh-filled spoof, the iconoclastic playwright also includes interesting takes on the power of prayer, the concept of God working in mysterious way and His role in assuring celebrity and sports star success. (After seeing the play, you’ll probably cringe the next time you see some Oscar-winning actor thanking God for his or her talent or some football hero attributing his winning touchdown to will of the Almighty).

On the other hand, Biblical strict constructionists and Creationists will probably find relief on His explanation of evolution, but much of the narrative is revolutionary enough to raise the eyebrows of Born Agains and the Orthodox. I can only imagine what might have happened to the playwright if  "An Act of God" was staged in the era of the Inquisition or the Pilgrim and Puritan settlement of New England.

Beneath the comedy, satire and cynicism is another layer of theological and epistemological food for thought creating a play that entices and entertains on two different levels. One highbrow, the other not quite as lofty

Basically a one-man show for much of the  90-minute run, the archangels do manage to get in some playtime.
As Michael, McGeever rolls through the audience taking questions that are really pre-scripted, so don’t worry about being tongue-tied when asked to ask God a question. As Gabriel, Shepard is the more serious and servile of the two, reading text from a {faux} Gutenberg Bible resting on a nearby podium when needed and concurring in God ‘s pronouncements like some ethereal lackey.

Even God it seems has His prickly flashpoints and, when provoked by prying questions from Michael, raises His ire with the crack of thunder (a la sound designer Zach Moore). Mention Hell and the set is enveloped instantaneously with a dark red hue, the work of lighting designer, Andrew David Ostrowski, who works other miracles with light throughout the show..

Javerbaum’s version of God actually admits to having anger management issues and when asked why he permits suffering admits he’s "a jealous, petty, sexist, racist, mass-murdering narcissist" — just like the human beings He created in His image. "

Talking points run the gamut from the trials of Job to the partnership He forms with Steve Jobs. With the latter, He’s about to launch Creation .2, a revamped world without pain, suffering and death where everyone will live an immortal life discovering, learning  and enjoying.

Director Ted Pappas seems to bring out Steven’s inherent impish playfulness that gives his God a refreshing quality at odds with our status quo conceptions. Credit the playwright, who once wrote for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, for honing his craft to the point where comedy (with gray matter stimulation ) approaches the sublime, if not the divine.

"An Act of God," a production of Pittsburgh Public Theater, is at the O’Reiily Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh through July 2. For tickets, phone 412-316-1600 or visit website

Pittsburgh CLO Presents Disney's "The Little Mermaid"

Diana Huey as Ariel Credit: Mark and Tracy Photography

Pittsburgh CLO has joined forces with Kansas City Starlight to produce a 21-week tour of Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, coming to the Benedum Center June 14-25. A veteran cast of Broadway’s best will bring this timeless fairytale’s most beloved characters to life on stage. Tickets are now on sale at, by calling 412-456-6666 or visiting the Box Office at Theater Square. Half-price tickets for children 3-14 are also available, courtesy of Giant Eagle.


DIANA HUEY (Ariel) has appeared regionally with the The 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, ACT Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Signature Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Flat Rock Playhouse, Prospect Theatre and Playwrights Horizon. TV: Leverage, The Glee Project and New Day Northwest’s theme-song singer. She is a Helen Hayes AwardeWinner for Best Leading Actress for Signature Theatre’s Miss Saigon.

Diana Huey as Ariel Credit: Mark and Tracy Photography

ERIC KUNZE (Prince Eric) most recently appeared as Bruce in the International premiere of Fun Home opposite Lea Salonga. Additional Broadway credits include Les Misérables (Marius), Miss Saigon (Chris) and Damn Yankees (Joe Hardy). Off-Broadway: Leopard’s Leap. National/International Tours: Miss Saigon (Chris), Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus), Whistle Down the Wind (The Man), The Fantasticks, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. Regional: Joseph and the Amazing… (San Diego Critics Circle Nomination), Evita (LA Ovation Award Nomination), West Side Story, Into the Woods, Pippin (LA Robbie Award), South Pacific, The Who’s Tommy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and many others.

Cast of "The Little Mermaid" Credit: Steve Wilson

MELVIN ABSTON (Sebastian) appeared on Broadway in Sister Act. National Tour credits include The Lion King, Joseph and The Amazing…, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Sister Act. Regional: ZACH Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, TUTS, The 5th Avenue Theatre and Goodman Theatre. Film/TV: Solace, Gotham, Chastity Bites, Raising Hope, Chuck, recurred on Grey’s Anatomy, H : The Digital Series and Weeds. VO: Verizon Wireless, South Park Studios and The Prince of Peace.

JENNIFER ALLEN (Ursula) has a multitude of Broadway credits, including starring and co-starring roles in Bridges of Madison County, Sister Act (Mother Superior), Memphis, A Catered Affair, Cats (Grizabella), Little Me, Guys and Dolls (Miss Adelaide) and City of Angels. Allen has been seen in the National Tours of Ragtime (Emma Goldman), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Ma and Tessie Tura) and Cabaret (Sally Bowles). Regionally, she has worked at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Goodspeed Opera House and Paper Mill Playhouse.

Jennifer Allen, Brandon Roach and Frederick Hagreen Credit: Steve Wilson
STEVE BLANCHARD (King Triton) is a veteran of both stage and screen. Broadway credits include Beauty and the Beast, Camelot, A Christmas Carol and The Three Musketeers. National Tours: Newsies, Little House on the Prairie, Camelot and Phantom of the Opera. Television: The Tap, Law & Order, Third Watch, Cupid, Ed, Sunset Beat, Police Story and Goody Goody. Film: In Stranger Company, Those Who Wander, When the Moon Was Twice As Big, By the Dashboard Light and Rap Master Ronnie for HBO. Original Recordings: Johnny Guitar, Sundown, Frankenstein and Northbound Train.

ALLEN FITZPATRICK (Grimsby) has 10 Broadway credits to his name, including Les Misérables, 42nd Street, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Memphis, Driving Miss Daisy, Passion, Sweet Smell of Success and Damn Yankees. Fitzpatrick was featured in five National Tours, including starring as “Max” in Sunset Boulevard. Multiple TV/film roles. He currently portrays Major Werner on Chaldea.

FREDERICK HAGREEN (Jetsam) has appeared regionally in Assassins as John Hinckley, Jr., Pirates of Penzance and Jasper in Deadland (The 5th Avenue Theatre); Come From Away (Seattle Rep.); Bad Apples (ACT); Disney’s Mary Poppins and Les Misérables (Village Theatre); American Idiot and Really, Really (ArtsWest).

BRANDON ROACH (Flotsam) also appeared in the National Tour of Beauty and the Beast. Regional: Tuacahn (Sister Act, Disney’s When You Wish), Surflight (The Wizard of Oz), Cd’A Summer Theatre (Mary Poppins; 9 to 5 and Hello, Dolly!).

CONNOR RUSSELL (Flounder) has many regional credits, including Quentin in October Sky (The Old Globe); the premiere of Disney’s Aladdin, Hairspray Anniversary Concert, A Chorus Line (The 5th Avenue Theatre); Idaho! The Comedy Musical (The Smith Center); A Musical Christmas Carol (Pittsburgh CLO); White Christmas (Arkansas Rep); The Who’s Tommy (Village Theatre) and Gypsy (Capital Rep). Film: Paul in The Hinterlands (IAWTV Award nomination for Best Leading Actor), Brand Upon the Brain (Toronto Film Festival/New York Film Festival), Truth Slash Fiction (SeriesFest 2016 Winner). Instagram/Twitter: @mrconnorrussell.

JAMIE TORCELLINI (Scuttle) is a Broadway veteran, with credits including Cats (Mr. Mistoffelees), Little Johnny Jones (Standby for Donny Osmond), Me and My Girl (Standby for Jim Dale), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Man of La Mancha (Barber), Beauty and the Beast (LeFou) and the original company of Billy Elliot. Television/Film: Law & Order, ER, Mrs. Santa Claus, The Jamie Foxx Show, Stuart Little. Torcellini has also provided character voices for Disney’s Tarzan, Pocahontas and was the character model for the body of Aladdin.

ALAN MENKEN (Music) is the composer behind many of Disney’s most beloved films, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Newsies, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules and Home on the Range.  Stage credits: Little Shop of Horrors; Beauty and the Beast; A Christmas Carol; King David; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Real Life Funnies, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravits, Weird Romance and Der Glocker Von Notre Dame. Other achievements: A Billboard #1 album (Pocahontas) and #1 single (“A Whole New World”). Awards include eight Academy Awards, seven Golden Globes, 10 Grammys, a London Evening Standard Award, an Olivier, a New York Drama Critics Award, a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. Stage adaptations: A Christmas Carol and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, plus the film Noel.

HOWARD ASHMAN (Lyrics) wrote the lyrics for the Disney animated films The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin (3 songs). He
served as producer on The Little Mermaid and executive producer on Beauty and the Beast. With composer Alan Menken, he received two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for Best Song (“Beauty and the Beast” and “Under the Sea”) and four Grammy Awards. He received an Academy Award nomination with Mr. Menken for “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. As author, lyricist and director for the stage musical Little Shop of Horrors, which ran for five years in New York and was produced worldwide, Mr. Ashman received two Outer Critics Circle Awards, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award, a London Evening Standard Award and a Drama Desk Award. For his screenplay version of Little Shop of Horrors, Mr. Ashman received a nomination from the Screen Writers Guild and “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space” was nominated (with Mr. Menken) for an Academy Award for Best Song. He was author, lyricist and director of Smile for which he received a Tony® nomination for Best Book. Stage credits include God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and The Confirmation (his only full-length play). Artistic Director: WPA Theatre (1976–1982).

GLENN SLATER (Lyrics) Broadway: Houdini with Danny Elfman (2013). Disney’s The Little Mermaid (2008 Tony Award nomination for Best Score and Grammy nomination for Best Cast Album). West End: Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy (2009), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies (2010, Olivier nomination for Best Musical). Regional: Leap of Faith (Ahmanson Theatre, L.A. 2010). Off-Broadway: newyorkers (Manhattan Theatre Club 2001, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations). Film: Disney’s Home on the Range (2004) and Tangled (2010, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Song). Awards: Kleban Award for Lyrics, ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award and the Jonathan Larson award. Slater lives in New York City and has two sons, Benjamin and Daniel.

DOUG WRIGHT (Book) is a Pulitzer Prize-winner and has received a Tony Award®, Drama Desk Award, GLAAD Media Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama League Award and a Lucille Lortel Award for I Am My Own Wife, which premiered at Playwrights Horizon in 2003. For Grey Gardens, he was nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Book of a Musical. In 1995, Wright won an Obie Award for his play Quills, his screen adaptation was named Best Picture by the National Board of Review and nominated for three Academy Awards. Wright was cited by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and awarded the Tolerance Prize from the KulturForum Europa. Plays include The Stonewater Rapture, Interrogating the Nude, Unwrap Your Candy, Grey Gardens, The Little Mermaid and The Pavilion. Currently, he serves on the board of the New York Theatre Workshop and is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.

Ticket Information:
Tickets are on sale now at, by calling 412-456-6666 or at the Box Office at Theater Square. Groups of 10 or more enjoy exclusive discounts and specialty packages. Call our Group Sales Hotline at 412-325-1582 for more information. Visit for further information.

PSO Celebrates the Music of Ella and Louis

Vocalist Marva Hicks Credit: Courtesy Photo

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing —the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Lawrence Loh celebrate the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong during the final weekend of the 2016-2017 PNC Pops season on June 16-18 at Heinz Hall.

Armstrong gave jazz its swing. Fitzgerald gave jazz its greatest voice. This tribute to Ella and Satchmo showcases the sultry voice of Marva Hicks and the blazing brass of trumpeter Byron Stripling, as well as the full sound of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra led by Loh, former resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, music director of Syracuse’s Symphoria and newly appointed music director of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The evening features Fitzgerald’s and Armstrong’s unforgettable hits like “Love is Here to Stay,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “Sweet Georgia Brown” and more!

The “Ella & Louis: All that Jazz” PNC Pops concerts are Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, June 18 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
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. Radio station WQED-FM 89.3 and WQEJ-FM89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Conductor Lawrence Loh Credit: Courtesy Photo
LAWRENCE LOH 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. Recently, his contract with Symphoria has been extended to 2022 and he was named music director of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, beginning in the 2017-2018 season. In 2015, he concluded a decade-long association with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, promoted from assistant to associate and later, resident conductor. While in Pittsburgh, Loh was also the music director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. Previously, Loh held the position of 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 concerts 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.

During his post with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Loh worked closely with Music Director Manfred Honeck and conducted a wide range of concerts including classical, educational and pops. He accompanied the Pittsburgh Symphony on numerous domestic and international tours and was active in the symphony’s Community Engagement Concerts, extending the Pittsburgh Symphony’s reach into neighboring communities. He led the groundbreaking Sensory Friendly concert in 2015, one of the first of its kind. Loh made his debut on the main classical series conducting Handel’s Messiah in December 2008. He worked closely with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra composers of the year, including John Corigliano, Mason Bates, Joan Tower, Steven Stucky, Jennifer Higdon and Christopher Theofanidis.

For many years, Loh led the enormously popular Fiddlesticks Family Concert Series, playing the part of script writer, host and conductor. He was awarded the Pittsburgh Symphony's Paul Ross Award for Excellence in Education and Community Engagement in 2015. Upon ending his tenure with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Loh was immediately reengaged for two weeks in both the 2015-16 and 2016-2017 seasons.

Loh is active as a guest conductor, both in the United States and abroad. Recent engagements include the National (Washington D.C.), Indianapolis, Tacoma, Utah, Seattle, West Virginia, Naples, Knoxville, Florida, Dallas, El Paso, San Luis Obispo, Edmonton, Colorado, Charleston (SC), Detroit, Malaysia, Daejeon (South Korea), Cathedral Choral Society 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). In the summer of 2016, he made his debut at Tanglewood, conducting Shostakovich 5th Symphony with the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra.
Before going to Pittsburgh, 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.

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.

In May 1998, Loh received his Artist Diploma in Orchestral Conducting from Yale School of Music, 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, 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

Trumpeteer Byron Stripling Credit: Courtesy Photo
With a contagious smile and captivating charm, trumpet virtuoso, BYRON STRIPLING, has ignited audiences internationally. As soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Stripling has performed frequently under the baton of Keith Lockhart, as well as being featured soloist on the PBS television special, Evening at Pops, with conductors John Williams and Lockhart.

Currently, Stripling serves as artistic director and conductor of the highly acclaimed Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Since his Carnegie Hall debut with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops, Stripling has become a pops orchestra favorite throughout the country, soloing with Boston Pops, National Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Toronto Symphony and Dallas Symphony, to name a few. He has been a featured soloist at the Hollywood Bowl and performs at jazz festivals throughout the world.
An accomplished actor and singer, Stripling was chosen, following a worldwide search, to star in the lead role of the Broadway bound musical, Satchmo. Many will remember his featured cameo performance in the television movie, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and his critically acclaimed virtuoso trumpet and riotous comedic performance in the 42nd Street production of From Second Avenue to Broadway. Television viewers have enjoyed his work as soloist on the worldwide telecast of The Grammy Awards. Millions have heard his trumpet and voice on television commercials, TV theme songs including 20/20, CNN and soundtracks of favorite movies.

Stripling earned his stripes as lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones and Frank Foster. He has also played and recorded extensively with the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Louis Bellson and Buck Clayton in addition to The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and The GRP All Star Big Band.
Stripling enjoys conducting seminars and master classes at colleges, universities, conservatories and high schools. His informative talks, combined with his incomparable wit and charm, make him a favorite guest speaker to groups of all ages. Stripling was educated at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan. One of his greatest joys is to return, periodically, to Eastman and Interlochen as a special guest lecturer. A resident of Ohio, Stripling lives in the country with his wife, former dancer, writer and poet, Alexis, and their beautiful daughters.

Stripling and Hicks
MARVA HICKS is an accomplished and versatile performing artist. Born in Petersburg, Virginia, she grew up singing in the church founded by her grandfather, Rev. E. E. Hicks, where she remembers being a shy singer in the children's choir.

Winning a local teen contest would expose her to the Broadway Stage and lead to a career in the performing arts. She had her first record deal while still a student as Howard University, where she earned her B.F.A., cum laude. After graduation she moved to New York and was cast in her first Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. Hicks worked with Horne for two and a half years then moved to Los Angeles, after being signed to her second record deal.

At Polygram Records, Hicks recorded her eponymous CD, which yielded the Top 10 R&B single, “Never
Been in Love Before.” During this period in Los Angeles she landed several recurring roles on the TV shows, L.A. Law, Star Trek: Voyager and Mad About You. Hicks was introduced to Stevie Wonder and subsequently, travelled the world with him as a backing vocalist.

Her reputation was growing quickly, thus having her called to work with Whitney Houston, James Ingram and Michael Jackson for the HiSTORY Tour. Earning the role of Jacarra Principle on the ABC daytime soap opera, One Life to Live brought Hicks back to the East Coast, and closer to her love for the theatre. She wasted no time and was the recipient of the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in the blues musical Thunder Knocking on the Door. Since returning to New York, she has added The Lion King, in the role of Rafiki, and Caroline or Change, in the role of The Radio, to her Broadway credits. Hicks was in Berry Gordy's Broadway smash, Motown the Musical under the direction of Charles Randolph Wright. She was directed by Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago Hudson in the off-Broadway production of The First Breeze of Summer at the Signature Theatre.

Nationally, Hicks appeared in the world premiere production of The Women of Brewster Place, in the role of Etta Mae for which she received Atlanta's Suzi Award for outstanding featured actress in a musical. In a rare jazz and blues adaptation of Porgy and Bess, she played the role of Bess and received the B. Iden Payne Award in Austin, Texas. Having appeared in five productions at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., including Crowns, Charles Randolph Wright's Cuttin' Up and Sophisticated Ladies, starring Broadway legend, Maurice Hines, she was commissioned by Arena Stage to create and star in a solo musical piece about her journey in show business as a woman of faith.

Her film credits include Assunder, starring Blair Underwood and Virtuosity, starring Denzel Washington and the star studded film, Preachin' to the Choir. As a gospel singer, Hicks is a featured vocalist on the Broadway Inspirational Voices Choir's Christmas CD, Great Joy. The Christian Cultural Center, under the leadership of Pastor A.R. Bernard and Elder Karen Bernard, is her church home.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Act Fast on This One Day Only Priority Ticket Sale

Kelli O’Hara has unequivocally established herself as one of Broadway’s great leading ladies. Her portrayal of Anna Leonowens in the critically acclaimed revival of THE KING AND I recently garnered her the 2015 Tony Award® for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, along with Drama League and Outer Critics nominations.

The year before was an exceptionally busy year. She starred as Mrs. Darling in NBC’s Live Telecast of Peter Pan, alongside Allison Williams, Christopher Walken and Christian Borle and on New Years Eve, Kelli made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the production of THE MERRY WIDOW with Renee Fleming.

In 2015 she opened in Broadway’s musical adaptation of THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. Her performance of Francesca earned her nominations for a Tony®, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Recently, she joined Showtime’s Masters of Sex as Michael Sheen’s long-lost love, Dody, completed shooting the upcoming series The Accidental Wolf, and can be seen in on CBS All Access’ The Good Fight.

A native of Oklahoma, Kelli received a degree in opera, and after winning the State Metropolitan Opera Competition, moved to New York and enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Institute. She made her Broadway debut in JEKYLL & HYDE and followed it with Sondheim’s FOLLIES, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS opposite John Lithgow, and DRACULA.

In 2003 Kelli committed to a production of THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre, beginning a sixteen year working relationship with Bartlett Sher. The show landed on Broadway in 2005 and earned Kelli her first Tony® and Drama Desk Award nominations. She moved from one critical and commercial success to another when she joined Harry Connick on Broadway in the 2006 Tony Award®-winning production of THE PAJAMA GAME, for which Kelli received Tony®, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Award nominations.

Kelli starred in the Tony Award®-winning revival of SOUTH PACIFIC at Lincoln Center, enrapturing audiences and critics alike with her soulful and complex interpretation of Nellie Forbush, and garnering Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Award nominations. She later teamed up with Matthew Broderick in Broadway's musical comedy NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, earning Tony®, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations, as well as the Fred Astaire Nomination for dance.

On Monday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m. O'Hara will be at the August Wilson Center in Downtown Pittsburgh. For Priority tickets, phone 412-456-6666. Enter promo code KELLI to purchase tickets before
they go on sale to the public on Friday, June 9.

Lecture Series Opens Saturday at Fort Necessity

The Friends of Fort Necessity announced the speakers and dates for the 2017 Lecture Series at Fort Necessity National Battlefield.  The programs will be held the second Saturday of June, July, and August at 3:30 p.m. in the Visitor Center of Fort Necessity National Battlefield.

On June 10, Deborah Davis will speak on the "Madonna of the Trail" along with a Tribute to the Century Inn.  The Madonna of the Trail is a series of 12 monuments, commissioned by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), dedicated to the spirit of pioneer women in the United States.  They were installed in each of the 12 states along the National Old Trails Road, which ran from Maryland to California.  The Century Inn is an historic Bed and Breakfast that operated in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania from 1794 until it was closed due to a fire in August of 2015.  The current owners are working to reopen the inn.

Deborah Davis is the Honorary State Regent of the Pennsylvania Sate Society Daughters of the American Revolution (PSSDAR) and has held numerous service positions with the PSSDAR and NSDAR since 1995.  She was a member of the National DAR Speakers Staff from 2010 through 2013.

The July 8 program will be “Forting Up: The Importance of Forts on the Ohio Valley Frontier” by Gary Williams.  He will discuss different kinds of forts - commercial, civil defense and military - and their respective significances, focusing on Pennsylvania, (West) Virginia and Ohio fort between 1750 and 1800.  In his program Williams will discuss different types of stockades.  He will also provide information on fort related museums that can be visited today.

Gary Williams is a retired librarian who first worked on the archaeological excavation of Fort Laurens. He is the author of The Forts of Ohio and three other books on regional frontier history, and has given 75 talks on the subject to various heritage-based organizations.

Norene Beatty will talk about “Pittsburgh's Old Stone Tavern” on August 12.  Her presentation tells the story of the Whiskey Rebellion with references to some of the 83 men who had accounts in the ledger of the Old Stone Tavern.  There were men on both sides of the whiskey tax.  The ledger starts in 1793 and goes into 1797. The very location of the tavern along the Catfish Indian Trail from today’s Washington, Pennsylvania to Braddock Field made it a witness to the Whiskey Rebellion.

Norene Beatty is a lifelong student of history and avid reader of history.  She is President of Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern Friends Trust, Inc.  The organization is attempting to acquire and preserve the Old Stone Tavern built circa 1782 in the West End of Pittsburgh, PA.  She has lived on the hill overlooking the Old Stone Tavern for over forty years. She has been researching the men who had accounts in the ledger and other histories of the tavern for the past five years.

The Lecture Series is sponsored by the Friends of Fort Necessity.  All programs are free and open to the public.  For more information on these and other programs at Fort Necessity, please call (724) 329-5512 or visit  Fort Necessity is located 11 miles east of Uniontown on Route 40, the National Road.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Live Pop up Jazz Concerts Coming up This Week at Pittsburgh International Airport

The Pittsburgh International Airport will serve as a jazz club for pop-up concerts in the month of June leading up to the Pittsburgh International JazzLive International Festival (PJLIF) presented by Citizens Bank, June 16-18, 2017 in downtown’s Cultural District.

The PJLIF attracts musicians and music lovers from around the world, so the collaboration with the Pittsburgh International Airport is a natural partnership.  “As the foyer for our great city and region, we’re excited to welcome these internationally-renowned musicians with the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival to perform at the airport for travelers and employees,” said Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis. “We’re gearing up for new international flights and more visitors to Pittsburgh this summer, and what better way to showcase all the wonderful arts and cultural events that our region has to offer than by presenting them from the moment passengers arrive.”

Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement is also the director of the PJLIF, “Jazz is the most democratic and inclusive art form, and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust takes great pride in the diversity of our audiences and variety in the music we present every year.  Having jazz welcome people to Pittsburgh when they arrive at the airport sets a festive tone for our visitors.”

Travelers and other jazz lovers that attend the concerts will receive souvenirs and a chance to win tickets on SPIRIT AIRLINES.  Chantell Ghosh, Director of Brand and Corporate Responsibility, hopes that people will learn about all the new direct flights to and from Pittsburgh on SPIRIT AIRLINES.  “At Spirit we are very focused on bringing people together – both through our low fares and through the power of music. We do this through our “Give & Go” program which allows musicians to take advantage of opportunities to tour that they might not otherwise have and through supporting innovative music events that give artists the spotlight.

As a presenting sponsor of Pittsburgh Jazzlive we are thrilled to bring the sounds of the festival to the airport.”

The concerts will kick off on June 8th with the JEVON RUSHTON GROUP.  June 9th features the group TRAVLIN’ with vocalist Tania Grubbs.  On June 14th pianist, CLIFFORD BARNES plays, and then Brazilian vocalist, KENIA wraps up the Pittsburgh JazzLive at the Pittsburgh International Airport Jazz Series on June 15th.  The series culminates with British singer, LAURA MVULA live at the August Wilson Center at 8pm.

All performances are open to the public and will take place in Baggage Claim, Landside Terminal from 4:00-7:00 pm. Parking is free for 1 hour in Extended Parking and $2 for the second hour. After two hours, the normal rate of $8 per day goes into effect. Parking is also available in Long Term for $3 per hour, and in Short Term for $1 for the first hour and $4.00 for each additional hour.

The Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, in its seventh year, attracts music lovers from around the world for jazz and jazz-influenced music performed by internationally-renowned artists.  This year, headliners include David Sanborn, Angelique Kidjo, Roy Ayers, and Spanish Harlem Orchestra. The performances take place at the August Wilson Center and on outdoor stages in the Cultural District.  For more information on all of the performances and events, visit

Grape Creek Viognier - A Delicious Wine from Texas Hill Country

Grape Creek Viognier Credit: Grape Creek Vineyards

In January, on a road trip through Texas, I managed a two day visit to the Texas Hill Country, including the area's biggest town, Fredericksburg. While there region abounds in tourist attractions such as the LBJ boyhood home and ranch, Enchanted Rock - the nation’s second-largest batholith, and the colorful village of Luckenbach, made famous by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, a big part of its tourist draw is its 30 wineries, thought to produce some of best wines in the state.

While I spent most of my time in the Hill Country at places other than the wineries, I did get a chance to sample some at the Cabernet Grille, not only one of Fredericksburg's most upscale eateries. but also one that serves Texas wines exclusively. The restaurant delights in letting patrons compare single grape varietals in flights of three, 4-ounce pours. Being a fan of Viognier, I chose to sample a trio of the white wine varietal that had been reduced to a mere 40 acres in the late 1960s but is now making a valiant comeback in wine regions around the world.

Included in the flight was a Viognier by McPherson Cellars, Pedernales Cellars and  Grape Creek Vineyards. Of the three, I preferred the Grape Creek by far, so much so I managed to get a hold of another bottle of the 2015 vintage for a more concentrated experience. Viola! There again were the lovely floral notes, the dry yet honey-flavored hints of apricot, peach and citrus with a bit of minerality thrown in for good measure. As to drinkability, the Grape Creek Viognier can be enjoyed by itself and, of course, also paired with food like shellfish and roasted chicken. With an exuberant yellow color, the wine has a rich creamy texture and  a long finish with a delightful staying power.

Billed as a red wine lover's white wine, the Viognier varietal is thought to be Texas signature white grape along with the red grape Tempranillo. Oddly enough, Viognier is also Virginia's white signature grape, even though the climate of the two states is vastly different.

The 2015 Grape Creek Viognier comes in with 13.7% alcohol and a price tag around $27. I'm not alone in my appreciation of this fine and tasty wine. The 2015 Grape Creek Viognier came home with a double gold medal from the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. If you've never before tried a Viognier, Grape Creek is a good starting point. If you're familiar with and even very experienced with the grape, you should enjoy Grape Creek's version, which I think captures the very essence of the grape.

Even though Grape Creek Vineyards is one of Texas top producers, it doesn't distribute its wines at wine or liquor stores or supermarkets. Its wines, however, are available by the bottle and case online as well as through its wine club. Recently, the winery obtained the rights to ship to Pennsylvania so, if you'd like to test my palate and judgement, order a bottle and see what you think. The winery's website is Salut!