Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sondheim in the Limelight Next Weekend

Join Resonance Works Pittsburgh  March 4 and Sunday March 5 in Levy Hall at Rodef Shalom congregation for Side by Side by Sondheim!

For decades, Stephen Sondheim has propelled the evolution of American musical theater with his brilliant music and texts - crossing musical and theater styles, while examining issues in contemporary life in poignant and entertaining ways.

Side by an evening packed with a plethora of tunes from his early shows - Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Anyone Can Whistle and Pacific Overtures, plus his collaborations with giants Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story), Jule Styne (Gypsy) and Richard Rodgers (Do I Hear a Waltz.)

Pittsburgh Magazine named Side by Side by Sondheim as one of the top 10 things to do in Pittsburgh in March. The venue is Levy Hall  at Rodef Shalom,, 4905 Fifth Avenue in. Pittsburgh, Performance times are at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 4 and 3 p.m. on March 5. To reserve, visit www. or phone 412-
Resonance Works bringstogether a stellar cast of singing actors with experience in both opera and legit musical theater. They include  baritones Daniel Teadt and Christopher Scott:

Christopher Scott

Christopher Scott returns to the Resonance Works stage after last season's moving performance in Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen.  Scott enjoys a rich and varied career of performing and teaching. As Assistant Professor of Music at Slippery Rock University, he teaches a voice studio and various music courses and directs the Chamber Singers and opera productions.

Scott has performed with Cincinnati Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Quad Cities Opera, Microscopic Opera, and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Festival Opera). Later this season, he and his wife will travel to Dresden, Germany to perform a cabaret recital of musical theater and jazz selections with the Landesbühnen Sachsen theater company.

Daniel Teadt

Daniel Teadt has garnered international acclaim for his work on the opera and recital stage, and  has become a regular Resonance Works collaborator since its  very first season!

Teadt has appeared in major opera houses and concert halls in the US, Europe and South America as well as engagements with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony in addition to his performance on a Grammy Award-winning recording with the London Symphony Orchestra.

A passionate advocate for art song and new music, his recital collaborations have taken him to the Festival d'Aix-en-provençe, Ravinia Festival, San Francisco Opera Schwabacher Debut series, Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, New York Festival of Song and Lyric Fest.  Scott is on the voice faculty at Carnegie Mellon University.

Resonance Works'  fabulous Side by Side trio of ladies perform a plethora of numbers - from emotional ballads like Send in the Clowns and Losing My Mind, to finely choreographed showpieces like You Could Drive a Person Crazy and Gotta Get A Gimmick:

Hilerie Klein Rensi
Hilerie Klein Rensi returns to the Resonance Works stage after last season's moving performance in Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen.  Hilerie has performed over 50 opera, operetta and oratorio works for companies including the Spoleto Festival USA, Tri-Cities Opera, Basically Bach Ensemble, Natchez Festival of Music, Lake George Opera, and others.

Hilerie is the owner and founder of Higher Voice Studio, the largest private voice studio in Pittsburgh.  When not on the stage, Hilerie resides in the South Hills with her husband and three children, while teaching private voice lessons and inspiring new young artists to pursue their musical ambitions.

Gillian Hassert
Gillian Hassert is a singer and an actor originally from Summit, NJ. She earned her B.F.A. in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University before moving to New York City in 2013. This past fall, she was performing and traveling across the country with Fame the Musical.  Last week she was a semi-finalist in the annual American Traditions Competition in Savannah, GA. She is ecstatic to be back near her old stomping grounds in Pittsburgh and remains a rabid Steelers fan.

Rebecca Shortstein
Rebecca Shorstein has performed with Resonance Works in every season beginning with our inaugural production of Verdi's Macbeth.  She has become known for her larger than life comic characters in The Elixir of Love, Cinderella, and Bach’s Coffee Cantata.  Most recently she brought her Christmas vs. Hanukkah cabaret to our Resonance Chamber series at the Livermore, and we continue to tempt her to move to Pittsburgh!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Westmoreland County Historical Society Scheduling Two Programs

Program: Hope in Hard Times: Norvelt and the Struggle for Community During the Great Depression
Presenters:  Timothy Kelly, Margaret Power, and Michael Cary
Location: The Westmoreland County Historical Society, Calvin E. Pollins Library
Date: March 9, 2017Time:  7:00 p.m.
Fee: Free for WCHS members, $7 for others
Reservations: Recommended due to limited seating. 724-532-1935 x 210

In 1933, the federal government developed a number of initiatives to combat the ravages of the Great Depression as part of a comprehensive plan known as The New Deal.  The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) allocated $25 million to create ‘subsistence homesteads’ for displaced and unemployed workers.

On April 13, 1934, Westmoreland Homesteads was established on 1,300 acresof farmland in Mount Pleasant Township, Pennsylvania.  The community was renamed Norvelt in 1937 in honor of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

More than 1,800 applied to the program in the hope of transforming their desperate situation; 254 families were selected to participate. They worked with the federal government, under the guidance of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), to envision a new kind of community that would raise their standard of living through a cooperative lifestyle and enhanced civic engagement

Norvelt stood out as a model among the nearly 100 homestead communities established nationwide during the Great Depression. Their efforts won them a nearly mythic status among those familiar with Norvelt’s history.

With the aid of the New Deal, these residents, who hailed from the hardworking and underserved class that Jacob Riis had called the “other half” a generation earlier, created a middle-class community that became one of the more successful of such programs.

Timothy Kelly, Margaret Power, and Michael Cary will discuss their book, Hope in Hard Times, and explore the many transitions faced by those who undertook this experiment. The authors will examine this still-unfolding narrative of transformation in one southwestern Pennsylvania town, and the struggles and successes of its original residents, against the backdrop of one of the most ambitiousfederal endeavors in United States history.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase.Please visit and follow our activities on the Westmoreland County Historical Society Facebook page, and on Twitter @WCHistory

Program: Irish Genealogy Workshop
Date: Sunday, March 19, 2017
Time:  9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Location: Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA  15222
Admission: $30 for members, $40 for non-members
Registration:  Advance registration is required. For more information, and to register, please visit or call 412-454-6361

Description: Join Irish genealogy experts Fintan Mullan, executive director, and Gillian Hunt, research officer, of the Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, Ireland for a workshop that will provide researchers with valuable insight into investigating the rich genealogical sources found in Ireland.

This in-depth workshop will benefit beginners and seasoned genealogists alike.  Mr. Mullan and Ms. Hunt will examine a multitude of historic records and electronic resources that will enrich your Irish genealogy research.

Irish Genealogy Workshop presentations include: Intro to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research Using Printed Sources for Irish Family History: Newspapers, Street directories, Ordnance Survey Memoirs

 Emigration from the North of Ireland to North America: Strategies for Researching Emigrant Ancestors

Irish Education and School Records: a Valuable Alternative to Non-Available Census Records for Nineteenth Century Research

One of Irish Genealogy’s Best Kept Secrets: Using the Registry of Deeds, with a Short Introduction to Irish Wills

 Solving Your Brick Walls: an Extended Q&A Session

Participants may pre-order a box lunch for an additional $10.95.In addition to the Ulster Historical Foundation, representatives from the Westmoreland County Historical Society, the Detre Library & Archives of the Heinz History Center, the Museum Conservation Center, and other local genealogical societies will be on hand to share information about local resources and tips with fellow researchers.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend a special curator-led tour of the History Center’s Irish American collection on display within the museum’s fourth floor Special Collections Gallery.

The Westmoreland County Historical Society presents this workshop in partnership with the Senator John Heinz History Center.  Please visit and follow our activities on the Westmoreland County Historical Society Facebook page, and on Twitter @WCHistory.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tuperware Lady Dixie Longate at Byham Theater

Dixie Longate Rides into Byham Theater Credit: Courtesy Photo
Audiences will never stop laughing, when America’s favorite fast-talking Tupperware lady Dixie Longate brings her new hit comedy Never Wear A Tube Top While Riding A Mechanical Bull (And 16 Other Things I Learned While I Was Drinking Last Thursday) to the Byham Theater.
Presented by 35 Concerts and scheduled for a strictly limited engagement, the production will open on February 23 and play through February 25 in Downtown Pittsburgh.

“A singular phenomenon” (The Des Moines Register) and an “uproarious time, filled to the brim with mile-a-minute jokes” (Buffalo News), Dixie Longate’s newest show swaps Tupperware for a mechanical bull as she takes audiences back to her hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Put on your cowboy boots and walk into her favorite honkytonk as Dixie shares lessons learned after a hard night of drinking.

For over 10 years, theatre-goers and critics around the world have hailed “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” as a non-stop laughter hit, so it’s no surprise that Ms. Dixie has dreamed up a follow-up show that has reviewers cheering and audiences on their feet begging for more fun!

Developed by Denver Center for the Performing Arts in the spring of 2014, Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull “offers up some real food for thought…with a down-home earthy realness that is especially loveable” (Star-Telegram).

Tickets ($49.75-69.75) are available online at, by phone at 412-456-6666 or in person at the Theater Square Box Office (655 Penn Avenue, Downtown). Performances will take place at 8:00 p.m. on February 23, 24 and 25, with an additional 2:00 p.m. matinee on February 25.

For more information about Dixie Longate and her shows, please visit

For more information about 35 Concerts, visit:
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

City of Asylum NEH Grant in Jeopardy

I have been attending City of Asylum events for at least five years - jazz concerts, avant garde music events. garden tours, poetry readings and more. They are truly a remarkable Pittsburgh orbanization that needs our support. Today, I got an email from co-founder  Henry Reese, telling me about their Natioanl Endowment for the Humanities grant and how it's now in jeopardy. Please read below and help out any way you can:

"When we applied for the NEH grant last spring, we stated 3 goals for City of Asylum literary programming. "

To create an appreciation of other cultures.

To develop empathy for diversity in our own community.  In the words of one audience member, to create “a vision of a possible future.”

To build a community in which creative free expression is a core value, defended as a basic human right, and celebrated and exercised as a necessity in a democratic society.

At the time these goals hardly seemed controversial.  But how the world has changed!  These goals are now under attack.  City of Asylum and our programming represent values abhorred by what the 1991 Charter of Cities of Asylum called “intolerant minds.”

NEH grants are to fund existing programs, mainly at colleges, libraries, museums, and other institutions.  Only 36 awards were made in the entire U.S.  So we were elated, when we got the great news that we had been selected by the National Endowment of the Humanities for one of its first-ever “Humanities Access” challenge grants….and at the top $100,000 award level!  

Until now, our programs took place in our home, on streets, and in the Alphabet City Tent.   But the selection of City of Asylum by the NEH was a recognition that our programs were comparable in quality and impact to the programs of big institutions.

There is only one problem.

Last month The Hill, citing unnamed sources from inside the Trump transition team, reported that the Trump administration plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Since the initial reports, the news is, if anything, even worse. The New York Times reported on February 18 that an internal memo was circulated within the Office of Management and Budget confirming the cuts.

Although we are supposed to have two years to raise the $100,000 to meet the challenge—half by April 20 this year and half next year—I was advised that we would be wise to raise all the $100,000 by April 20 this year. The NEH now has the funds, and if we meet the challenge we will receive the match.

Even if the NEH survives, funding cuts may be so severe that they will not be able to meet their commitments after 2017.

If we raise $100,000 in funds dedicated to meeting the NEH challenge, we will be sure of getting the additional $100,000 match.  After April 20, our grant is at risk.

We need your help. There are very few funders for literary programming and almost none for international authors like we present. For City of Asylum to receive recognition and funds like this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

You can make a gift by calling 412-226-9737, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

P.S. We have successfully launched City of Asylum @ Alphabet City.  The challenge now is to keep it alive with our programs—the purpose for which we built it.

P.P.S. Most of the NEH awards are big institutions, who can easily raise $100,000.   For a small grassroots organization like City of Asylum, this is a very hard challenge.  Your help is really important.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pittsburgh Savoyards Try Gilbert and Sullivan's "Patience"

The Pittsburgh Savoyards start 2017 fresh with  their upcoming spring production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience, playing Mar. 3 -5 and 9 -12.

Brought to life by Stage Director Robert Hockenberry and Assistant Stage Director Andy Hickly, the production will take place at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, 300 Beechwood Ave, Carnegie, Pa 15106.

Longtime Music Director and Conductor Guy Russo will lead the ensemble and orchestra. All shows begin at 8 pm except on Sundays, which begin at 2:30 pm.

Adult general admission tickets will be $25 each at the box office, with discounted admission available for children, students and seniors. Those who order tickets by March 1 can take advantage of the special early bird discount.

Local non-profit organizations have the opportunity to apply for limited blocks of free tickets to any of the performances.  Interested organizations can direct inquiries to or call 412-734-8476. If the number of applications exceeds the amount of available tickets, non-profits with an educational mission will take precedence.

The company invites all attendees of the opening night performance to attend a free reception, scheduled to immediately follow final curtain call. There, audience members can celebrate the show’s opening over food and wine with the cast, crew, orchestra, and Board of Trustees.

All attendees of the first Sunday matinee (Mar. 5, 2017) are invited to stay for a special talk-back event where they have the opportunity to ask questions and speak with select members of the cast, orchestra, and production staff.

In this satire of Nineteenth Century Aesthetic Movement characterized by Oscar Wilde, the curtain opens to reveal “twenty love-sick maidens” outside Bunthorne Manor, pining over aesthetic poet Reginald Bunthorne. While he pursues Patience, the local milkmaid who knows nothing about love, a second poet Archibald Grosvenor enters and reveals himself to Patience as her childhood playmate and asks her to marry him. Patience accepts but then quickly declines after realizing her marriage to him would be a selfish act and that true love must be unselfish.

Bunthorne enters, miserable from rejection, and announces his plan to raffle himself to a lucky maiden. Patience stops him by proclaiming that she will marry him after all. The maidens, seeing Bunthorne unavailable, transfer their affection back to their former fiancées in a military unit before discovering that Grosvenor is aesthetic, upon which they abandon their fiancées and flock to him.

Through whimsical song, dance, and typical humorous Gilbert and Sullivan nonsense-logic, the romantic webs eventually untangle themselves and spin into a happy ending for almost everyone at the end. The company invites members of the press who write or broadcast theatrical reviews to reserve complementary tickets and a media kit at the box office.  For more information, please call Publicity Coordinator Mark Harris at (724) 216-2414 or email

Additional information about the Savoyards can be found at The Pittsburgh Savoyards is a 501(c)(3) non-profit theatre group founded in 1938 whose mission is to honor and perpetuate the works of 19th Century English composing duo Sir William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. Using funds raised from ticket sales, fundraising events, and donations from generous patrons, the Savoyards perform two Gilbert and Sullivan productions per year, one in fall and one in spring.

The shows feature a talented mix of both amateur and professional performers from the Greater Pittsburgh Area. In addition to its stage productions, the group organizes numerous community outreach projects to bring the rich heritage of Gilbert and Sullivan to people of all ages, emphasizing the timelessness of the duo’s whimsical tales and charmingly lighthearted music. The Pittsburgh Savoyards is an ARAD asset and is also supported by the Pittsburgh Foundation.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Cultural Trust Inaugurates First Annual Black Film Fest

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is pleased to announce the first annual Black Bottom Film Festival (BBFF). The BBFF features films ranging from age-old classics to contemporary, independent Black Cinema, showcasing African-American contributions to the silver screen. The festival will take place at the August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, February 24 through 26, 2017.

The BBFF fosters an examination and discussion of how filmmakers use art to uplift, confront, and impact American culture. The first annual festival showcases films that parallel the reoccurring themes of spirituality, family conflict, race and working class struggle that serve as the foundation for August Wilson’s award-winning and internationally renowned Pittsburgh Cycle plays.

“August Wilson’s work illustrated the multi-layers and nuance of Black life in America. The films we selected parallel these distinctions and give the region an opportunity to see Independent films that they might not have a chance to see otherwise, while celebrating classics that helped shape African-American culture,” says Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

This year’s festival will feature local and nationally renowned filmmakers, and celebrate the creative contributions of Michael Schultz. As one of the first African-American directors hired by the major studios, Schultz opened the doors for directors of color with such features as Cooley High, Car Wash, Which Way is Up?,  Krush Groove and The Last Dragon.

In 2004, Schultz directed the award-winning film Woman Thou Art Loosed, which won The Image Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and garnered numerous other awards and nominations.  Schultz’s influential career has spanned more than four decades during which he has directed feature films, movies for television, children’s programming and episodes of television’s most popular series including Blackish, Star, New Girl, My Crazy-Ex-Girlfriend, Arrow, and more.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will present Mr. Schultz with the Black Bottom Film Festival Award for Cinematic Excellence on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 7:30 PM. After the award ceremony, there will be a double-feature of Cooley High and Richard Pryor’s breakout hit -Which Way is Up?.

Tickets ($15 for a single-day pass and $35 for a festival pass) go on sale January 30 at 9:00 a.m., and can be purchased online at, on the phone at 412-456-6666 or in person at the Theater Square Box Office. Tickets will also be sold, based on availability, 2 hours before the event time at the August Wilson Center’s box office located at the venue.
A complete schedule of screenings, speakers and special events can be found online at

Screenings will include:
Feature Length Films
Chapter & Verse, directed by Jamal Joseph
Like Cotton Twines, directed by Leila Djansi
Destination Planet Negro, directed by Kevin Willmott
Cooley High and Which Way is Up? directed by Michael Schultz

Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from U.C.L.A, directed by Zeinabu Irene Davis
Two Trains Runnin’ directed by Sam Pollard
Agents of Change, directed by Frank Dawson and Abby Ginsberg
“Dream,” directed by Nijla Mu’min
“A Day in the Life of a Hashtag” and “African in America,” directed Njaimeh Njie
“Ghetto Steps,” directed by Emmai Alaquiva
“Father’s Day,” directed by Demetrius Wren

Special events will include:
Podcast: Post Racial Cinema: Black Film in The Obama Age
Reelblack Podcast co-hosts Mike D. and Charles Woods survey Black films released from 2008-2016, identifying trends and milestones.

Question and Answer Sessions with Directors
30-minute Q&A’s will take place after each screening throughout the festival weekend with an hour-long session with Michael Schultz on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 PM.

Black Bottom Film Festival Award for Cinematic Excellence Ceremony
The ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m. The event will Honor Michael Schultz for 40 years of creative contributions.

Please Note: The award given to Michael Schultz is a commissioned work created by renowned Pittsburgh based artist, Thad Mosley.

August Wilson Center

The sleekly modern August Wilson Center, located in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, 980 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222, offers multiple exhibition galleries, a 472-seat theater for performances in all genres, an education center for classes, lectures and hands-on learning, and dazzling spaces for community programs and events.

The African American Cultural Center is the non-profit organization that owns the August Wilson Center. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust operates the Center on behalf of the building owners. For August Wilson Center rental inquiries, visit or email Devonne Goode, Program Manager-Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at

For more information and a calendar of events presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust taking place at the August Wilson Center, visit or call 412-456-6666.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Landmark American Works Coming Next Weekend to Heinz Hall

Join the Pittsburgh Symphony and guest conductor Lahav Shani (debut) at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh as they perform landmark works by America’s most celebrated composers honoring the city of New York.

The concert opens with Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question  and Kurt Weill's Symphony No. 2. Ives, son of George Ives, wrote his composition in 1906 but it remains a touchstone for avant-garde composers throughout the 20th century.

Weill's symphony embraces the melodies, harmonies and even feeling of his popular Broadway works. Pianist Jon Kimura Parker joins the orchestra for Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin’s iconic jazz-concerto, filled with driving rhythms and rich melodies. Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story brings the program to a rousing close.

 Rhapsody in Blue

Ives: The Unanswered Question
Weill: Symphony No. 2
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

Friday, February 24 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 25 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 26 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets starting at $20! Phone 412.392.4900.
Sappy Shakespeare - Not Your Usual Bard

Calling all drama queens, poetic waxers, over-the-toppers, and melodramatic types for a night of sappy Shakespeare. 

Bring your favorite Shakespeare monologue, scene or sonnet. Bring the histrionics, bring the tissues.  Leave the subtlety at home.

 BYOB ("Bring Your Own Bard") is Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ informal scene night in which professional actors and non-actors alike take a crack at their favorite Shakespeare pieces in a light-hearted competition.

BYOB takes place at the Te Café, 2000 Murray Ave. (at Beacon Ave) in Squirrel Hill. Doors open at 7:15 PM, readings begin at 7:30 PM.  Suggested $10 donation at the door.

BYOB.  For those who really want to read Shakespeare out loud and not worry about feeling stupid. 
All ages and levels of experience welcome to read or listen. Kids are welcome. Beverages and light fare available for purchase.

 All proceeds benefit PSIP’s Fall 2017 free production of HENRY V.directed by Alan Irvine.

 Shakespeare Slam takes place the last Monday of every month from February-May.
Anyone interested in reading should contact, 412.521.6406, or visit us on Facebook at Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks.  All proceeds support FREE Shakespeare in the Steel City.

PITTSBURGH SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKS is the city’s outdoor Shakespeare company and has been offering free Shakespeare productions in city parks since 2005.  Now in its 13th season, PSIP has entertained thousands of patrons in city parks since its inception.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Book of Mormon" returns to Benedum Center Feb. 21

Back by popular demand, THE BOOK OF MORMON, which previously played record breaking and sold out engagements, returns to Pittsburgh for a limited engagement Tuesday, February 21 through Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Benedum Center, 237 7th Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222.  This tour is a season special, part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series, a presentation of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Symphony and Broadway Across America.

Performances are Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Friday evening at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Tickets start at $40 to THE BOOK OF MORMON at the Benedum Center and are available at these Pittsburgh Cultural Trust official ticket sources:, by calling 412-456-4800 or in person at Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.  For information about the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh subscription series, visit or call 412-456-1390.  Tickets for Groups of 10+ are available online at or call 412-471-6930.

THE BOOK OF MORMON features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q.  The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker.

THE BOOK OF MORMON is the winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Book (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Direction (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker), Best Featured Actress (Nikki M. James), Best Scenic Design (Scott Pask), Best Lighting Design (Brian MacDevitt), Best Sound Design (Brian Ronan) and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman, Stephen Oremus); the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album; four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, and the Drama League Award for Best Musical.

THE BOOK OF MORMON features set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt and sound design by Brian Ronan.  Orchestrations are by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus.  Music direction and vocal arrangements are by Stephen Oremus.

The Original Broadway Cast Recording for THE BOOK OF MORMON, winner of the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, is available on Ghostlight Records.

Beauty Queen of Leenane Coming to August Wilson Center

Druid returns with the brilliantly subversive The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh on the twentieth anniversary of its debut. Multi-award winning Garry Hynes will direct the production at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh with the stellar cast of Marie Mullen, Aisling O’Sullivan, Marty Rea and Aaron Monaghan.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is set in the mountains of Connemara and tells the story of Maureen Folan, a plain and lonely woman in her early 40s, and Mag, her manipulative, aging mother. Mag’s interference in Maureen's first and potentially last romantic relationship sets in motion a chain of events that are as tragically funny as they are horrific.

Druid’s production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane debuted in Galway in 1996 in a co-production with the Royal Court Theatre. It then went on to play in London and transferred to the West End and Broadway to critical acclaim. The production won four Tony Awards in 1998 including Best Direction for Garry Hynes, the first woman to ever win a Tony Award® for Direction. In this special 20th anniversary production, Marie Mullen plays the role of Mag, having won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Maureen in the original Beauty Queen.

"The Beauty Queen of Leenane" is at the August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh at 7 p.m., Mar 2 - 3 and at 2 and 7 p.m. on March 4. Tickets are $21 to $46. Phone 412-456-6666 or visit

Friday, February 17, 2017

Warsaw Woodcuts Exhibit at Pittsburgh Holocaust Center

At 3 p.m on Sunday, February 19, the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh presents The Warsaw Woodcuts and Other Works by Bruce Carter with photographs from the collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 The cost for the opening event is $10 (free for Holocaust survivors and students with a valid ID).

RSVP by calling 412-939-7289 and speaking to Christina Sahovey.

The woodcuts will be on display until May 5, 2017.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Magnvm Opvs Tasting Concert Scheduled for February 25

Magnvm Opvs tasting concerts (MOtc) will present a fundraiser at the home of operatic soprano and WQED radio personality Anna Singer to benefit the newly-founded Pittsburgh chapter of Sing for Hope.

The event, will be held on February 25, 2017, at 4 p.m., will combine a wine tasting and a voice recital and will feature the talents of Metropolitan Opera soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird; baritone and MOtc Vice-President, Daniel Teadt; Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist, Eric Michael Ferring; and pianist Laura Ward, Co-Founder of Lyric Fest; sommelier Christian Tripodi of Cioppino Restaurant; and Co-Founder of Sing for Hope, Monica Yunus.

The hour-long program will feature 7 wines paired with musical selections. Ticket price ($100) includes a guided wine tasting, voice recital, and handcrafted delectables. All proceeds will support the launch of the Pittsburgh program of Sing for Hope. ONLY 50 seats are available! Purchase now via EventBrite at the following link: .

Matthew Burns, Founder and President of Magnvm Opvs tasting concerts, says “MOtc is excited to introduce Pittsburgh to the next hottest trend in classical music entertainment: a “tasting concert.” We will hear beautiful singing and drink exquisite wines - and all for a great cause, Sing for Hope.  Join us as we raise a glass and go on a total sensory journey in the concert we are calling: "Taste for Hope!"

The host, Anna Singer, has this to say about the event: “Having enjoyed this unique concert last year, I urge you to join us. It is a treat to be able to hear music and compare it to the taste of wine - a wonderful sensory experience. We enjoy sharing our home to promote the arts and we are very excited to have Sing for Hope as our guest for the afternoon - A Taste for Hope on February 25th - come taste, hear, and enjoy!”

Sing for Hope Co-Founder and international opera singer Monica Yunus (Metropolitan Opera, Opera Omaha, Pittsburgh Opera Theater) says, “Sing for Hope is excited to begin our national rollout with a pilot program launching in Pittsburgh in September 2017. SFH brings harmony in all senses to individuals and communities in need and that feels more urgent now more than ever."

About Sing for Hope

Since 2006, Sing for Hope’s arts outreach programs have brought hope and inspiration to thousands of individuals in under-resourced schools, public hospitals, hospices, veterans’ centers, after-school programs, neighborhood centers, nursing homes, and disability networks.
To date, Sing for Hope has partnered with over 250 nonprofit organizations, involved over 3,500 artists in community volunteerism, and placed over 335 artist-created Sing for Hope Pianos throughout New York City’s parks and public spaces for everyone to play – a symbol and celebration of art for all. Learn more at

About MAGNVM OPVS tasting concerts

An internationally acclaimed bass-baritone with a passion for wine, Matthew Burns created MAGNVM OPVS tasting concerts to explore how perfectly the language of wine is set up to help audiences gain a deeper understanding of the classical voice - and vice versa! At a typical wine tasting, participants are guided through an exploration which uses the senses of sight, smell, taste, and touch. Only one is missing: sound.

Matthew solved this by “pairing” singers and wines, presenting carefully curated wines alongside musical selections specifically chosen to highlight the parallels of voice and wine.

At a MAGNVM OPVS tasting concert, seven world-class wines are paired with songs and singers and presented in an hour-long program. At each step, Matthew will guide the audience, giving them the ability to discern and express what they hear and taste. Our intimate, salon-style events promise to change the way our guests think about wine and song! Learn more about this total sensory experience at

About the Artists

Anne-Carolyn Bird has been seen most recently on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, and Hawaii Opera Theatre, among other regional houses. A two-time Grammy nominee, the soprano is an active recitalist specializing in music being written by today’s hottest composers.

Recent chamber music performances include “Knoxville: Summer 1915” with the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra and David Lang’s “Little Match Girl Passion” with Miami’s IlluminArts. Known for her complex portrayal of Mozart’s Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Ms. Bird’s other repertoire includes Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Micaela (Carmen), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor.  

Daniel Teadt has sung in opera houses throughout the United States and Europe including Pittsburgh Opera, Arizona Opera, Aix-en-Provençe Festival, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Central City Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera Theater.

He has been on the roster of the New York City Opera for several seasons and toured nationally with the San Francisco Opera. His concert appearances include Grammy Award-winning performances with the London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

As a recitalist he has performed with the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, The New York Festival of Song and San Francisco Opera’s Schwabacher Debut Recitals.

Laura Ward is pianist and Artistic Director of Lyric Fest,, a unique vocal recital series in Philadelphia. As a distinguished collaborative pianist she is known for both her technical ability and vast knowledge of repertoire and styles.

Concert engagements have taken her to Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Spoleto Festival and the Colmar International Music Festival. She has served as vocal coach at The Academy of Vocal Arts, The CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College, Ravinia Festival Stean’s Institute, Washington Opera, University of Maryland and Music Academy of the West.

Laura is a recording artist and editor for Hal Leonard Music Publishing having recorded over 2000 song accompaniments. These recordings help countless singers and pianists experience, learn and enjoy the art song repertoire and also help introduce a world of art song to many who have had little exposure to classical song.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Yoga and Live Music Pair up at Carnegie Museum of Art

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will partner with Carnegie Museum of Art to offer one yoga and music class each month as part of the museum’s weekly yoga classes. The first class is February 23 and features Pittsburgh Symphony cellist Michael DeBruyn.

Thursday Yoga at CMOA features a weekly rejuvenating yoga session with instructor Stephanie Zito, which emphasizes stretching and relaxation. As part of its Music & Wellness program, the Pittsburgh Symphony is partnering with CMOA to provide live music during the yoga practice on the following days, featuring performances by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians:

February 23
March 30
April 27
May 18
June 22 (tentative)

Admission to the yoga classes are first-come, first-served on Thursdays from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Hall of Sculpture at the Carnegie Music of Art. The classes have a $10 general admission fee ($8 for Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh members and $5 for students). There is a limit to the number of participants for each class, so early arrival is encouraged. A 10-class pass can be purchased for $75 ($50 for Carnegie members and students).

The Pittsburgh Symphony’s Music & Wellness Program utilizes the Pittsburgh Symphony’s musicians and staff to serve as a resource for individuals and communities looking to use music as a way to promote health and wellness. This has included therapeutic, live music in medical facilities like Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System’s H.J. Heinz campus; yoga and music events; a handbook for designing and implementing music and wellness programs; and online resources, such as the Musical Living blog. More information about the program can be found at

Magnum Opus to Match Wines with Vocalists in Unique Concert

Magnvm Opvs Tasting Concerts: "Taste for Hope"
by Matthew Burns & Daniel Teadt

At a MAGNVM OPVS tasting concert, seven world-class wines are paired with songs and singers, and presented in an hour-long program. At each step, Matthew will guide the audience, giving them the ability to discern and express what they hear and taste. Together we will explore the worlds of wine and classical singing in a total sensory experience.


Sat, February 25, 2017
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM EST

Residence of Anna Singer & Don Kortlandt
115 Grandview Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Tickets $100
 Ticket price includes world class wine tastings paired perfectly with an exquisite voice recital and handcrafted delectibles.

This is a special event to benefit the Pittsburgh chapter of Sing for Hope.
Seats are limited. Please reserve your ticket(s) by February 18th.
For more information on Magnvm Opvs tasting concerts, visit


MAGNVM OPVS tasting concerts strives to change the way you engage with the often intimidating worlds of wine and classical singing. Join us as we bring together our world-class team of experts in the fields of wine and song for our next unique event.

Founder and Executive Director Matthew Burns has enjoyed an international career as an opera singer for the last sixteen years. This year, Matthew crosses his passions, wine and the classical voice to form a new type of event, MAGNVM OPVS Tasting Concerts.

Eight years ago, Matthew worked in a boutique wine store in Great Falls, Virginia where he discovered the descriptions used by wine experts paralleled the terms opera singers used to describe the classical voice. The idea for the company did not dawn on him until early 2016 when a cross-country drive took him past a billboard for a German vineyard in western Missouri read "German Food, German Wine and German music". everything came together in that moment and MAGNVM OPVS Tasting Concerts was born.


Cait and Charles Lamberton
R. Aaron Thomann
Deborah Teadt
Brent Davis
Nium Inc.
AJV Media


David Keck, Master Sommelier
Jay Hutchinson
Ryan Looper
Heather Meyer
Christian Tripodi


Anne-Carolyn Bird, soprano
David Kravitz, baritone
Tom Muraco, pianist
Djordje Nesic, pianist
Marco Nistico, baritone
Daniel Teadt, baritone
Laura Ward, pianist
Caroline Worra, soprano

What is a Tasting Concert?

Did you know that the descriptions used by wine experts to describe wine parallel the terms that musicians use to describe the elements of a classical voice?

...clear, bright, round, smoky, opulent, bold, medium-bodied...

Matthew Burns, an internationally acclaimed bass-baritone with a passion for wine, created MAGNVM OPVS tasting concerts to explore how perfectly the language of wine appreciation is set up to help audiences gain a deeper understanding of the classical voice - and vice versa!

At a MAGNVM OPVS tasting concert, audiences are guided through a traditional wine tasting process, an exploration which uses the senses of sight, smell, taste, and touch. Only one is missing: sound. Matthew solved this by building the wine tastings around specific singers, presenting specially curated wines alongside musical selections specifically chosen to highlight the parallels in both voice and wine.

Most people boil down their opinions of these art forms to one adjective - “sweet”, "sharp", “strident” - or, even more simply, to a black-and-white statement: “I don’t like it” or “I love it!” After an evening with our singers and experts, we hope our guests will have a more informed palate and the ability to discern and express what they hear and taste.

Our intimate, salon-style programs promise to change the way our guests think about wine and song!

For a video preview, click the following link:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Coming up at the New Hazlett Theater

Prime Stage Presents "1984"

A Love Supreme
Part of the CSA Performance Series
Thursday, February 16  |  8PM

Vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield and visual artist Julie Mallis explore themes of love, death, and womanhood in A Love Supreme. Inspired by John Coltrane’s melding of bee bop and free jazz, and influenced by a legacy of black women composers, A Love Supreme features works by Dorothy Rudd Moore and Yona Harvey with striking visual installations by Julie Mallis.

For tickets for either show, phone 412-320-4610 or

Presented by Prime Stage Theatre
March 3 - 12

George Orwell’s timely novel comes to life as Winston, a young employee in the Ministry of Truth who corrects “errors,” faces the consequences of falling in love. Winston tries to create his own truth in a dangerous society of surveillance, identity, and control by Big Brother.

For tickets, phone 724-773-0700 or

The New Hazlett Theater is located in Allegheny Center on Pittsburgh's North Side. Detailed driving and transit directions onwebsite.

On-street parking in Allegheny Square is available at no cost after 6 pm Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday. Paid parking is available in the Allegheny Health Network garage for evening events and weekend matinees.

The paid lot costs $7 (cash only) and closes one hour after the performances.

The New Hazlett Theater is more than just a beautifully restored historic building.  It's a nonprofit organization working to nurture and promote art in Pittsburgh. It is an incubator for the arts, and they're passionate about providing a space for the region's amazing pool of creative talent to develop, collaborate, grow and flourish. Support the New Hazlett by making a tax-deductible donation.

Area Dining
From the eclectic, American jazz-inspired menu at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy, to authentic Asian cuisine at Nicky's Thai Kitchen or a savory traditional German meal at Max's Allegheny Tavern, you are sure to find something that suits your taste buds.

The New Hazlett Theater is located at 6 Allegheny Square East on Pittsburgh's North Side.

Pittsburgh Watercolor Society - Spring Screening for New Members

New member screenings are held in the spring and fall. To become a member, one must register online or by phone and submit three works for screening. Acceptance is by two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors. All applicants will receive a notification letter regarding their screening result, approximately one week after the screening. New members will be invited to the next general meeting and will receive more information on PWS membership with their acceptance letter. There is no fee for screening.

For the screening, please bring 3 paintings, framed "exhibit-ready" to the Chapel Room of Sixth Presbyterian Church, 1688 Murray Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217  by 2:00PM on Sunday March 12, 2017.  There is no size limit, but you do need to be able to carry them. Generally our exhibits limit work to no more than 48 inches in any one dimension.  We are looking for a consistent level of professional quality painting, so it is advisable to bring us 3 pieces representative of your usual work.

For new member screening information, please contact the

To register for the Spring 2017 Screening please go to and select “Spring New Member Screening”

The Pittsburgh Watercolor Society was founded in 1945 to develop, encourage and maintain interest in watercolor painting. The original membership of 20 was one of the first groups to be affiliated with the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The membership of the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society has grown to over 200 artists who enjoy this opportunity to explore and share their broad range of style and techniques.

The Pittsburgh Watercolor Society sponsors two exhibits per year. "Waterworks" is a members-only show with awards selected by a local juror. Members may choose one piece to exhibit. "Aqueous Open" is an international juried exhibition with entries open to artists from around the world. The show is selected by a nationally known artist/juror who travels to Pittsburgh to jury the show and teach a workshop.

For more information about \the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society, please visit the PWS Website at

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Carnegie Stage and Company Deserve Laurels for "The Pink Unicorn"

Amy Landis in "The Pink Unicorn"

While it's not my practice to write a review about a show that has closed out its run by the time you'll be reading this, I was so impressed by "The Pink Unicorn' that I just had to post something. Not to brag but just merely to illustrate how highly I regard this production, I've seen at least 2,000, maybe even 3,000 or more plays in my theater-going lifetime, and I'd place this one in the top twenty, maybe even higher, on my list of favorites.

Written by Elise Forier Edie (if you're like me you'll ask WHO?), "The Pink Unicorn" is masterfully scripted and masterfully acted by Amy Landis, a actress worth keeping an eye on for future work. In total control of this one woman show, Landis (a Bonnie Rait lookalike) drew me in and held me captivated up until intermission. Even the brief break in the theatrical bubble didn't deter her from picking up where she left off, propelling the comic yet thought-provoking and touching show to its emotional conclusion.

Only low energy due to a recent bout of  a cold or flu making its way through the area and a slew of assignments and doctor visits this week prevents me from writing more. Even though you may have missed the show this week, there is great consolation in the fact that it will be restaged in May at the Carnegie Stage. My only wish is that you take advantage of the opportunity to see it then.

Carnegie Stage is at 25 W. Main Street in Carnegie. Phone 724-873-3578 for more information.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

PBT's "Alice in Wonderland" Promises a Thrill Ride of Wonders

Few things are impossible in the off-kilter world of Derek Deane’s Alice in Wonderland. This imaginative ballet careens through Alice’s astonishing escapades and the perplexing characters she meets. Beginning with a surreal dive down the rabbit hole, illusion floods the stage with curiosities – a smorgasbord of doors, tutus made of playing cards, color-changing roses and size-shifting scenery.

Seen through Deane’s creative lens on classical technique, the dancing complements the whimsy and wit of Lewis Carroll’s timeless story. Featuring over 100 costumes, a masterful medley of Tchaikovsky music and astonishing effects, this ballet offers a thrill ride of wonders.

Choreography: Derek Deane
Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky with additional music by Carl Davis
Scenic/costume Design: Sue Blane

Save 50% on a Wondrous Valentine's Date
"Oh my ears and whiskers how late it's getting!" Valentine's Day is less than a week away! Dress up, dine downtown and join us on a whimsical journey to Wonderland. Plus, for three more days, save 50% on tickets to our performance on Valentine's Day: Tuesday, February 14, at 7:30 PM.
ONLINE: PBT.ORG | CALL: 412-456-6666
Don't be late for this very important date!

Friday, February 10, 2017 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 11, 2017 – 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 11, 2017 – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 12, 2017 – 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 17, 2017 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 18, 2017 – 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 18, 2017 – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 19, 2017 – 2:00 p.m.

Programs are free and open to all performance patrons.

Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 at  10:30 p.m.
Stay after the performance for this special discussion about Alice in Wonderland with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and other artists. In the theater. No reservations necessary.

Family Pointe
Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at 1 p.m.
Explore the story and choreography of the ballet with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr in this entertaining program designed for kids and families. Includes an opportunity to try out some steps from Alice in Wonderland! Patrons of all ages are welcome! Benedum Rehearsal Studio B (enter on Liberty Ave.) Reservations: (412) 454-9109 or

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at 7 p.m.
Join company and visiting artists for an in-depth discussion about the production, including personal insights and historical context. Reservations: (412) 454-9109 or

Talks with Terry
Sundays, Feb. 12 & 19, 2017 at 1 p.m.
Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to watch the company as they finish their warm-up class on stage and talk with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr about Alice in Wonderland. In the theater. No reservations necessary.

Audio-Described Performance
Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 at 2 p.m.

Sign out a headset to listen to a live narration of the ballet (designed for visually impaired patrons). For more information about PBT’s accessibility services, please call 412-454-9109 or visit PBT’s accessibility services page.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"As One" - Pennsylvania Premier Takes an Operatic Look at Transgender Experience

Brian Vu and Taylor Raven in "As One" Credit: David Bachman
"As One" tells the story of the transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she tries to reconcile the discord between herself and the outside world. With humor and empathy, As One traces Hannah’s experiences from her youth in a small town to her college years on the West Coast, and finally to Norway where she is surprised at what she learns about herself.

As One will star Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artists Brian Vu as ‘Hannah before’ and Taylor Raven as ‘Hannah after.’ It will be performed in the intimate environs of Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.
Taylor raven in "As One" Credit: David bachman

On stage February 18, 21, 24 & 26, 2017, As One is described by the New York Classical Review as “everything that we hope for in contemporary opera: topical, poignant, daring, and beautifully written.” Most tickets are $40 and are available online. Phone 412-456-6666 or visit

Fascinating Facts about As One:
The vast majority of new operas are never performed again after their premiere. As One has already been performed by nine different opera companies throughout the United States and beyond since its 2014 premiere.
Brian Vu in "As One" Credit: David Bachman
As One is based very loosely on some of the experiences of Kimberly Reed. Kimberly produced and directed the film Prodigal Sons. The movie shows Kimberly returning home to a small town in Montana for her high school reunion, and her attempts at reconciliation with her long-estranged adopted brother, Marc. Kimberly discussed her experiences and the movie on Oprah in 2013.

Taylor Raven, the Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist who is singing the role of Hannah after, sang the role with Seattle Opera in November.

As One Co-librettist Mark Campbell is involved with not one, but two of Pittsburgh Opera’s 2016-17 operas. He also contributed additional lyrics and dramaturgical advice to Pittsburgh Opera's world premiere of The Summer King – the Josh Gibson Story, which features music by Daniel Sonenberg.

For information about how to fairly and accurately report on transgender people and their stories, please reference this link, provided by GLAAD: /transgender

Fiddlesticks Family Concert Titled "Around the 'Burgh!"

Fiddlesticks - Mascot of the Concert Series

The Fiddlesticks Family Concert Series returns with “Around the ’Burgh!,” a celebration of the music of Fiddlesticks’ hometown, Pittsburgh, on Saturday, February 18 at 11:15 a.m. at Heinz Hall.

Fiddlesticks, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s feline musical ambassador to children, joins the musicians of the orchestra to explore the rich musical history of Pittsburgh, including the music of Henry Mancini, Billy Strayhorn and more.

Special guests Madeline Kelso, Michael Ocampo, Ben Chamis, Thomas Wendt and the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus will join the series’ conductor, Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong; Fiddlesticks, the orchestra’s feline musical ambassador to children; and vocalist Katy Shackleton Williams on stage for this toe-tapping musical celebration.

Ticket holders are invited to participate in Discovery Time Adventures prior to every Fiddlesticks concert. These educational activities allow young audiences and their families to meet symphony musicians, learn songs and take part in various musical activities.

Discovery Time Adventures for “Around the ’Burgh” include sing along, music makers, dance and eurhythmics rooms as well as crafts, a selfie station, ZooBeats Kiosks and musical ambassadors from the orchestra!

Discovery Time Adventures will begin at 10 a.m. and the concert will begin at 11:15 a.m. Tickets, ranging in price from $12 to $22.25, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or by visiting

About the Artists

Francesco Lecce-Chong Credit: Courtesy Photo
American conductor FRANCESCO LECCE-CHONG has worked with orchestras around the world including engagements with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

With the start of the 2015-2016 season, he begins his new position as assistant conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra after serving four years as associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO). He will return to the MSO throughout the season for several guest engagements and will make his opera debut with the Florentine Opera. He also will continue as associate conductor of the Grand Teton Music Festival.

Lecce-Chong has earned a growing reputation and critical acclaim for dynamic, forceful performances, garnering national distinction, including the Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award and The Presser Foundation Music Award. He has also been featured in master classes with Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, David Robertson and Christopher Seaman, while working with the St. Louis Symphony, National Arts Center Orchestra and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich.
As a trained pianist and composer, Lecce-Chong embraces innovative programming,
champions the work of new composers and supports arts education. While working with the MSO, he curated and presented the works of both active and lesser-known composers, including two works commissioned by the orchestra, as well as two U.S. premieres. He also helped create the first MSO Composer Institute, providing performance opportunities for young American composers. Lecce-Chong has complemented his programming with a strong commitment to arts education for all ages. In Milwaukee, he provided artistic leadership for the MSO’s nationally lauded Arts in Community Education program — one of the largest arts integration programs in the country — and he continues to be a frequent guest speaker for arts organizations around the country.

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

Katy Shackleton Williams
KATY SHACKLETON WILLIAMS has performed extensively in the Pittsburgh area with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera, Mendelssohn Choir, Pittsburgh Opera Theater, River City Brass Band and Pittsburgh Concert Chorale. She was a featured soloist for several Pittsburgh Symphony Holiday Pops concert series and made her BNY Mellon Grand Classics debut in September 2005 with Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She was a soloist in the Heinz Hall performance of The Lord of the Rings and has been the special guest vocalist for many of the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Fiddlesticks and Tiny Tots children’s concerts.

THOMAS WENDT has been playing the drums professionally since the age of 14. A graduate of the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, he has studied with master drummers Roger Humphries, Joe Harris and Kenny Washington. Wendt maintains a busy freelancing schedule with Pittsburgh’s top jazz artists such as Dwayne Dolphin, Joe Negri, Sean Jones, Dave and Maureen Budway, Kenia, the Latin jazz group, Salsamba, and the newly re-formed Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra.

Thomas Wendt
He has also played with many visiting international artists like David “Fathead” Newman, Donald Byrd, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Phil Woods, Freddy Cole, Monty Alexander, Bill Watrous, Paquito D’Rivera, Curtis Lundy, Wycliffe Gordon, Ann Hampton Calloway and Javon Jackson. In 2008, Wendt played on the Emmy Award winning soundtrack for the PBS documentary Fly Boys and in 2010 he recorded an album featuring trombonists Jay Ashby and Steve Davis.

Wendt also has recorded albums with Gene Ludwig, Sandy Staley, Salsamba, David and Maureen Budway, and Joe Negri. Recently, he appeared at the 2012 Litchfield Jazz Festival with jazz legend Hubert Laws and in 2013 performed with pianist Alan Broadbent for the Nyack NY Library Concert Series. In addition to teaching at City Music Center, Wendt has been on the faculty at the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood since 1998 and in 2014-2015 taught drumset fundamentals at Duquesne University.

Madeline Kelso
\MADELINE KELSO is an emerging young artist who is originally from Savannah, Georgia, but moved to Pittsburgh to pursue her dream of dancing professionally. She is currently in her second year at Point Park University, training in the Conservatory of the Performing Arts in hopes of earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance. She has a concentration in modern, but studies ballet, jazz and tap. She started dancing at a very young age, and danced competitively along the East coast. Kelso choreographs in various styles at her school in Savannah, and she also student teaches jazz for the community at Point Park University.

MICHAEL OCAMPO, born in Orlando, Florida, began dancing at the age of 10 at a local dance studio. He started taking ballet, jazz and tap classes. Later, he started to study other common dance styles such as hip-hop, lyrical, contemporary and modern. Eventually, a dance program began to form within his high school, which gave him many opportunities to start teaching and choreographing with other students. One of his works in 2014 was performed in an annual all-county festival and gala. It received the highest score out of all public schools.

Michael Ocampo
While Ocampo continued his studies at both his local dance studio and public school, he competed tap solos at national level and won many first place awards. In 2015, Ocampo received a scholarship to Point Park University through a college audition provided by New York City Dance Alliance. This provided him an opportunity to continue his education and eventually earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. While taking classes, Ocampo also teaches tap lessons for the community classes offered by the university. He hopes to join a touring tap dance company once he finishes college.

Fourteen-year-old BEN CHAMIS has had contact with music since his early age, as both of his parents are musicians: his mother is the associate principal viola of the Pittsburgh Symphony and his father a Latin Grammy-nominated composer. Chamis started playing piano when he was five, and presently, because of his many musical tastes, has three piano teachers: Natasha Snitkovsky, with whom he works on the classical repertoire; Rick Gallagher, a Pittsburgh jazz pianist; and Luiz Gustavo Zago, who lives in Brazil, giving the lessons via Skype. Chamis became very interested in Brazilian jazz when, together with his family, he spent a year in 2012 in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis.

Despite his young age, Chamis has played numerous public concerts, including the Latin American Festival, where he has performed yearly since 2013; the Carnegie Library Sunday Afternoon Concert Series; Shadyside Academy; Arts in the Airport Series; the William Penn Hotel; and various fundraisers for the Pittsburgh Symphony, as well as multiple presentations in retirement and nursing homes.His performance of a Mozart piano concerto on Brazilian PBS can be seen on YouTube, and his recording of “Cristal” is available on ITunes, Spotify and other online music providers.

Ben Chamis

Chamis loves to play soccer, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. He is a voracious reader and a fan of pop music. Chamis is the youngest member of the family, as he is 13 minutes younger than his twin brother Ariel, with whom he formed a duo of piano and guitar. Some of their performances can be found on

PITTSBURGH YOUTH CHORUS (PYC) made its debut in 1983, performing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the venerable Michael Tilson-Thomas in a performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony.  With such an auspicious start, the fledgling chorus’ path was set and so it has continued throughout its nearly 34-year history.

Over the years, PYC has trained hundreds of young voices through professional-level choral education.  PYC has provided countless opportunities for children of all backgrounds to realize their innate artistic potential through professional level performances that enrich their lives while benefitting their families and communities.

PYC’s multi-level choral education begins with its un-auditioned Neighborhood Training Choir program for children in first through third grades. The next step in its continuing curricula is the auditioned entry-level Troubadours, followed by the intermediate-level Talisman. Children ultimately progress to the elite Bel Canto Singers where they have the opportunity to perform with many of Pittsburgh’s professional music organizations.

Pittsburgh Youth Chorus

 In 2016, PYC expanded its choral outreach into the Grove City area by creating a satellite Troubadour Choir at Grove City College. In addition, PYC will proudly represent the city of Pittsburgh this summer through its participation in the International Children’s Choir Festival that will take place in Canterbury and London from July 22 to 29.

Artistic director of Pittsburgh Youth Chorus since 2015, SHAWN FUNK is also an elementary music specialist/choral director and music department chair in the Fox Chapel Area School District in Pittsburgh. He has held adjunct professorships in music education at Clarion University, Point Park University and Duquesne University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Clarion University and a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Duquesne University.

awn FunkIn music education, he holds postgraduate credits from the University of Memphis, Northwestern University, Penn State University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Colorado. He holds level III Orff Certification from the University of Memphis and has pursued advanced choral conducting study with Christine Jordanoff at Duquesne University and Robert Harris at Northwestern University.

In addition, he has been a featured presenter at numerous national conferences of the American Orff Schulwerk Association, state, division and national NAfME conferences, and ACDA conferences. He has served as the repertoire and standards chair for children’s choirs for the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), as well as serving as guest conductor for numerous choral festivals throughout the eastern seaboard.