Tuesday, February 7, 2017

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 pittsburghsymphony.org/fiddlesticks.

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 facebook.com/ArielandBen.

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.

Sh
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.

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