Friday, June 9, 2017

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 pittsburghsymphony.org/jazz.
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 www.lawrenceloh.com

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.

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