Monday, June 8, 2015

PSO Closes Season with World Premiere, Pianist Yefim Bronfman and Mahler's ‘Titan’

PSO Principal Oboist Cindy DeAlmeida opens the concdrt program with the world premiere of Alan Fletcher’s Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra
    Even with so much going on this week in town, youstill  might want to take in one of the final three Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra  concerts of the current season. It promises to be a great one with the world premiere of Alan Fletcher’s Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra,  featuring Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Oboe Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida. The piece, commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony, begins by taking inspiration from a traditional Irish tune that DeAlmeida’s father often sang to her during her childhood and finishes with a whirlwind finale with the full orchestra showcasing its breathtaking musicality.
    Also on the program, Grammy award-winning pianist and long-time favorite of Pittsburgh audiences, Yefim Bronfman brilliantly performs Franz Liszt’s demanding Piano Concerto No. 2. Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 brings the curtain down on the season with a story of struggle that ends with a blaze of glory.
    Each BNY Mellon Grand Classics concert is part of the Explore & Engage program, which includes pre-concert talks, exhibits, display boards and interactive activities that illuminate the music, composers and the time in which they were created. A pre-concert talk, open to all ticket holders, led by Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh with composer Alan Fletcher as his guest will occur on stage one hour before each concert.
    The concert will have music director, Manfred Honeck on the podium leading the orchestra. Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna.
    Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early stations of his career include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Oslo, where he assumed the post of music director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and was engaged as principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for several years
     From 2000 to 2006, he was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he has resumed for another three years at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season.

Yefim Bronfman is widely regarded as one of the most talented virtuoso pianists performing today. His commanding technique and exceptional lyrical gifts have won him consistent critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences worldwide, whether for his solo recitals, his prestigious orchestral engagements or his rapidly growing catalogue of recordings.
    Widely praised for his solo, chamber and orchestral recordings, he was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 for his Deutsche Grammophon recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s piano concerto with Salonen conducting and with whom he won a Grammy Award in 1997 for his recording of the three Bartók Piano Concerti and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
    His performance of Beethoven’s fifth piano concerto with Andris Nelsons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from the 2011 Lucerne Festival is now available on DVD and his performance of Rachmaninoff’s third concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle was released on DVD by the EuroArts label. His most recent CD releases are Magnus Lindberg's Piano Concerto No. 2 commissioned for him and performed by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert on the Da Capo label, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 with Mariss Jansons and the Bayerischer Rundfunk, a recital disc, Perspectives, complementing Bronfman’s designation as a Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist for the 2007-2008 season, and recordings of all the Beethoven piano concerti as well as the Triple Concerto together with violinist Gil Shaham, cellist Truls Mørk, and the Tönhalle Orchestra Zürich under David Zinman for the Arte Nova/BMG label.
    Born in Tashkent in the Soviet Union on April 10, 1958, Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973, where he studied with pianist Arie Vardi, head of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. In the United States, he studied at The Juilliard School, Marlboro and the Curtis Institute, and with Rudolf Firkusny, Leon Fleisher and Rudolf Serkin. Bronfman became an American citizen in July 1989.

Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida has enjoyed playing as principal oboe of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since 1991. For two years prior, she was associate principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra
    DeAlmeida has been honored with the commissioning of three oboe concerti for her by the Pittsburgh Symphony. The first one, commissioned by Lorin Maazel, was composed by Leonardo Balada and premiered in 1993 with Lorin Maazel conducting. The following season she recorded it with Maazel and the symphony for New World records.
    The second Pittsburgh commission for DeAlmeida was written by Lucas Richman. She premiered it in 2006 with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. In 2008, she performed it again with the Knoxville Symphony, Lucas Richman conducting. In 2015, she recorded this concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Lucas Richman conducting, for Albany Records. A third commissioned concerto, composed by Alan Fletcher, will premiered with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Manfred Honeck in this weekend’s series of three concert.
    Teaching has always been a rewarding part of DeAlmeida’s artistic  life. She has been associate teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music since 2012, and a faculty member there since 1991. She has held teaching positions at Temple University in Philadelphia and Trenton State College in New Jersey, and has also been invited to teach at the National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland as well as the New World Symphony.
    She is frequently asked to teach masterclasses at universities in the United States and abroad. In 2003, DeAlmeida was featured on national television on the CBS “Early Show” in a story relating to the oboe and its remarkable health benefits for asthma sufferers, which led to her work as an ambassador for the American Respiratory Alliance in Pittsburgh.
    DeAlmeida volunteers at the classical radio station WQED in their fundraising pledge drives. She participates in the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement department playing and speaking to young people in various venues throughout the Pittsburgh area.  DeAlmeida received the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan, studying with Arno Mariotti, and the Master of Music degree from Temple University, as a student of Richard Woodhams. She proudly plays on F. Loree oboes of Paris, France
    The final three concerts of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 13 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 14. The concerts are held at Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. For tickets, phone 412-392-4900 or visit

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