Thursday, December 3, 2015

Pittsburgh Symphony to Stage Performance of Handel's "Messiah"

Manfred Honeck, PSO Music Director Photo Credit: Felix Broede

    In honor of the holiday season, Music Director Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra present a one-night-only performance of Handel’s glorious Messiah on Saturday, December 5 at 8 p.m. at Heinz Hall.
    George Frideric Handel’s much adored oratorio was a modest success at the time of its debut in Dublin, Ireland, in 1742, but it steadily gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music. Honeck welcomes featured guest vocal soloists Christina Landshamer, soprano; Robin Blaze, counter-tenor; Paul Appleby, tenor; and Paul Armin Edelmann, bass, as well as the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh to present this work in the acoustically stunning Heinz Hall. A religious story of hope, inspiration and timeless expression, this masterpiece is celebrated worldwide in performances throughout December.
    "To present Messiah during the holiday season is always a true highlight,” said Honeck. “For me, this is a perfect piece with the most beautiful and uplifting music to celebrate the holiday season. I am so happy that we continue the tradition of performing Messiah, this beloved music by Handel, here in Pittsburgh.”
    Program notes for the weekend are available online at and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets, ranging in price from $27 to $94, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting
About the Artists
    Manfred Honeck has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. Together with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Honeck’s widely celebrated performances and distinctive interpretations continue to receive international recognition. To great acclaim, Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra regularly perform in major music capitals and festivals, among them the BBC Proms, Musikfest Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Grafenegg Festival, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra have also built a close relationship with the Musikverein in Vienna. Following a week-long residency in 2012, they will return once again for three performances in the course of an extensive tour of Europe in spring 2016. 
     Honeck's successful work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been extensively documented on recordings with the Reference and Exton labels. The first SACD released by Reference Records of Strauss tone poems, drew rave reviews. The second recording, of Dvořák's Symphony No. 8 and the Symphonic Suite from Janáček's opera Jenůfa, conceptualized by Honeck himself, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 was released in February 2015 to critical acclaim and Beethoven 5 & 7 was released on November 13, 2015. Several recordings, among them Mahler's Symphony No. 4, which won a 2012 International Classical Music Award, are also available on the Japanese label Exton.
    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. Honeck 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. Honeck was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig and in Oslo, he assumed the post of music director at the Norwegian National Opera and was engaged as principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. 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 resumed for another three years at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season.
     From 2007 to 2011, Honeck was music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart where he conducted premieres including Berlioz's Les Troyens, Mozart's Idomeneo, Verdi's Aida, Richard Strauss's Rosenkavalier, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites and Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal, as well as numerous symphonic concerts. His operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera of Copenhagen, the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival.
Christina Landshamer Photo Credit: Marco Borggreve

 Christina Landshamer was born in Munich and initially went to the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in the city, where she studied under Angelica Vogel, following which she studied in Konrad Richter’s singing classes and in Dunja Vejzović solo classes at the State University for Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart.
    Following initial guest performances at the Stuttgart State Opera, she sang at the Opéra du Rhin in Strasburg under Marc Albrecht (Fidelio/Marzelline) as well as at the Komische Oper in Berlin (Susanna). In 2009, “the triumphant and virtuoso Christina Landshamer” had her very successful debut at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna as Clarice in Haydn’s Il mondo della luna under Nikolaus Harnoncourt. This was followed by performances at the Paris Théâtre du Châtelet (with a stage version of the Messiah) and at the Salzburg Festival in Frau ohne Schatten (Hüter der Schwelle – stage direction: Christof Loy) under Christian Thielemann in 2011.
    She performed at the Salzburg Festival again the following year as Frasquita in Carmen, this time under Sir Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic. Also in 2012, she had her debut at the Baden-Baden Festival, again under Christian Thielemann (Ariadne auf Naxos, Najade). Later that year, Landshamer made her highly acclaimed debut as Pamina in Simon McBurney‘s celebrated new production of Mozart’s Magic Flute at the Amsterdam Opera under Marc Albrecht. In 2014, she was seen in Handel’s Rinaldo as Almirena in Glyndebourne. In 2015, she will collaborate again with Christian Thielemann (Freischütz/Ännchen), this time at the Semperoper in Dresden.
    She is particularly fond of singing lieder: a recital of duets with Maximilian Schmitt at the Vienna Konzerthaus marks her first collaboration with Gerold Huber, with whom she had several guest performances in 2013 with a number of recitals, such as at the “Musik im Riesen” in the Essen Philharmonic and the Rheinvokal, with lieder by Schumann, Ullmann and Brahms.
Robin Blaze Photo Credit: Dorothea Heise

 Now established in the front rank of interpreters of Purcell, Bach and Handel, Robin Blaze's busy schedule has taken him to Europe, South America, North America, Japan and Australia. He read music at Magdalen College, Oxford, and won a post-graduate scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he trained with assistance from the Countess of Munster Trust and is now a professor of vocal studies.
     He works with most of the distinguished conductors in the early music field — Christophers, Cleobury, Gardiner, Herreweghe, Hogwood, Jacobs, King, Koopman, Kraemer, Leonhardt, McCreesh, McGegan, Mackerras, Pinnock and Suzuki. He has visited festivals in Ambronay, Beaune, Boston, Edinburgh, Halle, Iceland, Jerusalem, Innsbruck, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Lucerne, Saintes and Utrecht. He regularly appears with The Academy of Ancient Music, Bach Collegium Japan, Collegium Vocale, The English Concert, The Gabrieli Consort, The King’s Consort, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, RIAS Kammerchor and The Sixteen.     Other engagements have included the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, La Chapelle Royale, City of London Sinfonia, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Royal Flanders Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, The Hallé Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Tafelmusik, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

    Blaze’s opera engagements have included Athamas Semele at The Royal Opera House; Didymus Theodora for Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Arsamenes Xerxes, Athamas Semele, Hamor Jephtha and Oberon A Midsummer Night's Dream for English National Opera; Hamor Jephtha for Welsh National Opera; Arcane in Handel’s Teseo at the Göttingen Handel Festival, and Bertarido Rodelinda for Glyndebourne Touring Opera and at the Göttingen Handel Festival.

    Blaze’s recent engagements include Handel’s Belshazzar and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with the King’s Consort, Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu with the Ricercar Consort, Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Academy of Ancient Music and the choir of King’s College Cambridge, performances with Florilegium at Wigmore Hall, a recording of Hamor Jephtha with The Sixteen on the Coro label, Barak Deborah with Laurence Cummings as part of the London Handel Festival, Arcane Teseo with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Nicholas McGegan, a recital as part of the Göttingen Handel Festival, and a tour of Mexico with Bach Collegium Japan.
     Highlights this season and beyond include Bach’s St John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music and the choir of King’s College Cambridge, Bach’s Magnificat with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Didymus Theodora at the Göttingen Handel Festival, Medoro Orlando with Welsh National Opera, Handel’s Messiah with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, a tour of Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Blaze also continues his collaboration with Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki.

Paul Appleby Photo Credit: Dario Acosta

 Regarded as one of the most accomplished artists of his generation, American tenor Paul Appleby is a graduate of New York’s prestigious Juilliard School and of The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Program. Praised for the expressive and interpretive depth of his performances, Appleby has earned his reputation as a fine Mozartian through numerous productions of Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte and Don Giovanni and, after highly acclaimed productions at both Oper Frankfurt and The Met under James Levine, is considered a leading interpreter of Stravinsky’s Tom Rakewell (The Rake’s Progress).
     A regular guest at The Met, Appleby has performed a diverse repertoire including Brian in Nico Muhly’s Two Boys (praised by the New York Post as his “star-making performance”), Chevalier de la Force in Poulenc’s Les dialogues des Carmélites under Louis Langrée, Hylas in Berlioz’s Les Troyens under Fabio Luisi, and, last season, David (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) under James Levine. Other notable highlights include Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) at Washington National Opera, Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) at San Diego Opera, and his debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Jonathan in Barrie Kosky’s acclaimed production of Handel’s Saul.
    A versatile artist, Appleby enjoys a buoyant concert career alongside his operatic commitments and returns this season to the New York Philharmonic in Handel’s Messiah as well as debuting with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel in Mozart’s Requiem. Also this season, Appleby heads back to The Met for a role debut as Belmonte (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) under James Levine, makes his debut at San Francisco Opera as Tamino and returns to the Glyndebourne Festival in Berlioz’ Béatrice et Bénédict under Robin Ticciati. In recital and alongside Ken Noda, Paul Appleby sings in recital at Carnegie Hall and as part of the Boston Celebrity Series, and makes a debut appearance at London’s Wigmore Hall with Malcolm Martineau.
     The recipient of numerous awards and scholarships including the 2011 Richard Tucker Career Grant and George London Foundation Award, Appleby is a passionate advocate of art song, and has performed for the Marilyn Horne Foundation, and at the Aspen Music and Caramoor Festivals with pianist Steven Blier. Paul Appleby has also recorded works by Schubert and Britten as part of The Juilliard Sessions Digital Debut series released by EMI Classics and appeared in recital at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center and as part of the New York Festival of Song.
Paul Armin Edelmann Photo Credit: Nancy Horowitz

 Paul Armin Edelmann's association with music began at an early age as the second son of the internationally renowned singer Otto Edelmann. As a child, he was a member and soloist of the famous Vienna Boys’ Choir. Later on he reinforced his musical studies by studying voice with his father at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Shortly after completing his studies he became a member of the Opera Theatre in Koblenz in Germany where he sang more than 30 roles.
     In 1998, Edelmann went freelance and moved back to Vienna. Since then he has sung at the Vienna State Opera, the Vienna Volksoper, the Teatro Real Madrid, the Komische Oper Berlin (Fürst Ottokar in Weber’s Der Freischütz), the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels (Dottore Malatesta in Don Pasquale), the San Diego Opera (Dr. Falke and Papageno), the New National Theatre in Tokyo, the Opéra de Rouen, the Lincoln Center Festival in New York (Sciarrino’s Luci Mie Traditrici), the state theatres in Darmstadt and Wiesbaden, and the opera houses in Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Leipzig, Dublin and the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, as well as the Palau de les Arts Valencia, the San Sebastian Festival, Hongkong Opera and the Center of the Performing Arts, Beijing.
     More recent performance venues have included the Opera National de Montpellier, the Prinzregententheater München, the Deutsche Oper Düsseldorf and (in 2010) his debut as Eisenstein in J. Strauss's Die Fledermaus at the Staatsoper Stuttgart. He has also recently sung at the Teatro de la Maestranza Sevilla, Philharmonie Berlin, Teatro Massimo Catania, Opera Montpellier, the Opera National du Rhin Strasbourg, Bregenzer Festspiele, Victoria Hall Geneve, KKL Lucerne, Tonhalle Zürich and the Winter Festival Sochi.
     2014 saw Edelmann´s debut at the Musikfest Hamburg, the Rheingau Music Festival, his return to the Bregenzer Festspiele for Mozart's Zauberflöte and the release of his Schumann-recital album with pianist Charles Spencer and a new recording of Johann Strauss´ Die Fledermaus with Edelmann as Eisenstein. Both recordings on the classic-label Capriccio. Projects for 2014-2015 season include Die Fledermaus (in concert) with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, a concert at the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, Mahler’s Lied Von Der Erde with Opéra National de Paris and a new production of Korngold´s Die tote Stadt at the Warsaw Opera.
     Edelmann has previously given concerts and recitals in many notable venues including the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Vienna Musikverein, the Festival Hall in Salzburg, the Brucknerhaus in Linz, the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Cologne Philharmonie, the Philharmonie am Gasteig in Munich, the Konzerthaus Dortmund, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, the Palau de la Música in Valencia, Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, the Vatican in a concert honouring Pope John Paul II (Haydn’s The Creation) in 1998 and again in 2006 with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Mozart's Coronation Mass).
     Edelmann has given recitals in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Denmark, the United States, Canada, China and Japan and has worked with such well-known conductors as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Lorin Maazel, Michel Plasson, Ivor Bolton, Paolo Carignani, Kazushi Ono, Miguel Gómez Martínez, Julia  Jones, Ralf Weikert, Karel Mark Chichon, Vladimir Fedosejew, Leopold Hager and Manfred Honeck.
     Hailed as one of the finest choruses in the country, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP) is proud of its long artistic partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and looks forward to another exciting season at Heinz Hall. Primarily a volunteer chorus, the Mendelssohn Choir is composed of more than 100 singers whose passion and commitment enables them to perform alongside the world’s greatest musicians.
    In addition to its performances with the PSO, the Mendelssohn Choir produces its own concerts in the community and operates the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, the region’s premier young adult chorus. The Mendelssohn Choir began its 2015-2016 season with an all-Duruflé concert on October 11 at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, and bid farewell to Betsy Burleigh, MCP’s much beloved music director. Burleigh is universally acknowledged for building upon the legacy left by Music Director Emeritus Robert Page, and taking MCP to new levels of excellence during her 10-year tenure with the Choir.
    Under her direction, MCP has earned high praise for its mastery of the great choral classics. The Mendelssohn Choir is engaged currently in the search for its next music director, who will be its seventh in its 108-year-old history. For the remainder of the season, Maria Sensi Sellner will be acting music director and will prepare the Choir for its forthcoming performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

     As the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s “chorus of choice,” the Mendelssohn Choir has performed with some of the world’s foremost conductors including Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michael Tilson Thomas, Claudio Abbado, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Charles Dutoit, André Previn, Sir Neville Marriner, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Helmuth Rilling, Ingo Metzmacher, Richard Hickox, Zdenek Mácal and Manfred Honeck. Performances of the Choir with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are heard locally over WQED-FM (89.3) and distributed nationally by PRI. Committed to fostering the choral art form, the Mendelssohn Choir has numerous recordings, commissions and premieres to its credit, including works by Ned Rorem, Nancy Galbraith and Derek Bermel. The Choir’s most recent recording released in fall 2011 is Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh with Manfred Honeck conducting.

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