Saturday, June 24, 2017

PSO to Honor America's Service Personnel in Free Concert

Ricky Manning, "Singing Detective" will perform in concert  Credit: Courtesy Photo


In collaboration with Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra offers a free performance in honor of American service men and woman. “In Honor of Service – An Americana Concert” is Friday, June 30 at 7 p.m. at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.

Led by Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco, this concert features sing-alongs, marches and tributes to military personnel including Stars and Stripes Forever and God Bless America. Pittsburgh Symphony cellist and veteran Charlie Powers will perform Bragato’s “Graciela y Buenos Aires,” and vocalists Katy Shackleton Williams and singing detective Ricky Manning will join the Pittsburgh Symphony the Armed Forces Salute, an annual crowd favorite, as well as for a salute to George M. Cohan. This concert will be hosted by Dr. Christopher B. Howard, president of Robert Morris University and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra trustee.

A pre-concert performance featuring Pittsburgh brass ensemble, the Brass Roots, will begin at 6 p.m.

This concert is part of the In Honor of Service program, a new initiative that provides greater access and engagement between the Pittsburgh Symphony and active and retired military personnel. The program includes a single ticket discount, presentations by Pittsburgh Symphony musicians at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and a free annual concert in honor of military personnel.

Through this program, a single ticket discount of 25% off any seat to any BNY Mellon Grand Classics, PNC Pops and Fiddlesticks Family concerts is available to military personnel. Those who wish to purchase up to four discounted tickets through the program can do so over the phone, at the box office or online with the promo code “MILITARY.” Tickets ordered through the program must be picked up at will call and purchasers will be required to present military ID. For more information about the In Honor of Service program, please visit pittsburghsymphony.org/military to learn more about the program and associated events.

Tickets to “In Honor of Service – An Americana Concert” are free, but reservations are required. Reservations can be made via phone at 412-392-4900 or online at www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank The Fine Foundation for its support of this program.

About the Artists

Having completed highly successful first seasons as music director of Tulsa’s Signature Symphony at TCC, as well as assistant conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, ANDRÉS FRANCO has established himself as a conductor to watch.

While maintaining his roles as principal conductor of the multimedia project Caminos del Inka, and artistic director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s summer festival “Concerts in the Garden,” he continues to delight audiences with his imaginative programming and energetic style.

During the 2016-2017 season, Franco will make debuts with the Boise Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Texas Music Festival, and will return to conduct the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

A frequent guest conductor in the United States, Europe and South America, Franco has appeared with the Columbus, Elgin, El Paso, Eugene, Fort Worth, Houston, Lake Forest, Mississippi, Saginaw Bay, Springfield, St. Louis and Stockton symphony orchestras; the Chicago Sinfonietta; Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León/Spain; the National Symphony Orchestra of Peru, as well as with the National Symphony, Bogota Philharmonic, Medellin Philharmonic and EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in Colombia.  Festival appearances include the Cabrillo, Grant Park, OK Mozart and Oregon Bach Festivals.

Franco formerly served as music director of the Philharmonia of Kansas City, as associate and resident conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony, and as Leonard Slatkin’s assistant conductor during the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

A native of Colombia, Franco is dedicated to preserving and performing the music of the Americas. As principal conductor of Caminos del Inka, he has led many performances of works by Latin American composers, such as Jimmy López, Diego Luzuriaga and the famous Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla.

Born into a musical family, Franco began piano studies with his father, Jorge Franco. An accomplished pianist, he studied with Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Jose Feghali, and attended piano workshops with Rudolph Buchbinder in Switzerland, and Lev Naumov in France.  He studied conducting with Marin Alsop, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Kurt Masur, Gustav Meier, Helmut Rilling, Gerard Schwarz and Leonard Slatkin.

Franco holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, as well as master of music degrees in piano performance and conducting from Texas Christian University.

Franco is married to Victoria Luperi, associate principal clarinetist in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

KATY SHACKLETON WILLIAMS has performed extensively in the Pittsburgh area with prestigious organizations such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera, Civic Light Opera, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Opera Theater and River City Brass Band. She also has had the frequent pleasure of singing with Maestro Lawrence Loh’s Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and with Maestro Lucas Richman and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in Tennessee.

Williams has been a featured soloist for the Pittsburgh Symphony Highmark Holiday Pops concert series, singing the Marvin Hamlisch original song “Take Me to Christmas Past.” She made her Pittsburgh Symphony debut in September 2005 with Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and has been a frequent guest artist ever since. She was the boy soprano voice in Howard Shore’s Heinz Hall performance of The Lord of the Rings. She also has performed with the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, and has sung the National Anthem at Three Rivers Stadium.

Williams was praised in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Best Classical Performances for her singing in Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She has recorded Leonardo Balada’s Encenas Borracones with New World Records and his La Muerte de Colon under the Naxos label.

Notable solo engagements include being the soloist for the Voices of the Spirit at The Peterson Events Center with the Pittsburgh Symphony and more than 2,000 voices, the Star Spangled Banner for the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, performances of Honegger’s King David, Christopher Theofanidis’s The Here and Now, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. John’s Passion and Cantatas 74, 51 and 202, Dubois’s Seven Last Words of Christ, Barber’s Prayers of Kirkegaard, Holst’s Christmas Day, Archer, Brahms, Durufle, Faure, Mozart and Rutter Requiem, and Poulenc, Rutter and Vivaldi Gloria. She also had the honor of singing at the dedication of the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent’s College with acclaimed songwriter/pianist Michael Moricz.

Operatic roles include Margarita Xirgu in Osvaldo Golijov’s opera Ainadamar, Adina in Elixir of Love, Adele in Die Fledermaus, ‘First Mother’ in Dead Man Walking, ‘Love’ in Orfeo and Eurydice, ‘Barbarina’ in The Marriage of Figaro Sandmann and Taumann in Hansel und Gretel. She has sung under the baton of Manfred Honeck, Sir Andrew Davis, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Rafael Frubeck de Burgos, Lucas Richman, Marvin Hamlisch, Robert Page, Lawrence Loh and Daniel Meyer.

Currently, Williams is a chorister in Pittsburgh Opera and is adjunct music staff at Point Park University and Washington & Jefferson College. She is the soprano soloist at Rodef Shalom, Oakland, and the vocal artist in residence at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mt. Lebanon. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in vocal performance.

RICKY MANNING, dubbed by the late Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch as “The Singing Detective,” is a greater Pittsburgh native and a 17-year veteran of the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, who was promoted to sergeant in April 2013.  After a short audition with Hamlisch, he was originally brought to the Heinz Hall stage for the 2011 Highmark Holiday Pops performances, singing “Danny Boy” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”  He most recently performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony the Sensory Friendly Concert in June 2017, “Salute to Veterans” during Neighborhood Week in 2015 and the Highmark Holiday Pops performances in 2013.

Manning also had the pleasure of several return performances as a guest vocalist with Pittsburgh’s own River City Brass, under the direction of Master Conductor James Gourlay.  Manning performed in a River City Brass special, Celtic Connections, and he performed at the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville, Kentucky, singing “500 Miles,” “Country Roads,” “I Walk the Line” and “Rocky Top.”  He is a graduate of Central Catholic High School and holds a B.S. in law enforcement from Point Park University.

Manning was a member of the Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums for 12 years and studied under the late world-renowned Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies. Manning performs a wide variety of music from rock, folk, country and Celtic styles.  He is the lead singer in local band “Donnie Irish” and can be seen performing around town with local bass legend Justin Brown and drummer Bill Gendron. They performed as the opening band at the 2013 Pittsburgh Irish Festival.
As always, Manning would like to dedicate his performance to the memory of all military, law enforcement and emergency services personnel whose families can only be with them in spirit.  Manning would like to thank God for all of his many blessings, including his entire family, his wife, Sarah Beth, and his son, James.

Charlie Powers Credit: Peter Kahn
CHARLIE POWERS’ playing has been described by The Washington Post as “poised, elegant, supple of phrasing and mellow of tone.” He joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra cello section during the 2013-2014 season. He previously served as assistant principal of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra in Washington, D.C., and performed regularly at the White House, the State Department, the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the vice president’s residence.

Since making his solo debut at age 17, Powers has appeared with orchestras throughout the United States and abroad. Notable performances include Samuel Barber’s Cello Concerto with the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra and Brahms’ Double Concerto with the Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan. A proponent of new music, Powers has recently performed works for cello and orchestra by Aulis Sallinen and Jennifer Higdon.

Powers is a founding member of two critically acclaimed chamber ensembles, the Teiber String Trio and The Phillips Camerata. He has collaborated with renowned artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Ricardo Morales and Peter Wiley. He received the Karl Zeise Memorial Cello Award at Tanglewood, where he served as principal cellist of the Tanglewood Music Center orchestra under James Levine. Other festival appearances include Banff, Heifetz, Aria, Icicle Creek and the 2000 World Cello Congress.

A native of Tacoma, Wash., Powers began his cello studies at age three with Jeannette Chapman. He graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he was a Piatigorsky Scholarship recipient and studied with Colin Carr. Other influential teachers include John Michel, Richard Aaron, David Wells and Michael Mermagen.

Powers resides in Pittsburgh’s Strip District neighborhood with his wife, soprano Anastasia Robinson, a yellow Lab named Maizey, and two Russian Blue cats, Mischa and Dmitri. Away from his cello, Powers enjoys golf, baseball and exploring Pittsburgh.

Dr. Christopher Howard Credit: Courtesy Photo
DR. CHRISTOPHER B. HOWARD is the eighth president of Robert Morris University near Pittsburgh. Howard is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he earned a B.S. in political science in 1991. A Rhodes Scholar, he earned his doctorate in politics at the University of Oxford and an M.B.A. with distinction from the Harvard Business School.

Howard received the Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the country presented to a senior college football player, and is a member of the Verizon Academic All-America Hall of Fame. In 2016, he received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their college athletic careers. He is a member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and the NCAA Honors Committee.

A retired Air Force reserve lieutenant colonel, Howard served as a helicopter pilot after earning his doctorate, and then became an intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command. Defense Secretary William Cohen asked Howard to accompany a 1999 U.S. delegation to South Africa as a political-military advisor. He was called back to active duty during 2003 in Afghanistan, and was awarded the Bronze Star. Howard also served as the Reserve Air Attaché to Liberia.

Prior to his appointment as president of RMU, Howard was the president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. He previously served as vice president for leadership and strategic initiatives at the University of Oklahoma after a successful career in the corporate world, working in General Electric's Corporate Initiatives Group and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Corporate Associates Program.

SOLDIERS & SAILORS is the nation’s only memorial and museum dedicated to honoring the men and women of all branches of service and in all capacities (Active, Reserve, Guard). Operated and maintained by a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, the historic memorial was designed by renowned architect Henry Hornbostel and opened in 1910.  The museum within the memorial offers a unique look into American history by telling the stories of the individuals that served our country through exhibits covering all of America’s conflicts from the Civil War through Afghanistan. Through educational and veteran outreach programs, museum displays and special events, we share and promote the significance of the facility to the community as a living memorial, an educational asset and a cultural treasure.

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