Pianist Hélène Grimaud & the world premiere of Joan Tower’s Stroke, May 13 & 14

Mezzo Soprano Michelle DeYoung, May 20 – 22

PITTSBURGH – Music Director Manfred Honeck will lead the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts featuring the well-loved music of Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler, as well as the world premiere of a commissioned work, Stroke, by PSO Composer of the Year Joan Tower.

The concert on Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14 will begin at 8 p.m. and feature Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 488, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36, and the world premiere of the PSO Commission Stroke by Joan Tower, PSO’s Composer of the Year for the 2010-2011 season. Acclaimed pianist Hélène Grimaud is the featured soloist.

Stroke was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and is dedicated to Tower’s younger brother George, who suffered a major stroke in 2008 at the age of 60 that left his body half paralyzed on his entire left side.

The May 13 world premiere performance of Stroke will be streamed live via Skype to Tower’s brother in upstate New York.

At 8 p.m. on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21 and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, on the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death, Honeck presents an all-Mahler program. Mezzo soprano Michelle DeYoung is featured in Mahler’s poignant Kindertotenlieder based on Friedrich Ruckert’s poems on the death of children. Ruckert lost his two children to scarlet fever, and after completing this composition, Mahler too lost a child to the illness. Mahler’s Fifth Symphony begins with an ominous trumpet call. The Adagietto movement is one of the most recognizable of Mahler’s works and was featured in the movie Death in Venice. By the end of the work, joy triumphs in the exuberant finale.

Tickets for the May 13 & 14 concerts range from $20 to $93, and from $20 to $88 for the May 20-22 concerts. They can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412.392.4900, or by visiting the PSO online at

The PSO would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for their 2010-2011 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Bobby Rahal Automotive Group is the Official Automotive Group of the PSO. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the Official Hotel of the PSO.

Manfred Honeck was appointed the ninth Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in January 2007, and began his tenure at the start of the 2008-2009 season. Also beginning in September 2008, he became the Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague, and in 2007, assumed the post of Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart. An accomplished violinist and violist, he spent more than 10 years as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. After critically acclaimed concerts at Carnegie Hall and their European Tour in 2010, Honeck and the PSO will tour Europe again in August and September 2011.

A truly multi-faceted and charismatic artist, Hélène Grimaud works with conductors, orchestras and chamber musicians of the highest caliber, and records exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon. She has appeared with the most prestigious orchestras of the world, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Concertgebouw Orchestra, all the London orchestras, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Münchner Philharmoniker, as well as all the great North American symphonies. Grimaud will be joining the PSO on the tour of Europe this summer.

Hailed as “one of the most successful woman composers of all time” in The New Yorker magazine, Joan Tower was the first woman to receive the Grawemeyer Award in Composition in 1990. She was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1998, and into the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in the fall of 2004. She was the first composer chosen for the ambitious new Ford Made in America commissioning program, a collaboration of the League of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer.

Michelle DeYoung has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Met Orchestra (in Carnegie Hall), the Met Chamber Ensemble, Vienna Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper Orchestra, Berliner Staatskapelle, Sao Paulo Symphony, and the Concertgebouworkest. She has also appeared in the prestigious festivals of Ravinia, Tanglewood, Aspen, Cincinnati, Saito Kinen, Edinburgh, Salzburg, and Lucerne. DeYoung’s recording of Kindertotenlieder and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for SFS Media was awarded the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Classical Album.

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