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BEST-SELLING R&B GROUP BOYZ II MEN HEADLINES PSO COMMUNITY PARTNERS CONCERT

7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 23 at Heinz Hall

PITTSBURGH – Boyz II Men, one of the biggest selling American R&B groups of all time, will headline the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Eighth Annual Community Partners Concert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 23 at Heinz Hall, performing with the PSO in the second half of the concert.

PSO Resident Conductor, Lawrence Loh, will conduct the performance.

Best known for their ballads and a cappella harmonies, Boyz II Men has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide, making the trio one of the most successful R&B groups of all time.

This concert also will feature soloist Paul Laraia on viola, making his PSO debut in Max Bruch’s Romance in F major for Viola and Orchestra, Op. 85. Laraia is the Senior Division winner of the 2011 Sphinx Competition, which aims to encourage, develop and recognize classical music talent in the African American and Latino communities.

The Community Partners Program is an annual collaboration between the PSO and Pittsburgh area nonprofit organizations. All proceeds from designated ticket sales to this concert are donated to partner organizations, allowing them to raise a significant amount of funding. These concerts have raised more than $539,000 for partnering nonprofits since 2004. The PSO donates the orchestra services, and secures corporate sponsors to underwrite out-of-pocket costs associated with guest artist services and concert production. The PSO would like to recognize and thank Giant Eagle for their lead sponsorship of the Eighth Annual Community Partners Program.

In the PSO’s Community Partners Program, 25 Pittsburgh area nonprofits sign on as “Partners” for the concert. Each Partner is asked to sell at least 50 tickets to the performance. Patrons may also go to www.pittsburghsymphony.org or call the PSO box office at 412.392.4900 or 800.743.8560 to buy tickets, ranging from $25.75 to $95.75, and earmark the cost of their ticket purchase to benefit a participating Partner nonprofit of choice.

This year, the partner organizations are: Advisory Board on Autism and Related Disorders (ABOARD), African American Chamber of Commerce of Western PA, Amachi Pittsburgh, Cancer Caring Center, Children’s Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc., East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM), Focus On Renewal, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Homeless Children’s Education Fund, Kuntu Repertory Theatre, Martin Luther King, Jr. Reading & Cultural Center, Mission Vision, Naomi’s Place Transitional Housing, Pittsburgh Community Television, PLEA, Renaissance City Choirs, Salvation Army, Tickets for Kids Charities, Transitional Services, Inc., Urban Impact Foundation, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Ursuline Senior Services, Ward Home, Inc., Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, and YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh.

Regarded for his extraordinary grasp of phrasing, character, and color, violist Paul Laraia has performed concerts at Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall, Concert Hall Frits Philips, the Strathmore Arts Center, the Max M. Fisher Music Center, the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall, and has been featured multiple times performing on National Public Radio and Detroit Public Television. Laraia believes that it is crucial to bring classical music to new audiences, and has actively engaged in outreach performances. As part of the Bela Quartet, Laraia has brought music to inner city schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. He has given free masterclasses to youth music programs, and as part of the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra National Tour, presented concerts to areas and communities with limited access to classical music.

In 2010, Laraia competed at the Sphinx Competition and received second prize for his performance of Bartok’s Viola Concerto with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall. In 2011, Laraia returned to the Sphinx Competition and was awarded first prize directly after the first round of the competition. He will be recording his debut CD next December for the White Pine label, and will be soloing with 15 major American Orchestras over the next year and a half.

The Sphinx Competition takes place annually in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Mich., and offers young African American and Latino classical string players a chance to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges and to perform with established professional musicians in a competition setting.

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