Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley makes his PSO concerto debut with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto; Abraham to conduct free master class at Point Park University Oct. 12

PITTSBURGH – Music Director Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) will present a unique and dramatic interpretation of Mozart’s Requiem, with Oscar-winning actor F. Murray Abraham reading scripture and letters from the composer, in three BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts at Heinz Hall next weekend.

The program also features Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley making his PSO concerto debut with Beethoven’s breathtaking Violin Concerto. The concerts open with a performance of Herbert Willi’s ABBA-MA.

The Requiem features soprano Adriana Kučerová, mezzo-soprano Gerhild Romberger, tenor Paul Appleby, and bass John Relyea, as well as the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, directed by Betsy Burleigh, and Saint Vincent Schola Gregoriana, under the direction of Fr. Stephen Concordia.

During pre-concert talks, beginning on stage one hour prior to each performance, Honeck will discuss the music to be performed, along with his interpretation of Mozart’s masterful work.

Pittsburgh native and actor F. Murray Abraham – winner of an Academy Award, Golden Globe and L.A. Film Critics award – serves as a speaker for this monumental work, reading from Mozart’s letters to his father. The letters, as well as poems, scripture, church bells, Gregorian chant and haunting text of the Requiem, create the memorial service for Mozart that should have been.

A veteran of screen and stage, Abraham won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his unforgettable performance as composer Antonio Salieri in the hit 1984 movie, Amadeus. Abraham will conduct a master class on Friday, Oct. 12, at Point Park University.

The PSO would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for their 2012-2013 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the PSO. Delta Air Lines is the official airline 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. After a first extension in 2009, his contract was extended for the second time in February 2012, now through the 2019-2020 season. Following their successful European Tour in 2010 and the European Festival Tour 2011 with appearances at the major music festivals, such as BBC Proms, Lucerne, Grafenegg, Rheingau, Schleswig-Holstein or Musikfest Berlin, Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will return to Europe in October-November 2012. This year’s tour will take them to Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Luxembourg, and Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart in Germany. During a week-long residency at the Musikverein in Vienna the orchestra will perform four concerts. Honeck’s successful work in Pittsburgh is captured on CD by the Japanese label Exton. So far, Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben have been released to critical acclaim. Their recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 won a 2012 International Classical Music Award (ICMA).

Award-winning actor F. Murray Abraham has also established a reputation for his powerful and sensitive work in the genre of spoken word with music. He has performed under the batons of some of the greatest conductors in America and Europe and made his New York Philharmonic debut in May 2005 as the Narrator in Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat.  He returned in June 2006 to narrate Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, and again in December 2007 for a presentation of “Inside the Music” with Gerard McBurney featuring Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4. In June 2007, Abraham appeared in the Detroit Symphony’s performances of L’Histoire du soldat. He has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, and performed Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and James Levine. In May 2008, he performed the Genesis Suite with the Seattle Symphony and Gerard Schwartz. Abraham has appeared in more than 80 films, including Amadeus, The Bridge of San Luis Rey), The Name of the Rose, Finding Forrester, Scarface, and Star Trek: Insurrection. A veteran of the theater stage, Abraham has appeared in more than 90 plays, among them Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya (for which he received an Obie Award), Trumbo, Standup Shakespeare, the Italian tour of Notturno pirandelliano (with Michele Placido), Susan Stroman’s A Christmas Carol, Triumph of Love (alongside Betty Buckley), Cyrano de Bergerac, The Seagull, Creon, Angels in America (both Millennium Approaches and Perestroika), Waiting for Godot and The Caretaker.

Noah Bendix-Balgley has thrilled and moved audiences around the world with his violin performances. In May 2011, he won 1st prize at the Vibrarte International Music Competition in Paris, France. A Laureate of the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Noah also won 3rd prize and a special prize for creativity at the 2008 Long-Thibaud International Competition in Paris. He was awarded 1st Prize and a special prize for best Bach interpretation at the 14th International Violin Competition “Andrea Postacchini” in Fermo, Italy.

The young Slovakian soprano Adriana Kučerová studied at the school of music in Bratislava, the Conservatoire Supérieur de musique et de danse de Lyon and the University for Music and Drama in Bratislava. She was an award winner at the European Music Prize for Youth in Hamburg 2001 and at the International Summer Academy Prague-Vienna-Budapest in 2002. At the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition in Vienna 2005 she was awarded 1st prize, as well as the special prizes of the audience, of the Gulbenkian Foundation and of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. At the Ravenna Festival 2006 she sang Mozart’s “Vesperae solemnes de confessore” and “Exsultate jubilate” conducted by Riccardo Muti. The same year she went to the Salzburg Mozart Wochen and at the Salzburg Festival and performed ‘Serpetta’ in La Finta Giardinier. She then made her debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Dido and Aeneas and has since returned in Carmen under the baton of Daniel Barenboim.

Gerhild Romberger was born and grew up in Emsland, Germany. After having graduated her studies of music teaching at the University of Music in Detmold she completed her vocal training with a concert exam with Heiner Eckels. Romberger lives with her family in Detmold, where the highly popular teacher holds a professorship for singing at the University of Music. The mezzosoprano has always focused on concert singing. Key aspects of her work are recitals with a wide variety of topics and her engagement with contemporary music. Her astonishing extensive repertoire covers all major alto and mezzo-soprano parts of oratios and concerts from the Baroque era, the Classical and Romantic periods as well as 20th century literature. Highlights of Romberger’s concert career in recent years have been concerts with Manfred Honeck, who invited her for, among others, Mahler’s symphonies, Beethoven´s Missa Solemnis or the Große Messe by Walter Braunfels.

John Relyea has appeared in many of the world’s most celebrated opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera (where he is an alumnus of the Merola Opera Program and a former Adler Fellow), Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Vienna State Opera, Theater an der Wien, and the Mariinksy Theater.  His roles include the title roles in Attila, Le Nozze di Figaro, Bluebeard’s Castle, Don Quixotte, Attila, and Aleko; Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Colline in La Bohème, Don Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia, Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, Giorgio in I puritani, Banquo in Macbeth, Garibaldo in Rodelinda, Méphistophélès in both Faust and La Damnation de Faust, the Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Escamillo in Carmen, Marke in Tristan und Isolde, Caspar in Der Freischutz, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia, and King René in Iolante. Relyea performed with the PSO in Mozart’s Requiem in 2009.

Paul Appleby is a third-year member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and a 2011 winner of the Richard Tucker Career Grant and the George London Foundation Award.  A recipient of an Artist Diploma from the Opera Studies Program at the Juilliard School of Music, he was Jenik in The Bartered Bride in a co-production between the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School conducted by James Levine and directed by Stephen Wadsworth.

The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, a largely volunteer choir of 115 voices including a 20-voice professional core, is renowned for its versatility, singing oratorio, opera, Broadway, folk and symphonic repertoire. Founded in 1908, the choir holds the distinction of being Pittsburgh’s oldest continuously performing arts organization.

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