The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s BNY Mellon Grand Classics Series Heats Up With ‘Spanish Strings’

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra brings the heat with “Spanish Strings,” a BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend featuring the U.S. debut of Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber and the Heinz Hall debut of Spanish guitar phenom Pablo Sáinz Villegas, on October 10-12 at Heinz Hall.

Wellber will lead the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s virtuosic “Manfred Symphony,” an expansive programmatic symphony based on Lord Byron’s tortured character Manfred, as he wanders the Alps grieving the loss of his great love, Astarte. The charismatic Sáinz Villegas will perform Joaquin Rodrigo’s beloved concerto for guitar, which was inspired by the gardens at Philip II’s spring resort palace, Palacio Real de Aranjuez. The program opens with Debussy’s charming “Petite suite,” inspired by the poetry of Paul Verlaine.

Each BNY Mellon Grand Classics concert is part of the Explore & Engage program, which includes pre-concert talks, exhibits, display boards and interactive activities that illuminate the music, composers and the time in which they created. This weekend, Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh will lead a pre-concert talk from the stage one hour prior to the concert start time; a multimedia archival display about former Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Music Director Lorin Maazel’s life and career will be on display in the Grand Tier lobby; and the Three Rivers Young People’s Orchestra will perform in the Grand Lobby one hour prior to concert time on Sunday, October 12.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $25.75 to $105.75, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2014-2015 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Omer Meir WellberOmer Meir Wellber was born in Be’er Sheva, Israel in 1981, and has now emerged on the international scene as one of the most outstanding young conductors. In recent seasons, he has made successful debuts with a number of orchestras including the RAI National Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and is a regular guest conductor at the Israeli Opera, the Semperoper Dresden and at La Fenice Venice. Since 2009, he has been the music director of the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra, founded in 1991 to help aid the integration of Jewish immigrants in Israel. Following his acclaimed debut at the Glyndebourne Festival in May 2014 the London Philharmonic Orchestra immediately invited Wellber to make his Royal Festival debut with them in April 2015. In the 2014-2015 season, Wellber will make his US debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and return to the Bavarian State Opera for performances of Carmen plus two symphonic concerts (Akademiekonzerte). In Dresden, Wellber will conduct a concert at the rostrum of the Staatskapelle Dresden and continue his Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy at the Semperoper with “Le Nozze di Figaro.” From 2010 to 2014, he held the position of music director at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia where he conducted various symphonic concerts as well as performances of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” that has been published on DVD by C Major, Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov,” two works by de Falla – “La vida breve” and “El amor brujo” – and Verdi’s “I due Foscari” with Plácido Domingo. In June 2013, he conducted the jubilee performance of “Aida” with La Fura dels Baus in the Arena di Verona to great acclaim. A DVD of the production was released by BelAir classiques in 2014. His debut at the Semperoper Dresden with Strauss’ “Daphne” (2010) lead to a profound relationship with the opera house and the Staatskapelle Dresden: In 2014, Wellber conducted Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos” and a concert performance of “Guntram” and opened a Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy with “Così fan tutte,” staged by Andreas Kriegenburg. By the Vienna Festival he was entrusted with the direction of Verdi’s “trilogia popolare” in a three-year project, conducting “Rigoletto” (2011), “La Traviata” (2012) and “Il Trovatore” (2013). Besides his engagements at La Scala, the Teatro Massimo in Palermo or the Berliner Staatsoper, he conducted numerous symphony concerts with the Orchestre de Paris, the Filarmonica della Scala, the NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover, and the hr-Sinfonieorchester in Frankfurt. Wellber began his musical training at the age of five on the accordion and piano. As he was also interested in composition, he took lessons from Tania Taler from the age of nine. After that he was taught by Michael Wolpe until 2004. He graduated from the Be’er Sheva conservatoire as early as 1999. Since then his works have been performed both in Israel and abroad, and broadcast on the radio. After graduating, Wellber took advantage of a scholarship from the American-Israel Cultural Foundation to continue his studies from 2000 to 2008. He did his B.A. under Eugene Zirlin at the Jerusalem Music Academy and his master’s in Mendi Rodan’s class. Since 2005, Wellber has regularly appeared at the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, where he has conducted, among other works, Verdi’s “La Traviata,” “La Forza del Destino,” “Il Trovatore,” “Rigoletto” and “Un Ballo in Maschera,” Puccini’s “Turandot” and “Madama Butterfly,” Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda,” Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore,” Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” and “The Magic Flute,” Boito’s “Mefistofele,” Gounod’s “Faust” and Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen.” In February 2007, Wellber conducted a gala concert in Beijing with the city’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Shortly after that he made his debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. This was followed in October 2008 by Verdi’s “Aida” at the Teatro Verdi in Padua, for which he was voted one of the new discoveries of the year by the Italian magazine Classic Voice. Between 2008 and 2010 he assisted Daniel Barenboim at the Berliner Staatsoper Unter den Linden and at La Scala in Milan. To great public and critical acclaim he conducted “Aida” when La Scala performed at the Israeli Opera. This was followed by Bizet’s ”Carmen” at the Staatsoper Berlin, his first concert at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, a concert at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Strauss’s “Salome” as stand-in for Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, a new production of Strauss’ “Daphne” received with great acclaim at the Semperoper in Dresden, Puccini’s “Tosca” at the Berliner Staatsoper, and symphony concerts in Verona and at La Fenice in Venice. Wellber commits himself to educational work with young musicians and has become a Good Will Ambassador for the nonprofit organization Save a Child’s Heart in 2013. The Israeli-based international organization provides lifesaving cardiac surgery and treatment for children from developing countries and a training program for doctors and nurses from these countries.

Sainz Villegas, Pablo (Lisa_Mazzuco)_webPraised in The New York Times for his “beautifully rounded guitar tone” and “soulful rendition,” Pablo Sáinz Villegas has taken the guitar world by storm. Winner of the first Christopher Parkening Competition in 2006, he is the youngest guitarist to appear with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall and has already played engagements in more than 30 countries. Highlights of the 2013-2014 included the Bilbao Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Las Vegas Philharmonic, National Orchestra of Lyon, Royal Seville Symphony, Puerto Rico Symphony and the Symphony Orchestra of Castilla y León/Valladolid. In addition to touring in France and Japan, he will make an eight-concert tour in January 2014 with the Philharmonia of the Nations Orchestra/Hamburg. Sáinz Villegas has also performed with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, San Francisco Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. Among the conductors with whom he has collaborated are Raphael Frühbeck de Burgos, Carlos Kalmar, Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Juanjo Mena and Alondra de la Parra. He has been honored to perform in the presence of the Dalai Lama and the Royal Family of Spain. An avid recitalist, Sáinz Villegas has performed around the world including an appearance at the Linton Music Series in Cincinnati, a performance with the Gewandhaus Quartet in Hannover and the première at Washington’s Kennedy Center of “Tango Song and Dance,” a multi-media recital including violinist Augustin Hadelich and pianist Joyce Yang. Sáinz Villegas is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including “El Ojo Critico,” making him the first guitarist to win Spain’s top classical music honor. Prior to winning the Parkening International Guitar Competition, he received more than 30 international awards, including the Francisco Tárrega Award and the Andrés Segovia Award (at age 15). A champion and supporter of new repertoire for guitar, Sáinz Villegas performed the world premiere of “Rounds,” the first work written for guitar by five-time Academy Award-winning composer John Williams. Known for his outreach programs, Sáinz Villegas is the founder of “Music without Borders Legacy,” a program that seeks to bridge communities across cultural, social and political borders, it has so far involved more than 10,000 children and youth around the world. Sáinz Villegas was born in La Rioja, Spain, and currently lives in New York City.

For more than 117 years, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been an essential part of Pittsburgh’s cultural landscape. The Pittsburgh Symphony, known for its artistic excellence, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. This tradition was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras. The Pittsburgh Symphony has made 40 international tours, including 20 European tours, eight trips to the Far East, and two to South America. Under the baton of Gilbert Levine, the PSO was the first American orchestra to perform at the Vatican in January 2004 for the late Pope John Paul II, as part of the Pontiff’s Silver Jubilee celebration. The PSO has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the PSO broadcast coast-to-coast, receiving increased national attention in 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International (PRI). The PRI series is produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3 in Pittsburgh and is made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Heinz Hall also hosts many other events that do not feature its world-renowned orchestra, including Broadway shows, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit

Editors Please Note:

Friday, October 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 12 at 2:30 p.m.

Heinz Hall

Claude Debussy (Büsser, Henri; Orchestrated):

Petite suite
I. En bateau
II. Cortège
III. Menuet
IV. Ballet

Joaquin Rodrigo:

Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra
I. Allegro con spirito
II. Adagio
III. Allegro gentile
Mr. Villegas

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:

Manfred Symphony, Opus 58
I. Lento lugubre
II. Vivace con spirito
III. Andante con moto
IV. Allegro con fuoco

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons