Finnish Conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste Joins Pittsburgh Symphony for First BNY Mellon Grand Classics Concerts of New Year

Acclaimed Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste returns to Heinz Hall for the first time since 1999 to lead the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Seventh and Sibelius’ Fifth symphonies during the BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend on January 13 and 15.

First performed in 1813, the remarkable, energetic Seventh Symphony from Beethoven was met with immediate acclaim and, over the years, many different interpretations of its meaning, including a recent critically acclaimed recording from the Pittsburgh Symphony on the Reference Recordings Fresh! label.

Composed a little more than 100 years after Beethoven’s symphony, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 premiered in celebration of the composer’s 50th birthday in 1915. The work opens with a four-note theme in the horns that is developed seamlessly throughout, expanding into an exhilarating rush of energy to the end.

A pre-concert talk, open to all ticketholders and led by Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, will occur on stage one hour before each concert. Program notes for the weekend are available online at pittsburghsymphony.org/Seven and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.

The Youth Chamber Connection ensemble will perform in the Grand Lobby beginning one hour prior to the concert start on Sunday, January 15. This performance is free to ticketholders.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/Seven.

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2016-2017 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. Radio station WQED-FM 89.3 and WQEJ-FM89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

About the Artists

saraste-jukka-pekka_squareJUKKA-PEKKA SARASTE has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation, demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity.

Born in Heinola, Finland, he began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. An artist of exceptional versatility and breadth, Saraste feels a special affinity with the sound and style of late Romantic music. Equally, he maintains a strong connection with the music of our time, such as that of Dutilleux, Lindberg, Salonen and Saariaho, among others. He recently conducted world premieres by Wolfgang Rihm, Friedrich Cerha, Pascal Dusapin, Philippe Schoeller and Carmine Emanuele Cella.

Saraste has served as chief conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, since 2010. In April 2015, he extended his contract until the 2018-2019 season. He was music director and chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra from 2006 to 2013, and at the end of his tenure there was made conductor laureate, the very first such title bestowed by that orchestra. His previous positions have included BBC Symphony Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He founded the Finnish Chamber Orchestra, of which he is still artistic advisor, and the orchestra´s annual Tammisaari Festival, of which he is artistic director.

His guest engagements have led him to the major orchestras worldwide, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and the leading Scandinavian orchestras, among others. In the United States, he has conducted the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic.

Saraste´s extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for Toronto Symphony Orchestra of works by Bartók, Dutilleux, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev for Warner Finlandia, most notably a recording of Dutilleux’s Second Symphony. His recordings of Mahler´s Sixth Symphony with the Oslo Philharmonic and Mahler´s Ninth Symphony with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne have received widespread acknowledgement. His recordings with WDR Symphony Orchestra for Hänssler have earned him high critical praise, and include Schoenberg’s Pelleas and Melisande, Stravinsky’s The Firebird, Brahms’ Symphonies No. 1 and 3 as well as Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

Saraste has received the Pro Finlandia Prize, the Sibelius Medal, and the Finnish State Prize for Music. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from York University, Toronto and an honorary doctorate from the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki.

The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, 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. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), André Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004).  This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. Its “Pittsburgh Live!” series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900 — including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

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 hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, popular touring artists, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.

Editors Please Note:

Friday, January 13, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 15, at 2:30 p.m.

Heinz Hall
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS: Beethoven’s Seventh
JUKKA-PEKKA SARASTE, conductor

Ludwig Van Beethoven:

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Opus 92
I. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
II. Allegretto
III. Presto
IV. Allegro con brio

Intermission

Jean Sibelius:

Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major, Opus 82
I. Tempo molto moderato – Allegro moderato – Presto
II. Andante mosso, quasi allegretto
III. Allegro molto – Misterioso

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Dec 22