Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Celebrates the Music of the ‘Big Apple’ During BNY Mellon Grand Classics on February 24-26

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Lahav Shani, in his Pittsburgh debut, perform landmark works honoring the city of New York by some of America’s most celebrated composers during the BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend, “Rhapsody in Blue,” on February 24-26 at Heinz Hall.

The concert opens with Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question and Kurt Weill’s Symphony No. 2. Ives, son of George Ives, wrote this brief avant-garde composition in 1906 and, due to its free notation, it can never be played the same way twice! Symphonic in conception, Weill’s symphony embraces the melodies, harmonies and feeling of his popular Broadway works. Pianist Jon Kimura Parker joins the orchestra for Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin’s iconic jazz-concerto, filled with driving rhythms and rich melodies. Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story brings the program to a rousing close.

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. The Steinway Young Artists will perform one hour before each concert start time in the Grand Lobby of Heinz Hall. These performances are free and open to ticketholders. Program notes for the weekend are available online at pittsburghsymphony.org/Rhapsody and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday 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/Rhapsody.

This performance is funded in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc., New York, NY. 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

Lahav Shahani Conductor-pianist Photo: Marco Borggreve

Prodigiously gifted 27-year-old Israeli conductor LAHAV SHANI’S conducting career was launched when he won first prize at the 2013 Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg. Since then he has quickly established himself as one of the most talked about young conducting talents making a huge impression with his astonishing maturity and natural, instinctive musicality.

In January 2016, Shani stood in for Philippe Jordan conducting the Vienna Symphony Orchestra on a major European tour including concerts in Paris, Frankfurt and Munich. In the 2017-2018 season, Shani will become principal guest conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

In June 2014, Shani made a sensational debut in Berlin, replacing Michael Gielen, with the Berlin Staatskapelle with concerts at the Berlin Konzerthaus and the Berlin Philharmonie. He returns to conduct the orchestra for four performances of La Bohème in December 2016 at the Berliner Staatsoper and for orchestral concerts in the Berlin Philharmonie in May 2017. In December 2015, Shani stepped in, at short notice, for an indisposed Franz Welser-Moest for concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic in the Musikverein when he directed Bach: Concerto in D minor from the keyboard and conducted Mahler 1, winning high praise from the critics and a standing ovation from the public.

In the 2016-2017 season and beyond, Shani will conduct orchestras such as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Dresden Staatskapelle, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Philharmonia Orchestra,

Rotterdam Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Bamberger Symphoniker, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, The Hallé, Orchestre National de Lyon and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

In October 2013, Shani was invited to open the season of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – Globes, reviewing one of the performances, wrote that “this concert will be remembered as a dizzying, perhaps even historic event in the history of the Israel Philharmonic”. An immediate re-invitation followed for the next two seasons. His close relationship with the Israel Philharmonic started in 2007 when he performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto under the baton of Zubin Mehta, and continued in 2010 when he joined Mehta and the orchestra on tour in Asia, where he participated as solo pianist, conductor’s assistant and as double bass player.

Shani was born in 1989 in Tel Aviv. He started his piano studies at six with Hannah Shalgi, and continued with Professor Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv. He then went on to complete his studies in conducting with Professor Christian Ehwald and piano with Professor Fabio Bidini, both at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin. In recent years, he has been mentored by Daniel Barenboim.

Parker, Jon Kimura_cr Tara McMullenKnown for his passionate artistry and engaging stage presence, pianist JON KIMURA PARKER’S brilliant and versatile career has taken him from Carnegie Hall and Berlin’s Philharmonie to the Beijing Concert Hall and the Sydney Opera House. A committed educator, Parker is professor of piano at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Parker is also artistic advisor of the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, where he has given world premieres of new works by Peter Schickele and Jake Heggie. Parker has recorded for Telarc and CBC, and on his own label. His new CD Fantasy features Fantasies of Schubert and Schumann, as well as the sensational Wizard of Oz Fantasy by William Hirtz, receiving this praise from Classical Candor: “The reading is riveting. Parker scores with another favorite recording of the year.” “Jackie” Parker studied with Edward Parker, Keiko Parker, Lee Kum-Sing, Robin Wood, Marek Jablonski and Adele Marcus. He won the Gold Medal at the 1984 Leeds International Piano Competition. He lives in Houston with his wife, violinist Aloysia Friedmann, and their daughter, Sophie. For further information, please see jonkimuraparker.com.

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 < a href=”http://www.heinzhall.org”>heinzhall.org.

Editors Please Note: 

Friday, February 24, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 25, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 26, at 2:30 p.m.

Heinz Hall
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS: Rhapsody in Blue
LAHAV SHANI, conductor
JON KIMURA PARKER, piano

Charles Ives:

The Unanswered Question

Kurt Weill:

Symphony No. 2
Sostenuto – Allegro molto
Largo
Allegro vivace

Intermission

George Gershwin (orch. Grofe):

Rhapsody in Blue
Mr. Parker

Leonard Bernstein

Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Prologue
“Somewhere”
Scherzo
Mambo
Cha Cha
Meeting Scene
“Cool” Fugue
Rumble
Finale

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Feb 9