Music Director Manfred Honeck leads the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, guest vocalists and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh in Gustav Mahler’s groundbreaking Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” as part of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics at Heinz Hall on June 2-4. Mahler’s Second Symphony is the work that brought him his initial fame and marked the start of his career as a composer, rather than as a conductor. The epic first movement conveys nothing less than the search for the meaning of life. The composer himself wrote:
“‘We are standing near the grave of a well-loved man. His whole life, his struggles, his sufferings and his accomplishments on earth pass before us. And now, in this solemn and deeply stirring moment, when the confusion and distractions of everyday life are lifted like a hood from our eyes, a voice of awe-inspiring solemnity chills our heart, a voice that, blinded by the mirage of everyday life, we usually ignore: ‘What next?’ it says. ‘What is life and what is death? Will we live on eternally? Is it all an empty dream or do our life and death have a meaning?’ And we must answer this question, if we are to go on living.’”
This colossal five-movement symphony is the first of Mahler’s symphonies to use voices and words in addition to the orchestra, and includes many of the dramatic sonic effects closely associated with him, such as an off-stage band. The finale in particular is full of the terror and glory of a last judgement and resurrection, depicted with a wall of sound produced by a full orchestra and chorus, and answering some of the questions posed by Mahler in the first movement.
Soprano Ying Fang, making her Pittsburgh Symphony debut, and mezzo-soprano Gerhild Romberger join the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh in this transformative musical experience.
The concert opens with Composer of the Year James MacMillan’s moving Miserere, a choral setting of Psalm 51 (“Have mercy upon me, O God.”), which will be performed by the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.
A pre-concert talk, open to all ticketholders, with Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong will occur on stage one hour before each concert. Dorseyville Middle School will perform in the Grand Lobby of Heinz Hall one hour before concert start on Friday, June 2. Both pre-concert presentations are free and open to ticketholders.
The Pittsburgh Symphony recently acquired a 20-note set of Deagan Co. tower chimes from a church in Illinois. After many weeks of meticulously cleaning, their full sound will be employed during the performances of Mahler’s Resurrection. (Two of the chimes were used in the BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend on March 31 & April 2.) Patrons can explore a display about these chimes in the Grand Tier this weekend.
Following the concerts on Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4, a quartet featuring Jennifer Orchard, violin, Tatjana Mead Chamis, viola, Mikhail Istomin, cello, and Dimitri Papadimitriou, piano, will perform Mahler’s Piano Quartet on stage post-concert. The performance of this one-movement piece is free to ticketholders.
The Saturday, June 3 concert is offered in memory of Albert Filoni, the architect who helped remake Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, including the renovation of Heinz Hall. Filoni passed away in October 2016.
Program notes for the weekend are available online at pittsburghsymphony.org/Resurrection and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 4. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, are available through the Heinz Hall Box Office in person, by phone at 412-392-4900 or online at pittsburghsymphony.org/Resurrection.
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-FM 89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
About the Artists
Renowned for his distinctive interpretations, MANFRED HONECK has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. He and the orchestra are consistently recognized for their performances and are celebrated both in Pittsburgh and abroad. To great acclaim, they regularly perform in major music capitals and festivals, among them the BBC Proms, Musikfest Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Grafenegg Festival, Carnegie Hall and the Musikverein in Vienna. This successful collaboration has also been extensively documented on recordings. The SACDs released by Reference Recordings, most recently Strauss’ Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier suites, have received numerous rave reviews, as well as two Grammy Award nominations.
Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado and was subsequently engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where earned the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early posts include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra, and Oslo, where he was appointed principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He went on to become music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2007 to 2011, Honeck was music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where he conducted premieres of operas by Berlioz, Mozart, Verdi, Strauss, Poulenc and Wagner. Other operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Royal Opera of Copenhagen and the Salzburg Festival.
As a guest conductor Honeck has worked with the world’s leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the United States include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has been artistic director of the International Concerts Wolfegg in Germany for more than 20 years.
Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College, Carnegie Mellon University and the Catholic University of America. Most recently, he was awarded the title of honorary professor by the Austrian federal president.
Soprano YING FANG has been hailed by The New York Times for her “pure and moving soprano, phrasing with scrupulous respect for the line and traveling with assurance through the mercurial moods,” as well as “singing with a fresh, appealing soprano and acting with coquettish flair.”
The 2016-2017 season includes a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Elvira in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri and Jano in Janáček’s Jenůfa. She will also portray Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro conducted by Corrado Rovaris in a Stephen Lawless production for Opera Philadephia and sings Bellezza in Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno with conductor Emmanuelle Haïm with Opéra de Lille. Fang appears this season with the New York Philharmonic in an all-Mozart program under Bernard Labadie, performs Handel’s Messiah with the Philadephia Orchestra conducted by Nathalie Stutzmann, ventures to Chicago for Telemann’s Der Tag des Gerichts with Music of the Baroque Orchestra conducted by Jane Glover, and joins St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble for a Schubertiade in New York.
Fang’s 2015-2016 season included performances at the Metropolitan Opera as Giannetta in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and the Shepherd in Wagner’s Tannhäuserconducted by James Levine. She made her Verbier Festival and role debut singing Nannetta in Verdi’s Falstaff alongside Bryn Terfel and led by Jesús López Cobos, and returned to the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence for its production of Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. On the concert stage, she debuted at the Ravinia Festival in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 under the baton of James Levine. She appeared in recital with Carnegie Hall as part of the Neighborhood Concert Series and at the Kennedy Center under the auspices of Vocal Arts DC, both with pianist Ken Noda.
Previous appearances for Fang include Barbarina in the season-opening new production of Le Nozze di Figaro conducted by James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, where she also sang the Dew Fairy in Hänsel und Gretel conducted by Sir Andrew Davis; and Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro directed by Stephen Wadsworth at The Juilliard School, where she also performed the title role in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide conducted by Jane Glover. She joined the Mediterranean Youth Symphony for a European tour of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 conducted by Carlo Rizzi, and was featured in the Metropolitan Opera and The Juilliard School’s joint concert of comic operas conducted by James Levine, in which she sang Konstanze, Teresa and Adina. Other notable recent appearances include Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare and Contessa di Folleville in Rossini’s Il Viaggio A Reims, both with the Wolf Trap Opera Company, the title role in Mozart’s Zaïde with the New World Symphony, and Bellezza in Handel’s oratorio Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno with Juilliard 415 under the baton of William Christie at Alice Tully Hall. She also appeared at Aspen Opera Theater Center where she was heard as Maria in Bernstein’s West Side Story and the role of Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflötewith the Aspen Opera Theater Center, of which the Aspen Times wrote: “Soprano Ying Fang sang Pamina with a creamy tone and marvelous specificity in each moment.”
Fang made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2013-2014 season singing the role of Madame Podtochina’s Daughter in Shostakovich’s opera The Nose. At The Juilliard School, she has been seen as Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Fanny in Rossini’s La Cambiale di Matrimonio and the Spirit of the Boy in Britten’s Curlew River. She made her Alice Tully Hall debut performing Handel’s motet Silete Venti with conductor Steven Fox leading the Juilliard 415, and appeared as the soprano soloist in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap.
A native of Ningbo, China, Fang is the recipient of the Martin E. Segal Award, the Hildegard Behrens Foundation Award, the Rose Bampton Award of The Sullivan Foundation, The Opera Index Award, and the 1st Prize Award of the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition. In 2009, she become one of the youngest singers to win one of China’s most prestigious awards — the China Golden Bell Award for Music. She has been hailed as “the most gifted Chinese soprano of her generation” by Ningbo Daily.
Fang holds a master’s degree and an Artist Diploma in opera study from The Juilliard School and a bachelor’s degree from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. She was a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
GERHILD ROMBERGER was born and brought up in the Emsland. After studying music for schools at the Academy of Music in Detmold, she attended voice training classes with Heiner Eckels and graduated with concert-standard honors. She rounded off her studies with courses under the professors of lieder performance Mitsuko Shirai and Hartmut Höll. She now lives with her family in Detmold, where for a long time she has been an extremely popular professor of singing at the Academy of Music.
As alto, she has always concentrated on concert performances, her work focusing on lieder recitals on a wide variety of themes, as well as on contemporary music. Her extremely extensive repertoire encompasses all the major contralto and mezzo-soprano parts in the oratorio and concert literature from the Baroque via the Classical and Romantic periods all the way to the 20th century.
Significant career moments for Romberger in recent years were the concerts with Manfred Honeck, who invited her to perform in, among other works, Mahler’s symphonies, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and the Grosse Messe by Walter Braunfels. In addition with the Berlin Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Herbert Blomstedt and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester with Riccardo Chailly. Furthermore she performed with the Vienna and Bamberg Symphony Orchestras (under Daniel Harding), at La Scala (under Franz Welser- Möst) and with the Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra (under Bernard Haitink).
In the 2016-2017 season, she will perform with the Radio Philharmonisch Orkest in Utrecht and Amsterdam with Szymanowski`s Stabat Mater under Markus Stenz, with the Vienna Philharmonic and the 2 Sinfonie of Karl Amadeus Hartmann (under Ingo Metzmacher) in Hamburg and Cologne and in Leipzig with the Gewandhausorchester and Beethoven’s 9 Sinfonie (under Andris Nelsons).
Besides that a great tour with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer (Mahler: Lied von der Erde) will lead her to Zurich, Geneva, Paris, Cologne, Lugano und Budapest. In 2017, she can be heard with Mahler’s 2 Sinfonie at the new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg (under Thomas Hengelbrock) and at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (under Manfred Honeck). After this, she will be at La Scala in Mailand with Beethovens Missa solemnis under Bernard Haitink.
Hailed as one of the finest choruses in the country, the MENDELSSOHN CHOIR OF PITTSBURGH (MCP) is proud of its long artistic partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and looks forward to another exciting season at Heinz Hall. Primarily a volunteer chorus, the Mendelssohn Choir is composed of more than 100+ singers whose passion and commitment enables them to perform alongside the world’s greatest musicians. In addition to its performances with the PSO, the Mendelssohn Choir produces its own community concerts and provides professional choral instruction to talented young people through the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.
MCP is committed to offering a mix of traditional and innovative choral performances to maintain the vitality and relevance of the choral art. Under its new music director, Matthew Mehaffey — MCP’s seventh music director in its 109-year history, MCP looks forward to bringing Pittsburgh audiences more concert experiences such as “The Music of Downton Abbey” (October 2016) and the Pittsburgh premiere of Annelies, a choral work based on the Diary of Anne Frank, (February 2017). Last summer, MCP partnered with composer/conductor Steven Hackman to perform “Defying Gravity,” a concert of Hackman’s arrangements and choral mash-ups at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. The concert was Hackman’s premiere performance at the Arts Festival and was MCP’s first appearance on the Festival’s mainstage after a 40-year hiatus. MCP and Hackman later performed the “Defying Gravity” concert at Oglebay, West Virginia.
For 26 years, MCP was privileged to call Robert Page (1927-2016) its music director. A legendary choral conductor, arranger and musician, Page transformed the choral field as well as the institutions he was a part of such as the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. He will be remembered as a champion for symphonic choruses to have the respect that they deserve as performers. But most of all, he will be remembered by the Mendelssohn’s extended family of singers as someone who inspired and touched their lives through his music, his friendship, his mentorship and his larger-than-life personality. As individuals, and as an organization we are better for having known Page.
As the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s “chorus of choice,” the Mendelssohn Choir has performed with some of the world’s foremost conductors including Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michael Tilson Thomas, Claudio Abbado, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Charles Dutoit, André Previn, Sir Neville Marriner, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Helmuth Rilling, Ingo Metzmacher, Richard Hickox, Zdenek Mácal and Manfred Honeck. Performances of the Choir with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are heard locally over WQED-FM (89.3) and distributed nationally by PRI.
Committed to fostering the choral art form, the Mendelssohn Choir has numerous recordings, commissions and premieres to its credit, including works by Ned Rorem, Nancy Galbraith and Derek Bermel. The Choir’s most recent recording released in fall 2011 is Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh with Manfred Honeck conducting.
For more information on the Mendelssohn and Junior Mendelssohn Choirs and upcoming performances go to themendelssohn.org.
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, June 2, at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 3 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 4 at 2:30 p.m.
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS: Mahler’s Resurrection
MANFRED HONECK, conductor
YING FANG, soprano
GERHILD ROMBERGER, mezzo soprano
MENDELSSOHN CHOIR OF PITTSBURGH (Matthew Mehaffey, director)
Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection”
I. Allegro maestoso
II. Andante moderato
III. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung
IV. Urlicht (Primeval Light)
Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh