Celebrating his 61st year in the music industry, legendary singer Johnny Mathis returns to Heinz Hall to perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, July 22 at 8 p.m.
A sublime vocalist whose career has transcended fads and trends, Mathis’ more than 80 albums include a wide range of styles — from jazz standards to music from stage and screen — cementing his reputation as one of the enduring singers today. During this one-night-only concert, Mathis will perform his enduring classic hits and some personal favorites — such as “Chances Are” and “Misty” — showcasing why he is still the “voice of romance”!
About the Artists
The fourth of seven children, JOHN ROYCE MATHIS was born on September 30, 1935 in Gilmer, Texas, to Clem and Mildred Mathis. As a small boy, the family moved to Post Street in San Francisco. It was there that he learned an appreciation of music from his father who taught him his first song, “My Blue Heaven.” At age eight, his father purchased an old upright piano for $25. When he brought it home, it wouldn’t fit through the front door. So that evening, Mathis stayed up all night to watch his father dismantle the piano, get it into the small living room of their basement apartment and then reassemble it. Clem Mathis, who worked briefly as a musician back in Texas playing the piano and singing on stage, would continue to teach his son many songs and routines. Mathis had proven to be the most eager of the children to learn all about music. He sang in the church choir, school functions, community events and for visitors in their home, as well as amateur shows in the San Francisco area. He was also a successful track & field athlete, and was offered a chance to compete in the Olympic Trials. In the same week, Columbia Records called, so he choose to go to New York to record his first album in March 1956.
Best-known for his supremely popular hits like “Chances Are,” “It’s Not for Me to Say” and “Misty,” Mathis has recorded more than 80 albums, six Christmas albums, and has sold millions of records worldwide. During his extensive career he has had three songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, achieved 50 Hits on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart, received five Grammy Nominations and, in 2003, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
In spite of a very busy tour schedule & many charity events, Mathis still finds time to enjoy a little free time. He was an avid tennis player until the late 1960s, when a good friend turned him on to his now life-long love of golf. He plays golf almost every day when he’s not traveling and has sung at many golf banquets such as the Ryder Cup. After almost 60 years as a recording artist, what’s next for Mathis? “I don’t think about retiring. I think about how I can keep singing for the rest of my life. I just have to pace myself.”
Mathis’ gifted pianist-conductor is JOHN SCOTT LAVENDER. He’s worked with Glenn Yarbrough and Toni; he’s conducted orchestras throughout the Canada, Great Britain and the United States, including the National Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Atlanta Symphony and more.
He’s an accomplished composer, musical director and arranger-orchestrator and is active in the synthesized, computer-music field. In these capacities, he’s worked with the Hollywood and Israel Pops Orchestras, the Local Cable Ace Awards, the Museum of Jewish History, Gap commercials and Craig Taubman of “Craig and Co.,” to mention a few.
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 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 heinzhall.org.
Editors please note:
Friday, July 21 at 8 p.m.
PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
JOHNNY MATHIS: THE VOICE OF ROMANCE TOUR 2017
JOHN SCOTT LAVENDER, conductor
JOHNNY MATHIS, vocals