Season also features Composer of the Year Steven Stucky, 4 returning guest conductors, 2 conductors making PSO debuts, 16 PSO premieres, three-week Paris Festival, specials

View Video of Music Director Manfred Honeck
discussing the BNY Mellon Grand Classics 2011-2012 Season

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) today announced programming for the 2011-2012 BNY Mellon Grand Classics season, the Orchestra’s fourth under the leadership of Music Director Manfred Honeck, and the 116th since its founding.

Honeck conducts 10 of the 21-week BNY Mellon Grand Classics subscription concerts, including a staged performance in December of Handel’s Messiah, featuring the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Honeck also will lead the Orchestra in the season’s Gala on Saturday, Sept. 17 and a special concert with world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

The season opens with the PSO’s gala, “Musique du Monde,” on Saturday, Sept. 17, with a concert featuring violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter as guest soloist.

The 2011-2012 season marks the fourth for Leonard Slatkin in his role as Principal Guest Conductor, during which he leads three of the subscription weeks. Victor de Sabata Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda will lead the PSO on two subscription weekends.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Stucky is the Composer of the Year and will have five of his works performed during the subscription programs. One of the works will be commissioned by the PSO to commemorate Pittsburgh-area environmental pioneer Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, Silent Spring.

Eight PSO musicians will be featured as soloists during 2011-2012.

The 2011-2012 season also marks the 11th anniversary of BNY Mellon’s sponsorship of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics series. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the Official Hotel of the PSO.

“The exciting repertoire prepared for the 2011-2012 season represents the continuation of Manfred Honeck’s stirring vision for the orchestra,” said Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Lawrence Tamburri.

In addition to 21 weeks of BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts, the 2011-2012 season will also feature a return to Heinz Hall by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma for a special concert with the PSO. His last appearance at Heinz Hall was a sold-out recital in October 2010.

Violin master Pinchas Zukerman makes his long-awaited return to Heinz Hall on March 3, 2012, for an intimate recital that also features pianist Angela Cheng.

One of the season’s many highlights will be the three-week Paris Festival (April 27 – May 13), which celebrates the artistic vibrancy of the first quarter of the 20th century in the City of Light. Honeck will conduct two of the three weeks, while Noseda will conduct one week of concerts that include works by French composers Debussy and Ravel, as well as composers such as Stravinsky, de Falla and Gershwin, who made Paris their creative home during this time.

The season also will see the return of four guest conductors to Heinz Hall, including former PSO Music Director André Previn, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Juraj Valčuha and Yan Pascal Tortelier. Xian Zhang and Nikolaj Znaider will make their conducting debuts with the PSO in 2011-2012.  Znaider will play Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto as a soloist a week earlier with the Orchestra.

“I am looking forward to my fourth season as music director of this magnificent orchestra,” Honeck said. “This season promises to be another fantastic year as we bring the unforgettable music of Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Bizet, Haydn, Dvořák, Stravinsky, Mozart and Prokofiev to Pittsburgh audiences, along with the music of our Composer of the Year Steven Stucky.”

The 2011-2012 season continues the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s multi-year programming initiatives, such as the Beethoven Project. The complete cycle of the symphonies and concertos of Beethoven, as well as the complete cycle of Mahler symphonies, continues in 2011-2012.

This season, the PSO takes a look at Beethoven’s early and middle period works, focusing on the Triple Concerto, “Eroica” Symphony No. 3, Piano Concerto No. 1, and Symphony No. 1.

The fourth year of the multi-year Mahler Cycle continues this season with Honeck leading the Orchestra in performances of Symphony No. 6.

In 2011-2012, the PSO continues its Inspired by Nature series that explores the role of Nature as inspiration to composers through pre- and post-concert events, lobby exhibits and more. As part of the Inspired by Nature:

  • Honeck will lead the PSO in Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome on Feb. 10 & 12, 2012. The program also will include Respighi’s Fountains of Rome.
  • PSO Principal Guest Conductor Leonard Slatkin will conduct two “Inspired by Nature” works: Alan Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 2, “Mysterious Mountain,” Oct. 28-30, and Jean Françaix’s L’Horloge de Flore (The Flower Clock) Nov. 4 & 6.
  • The PSO, led by guest conductor Juraj Valčuha, will perform Composer of the Year Steven Stucky’s Spirit Voices with percussion soloist Evelyn Glennie, Jan. 13-15, 2012.

The Explore and Engage Program is the PSO’s commitment to enabling patrons to have a deeper, more meaningful and personally relevant connection to the PSO and its repertoire. Collaborations with local and area arts organizations and companies enhance the PSO’s musical offerings, giving insights to the music, artists, and programs through lobby displays, video and interactive installations, audience engagement workshops, pre-concert discussions, and more. These Explore and Engage activities are designed to further audience’s experiences by creating deeper understandings and relevant connections to the music in a variety of ways.

Once again, subscribers to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will receive at least three select downloads per season.  Programs can be downloaded and will be taken from the current BNY Mellon Grand Classics season. Ringtones also will be available free of charge through the PSO website at www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

The four-concert Thursday Matinee series will not be offered in 2011-2012. In its place, the PSO will announce a new seven-concert FIREWORKS series on Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Sunday concerts have grown in popularity and the new offer allows for a better concert experience since parking is more readily available and Sunday subscribers have the opportunity to purchase parking in advance for just $7 per concert.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will continue using its innovative Patron Services Representatives (PSR) for all BNY Mellon Grand Classics subscribers. This service grants each BNY Mellon Grand Classics subscriber a PSR to assist with ticket exchanges, subscription renewals and Annual Fund contributions, as well as advance notice of upcoming specials and information about Explore and Engage activities surrounding the concerts.


Paris was the place to be in the first quarter of the 20th century. Aspiring artists, poets and musicians were all drawn to the City of Light to partake in its artistic vibrancy. Paris was the unrivaled as the musical capital of the world; even Vienna was eclipsed by the glamour of Paris.

It was a time when the arts thrived on contact with each other: poets discussed music, musicians attended literary salons and artists illustrated musical works. The Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev surrounded himself with the greatest talents – Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel and Picasso. His productions with the Ballets Russes mesmerized Parisian audiences with their exotic opulence. As the century progressed, a distinctly French musical nationalism emerged alongside the contributions of the Americans, Spaniards and Russians who called the city their home.

The three-week festival, which runs April 27 – May 13, 2012, celebrates the musical life along with the movements, people and works that left their stamp on this most fascinating period in French cultural history.

  • Organ recital at Heinz Chapel in Oakland on May 6, 2012, by Washington, Pa., native Paul Jacobs, chairman of the organ department at Julliard who was named best organist by New York magazine, which also named one of his performances as among the ten best classical performances in New York City in 2007.
  • PSO Victor de Sabata Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda will kick off the Paris Festival April 27, 2012, with a concert that includes Alfredo Casella’s Symphony No. 2, Claude Debussy’s Ibéria and Manuel de Falla’s Three Cornered Hat Suite Nos. 1 & 2.
  • The second and third weeks of the festival will be led by Honeck, with concerts featuring 22-year-old French pianist Lise de la Salle, PSO Principal Cellist Anne Martindale Williams and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. The programs (May 4 & 5 and 11 & 13, 2012) will highlight Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Honegger and Gershwin.


During the 2011-2012 season, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra honors Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Stucky as its Composer of the Year. The PSO will salute Stucky in five weeks of subscription concerts, including one world premiere and four first performances by the PSO.

Stucky will compose a work commissioned by the PSO in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of famed Pittsburgh-area environmentalist Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, Silent Spring.

Launched in the 2001-2002 Season, the Composer of the Year program was created by the PSO to provide audiences with an unprecedented opportunity to encounter music of living composers and establish a relationship with that composer through the experience of hearing multiple works and participating in discussions of those works with them. Past participants are John Adams, Richard Danielpour, John Corigliano, Christopher Theofanidis, Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Rouse, Michael Hersch, Krzysztof Penderecki, Rodion Shchedrin and Joan Tower. The 2011-2012 BNY Mellon Grand Classics Season marks the 11th year of the Composer of the Year program.

Stucky, chairman of the board of the American Music Center, won a Pulitzer Prize for his Second Concerto for Orchestra. He had the unusual honor of two major premieres on the same day in 2010-2011. Sept. 18 saw the world premiere of his evening-length concert drama, August 4, 1964, by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, who commissioned it; and the U.S. premiere in New York City of Rhapsodies, by the New York Philharmonic, which performed its world premiere three weeks earlier at London’s BBC Proms during a European tour. Stucky and his collaborator, librettist Gene Scheer, based August 4, 1964 on events of that date: the discovery in Mississippi of the bodies of three recently murdered young civil rights workers and a spurious “attack” on two American warships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

  • The PSO will lead off the Composer of the Year celebration in the opening BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts of the season (Sept. 23-25) when it performs Stucky’s Dreamwaltzes, led by Honeck. Also in the program for these concerts is Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, with guest pianist Rudolf Buchbinder.
  • In October, guest conductor Xian Zhang will make her PSO debut conducting Stucky’s Radical Light (Oct. 21 & 23). The work, whose title is taken from a line by Stucky’s favorite poet, A.R. Ammons, was influenced by its role as a companion piece to two symphonies by Sibelius in a festival of the Finnish composer’s music.
  • Stucky’s third work, Spirit Voices, will be performed by the PSO led by guest conductor Juraj Valčuha (Jan. 13-15, 2012) as part of the “Inspired by Nature” series. According to Stucky, “this work takes its inspiration from the diversity of spirits and other supernatural forces from cultures around the world who manifest their presence through sound.”
  • Stucky will premiere a work commissioned by the PSO in commemoration of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking environmental book, Silent Spring. Honeck will conduct. (Feb. 17-19, 2012)
  • PSO Principal Guest Conductor Leonard Slatkin returns to Heinz Hall (March 30-April 1, 2012) to conduct Stucky’s Son et Lumière. The concerts also feature guest pianist Stephen Hough in a program that includes Saint-Säens’ Piano Concerto No. 5 and Prokofiev’s Cinderella Suite.


The season introduces two world premieres and the first performance by the PSO of more than a dozen works, from Haydn and Dvořák to Stucky and Previn.

World Premieres Commissioned by the PSO

Steven Stucky – Commission
André Previn – Triple Concerto

PSO Premieres

  • Haydn                          Symphony No. 67
  • Dvořák                         Biblical Songs
  • Casella                         Symphony No. 2
  • Boulanger                    Psalm 130
  • Honegger                     Cello Concerto
  • Vaughn Williams         Five Variants of “Dives and Lazarus”
  • Goossens                     Concert Piece for Oboe, Two Harps and Orchestra
  • Françaix                       Flower Clock
  • Stucky                          Son et Lumière
  • Stucky                          Spirit Voices
  • Stucky                          Radical Light
  • Stucky                          Dreamwaltzes
  • McTee                          Double Play
  • Newman                      Violin Concerto


* denotes PSO debut

Please Note: Programs, artists and dates subject to change.

Manfred Honeck: Sept. 17, Sept. 23-25, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, Nov. 25 & 27, Dec. 2-4, Feb. 3-5, 2012, Feb. 10 & 12, Feb. 17-19, May 4 & 5, May 11 & 13, June 8-10, and June 15-17.
Leonard Slatkin: Oct. 28-30, Nov. 4 & 6, and March 30-April 1, 2012.
Gianandrea Noseda: April 20-22 and 27-29, 2012.
André Previn: March 9-11, 2012
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos: Nov. 18-20
Yan Pascal Tortelier: March 23-25, 2012
Juraj Valčuha: Jan. 13-15, 2012
Nikolaj Znaider: March 2 & 4, 2012*
Xian Zhang: Oct. 21 & 23*

Anne-Sophie Mutter, Sept. 17
Xiang Yu, Oct. 21 & 23*
Nikolaj Znaider, Feb. 17-19, 2012
Pinchas Zukerman, March 3, 2012
Sarah Chang, March 23 & 25, 2012
Joshua Bell, June 8-10, 2012

Yo-Yo Ma (Dec. 6)

Rudolf Buchbinder, Sept. 23-25
Gabriela Montero, Nov. 18-20
Leif Ove Andsnes, Nov. 25 & 27
Lars Vogt, Feb. 10 & 12, 2012
Emanuel Ax, March 2 & 4, 2012
Angela Cheng, March 3, 2012
Stephen Hough, March 30-April 1, 2012
Nicholas Angelich, April 20-22, 2012
Lise de la Salle, May 4 & 5*

Other Soloists

Eroica Trio, Sept. 30-Oct. 1*
James Galway, flute, Oct. 28-30
Evelyn Glennie, percussion, Jan. 13-15

Vocal Soloists & Ensembles

Thomas Hampson, baritone, Feb. 3-5, 2012
Chen Reiss, soprano, Feb. 3-5, 2012
Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Dec. 2 & 4, Feb. 3-5, 2012 and May 4 & 5.

PSO Soloists

Randolph Kelly, viola, Nov. 4 & 6
Cynthia DeAlmeida, oboe, Nov. 4 & 6
George Vosburgh, trumpet, March 9-11, 2012
William Caballero, horn, March 9-11, 2012
Craig Knox, tuba, March 9-11, 2012
Anne Martindale Williams, cello, May 11 & 13, 2012
James Gorton, oboe, June 15-17, 2012
Gretchen Van Hoesen, harp, June 15-17, 2012

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