Acclaimed Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is guest soloist

PITTSBURGH – Music Director Manfred Honeck returns to Heinz Hall to lead the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in a hugely popular Thanksgiving weekend tradition: waltzes and polkas by the Johann Strauss Family.

The concerts, part of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics series, will begin at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 25 and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27. Tickets, ranging from $20 to $93, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412.392.4900, or by visiting the PSO online at www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

Award-winning Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes will be guest soloist. He last performed at Heinz Hall in 2001. PSO Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley also will be a featured soloist.

The New York Times called Andsnes “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power and insight.” He has received worldwide acclaim for his commanding technique and searching interpretations, prompting the Wall Street Journal to call him “one of the most gifted musicians of his generation.” Andsnes gives recitals and plays concertos each season in the world’s leading concert halls and also is an active recording artist, He is an avid chamber musician who has joined select colleagues each summer at Norway’s Risør Festival of Chamber Music. He will serve as Music Director of the 2012 Ojai Music Festival in California.

The concerts showcase waltzes and polkas by Johann Strauss Jr. and Josef Strauss, as well as works by Beethoven, Otto Nicolai, Pablo De Sarasate and Fritz Kreisler.

The PSO would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for their 2011-2012 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the Official Hotel of the PSO. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the PSO. Bobby Rahal Automotive Group is the official automotive group of the PSO.

A native of Austria, Manfred Honeck was appointed its ninth Music Director and began his tenure at the start of the 2008/2009 season. Only two years later his contract was extended until 2016. After performances at Carnegie Hall and a much-celebrated tour of European musical capitals in 2010, Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra returned to Europe again in August and September 2011 for appearances at major music festivals, such as the Rheingau Music Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Grafenegg Festival, Musikfest Berlin, Beethovenfest Bonn, Lucerne Festival, BBC Proms, and concerts in Paris and Vilnius, Lithuania. Honeck’s successful work in Pittsburgh is captured on CD by the audiophile Japanese label Exton. So far, Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 1, 3 and 4, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben have been released to critical acclaim.

PSO Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley is the only American Laureate of the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. He also won 3rd prize and a special prize for creativity at the 2008 Long-Thibaud International Competition in Paris. He was awarded 1st Prize and a special prize for best Bach interpretation at the 14th International Violin Competition “Andrea Postacchini” in Fermo, Italy. Most recently, in May, Noah won 1st prize at the Vibrarte International Music Competition in Paris, France. Noah has appeared as a soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris), the Orchestre National de Belgique (Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels), the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie (Belgium), the Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana (Italy), the Orchester Jakobsplatz Munich, and the Asheville Symphony (USA). He performed the premiere of a rediscovered Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra by Carl Stamitz at the German Viola Congress in Muenster, Germany. Noah has performed in Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Iceland, China, Switzerland, Great Britain, Canada and the United States. In his spare time, Noah plays klezmer music and composes. He has played with world-renowned klezmer groups such as Brave Old World, and has taught klezmer violin at workshops in Europe and in the United States.

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