Season features Music for the Spirit, Composer of the Year Mason Bates, 4 conductors making PSO debuts, PSO premieres, celebration of Verdi & Wagner bicentennials, performances of Mahler’s 2nd & 7th symphonies

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) today announced programming for the 2012-2013 BNY Mellon Grand Classics season, the Orchestra’s fifth under the leadership of Music Director Manfred Honeck, and the 117th since its founding.

Honeck conducts 10 of the 22-week BNY Mellon Grand Classics subscription concerts, including his unique and dramatic version in October of Mozart’s Requiem, featuring the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, and Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actor John Lithgow.

Honeck also will lead the PSO in the “Year of the Dragon” gala on Saturday, Sept. 15, featuring internationally acclaimed and award-winning pianist Lang Lang as guest soloist. Lang Lang will perform selections from his album of Chinese music, Dragon Songs, as well as Liszt’s passionate Piano Concerto No. 1.

The 2012-2013 season marks the fifth for Leonard Slatkin in his role as Principal Guest Conductor. He will conduct for three subscription weeks. Victor de Sabata Guest Conductor Chair Gianandrea Noseda will lead the PSO in two subscription weekends.

Genre-mixing Mason Bates is the Composer of the Year and will have four of his works performed during the subscription programs. One of the works, a violin concerto written for Anne Akiko Meyers, will be co-commissioned by the PSO and have its world premiere in December with Slatkin conducting.

The 2012-2013 Season also marks the 12th anniversary of BNY Mellon’s sponsorship of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics series. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the PSO.

“The wonderful repertoire and brilliant guest artists promise yet another exciting season for Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,” PSO President and CEO James A. Wilkinson said.

“It is hard to imagine I will be starting my fifth season as music director of this fantastic orchestra,” said Music Director Honeck. “These past four seasons have been sensational and I am eagerly looking forward to bringing Pittsburgh audiences more unforgettable performances of the works of Mahler, Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Brahms, Shostakovich, Ravel, as well as our dynamic Composer of the Year, Mason Bates.”

Among the many highlights of the season are the PSO debuts of four exciting conductors: Michael Francis, Juanjo Mena, Kazem Abdullah and Jeannette Sorrell. Three popular conductors, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Arild Remmereit and Yan Pascal Tortelier, all familiar to Heinz Hall audiences, also will return in 2012-2013.

The season’s first subscription weekend features world-acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson returning to Heinz Hall to sing orchestral songs by Richard Strauss. Other guest artists performing in 2012-2013 include violinist Joshua Bell, Ukranian-born pianist and YouTube phenom Valentina Lisitsa, who returns in May to perform Grieg’s much-loved Piano Concerto, multiple Grammy Award-winning violinist Gil Shaham, Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti and world-acclaimed pianists Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman.

Pulitzer Prize winning composer George Walker was co-commissioned by the PSO and three other orchestras to write “Strands,” which the PSO will be performing with Arild Remmereit conducting.

The 2012-2013 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 2012-2013.

This is the PSO’s fourth season of the Beethoven Project, in which Honeck and the PSO continue their journey through the master composer’s impressive body of orchestral works. This season will feature Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor,” and Symphony No. 7. Also, in the Music for the Spirit Festival concert, Honeck and the PSO perform one of Beethoven’s most beloved pieces Symphony No. 9. The Mahler Cycle also continues season with Honeck leading the PSO in performances of Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” and Symphony No. 7.

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. The PSO also teams with WQED and the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh to present the PSO Book Club, as part of the Explore and Engage activities.

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.

For the BNY Mellon Grand Classics 2012-2013 Season, the Heinz Hall seating chart has been rescaled.  These changes allow for more lower-priced seating on the main floor (orchestra level), making it accessible to a potentially larger audience. Beginning in 2012-2013, 50 percent of Heinz Hall will be priced at $35.75 per ticket or less on BNY Mellon Grand Classics subscriptions.


During the 2012-2013 Season, the PSO honors Mason Bates as its Composer of the Year. Bates’ work will be celebrated in four weeks of subscription concerts, including one world premiere and three first performances by the PSO.

Bates’ music fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno. Frequently performed by orchestras large and small, his symphonic music has been the first to receive widespread acceptance for its expanded palette of electronic sounds, and it is championed by leading conductors such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, and John Adams. He has become a visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces, whether through institutional partnerships or through his classical/DJ project Mercury Soul, which has transformed spaces ranging from commercial clubs to Frank Gehry-designed concert halls into exciting, hybrid musical events drawing over a thousand people.

Bringing classical music to new audiences is a central part of Bates’ activities as a curator, be it through residencies with institutions such as the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOWseries, or in alternative spaces with Mercury Soul. Collaboration with director Anne Patterson and Benjamin Shwartz, Mercury Soul embeds sets of classical music into an evening of DJing and beautiful, surreal visuals. Sold-out performances from San Francisco’s famed Mezzanine club to Miami’s New World Symphony Hall have brought a new vision of the listening experience to widespread audiences.  A recipient of the Rome and Berlin Prizes as well as fellowships from Tanglewood and the Guggenheim Foundation, Bates worked with Edmund Campion at UC Berkeley.

Launched in 2001-2002, the PSO created the Composer of the Year program to provide audiences with an unprecedented opportunity to encounter music of living composers, and establish a relationship with the composers through the experience of hearing multiple works and learning about the works through pre-concert talks and chats with the composer. Past participants are Steven Stucky, Joan Tower, John Adams, Richard Danielpour, John Corigliano, Christopher Theofanidis, Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Rouse, Michael Hersch, Krzysztof Penderecki and Rodion Shchedrin. The 2012-2013 BNY Mellon Grand Classics Season marks the 12th year of the Composer of the Year program.

  • The PSO will lead off the Composer of the Year celebration in the fourth concert of the season (Nov. 30, Dec.2) when it performs Bates’ Mothership, led by Honeck. Also in the program for these concerts is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and the winner of the PSO Concerto Competition.
  • In December, Principal Guest Conductor Leonard Slatkin will make his return to Heinz Hall to conduct the world premiere of Bates’ Violin Concerto (Dec. 7 & 9). These concerts will also feature violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and Symphony No. 3 “Organ Symphony” by Saint-Saëns.
  • PSO Principal Guest Conductor Leonard Slatkin returns for Bates’ third work, The B-Sides (March 22-24, 2013). Performances by Pianist Emanuel Ax, mezzo-soprano Lindsay Ammann and The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh will also be included in the program.
  • Bates’ piece Desert Transport will be conducted under Juanjo Mena during his debut at Heinz Hall. Mena, along with violinist Joshua Bell, will perform Bernstein’s Serenade for Violin and Orchestra.


Honeck continues to explore the relationship between spirituality and music in the inaugural Music for the Spirit Festival, an extraordinary city-wide series of special concerts and events. Through Music for the Spirit, the PSO explores the power of music to promote dialogue between religious faiths and demonstrates its deep commitment to the power of music to promote and spread a spiritual and universal message.

The Music for the Spirit Festival will feature Beethoven’s Ninth, “Ode to Joy,” and former PSO Composer of the Year Christopher Theofanidis’ The Gift, commissioned by the PSO in honor of long-time Board Chair Richard P. Simmons. The Gift pays tribute to the good in mankind.



The season introduces two world premieres and the first performance by the PSO of several works, from Haydn and Strauss to Bates and George Walker.

World Premieres Commissioned by the PSO

Bates – Violin Concerto
Theofanidis – The Gift

PSO Premieres

  • Golijov                       Sidereus (PSO co-commission)
  • Walker                        Sinfonia No. 4 “Strands” (PSO co-commission)
  • Haydn                         Symphony No. 68
  • De Sabata                    La notte di Plàton
  • Strauss                         Aus Italien
  • Respighi                      Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite 3
  • Bates                            Mothership
  • Bates                            The B-Sides
  • Bates                            Desert Transport


* denotes PSO debut.

Manfred Honeck:  Sept. 21-23, Oct. 12-14, Nov. 23-25, Nov. 30, Dec. 2, 2012, Feb. 15 & 17, March 1-3, April 26 & 28, May 31, June 1-2, Jun 7-9, 2013
Leonard Slatkin: Oct. 5-7, Dec. 7 & 9, 2012, and March 22-24, 2013
Gianandrea Noseda: Jan. 11 & 13, 18-20, 2013
Arild Remmereit: Dec. 14-16, 2012
Michael Francis: Jan. 25-27, 2013*
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos: March 8 & 10, 2013
Jeannette Sorrell: April 5-7, 2013*
Juanjo Mena: April 12-14, 2013*
Kazem Abdullah: May 10 & 12, 2013*
Yan Pascal Tortelier: May 17-19, 2013

Olga Kern, Oct. 5- 7
Yefim Bronfman, Nov. 23- 25
Benjamin Hochman, Jan. 18- 20, 2013
Denis Matsuev, Feb. 15 & 17, 2013
Horacio Gutiérrez, March 8 & 10, 2013
Emanuel Ax, March 22- 24, 2013
Valentina Lisitsa, May 17- 19, 2013
Yuja Wang, June 7- 9, 2013

Anne Akiko Meyers, Dec. 7 & 9
Gil Shaham, Dec. 14-16
Joshua Bell, April 12- 14, 2013
Christian Tetzlaff, Jan. 25- 27, 2013*
Nicola Benedetti, May 10 & 12, 2013

PSO Soloists
Noah Bendix-Balgley, Oct. 12 -14

Other Soloists
John Lithgow, speaker, Oct. 12-14
Enrico Dindo, cello, Jan. 11&13, 2013*
Jeannette Sorrell, harpsichord, April 5- 7, 2013

Vocal Soloists & Ensembles
Thomas Hampson, baritone, Sept. 21- 23
Gerhild Romberger, mezzo-soprano, Oct. 12- 14*
Paul Appleby, tenor, Oct. 12- 14*
Liang Li, bass, Oct. 12- 14
Adriana Kučerová, soprano, Oct. 12- 14*
Lindsay Ammann, mezzo-soprano, March 22-24, 2013
Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Oct. 12-14 2012, March 1-3, 22-24, and April 26 & 28, 2013.

2012-2013 Season


Sept. 21-23: Manfred Honeck, conductor; Thomas Hampson, baritone. Strauss’ Orchestral Songs and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”

Oct. 5-7: Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Olga Kern, piano. Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite III, Schuman’s Symphony No. 3 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Oct. 12-14: Manfred Honeck, conductor; Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin; Adriana Kučerová, soprano; Gerhild Romberger, mezzo-soprano; Paul Appleby, tenor; Liang Li, bass; John Lithgow, narrator; Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.  Herbert Willi’s ABBA-MA (“Echo of Peace”), Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, and Mozart’s Requiem, K. 626, Mozart’s death in Words and Music.

Oct. 19: Music for the Spirit. Manfred Honeck, conductor; Adriana Kučerová, soprano; Gerhild Romberger, mezzo-soprano; Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection.”

Nov. 23-25: Manfred Honeck, conductor; Yefim Bronfman, piano. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” and Waltzes and Polkas by the Strauss family.

Nov. 30, Dec. 2: Manfred Honeck, conductor; PSO Concerto Competition Winner TBD. Bates’ Mothership, Concerto TBD, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.

Dec. 7, 9: Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Anne Akiko Meyers, violin. Haydn’s Symphony No. 68, Bates’ Violin Concerto and Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, “Organ Symphony.”

Dec. 14-16: Arild Remmereit, conductor; Gil Shaham, violin. Walker’s Sinfonia No. 40, “Strands,” Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, “Turkish,” and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, “Winter Dreams.”

Jan. 11 &13: Gianandrea Noseda, conductor; Enrico Dindo, cello. Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2 and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.

Jan. 18-20: Gianandrea Noseda, conductor; Benjamin Hochman, piano. De Sabata’s La notte di Plàton, Ravel’s Piano Concerto (Left Hand Alone) and Strauss’ Aus Italien.

Jan. 25-27: Michael Francis, conductor; Christian Tetzlaff, violin. Mozart’s Symphony No. 4, K. 550, Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, Smetana’s “Sárka” from Má vlast and Janáček’s Taras Bulba.

Feb. 15 &17: Manfred Honeck, conductor; Denis Matsuev, piano. Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

March 1-3: Manfred Honeck, conductor; soprano, TBD; Gregg Baker, baritone; Christopher Hahn, host; Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Highlights from Verdi and Wagner operas, including La Forza del Destino, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Nabucco, Aida, Tannhäuser, The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin and Gotterdämmerung.

March 8 &10: Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor; Horacio Gutiérrez, piano; Mozart’s Serenade No. 6 in D major for Two Small Orchestras, K. 239, “Serenata notturna,” Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19, K. 459 and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra.

March 22-24: Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Emanuel Ax, piano; Lindsay Ammann, mezzo-soprano; Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Bates’ The B-Sides, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25, K. 503 and Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky.

April 5-7: Jeannette Sorrell, conductor and harpsichord. Bach’s The Six Brandenburg Concertos.

April 12-14: Juanjo Mena, conductor; Joshua Bell, violin. Bates’ Desert Transport, Bernstein’s Serenade for Violin and Orchestra and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.

April 26, 28: Manfred Honeck, conductor; soloists TBD; Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Theofanidis’ The Gift and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, “Ode to Joy.”

May 10, 12: Kazem Abdullah, conductor; Nicola Benedetti, violin. Brahms’ Tragic Overture, Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

May 17-19: Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor; Valentina Lisitsa, piano. Golijov’s Sidereus, Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnole and Elgar’s In the South, “Alassio.”

May 31, June 1-2: Manfred Honeck, conductor. Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Mahler’s Symphony No. 7.

June 7-9: Manfred Honeck, conductor; Yuja Wang, piano. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Shostakovich Symphony No. 5.


Sept. 15: Opening Night Gala, “Year of the Dragon.” Manfred Honeck, conductor; Lang Lang, piano. Selections from Lang Lang’s Dragon Songs, and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Programs, artists and dates subject to change.

1 Comment

  • Douglas Bauman
    Posted February 12, 2012

    I’m looking forward to the Grieg with Valentina Lisitsa.

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