Celebrate the Season at the Scottish Rite Cathedral with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

PITTSBURGH – Lift your spirits with the sounds of the holiday season when the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra opens its Scottish Rite Cathedral series with Holiday Pops on Dec. 19 at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in New Castle, Pa.

Renowned conductor Todd Ellison will lead this festive series of concerts featuring classic carols, such as “Joy to the World,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Silent Night,” along with other seasonal favorites, such as the “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music,” “All I Want for Christmas” and “A ‘Spike Jones’ Jingle Bells,” played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass. Principal trumpet George Vosburgh will solo on the well-known “The Christmas Song.” Also on stage will be vocalist Christopher Sanders, as well as local singer Vanessa Campagna and Allegheny County Detective Ricky Manning, both of whom were introduced to the Pittsburgh Symphony’s audience by Marvin Hamlisch himself! And there might just be a special visit from Santa to bring more delightful surprises!

The performance is at 8 p.m. and tickets range in price from $16 to $59. Tickets for Holiday Pops can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 800-743-8560 or by visiting pittsburghsymphony.org. The performance is part of the symphony’s child/parent program — student tickets (18 and under) are free with the purchase of a parent or guardian ticket. Symphony staff will be at the Scottish Rite Cathedral on Monday, Dec. 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. Buy tickets in person at the cathedral that day and save 20 percent! The child/parent program will apply to those purchases as well.

The Scottish Rite Cathedral will offer a pre-symphony buffet dinner on Dec. 19 between 6 and 7 p.m. The cost is $22 per person and the reservation deadline is Dec. 12. Call 724-654-6683 or email info@cathedralnewcastle.com for reservations or more information.

Other concerts in the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Scottish Rite Cathedral series are “Love is in the Air” on Feb. 15 and “Mozart Extravaganza” on April 28, 2014. Subscriptions to all three concerts range in price from $33 to $150 and can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 800-743-8560 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/SRC.

Photo by Ronnie Nelson
Photo by Ronnie Nelson

Hailed by The New York Times as one of “Broadway’s electric conductors,” Todd Ellison is one of the most accomplished and sought-after music directors working today. Currently music director and conductor of the new Broadway production of “Annie,” his credits include “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “La Cage aux Folles,” “42nd Street,” Elton John’s “Lestat,” “Once Upon a Mattress” (starring Sarah Jessica Parker), “How to Succeed” (starring Matthew Broderick) and “She Loves Me.” He was the music director of the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” at the famed Radio City Music Hall for several seasons. Internationally, he has conducted at the Vienna Konzerthaus with Dawn Upshaw and Jerry Hadley, The Dublin Film Orchestra and Radio City Christmas Spectacular in Mexico City. He has conducted more than 20 albums, including the Grammy Award-winning cast albums of his shows.

Sanders Christopher_webChristopher Sanders is an award-winning actor/singer and has performed in venues around the world. Throughout his career, he has had the pleasure of working with George Hearn, Roddy McDowell, Carol Lawrence, John Raitt, Debbie Boone and Rosemary Clooney. Theatrical credits include “Kiss Me Kate,” “Les Miserables,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” “South Pacific,” “Man of La Mancha,” “My Fair Lady” and “Into the Woods.” His concert work includes engagements with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony, Pasadena Pops and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber at the National Theatre and Concert Hall Taiwan. Sanders tours the country as the baritone for the legendary 1940s singing group, The Pied Pipers. Earlier this year, Sanders released his first solo CD, “Curtain Call.”

Campagna, Vanessa_webAt 10 years old, Vanessa Campagna was chosen out of 24,000 youngsters to appear on CBS’ “Star Search.” Since then, she has shared the stage with some of the greatest artists in the music industry, such as Reba, Sugarland, Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Loretta Lynn, Keith Urban and more. It was in Nashville, Tennessee, where Campagna recorded her first two albums, “Vanessa Campagna” and “Can You Hear Me Now.” For her third CD, “For You,” Campagna wrote all but one of the songs and co-produced the album. Just in time for the 2013 holiday season, Campagna released her second full length Christmas album entitled Simply Christmas. Campagna’s versatility enabled her to land the soulful theme song for the television show, “Bar Karma,” which aired on Current TV. In early 2012, she collaborated with producer/songwriter Rick Witkowski and Keegan Dewitt on the music and lyrics for a short film project named “Inocente,” which told a story about a young artist’s determination to never surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings. This documentary, which aired on MTV and was shown at film festivals across the country, was awarded a 2013 Oscar for best Documentary Short.

Ricky_Manning_webRicky Manning, dubbed by the late Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch as “The Singing Detective,” returns for a third performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Highmark Holiday Pops. Manning, a greater Pittsburgh native, is a 15-year veteran of the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office and was promoted to sergeant in April 2013. After a short audition with Hamlisch, he was originally brought to the Heinz Hall stage for the 2011 Highmark Holiday Pops performances, singing “Danny Boy” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Manning also had the pleasure of several return performances as a guest vocalist with Pittsburgh’s own River City Brass, under the direction of Master Conductor James Gourlay. Manning performed in a River City Brass special, Celtic Connections, and he performed at the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville, Kentucky, singing “500 Miles,” “Country Roads,” “I Walk the Line” and “Rocky Top.” He is a graduate of Central Catholic High School and holds a B.S. in law enforcement from Point Park University. Manning was a member of the Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums for 12 years and studied under the late world-renowned Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies. Manning performs a wide variety of music from rock, folk, country and Celtic styles. He is the lead singer in local band “Donnie Irish” and can be seen performing around town with local bass legend Justin Brown and drummer Bill Gendron. They recently performed as the opening band at the 2013 Pittsburgh Irish Festival.

Photo by Rob Davidson
Photo by Rob Davidson

George Vosburgh, celebrated soloist and lecturer, is internationally acclaimed for his virtuosity on the trumpet in recordings, concerts and recitals, as well as many guest artist performances in such locales as the Bonn Festival at Rolandsek, Germany, the Ravinia Festival, Chicago, and the Curs Internacional de Musica in Valencia, Spain. In 1992, he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as principal trumpet. In 1994, Vosburgh organized the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass, a unique brass ensemble featuring some of the world’s finest orchestral brass musicians in chamber ensemble. Since 1998, the Brass has enjoyed a flurry of recording and performance activity, releasing five CDs, including Bach’s “The Art of Fugue” on the Four Winds label.

James Fedor Jr_webJames Fedor Jr. is a student at Mon Yough Catholic School. He enjoys singing, and plays guitar and piano. He is a member of The Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh and performed in “Hansel and Gretel” with the Pittsburgh Opera.





Editors Please Note:

Thursday, Dec. 19, 8 p.m.

Scottish Rite Cathedral, New Castle, PA
TODD ELLISON, conductor
JAMES FEDOR JR., vocalist

Traditional (arr. Harris):  Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
(audience sing-along in last chorus)

Sergei Prokofiev:  “Troika” from Lieutenant Kijé

Richard Rodgers (orch. Bennett):  “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music
Ms. Campagna

Traditional (arr. Harris):  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Leon Jessel:  Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

Mel Tormé (arr. Fennell):  The Christmas Song
George Vosburgh/Trumpet

Carey & Afanasieff (arr. Bisbano):  All I Want for Christmas Is You
Ms. Campagna

Traditional:  Danny Boy
Mr. Manning

Meredith Willson (arr. Chase):  It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Mr. Sanders

Mark Lawrence (arr. Bisbano):  Christmas Magic
Mr. Sanders

Emil Waldteufel:  Les Patineurs (Skaters’ Waltz), Opus 183

Traditional (arr. Rutter):  Ding Dong! Merrily On High
Pittsburgh Symphony Brass

James Pierpont (arr. Vosburgh):  A “Spike Jones” Jingle Bells
Pittsburgh Symphony Brass

Todd Ellison (lyrics: S. Cole):  Christmas Morning
Ms. Campagna

Jones & Schmidt (arr. Starobin):  “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks
Mr. Sanders and Mr. Fedor

Ballard & Silvestri (arr. Brubaker):  Suite from The Polar Express

Adolphe Adam:  O Holy Night
Ms. Campagna

Traditional (arr. Richman & Harris):  Christmas Sing-Along

  • Joy to the World
  • Silent Night
  • O Come All Ye Faithful

Traditional (arr. Dragon):  Deck the Hall
(Audience sing-along in last chorus)

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