PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Music Director Manfred Honeck and soloist and YouTube sensation Valentina Lisitsa open the BNY Mellon Grand Classics season with “Two Trips” on September 19-21 at Heinz Hall.
The program opens with 2014 Pittsburgh Symphony Composer of the Year Mason Bates’ “Rusty Air in Carolina,” a bluesy trip back to his childhood summer. Bates himself will perform on the piece. Lisitsa returns to Heinz Hall to dazzle audiences with her virtuosity on “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.” The program closes with Berlioz’s lovesick, hypnotic “Symphonie fantastique.”
The opening weekend also includes a tribute to Lorin Maazel, former Pittsburgh Symphony music director who passed away in July. The symphony will perform a special piece for Maazel during the concert and attendees can explore a multimedia archival display of Maazel’s time in Pittsburgh and his 75-year career in music. One hour prior to the concert start, WQED FM’s Jim Cunningham will lead a pre-concert talk from the stage that will include memories of Maazel and a discussion with Bates.
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $25.75 to $105.75, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org.
The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2014-2015 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Manfred Honeck has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. After two extensions, his contract now runs until the end of the 2019-2020 season. To great acclaim, Honeck and his orchestra perform regularly for European audiences. Since 2010, annual tour performances have led them to numerous European music capitals and major music festivals, including Rheingau Musik Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Musikfest Berlin, Grafenegg Festival, Lucerne Festival and the BBC Proms. Several recordings, amongst them Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, which won a 2012 International Classical Music Award, are available on Japanese label Exton. Honeck’s successful work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is now captured by Reference Recordings. The first SACD — of Strauss tone poems — was released in fall 2013 and received rave reviews. The second recording, of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and the Symphonic Suite from Janacek’s opera Jenufa, conceptualized by Honeck himself, followed in summer 2014 and was likewise enthusiastically received. Several additional recordings are completed and it is expected that two releases will be issued per year. Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early stations of his career include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Oslo, where he assumed the post of music director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and was engaged as principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for several years. From 2000 to 2006, he was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he has resumed for another three years at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. As a guest conductor, Honeck has worked with leading international orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the United States include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also is a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. In February 2013, he had his successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the direct result of which was a CD recording together with Anne-Sophie Mutter (works of Dvorak). The current season sees returns to Bamberg, Stuttgart, Rome and New York as well as to the Vienna Symphony (a CD of works by the Strauss family was released in summer 2013) and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He also will conduct Tonhalleorchester Zürich and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others. Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and, most recently, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He has been artistic director of the “International Concerts Wolfegg” in Germany for more than 15 years.
Awarded the Heinz Medal in the Humanities, Mason Bates writes music that 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 Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Slatkin. He has become a visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces, whether through institutional partnerships such as his residency with the Chicago Symphony, 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. Performances of his works, both old and new, can be heard across the country. “Alternative Energy” is appearing on programs ranging from the Cabrillo Festival to the Hartford and Tucson Symphonies. His fast-paced opened “Mothership,” which premiered at the Sydney Opera House by the YouTube Symphony to an online audience of 1.8 million, can be heard around the country each season. While Bates often performs the electronica onstage with orchestras, dozens of repeat performances of his symphonic music happen without him. Many purely acoustic works complement his diverse catalogue, such as “Sirens,” an a cappella work recently recorded by the superstar chorus Chanticleer. The solo piano work “White Lies for Lomax,” commissioned by Tanglewood Music Center, won the Van Cliburn Composers Invitational. A great deal of his music has been performed by the musicians of Young Concert Artists, the acclaimed New York organization where he served as composer-in-residence. Bringing classical music to new audiences is a central part of Bates’ activities as a curator. With composer Anna Clyne, he has transformed the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW series into an imaginative concert experience drawing huge crowds, with cinematic program notes and immersive stagecraft. Sold-out performances from San Francisco’s famed Mezzanine club to Miami’s New World Symphony have brought a new vision of the listening experience to widespread audiences. A collaboration with director Anne Paterson and Maestro Benjamin Shwartz, it returns to Chicago’s Metro with members of the Chicago Symphony, as well as to a new space designed by the San Francisco Symphony. For more information, go to masonbates.com.
Valentina Lisitsa is the first classical “YouTube star” who converted her internet success into a global career in the principal venues of Europe, the United States, South America and Asia since posting her first video playing a Rachmaninoff Etude in 2007. Her YouTube channel now tops 70 million clicks and has almost 130,000 subscribers. A spectacular recital in London’s Royal Albert Hall before an audience of 8000 in 2012 marked her international breakthrough. Listeners voted online for their preferred programme — a form of audience participation that has become one of her trademarks. The Ukraine-born artist began her musical education in her native city of Kiev at the Lysenko Music School for highly talented children and continued it at the Conservatoire in the city. In 1992, she immigrated to the United States, where she launched herself as a piano-duet partner alongside her husband. Several competition successes and the consequent concert engagements marked the start of her life as a concert artist. In May 2010, Lisitsa played the Dutch premiere of the newly arranged Piano Concerto No. 5 (based on the Second Symphony) by Sergei Rachmaninoff with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. In August 2011, she debuted with the Orchestra Sinfonica Brasileira under the baton of Lorin Maazel, having previously played with such orchestras as the Chicago Symphony, WDR SO Cologne, Seoul Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Her appearances introduced her to conductors such as Manfred Honeck, Yannick Nézét-Séguin and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Lisitsa signed an exclusive agreement with DECCA and released the live recording of the Royal Albert Hall concert. In her following CD releases, she presents works by Rachmaninoff with the London Symphony Orchestra, various works by Liszt and soundtracks by Michael Nyman. Highlights of the 2014 season include performances with Orchestre de Paris under Paavo Järvi, Staatskapelle Dresden at the Semperoper and recitals as at Prinzregententheater München.
For more than 117 years, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been an essential part of Pittsburgh’s cultural landscape. The Pittsburgh Symphony, known for its artistic excellence, 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. This tradition was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras. The Pittsburgh Symphony has made 40 international tours, including 20 European tours, eight trips to the Far East, and two to South America. Under the baton of Gilbert Levine, the PSO was the first American orchestra to perform at the Vatican in January 2004 for the late Pope John Paul II, as part of the Pontiff’s Silver Jubilee celebration. The PSO has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the PSO broadcast coast-to-coast, receiving increased national attention in 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International (PRI). The PRI series is produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3 in Pittsburgh and is made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
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, September 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 21 at 2:30 p.m.
PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS
MANFRED HONECK, conductor
VALENTINA LISITSA, piano
Smith Star Spangled Banner
Rusty Air in Carolina
Locusts Singing in the Heat of Dawn
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 43
Johann Sebastian Bach:
Suite No. 3: Air (Air on the G String)
Symphonie fantastique, Opus 14
I. Reveries and Passions: Largo – Allegro agitato e appassionato assai
II. A Ball: Waltz – Allegro non troppo
III. In the Country: Adagio
IV. March to the Scaffold: Allegretto non troppo
V. Dream of the Witches’ Sabbath: Larghetto – Allegro