Music Director Manfred Honeck, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Vatican Concert with Music for the Spirit

PITTSBURGH—Music has the power to touch the human spirit, transcending time, place, boundaries and language and spurring understanding and connection. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Manfred Honeck are deeply committed to music’s ability to promote and spread a spiritual and universal message, and to that end invite the public to two free “Music for the Spirit” concerts on Thursday, November 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair and on Saturday, November 22 at 8 p.m. at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Cranberry.

The annual Music for the Spirit concerts are especially important to Maestro Honeck as he champions music’s ability to encourage dialogue among faiths. This year’s program will include works by Haydn, Schubert, Hogan and Beethoven, among others, as well as readings from religious texts, poems and other sources.

“The Music for the Spirit concerts are a highlight of each year for me,” said Honeck. “The spirit cannot help but be moved by the thrilling combination of orchestra, vocalists and readings. I am honored to be able to present these to the Pittsburgh community and share the power of music to touch the soul with all of you.”

Along with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, a new chamber choir comprised of community members and directed by Christine Hestwood and Robert Page, the Music for the Spirit Chamber Choir, will be featured during the performance. Also appearing are Pittsburgh-based soprano Sari Gruber and actor Don Marinelli, who will narrate.

General admission tickets are free to the public and are available now. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting Doors open 30 minutes prior to each concert’s start time.

Each season, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents two performances with spiritual roots — one at Heinz Hall as part of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics series and one in rotating venues in the community, such as churches, synagogues, mosques and community centers. These performances feature works with spirituality at their heart and that appeal to music lovers of all faiths. The Music for the Spirit concerts sprang from the Pittsburgh Symphony’s 2004 performance at the Vatican, the first American orchestra to perform for the pope. That powerful, monumental experience sparked a commitment between the Pittsburgh Symphony and faith communities in Pittsburgh to perform concerts that celebrate the spiritual and universal message of music. This year is the 10th anniversary of the Vatican concert on Jan. 17, 2004, and the inspiration for Music for the Spirit.

Generous support for Music for the Spirit is provided by Astorino, Mr. and Mrs. J. Christopher Donahue, Susan and Roy Dorrance, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Catharine M. Ryan and John T. Ryan III.

Manfred HoneckManfred 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.

Hailed as “nothing short of sensational” (Opera Magazine) and “a real creature of the stage,” (Opera News) soprano Sari Gruber has become a prized artist on U.S. and international stages alike. She garners praise for her revered performances as some of opera’s most beloved characters such as Susanna in “Le nozze di Figaro,” which she performed with New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Pacific, Kentucky Opera, Austin Lyric Opera and the Ongaku-Juku Opera Project under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Also known for her portrayal of Puccini’s quintessential diva, Musetta in “La bohème,” Gruber has performed the role with Opera Colorado, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera and Austin Lyric Opera. An extremely sought-after and distinguished concert artist, Gruber has appeared with several esteemed symphony orchestras throughout her career, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Händel and Haydn Society, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, ProMusica Chamber Society, Boston Baroque, New York Festival of Song, New York’s Collegiate Chorale, Pacific Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Omaha Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, San Jose Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. With these organizations and many more, she has performed as a soloist in such works as “Messiah,” Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Handel’s “Israel in Egypt,” Haydn’s “The Creation,” Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” Mozart’s “Requiem,” Telemann’s dramatic cantata, “Ino,” Schubert’s “Shepherd on the Rock,” Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras #5,” Vaughan Williams’s “Serenade to Music,” Händel’s “Silete Venti” and with the New York City Ballet in Stravinsky’s “Les noces.” Upcoming engagements include singing Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Omaha Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Buffalo Symphony and Fiordiligi in “Così fan tutte” with Florida Grand Opera. In recent seasons, Gruber added various new roles to her diverse repertoire including Mimì in “La bohème,” Donna Elvira in “Don Giovanni,” Micaëla in “Carmen,” Governess in “The Turn of the Screw” and Cleopatra in “Giulio Cesare.” Noted international performances include Händel’s “Samson” staged for De Nederlandse Opera, and first niece in “Peter Grimes” at both the Saito Kinen Festival (Japan) and Maggio Musicale di Firenze. Further career highlights include her Lyric Opera of Chicago début as Alexandra in “Regina”; Lisette in “La rondine” and Miss Hedgehog in the world-première of Tobias Picker’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” with Los Angeles Opera. Winner of the 2005 Naumburg Competition, Gruber is in demand as a recitalist with appearances at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie, Caramoor Festival, San Francisco Performances, Skaneateles Festival and New York Festival of Song, as well in recital at Palm Springs, Carmel, Pensacola, Pittsburgh and Kansas. She has given recitals across the country under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. Other credits include a pre-concert recital of Copland’s “Poems of Emily Dickinson” with the New York Philharmonic, and solo recitals on San Francisco Opera’s Schwabacher Début Recital Series.

Donald Marinelli retired from Carnegie Mellon University in April 2012, concluding 31 years of service to the university in a variety of capacities. Together with the late computer science professor Randy Pausch, Marinelli co-founded the world-renowned Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center. Marinelli also was a tenured professor of drama and arts management at CMU. Marinelli was integral in the creation of the Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Arts Management program, the Master of Fine Arts in Acting degree program with the Moscow Art Theatre School in Russia, and the Master of Entertainment Technology degree program within the ETC. He is currently executive vice president of Vissman Management, a merger, acquisition and venture capital firm based in Pittsburgh. He is an adjunct professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Marinelli completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Tampa. He received a M.A. in clinical psychology, specializing in existential-phenomenological psychology from Duquesne University. Marinelli subsequently attended the University of Pittsburgh where he received his Ph.D. in theatre history, literature and criticism in 1987.

Christine Hestwood is a vocal music teacher in the Upper St. Clair School District. She is the director of music at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she conducts their 70-voice Chancel Choir. This fall, she will conduct Verdi’s Requiem with the Westminster Chancel Choir, the Upper St. Clair High School Pantheon Choir and the Academy Chamber Orchestra. Hestwood has enjoyed her long collaboration with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Past projects include work in audience engagement and music education advocacy. Her favorite projects were serving as the co-director of the Night of 2,000 Stars, a 1996 project that featured 2,000 high school singers and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She served as co-director of the April 2013 Music for the Spirit concert, where more than 1,500 singers from high schools, colleges and community choirs joined voices to sing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She has served as assistant conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and music director of the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Hestwood earned degrees from Duquesne University (B.S. in voice and music education) and Carnegie Mellon University (M.M. in conducting), where she studied with Robert Page.

Robert Page, dean of America’s choral conductors, served as music director and conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir for 26 years, and now holds the title of music director emeritus. From 1989 to 2006, he was director of special projects and choral activities with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He is director of choral/opera studies and Paul Mellon University Professor of Music at Carnegie Mellon University. Previously, Page served as assistant conductor and director of choruses of the Cleveland Orchestra (1971-1989), was on the faculty of Temple University and was music director of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, preparing choruses of the Philadelphia Orchestra for 19 years. For more than 14 years, he prepared the All-Star College Chorus for the Pittsburgh Symphony. At CMU, Page is the producer of the opera and musical theatre productions and has conducted many of the shows, including “Nine,” “A Little Night Music,” “Candide,” “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Smile” and “A Chorus Line.” With the Cleveland Orchestra, he conducted “Naughty Marietta,” “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “Candide,” and “Girl Crazy” with Chicago’s Grant Park Orchestra. Page’s work can be heard on more than 40 major recordings and has received Grammy awards for his recordings of Orff’s “Carmina burana” and “Catulli Carmina.” He has eight other Grammy nominations. He has served on the choral, festival and overview panels of the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a founding member of Chorus America, serving as president for three years. In 2001, he was honored as one of the first members of the American Choral Directors Association and in 2009 was made an honorary life member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization. Page has been the catalyst in the commissioning of many new works including “Turbae” (Alberto Ginastera); “The Lovers” (Samuel Barber); “Ball” (Richard Hundley); and the critically acclaimed “Requiem” by Nancy Galbraith, among others. During his tenure with the Cleveland Orchestra, he conducted the first performances of “Mass of Life” (Frederick Delius); “Passion According to St. Luke” (Penderecki), and the Ginastera and Rorem commissioned works. He presented Pittsburgh with the first performances of William Schuman’s Concerto on Old English Rounds for Viola, Women’s Voices and Orchestra; Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar;” Leonardo Balada’s “Torquemada”; and Ned Rorem’s “Goodbye, My Fancy,” and the first professional performance of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem.” Page earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (Abilene Christian College) and a master of music (Indiana University), and did additional doctoral studies at New York University. He is married to Glynn Page, professor emerita of the School of Drama at CMU. They have two daughters, Paula Page, principal harp with the Houston Symphony, and Carolann Page, singer and actress.

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.

Editors Please Note:

Thursday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.
Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2040 Washington Rd, Pittsburgh

Saturday, November 22, 8 p.m.
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School, 1617 Route 228, Cranberry Township

SARI GRUBER, soprano
MUSIC FOR THE SPIRIT CHAMBER CHOIR (Christine Hestwood and Robert Page, directors)

Franz Joseph Haydn:

Te Deum for the Empress Maria Therese, H. XXIIIc:2
Music for the Spirit Chamber Choir

Franz Joseph Haydn:

Symphony No. 88 in G major
IV. Allegro con spirito

Franz Schubert (arranged by Manfred Honeck):

Ave Maria
Ms. Gruber

Franz Joseph Haydn:

Symphony No. 38 in C major
II. Andante molto

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Symphony No. 33 in B-flat major, K. 319
IV. Allegro assai

Ludwig Van Beethoven:

“Hallelujah” from Christ on the Mount of Olives
Music for the Spirit Chamber Choir

Pietro Mascagni:

Ave Maria (Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana)
Ms. Gruber

Spiritual (arranged Moses Hogan):

Elijah Rock
Music for the Spirit Chamber Choir

César Franck (arranged John Leavitt):

Panis Angelicus
Ms. Gruber
Music for the Spirit Chamber Choir

John Rutter:

Allegro vivace
Vivace et ritmico
Soloists from the Music for the Spirit Chamber Choir
Music for the Spirit Chamber Choir


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