SaharaA feast for the eyes and ears, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra pairs a majestic look at our planet with glorious music of John Adams and Richard Strauss during the BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend on June 10 and 12.

Costa Rican conductor Giancarlo Guerrero makes his Pittsburgh Symphony debut with a jam-packed program of cinematic music, including Aaron Copland’s folksy El Salón México and Prokofiev’s music from the Soviet comedy Lieutenant Kijé. A visually and aurally stunning second half features The Earth, a high-definition compilation of NASA footage, featuring erupting volcanoes, tropical islands and majestic glaciers. Adams’ exhilarating Short Ride in a Fast Machine and Strauss’ epic tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra seamlessly accompany the footage.

A pre-concert talk, open to all ticket holders and led by Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong and featuring Mike Hennessy, Carnegie Science Center Buhl Planetarium and digital media manager, will occur on stage one hour before each concert. “Spaceship Earth: The Future Frontier” will feature a conversational, informative tour of NASA’s Earth science endeavors using live science demonstrations and real images from space, as well as an in-depth discussion of the music that will be heard during the evening’s concert. Also, throughout the hall, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will have touchable displays featuring some of the wonders found in our planet, such as fossils, volcanic rock and more.

Program notes for the weekend are available online at and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.

During the weekend, beginning one hour before each concert’s start time, student musicians from Steinway Young Artists program will perform in the Grand Lobby of Heinz Hall. These performances are free to ticketholders.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2015-2016 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. Radio station WQED-FM 89.3 and WQEJ-FM89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

About the Artists

GIANCARLO GUERRERO is the music director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra’s Miami Residency. Guerrero has led the Nashville Symphony to several Grammy wins in recent years, including in the category of Best Orchestral Performance in 2011 and for Best Classical Compendium in 2016.

In the 2015-2016 season, Guerrero makes debuts with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Copenhagen Philharmonic, NDR Hanover, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie and Bilbao Symphony Orchestra. He returns to the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati, Detroit and Indianapolis; West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic and Brussels Philharmonic; and to the Eugene Symphony (where he was formerly music director) in celebration of the orchestra’s 50th anniversary. For many years, he has maintained a close association with the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra in Brazil, and will spend three weeks with the orchestra this summer.

Last season, Guerrero made his debut with the Houston Grand Opera conducting Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, and made European debuts with the Orchestre National de France, the Netherlands Philharmonic, Residentie Orkest and Tonkünstler Orchester.

Guerrero has appeared with many of the prominent North American orchestras, including the symphony orchestras of Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among others. He is also known to audiences of major summer festivals such as the Hollywood Bowl (Los Angeles) and Blossom Music Festival (Cleveland).

He has developed an active and visible profile in Europe and has worked with great success in recent seasons with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Brussels Philharmonic, DSO-Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse.

An advocate of new music and contemporary composers, Guerrero has collaborated with and championed the works of several of America’s most respected composers, including John Adams, John Corigliano, Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, Michael Daugherty, Roberto Sierra and Richard Danielpour. His recordings with the Nashville Symphony include releases of music by Danielpour and Sierra on the Naxos label and Bela Fleck’s Banjo Concerto on Deutsche Grammophone. Guerrero, together with composer Aaron Jay Kernis, recently developed and guided the creation of Nashville Symphony’s Composer Lab & Workshop initiative to further foster and promote new American orchestral music.

Early in his career, Guerrero worked regularly with the Costa Rican Lyric Opera and in recent seasons has conducted new productions of CarmenLa bohème and Rigoletto. In 2008, he gave the Australian premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s one-act opera Ainadamar at the Adelaide Festival to great acclaim.
Guerrero served as associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1999 to 2004 and was music director of the Eugene Symphony in Oregon from 2002 to 2009.

The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, celebrating 120 years of music in 2016, 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. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004).  This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900—including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

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

Editors please note:

Friday, June 10 at 8 p.m. (“Spaceship Earth: The Future Frontier! starts at 7 p.m.)
Sunday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m. (“Spaceship Earth: The Future Frontier! starts at 1:30 p.m.)

Heinz Hall

Sergei Prokofiev:

Suite from Lieutenant Kijé, Opus 60
I. The Birth of Kijé
II. Romance
III. Kijé’s Wedding
IV. Troika
V. The Burial of Kijé

Aaron Copland:

El Salón México


John Adams:

Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Richard Strauss:

Also sprach Zarathustra, Opus 30

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