It was an unexpected but lovely evening at Heinz Hall on Friday, May 11 when the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra dazzled as they performed music from Hollywood and Broadway.  My date and I had been long looking forward to a night of classic tunes with Neal Sedaka but with the talent of our orchestra and special guest vocalists Debbie Gravitte and Doug LaBrecque, the night surely did not disappoint!

The orchestra set the mood for a classy and festive performance in white and black attire, and the lights behind the musicians had a golden Hollywood tint to them.  The first song played was Hooray for Hollywood.  The orchestra was conducted by Assistant Conductor Andres Franco.  Franco read a note from Sedaka and remarked that “the show must go on,” and that it did – with John Williams’s The Cowboys Overture and George Gershwin’s Selections from Porgy and Bess.

The orchestra was joined by guest vocalists Debbie Gravitte and Doug LaBrecque for the second half of the concert.  The renowned vocalists sang a variety of Broadway tunes from shows including Funny Girl, The Music Man and Jersey Boys.  Gravitte and LaBrecque had great charisma with each other and with the orchestra.  One of my favorite moments of the evening was the performance “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli that included standing trumpets.  The performance frequently included audience participation with a lot of clapping and some audience members even got up to dance.  While the concert was different than what was previously scheduled it was still a perfect performance for PNC Pops and our Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra!

Editor’s Note: The last concert of the weekend is today, Sunday, May 14 at 2:30 p.m.

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