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Symphony to showcase Pittsburgh composers

| Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 3:09 p.m.
'West Side Story' as seen with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Credit: Todd Rosenberg
'West Side Story' as seen with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Credit: Todd Rosenberg
Pianist Stephen Hough
Credit: Grant Hiroshima
Pianist Stephen Hough Credit: Grant Hiroshima
Cellest Yo-Yo Ma at a previous appearance with the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Cellest Yo-Yo Ma at a previous appearance with the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Jazz pianist Michel Camilo
Credit: Pittsburgh Symphony
Jazz pianist Michel Camilo Credit: Pittsburgh Symphony

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchesta will celebrate contemporary Pittsburgh composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Strauss during the 2013-14 season of BNY Mellon Grand Classics at Heinz Hall, Downtown.

Music director Manfred Honeck will conduct 10 of the 21 weeks of programming, plus the season-opening gala concert on Sept. 27 called “Once Upon a Time” and featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The most unusual subscription concerts will be showings of the film “West Side Story,” modified to remove only the Hollywood orchestra's contributions, which will be performed live by the symphony conducted by Sarah Hicks, March 28 to 30, 2014.

The programming of Pittsburgh composers replaces the symphony's traditional “Composer of the Year” residency, which has focused on a single contemporary American composer in recent years.

“When we're doing a Composer of the Year, sometimes it could also mean we're ignoring our own composers in town, and I think we have great composers here, also,” Honeck says.

The music director will conduct the first two weeks of subscription concerts, starting with the world premiere of David Stock's Symphony No. 6, Oct. 4 to 6. Stock is a prolific and widely performed composer who also founded the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. The concert will be completed by Carl Orff's popular “Carmina Burana” with three vocal soloists and the Mendelssohn Choir.

Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos will lead Leonardo Balada's Symphony No. 6 at concerts also featuring Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's “Scheherazade,” Nov. 8 to 10. Balada, who will be 80 at the time of the concert, is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. His music is played internationally and much of it is available on Naxos CDs.

Five Pittsburgh composers — Patrick Burke, Bomi Jang, Matthew Rosenbum, Reza Vali and Amy Williams — will collaborate in another symphony commission that Honeck will conduct, Feb. 7 to 9, 2014, on a program also featuring Gustav Holst's “The Planets.”

“I invited them to come talk about this concept, and they were all excited,” the conductor says. “I asked each of them to write a piece we can combine with a link to Pittsburgh. I also said to write a piece they personally wish to write. I don't want them to be in a corset of a theme, but it's also important that not everyone write a quick movement. I can't wait to hear the result.”

The final Pittsburgh composer concert will present “Tormenta del Sur” by Carnegie Mellon's Nancy Galbraith, conducted by Donald Runnicles, March 21 to 23, 2014. The program also features Stephen Hough playing Felix Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 and excerpts from Richard Wagner's “Der Ring des Nibelungen.”

In addition, the symphony will present the world premiere of an as yet untitled piece it commissioned from Christopher Rouse at concerts led by Juraj Valcuha, April 4 and 6, 2014.

Principal guest conductor Leonard Slatkin will lead a single weekend of concerts, March 14 to 16, 2014, including jazz pianist Michel Camilo playing his Piano Concerto No. 2 on a program with “Bolero” and other music by Maurice Ravel

The second of Gianandrea Noseda's two weeks of concerts, Feb. 21 to 23, 2014, feature violinist Joshua Bell playing Edouard Lalo's “Symphonie espagnole” and Franz Liszt's “Faust Symphony.”

The Mozart Festival, April 25 to May 4, 2014, includes two orchestral concerts led by Honeck. Musicologist and pianist Robert Levin will play the Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor at concerts April 25 to 27, which also feature principal horn William Caballero playing Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 1 in a version prepared by Levin. In addition, Levin and symphony musicians will give a chamber music concert, April 29, at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

The season will conclude with two weeks of June concerts led by Honeck. Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 9 fills the program June 6 to 8, 2014, while the final week will salute the 150th anniversary of the birth of Strauss, June 13 to 15. It will open with a suite from the opera “Elektra” being prepared by composer Milos Bok.

Subscriptions range from $117.25 for seven concerts in the least expensive seats to $1,695.74 for all 21 concerts in the most expensive seats. Single tickets will go on sale around Labor Day.

Details: 412-392-4900 or

Pittsburgh Symphony's 2013-14 season

The BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts are all performance at Heinz Hall, Downtown:

Sept 27 – Opening Night Gala

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Yo-Yo Ma, cello

(not part of the subscription series)

Oct. 4-6:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Lisette Oropesa, Andrey Nemzer, Hugh Russell,

Mendelssohn Choir

David Stock: Symphony No. 6

Carl Orff: Carmina Burana

Oct. 11-13:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Yulianna Avdeeva, piano

Ludwig van Beethoven: “Fidelio Overture”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21

Antonin Dvorak: Symphony No. 8

Oct. 25 and 27:

Nikolaj Zanider, conductor

Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin

Zoltan Kodaly: Galanta Dances

Max Bruch: Scottish Fantasy

Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 4

Nov. 1-3:

Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor

Daniil Trifonov, piano

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2

Nov. 8-10:

Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, conductor

Arabella Steinbacher, violin

Leonardo Balada: Symphony No. 6

Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

Nov. 29 and Dec. 1:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Till Fellner, piano

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4

Strauss family waltzes and polkas

Dec. 6-8:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

The Tallis Scholars

A capella choral music from the Renaissance and by Anton Bruckner

Bruckner: Symphony No. 4

Jan. 17-19, 2014:

Christoph Konig, conductor

Hila Plitman, soprano

Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 22

Richard Danielpour: “Darkness in the Ancient Valley”

Richard Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra

Jan. 31 and Feb. 2:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Helene Grimaud, piano

Johann Sebastian Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Beethoven: Symphony No. 4

Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1

Feb. 7-9:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Mendelssohn Choir

Pittsburgh composers

Gustav Holst: The Planets

Feb. 21 and 23:

Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano

Alfredo Casella: “La donna serpente” orchestral excerpts

Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 5

Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 2

Feb. 28-March 2:

Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

Joshua Bell, violin

Edouard Lalo: Symphonie espagnole

Franz Liszt: A Faust Symphony

March 14-16:

Leonard Slatkin, conductor

Michel Camilo, piano

Paul Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Camilo: Piano Concerto No. 2 (“Tenerife”)

Maurice Ravel: Alborada del gracioso, Pavane pour une infant defunte, Menuet antique, Bolero

March 21 and 23:

Donald Runnicles, conductor

Stephen Hough, piano

Nancy Galbraith: Tormenta del Sur

Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 1

Richard Wagner: Siegfried Idyll

Wagner: Ring of the Nibelungs, orchestral excerpts

March 28-30:

Sarah Hicks, conductor

Leonard Bernstein: “West Side Story”

April 4 and 6:

Juraj Valcuha, conductor

Stefan Jackiw, violin

Christopher Rouse: (world premiere)

Erich Korngold: Violin Concerto

Claude Debussy: La Mer

Maurice Ravel: La Valse

April 25-27:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Robert Levin, piano

William Caballero, horn

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, Horn Concerto No. 1, Symphony No. 41

May 2 and 4:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Mozart: Mass in C (“Coronation”)

Mozart: operatic highlights

May 30-June 1:

Nicholas McGegan, conductor

Ye-Eun Choi, violin

Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

Mozart: Idomeneo, Chaconne

Haydn: Symphony No. 103

June 6-8:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 9

June 13-15:

Manfred Honeck, conductor

Rudolf Buchbinder, piano

Richard Strauss: Suite from “Elektra,” Burleske, Suite from “Der Rosenkavalier”

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