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Pittsburgh Symphony musicians to play benefit concerts

| Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 4:54 p.m.

The musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will play two benefit concerts this season in a new initiative to help local school and community-education programs hit by budget cuts.

The concerts, and ones in future seasons, will help build an endowment at the Pittsburgh Foundation called the PSO Musicians Care Fund. The musicians also are looking for small, direct donations and grants to the fund, which is independent of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

“Music is a child left behind in ‘No Child Left Behind,' ” symphony trumpeter says Neal Berntsen. The PSO Musicians Care Fund will provide money for school music programs that have been reduced or eliminated, including for instrument repairs, music lessons, scholarships for young people interested in a career in music and even the cost of buses to get children to Heinz Hall for the orchestra's education-concert series.

The first concert will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 14 at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland and be led by Keith Lockhart. A Carnegie Mellon University graduate, Lockhart has been music director of the Boston Pops since 1995. He and the musicians are donating their services.

The second concert will be Feb. 1, at Upper St. Clair High School.

“We're in complete agreement in the orchestra. We have the same goal to get kids back in the hall,” violinist Susanne Park says. “I used to see a girl named Linda at school-time concerts who had the biggest smile on her face when we played. That's why we play music, and why we've started this new fund.”

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

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