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2010: The year in theater, music, dance and culture

| Friday, Dec. 31, 2010

January: Associated Artists of Pittsburgh kicks off a full year of exhibits and events marking the group's 100th anniversary.

Feb. 25: Eric Clapton performs at Mellon Arena.

March 25 and April 8: Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera gets its first Broadway producer credits with the musicals "Come Fly Away" and "The Addams Family."

April 29: Dollar Bank named as the first-ever presenting sponsor of the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

April 30: Briton James Goulay is named new music director of the River City Brass.

May 19: The PBS series "History Detectives" visits Pittsburgh to film a segment about a game played at Forbes Field on Oct. 8, 1946, between Jackie Robinson's All Stars and the Honus Wagner All Stars.

June 4-11: Three Rivers Arts Festival features performers including Alejandro Escovedo, Kris Kristofferson and Patty Griffin.

June 12 : Andres Cardenes plays last concert as Pittsburgh Symphony concertmaster.

July 14: Jazz organist Gene Ludwig of Monroeville dies at 72.

June 26: Carole King and James Taylor close the Mellon Arena.

July 23: Swissvale native Billy Gardell films his Comedy Central Special at the Benedum Center. In September, he stars in the new CBS sitcom "Mike and Molly."

July 29: Quantum Theatre opens its 20th season with "The Howling Miller."

Aug. 18 and 19: Paul McCartney opens Consol Energy Center.

Aug. 18: Rocky, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium's only Kodiak bear, is euthanized after suffering for years from severe arthritis and fused vertebrae.

Aug. 25: The national touring company of "The Phantom of the Opera" makes what's billed as its final Pittsburgh appearance.

Sept. 9: Pittsburgh Symphony names Gianandrea Noseda to four-year contract as guest conductor.

Sept. 10: Steelers fans get their own art exhibit when two curators at Carnegie Mellon University organize "Whatever it Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals and Obsessions."

Sept. 13: Three Amur tiger cubs are born at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Later in the month, Sept. 26, a baby sea lion is born.

Sept. 15: Ten-year-old soprano Jackie Evancho of Richland comes in second in NBC's "America's Got Talent."

Sept. 23: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School opens Byham House, a residence for out-of-town students.

Sept. 27-Oct. 3: Pittsburgh Fashion Week debuts.

Sept. 30: Ted Pappas embarks on his second decade as head of the Pittsburgh Public Theater by directing "The Royal Family."

Oct. 1: "Splendors of Art & Culture: Pittsburgh Festival of Lights" opens with light projections on four Cultural District buildings.

Oct. 1-3: The VIA Audio/Visual Festival debuts at the 31st Street Studios.

Oct. 2: "Vatican Splendors: A Journey through Faith and Art," the largest Vatican exhibit to tour North America, opens at Sen. John Heinz History Center.

Oct. 9: The National Aviary debuts its 125-seat Helen M. Schmidt FliteZone Theater, the world's first indoor theater constructed for free-flight bird shows, as part of its $18.5 million expansion and renovation project.

Oct. 16: Tracy Brigden begins her 10th season as artistic director at City Theatre by directing "The 39 Steps."

November: Three high-profile movies shot in Pittsburgh -- "Unstoppable," "The Next Three Days" and "Love and Other Drugs" - debut at theaters nationwide.

Nov. 29: Thomas Sokolowski, colorful director of the Andy Warhol Museum for 14 years, announced his resignation. His last day is Dec. 31.

Dec. 2: Mark Clayton Southers is named artistic director for theater initiatives at the August Wilson Center.

Dec. 4: Stage AE opens on the North Shore with a concert by Girl Talk.

Dec. 16-17: Wiz Khalifa, the most successful rapper Pittsburgh has so far produced, performs two sold-out shows at Stage AE.

Classical Performances


Manfred Honeck, the Pittsburgh Symphony, four vocal soloists and the Mendelssohn Choir rocked Heinz Hall with a tremendous performance of Verdi's Requiem, set in a fresh context by baroque sacred music exquisitely performed by Chatham Baroque.

2. Brahms Violin Concerto

Complete interpretative rapport between violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and Honeck produced a transporting account of Brahms' Violin Concerto.

3. "Lucia di Lammermoor"

Soprano Laura Claycomb's riveting interpretation of the title role of Gaetano Donizetti's tragedy was well supported in Pittsburgh Opera's production by the impressive debut of young Mexican tenor David Lomeli as her lover.

4. Beethoven Emperor Concerto

Pianist Emanuel Ax, Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony brought sweeping energy and artistic sensitivity to Beethoven's last piano concerto.

5. Danielpour 'Rocking the Cradle'

The evanescent ending of composer Richard Danielpour's "Rocking the Cradle" was the perfect conclusion to transcendent new music .

6. International Contemporary Ensemble

The Norwegian new music ensemble performed with utmost assurance in presenting diverse strong pieces by Mario Davidovsky, Elliott Carter, Magnus Lindberg and Amy Williams in a co-production of Pitt's "Music on the Edge" and the Andy Warhol Museum.

7. Tower Clarinet Concerto

Pittsburgh Symphony principal clarinet Michael Rusinek's stunning performance of Joan Tower's Clarinet Concerto was followed by the beauty of Leonard Slatkin's conducting of "Appalachian Spring."

8. Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

Baritone Timothy Jones brought a winning alternation of insinuation and directness to the world premiere of the song cycle "RE: Porter" by Aaron Grad.

9. Dvorak Cello Concerto

Young German cellist Johannes Moser devoured the technical challenges of Dvorak's Cello Concerto at his Pittsburgh Symphony debut.

10. 'The Barber of Seville'

Pittsburgh Opera unfurled a hilarious production of Giacomo Rossini's comic opera that used mimicry to play off mistaken identities, with winning portrayals in secondary as well as leading roles.

— Mark Kanny



Classics are rarely so well served as "Swan Lake" was by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, with Julia Erickson's brilliant dual portrayal of Odette and Odile, magnificent unanimity by the corps and superb musical performance by conductor Charles Barker and the ballet orchestra.

2. Pilobolus

The return of the iconic American dance group to Pittsburgh Dance Council was a celebration of irresistible creativity that included a memorial tribute to Pittsburgher Jonathen Wolken, one of its founders.

3. Aspen/Sante Fe Ballet

Energized and energizing modern dance by the Aspen/Sante Fe Ballet for Pittsburgh Dance Council was highlighted by the psychologically stimulating "In Hidden Seconds" by Nicolo Fonte.

4. 'Company B" and "In the Upper Room'

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's evening of modern dance was totally in tune with the deeper meaning of Paul Taylor's breezy "Company B" and built a crescendo of physical excitement in Twyla Tharp's "In the Upper Room."

5. 'From Where We Came . . . '

Dance Alloy Theater's 35th anniversary program was a remarkable celebration of the modern dance that was by turns joyous, serious, witty and provocative.

— Mark Kanny


1. 'KILLER JOE' (barebones productions)

This thoroughly chilling and involving drama headed by Patrick Jordan as a contract killer offered all the twists, surprises and tension you hope for when you go to the theater.

2. Pinter Celebration (Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre)

This package of six seldom seen plays by Harold Pinter offered an overview of this iconic playwright as well as nearly flawless productions of "The Hothouse," "No Man's Land" and "Celebration."

3. 'When the Rain Stops Falling' (Quantum Theatre)

Sparely but dramatically staged in one corner of a huge warehouse, this starkly realistic yet dreamlike tale of relationships and how they echo through generations stays with you long after you've left.

4. 'August: Osage County' (PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh)

Filled with emotional impact, this exhausting but rewarding tale of a dysfunctional Texas family offered a razor sharp performance by Estelle Parsons.

5. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (Pittsburgh Public Theater)

Ted Pappas directed this lush and lovely production that delighted both the eye and the ear with its leafy forest glade setting, clearly spoken dialogue, accessible performance and abundant humor.

6. 'Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom' (Bricolage Productions)

An intelligent and involving drama that finds teenagers and adults in a suburban neighborhood in mortal combat against zombies in an interactive video game and in their daily life.

7. 'Mayhem and Majesty' (Squonk Opera)

Puppets, projections, performers and musicians explored sound and its impact that offered a colorful, chaotic, elegant, and surreal musical experience.

8. 'The Morini Strad' (City Theatre)

David Whalen and Carla Belver were nicely matched as a violin restorer and a former child prodigy violin player whose sparring leads to a wary friendship and an examination of paths not taken.

9. 'The Producers' (Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera)

As producer Max Bialystock and accountant Leo Bloom, John Treacy Egan and Jim Stanek formed a warm, Laurel and Hardy relationship in this fast, funny and thoroughly entertaining production that was as good as the national touring version.

10. 'The Farnsworth Invention' (Little Lake Theatre)

Art De Conciliis and Nathan Bell sparred, rationalized and challenged each other's versions of the truth in this neatly acted production of Aaron Sorkin's real-life drama about two ambitious contenders racing to invent television

— Alice T. Carter



Though it included works by well-known artists, this perfectly timed exhibit brought to light a great number of Depression-era painters, showing a diversity of the styles that predominated including Social Realism, Regionalism, Surrealism, Magic Realism and Precisionism.

2. 'Twisted Pair: Marcel Duchamp/Andy Warhol' (Andy Warhol Museum)

This well-planned and thoroughly researched exhibit brought together the work of two pantheon artists of the 20th-century, not to mention some of their most iconic works.

3. 'Queloides' (Mattress Factory)

We can't go to Cuba, but Cuba came to us this fall in the form of this exhibit that features the work of 13 contemporary Cuban artists who each created socio-politically charged site-specific works that address the persistent racism in that country.

4. 'In My Father's House' (August Wilson Center)

This first-ever large-scale exhibit at the new August Wilson Center was years in the planning, but well worth the wait. A mixed-media exhibit was designed as five rooms in a Pittsburgh house, with each room organized by a nationally recognized curator, and included works by internationally recognized artists.

5. 'Paintings and Works on Paper by Maxo Vanka' (Pittsburgh Center for the Arts)

This groundbreaking exhibit unveiled dozens upon dozens of masterful drawings and rarely seen paintings by the well-known mural creator Maxo Vanka that were recently discovered rolled up in a farmhouse attic.

— Kurt Shaw


1. "Toy Story 3" $415 million

2. "Alice in Wonderland" $334.2 million

3. "Iron Man 2" $312.1 million

4. "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" $300.5 million

5. "Inception" $292.5 million

6. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" $258.4 million

7. "Despicable Me" $250.3 million

8. "Shrek Forever After" $238.4 million

9. "How to Train Your Dragon" $217.6 million

10. "The Karate Kid" $176.6 million


James Taylor and Carole King, June 26, Mellon Arena

Dave Matthews Band , July 10, PNC Park

Paul McCartney, Aug. 18-19, Consol Energy Center

Brooks & Dunn, Aug. 30, First Niagara

Lady Gaga, Sept. 5, Consol

Roger Waters , Sept. 26, Consol

George Strait and Reba McEntire , Oct. 14, Consol

Bruce Springsteen and Joe Grushecky, Nov. 5-6, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall

John Mellencamp , Nov. 20, Heinz Hall

Justin Beiber, Dec.13, Consol

iTunes Top Singles

1. "Hey, Soul Sister" Train

2. "California Gurls" Katy Perry with Snoop Dogg

3. "Love the Way You Lie" Eminem featuring Rihanna

4. "Airplanes" B.o.B with Hayley Williams

5. "Dynamite" Taio Cruz's

iTunes Top Albums

1. "Recovery" Eminem

2. "Animal" Ke

3. "The Fame" Lady Gaga

4. "Need You Now" Lady Antebellum

5. "Speak Now" Taylor Swift

Billboard Top Albums

1. "I Dreamed a Dream" Susan Boyle

2. "Recovery" Eminem

3. "Need You Now" Lady Antebellum

4. "The Fame" Lady Gaga

5. "My World 2.0" Justin Bieber

6. "My Christmas" Andrea Bocelli

7. "Fearless" Taylor Swift

8. "My World" (EP) Justin Bieber

9. "Speak Now" Taylor Swift

10. "The E.N.D." Black Eyed Peas

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