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Symphony plans 2nd benefit concert

| Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Classical music buffs won't have to go to Heinz Hall this weekend to hear the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra play because the group will perform a benefit concert on Saturday in Upper St. Clair High School.

As part of its new Musicians Care program, the PSO is raising money that will go toward college scholarships for young musicians, purchasing and repairing instruments for school music programs, and paying travel expenses so students can visit symphony performances Downtown.

“The concerts are pretty much on a volunteer basis,” said Ed Stephan, the PSO's timpanist and an organizer for the program. “The conductor, the soloists, even the stagehands are volunteering their time.”

The first Musicians Care concert, held Oct. 14 in Rodef Shalom synagogue in Oakland, brought in 750 people and almost $16,000 in donations, Stephan said. The PSO took that and a $10,000 donation from The Pittsburgh Foundation for an endowment to fund the grants and scholarships.

“I've been so impressed by the Pittsburgh community and their generosity,” Stephan said.

Entry to the first concert was free and donations were accepted at the door; for the concert in Upper St. Clair, all proceeds from the $25 tickets go to the Musicians Care fund through the Pittsburgh Foundation. The PSO musicians also are working with the Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair, which is hosting Saturday's performance. The Upper St. Clair school district donated the use of the high school auditorium.

The first grant recipient was the band program at Washington High School in Washington, where $2,500 will fund the repair and rehabilitation of 10 school-owned musical instruments.

“Looking at the big picture, we thought the best thing to do was to have several instruments repaired, put back into really good, playable shape for the students, rather than buying one or two new instruments,” said David Dayton, Washington's band director.

The mix of woodwinds, brass instruments and percussion instruments will be sent to Hollis & Germann Music in Castle Shannon for repairs, Dayton said.

To find school band programs in need, Stephan said he reached out to individual musicians, many of whom have worked with school bands before. The symphony still is looking to partner with schools in Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg and Beaver County.

Saturday's concert will feature soloists George Vosburgh on trumpet and Lorna McGhee on flute, and will be conducted by PSO Music Director Manfred Honeck. The symphony will play pieces by Strauss, Haydn, Bach, Tchiakovsky and Beethoven.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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