Since 1913, the Erie Philharmonic has been on a melody-driven mission to enrich its surrounding communities with live concerts and stirring performances. Tchaikovsky's symphony begins by spotlighting one of America's most successful composers, Christopher Theofanidis, as he conducts "Rainbow Body," an evocative movement inspired by medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen and her propensity to lead chants at high-school football games. Next, guitarist Ana Vidovic continues her drag race to the top of the classical genre by cramming the swaying, syncopated rhythms of a Spanish concerto into open ears. Pathétique closes the evening with a spirited rendition of Tchaikovsky's final symphonic piece. Fueled by the juxtaposition of varying emotions, Pathétique tows listeners to the top of triumphant crests, only to yank them back into the darkened valleys of personal upheaval and frustration over uncertain weather forecasts.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1896, and its reputation was as big as its sound right from the start. Andrew Carnegie was an early backer, and reportedly claimed that it was the best orchestra in the country. More than a century later, it still enjoys its status as a nationally renowned organization. And the PSO continues to take pride in its acclaim?perhaps expanding on Carnegie's earlier view, current Music Director Manfred Honeck called the company "one of the world's finest orchestras."
The long-lived PSO makes its home in an equally historic venue. Converted from an opulent movie palace in 1971, when Americans swore off movies in favor of high culture, Heinz Hall proves itself an exceptional music venue. Fine acoustics please the ears, while eyes take in glittering chandeliers and glints of gold leaf.
Guests take their seats inside the grandiose Carnegie Music Hall, a space lauded for providing superb acoustics for chamber music and a challenging venue for games of Marco Polo. The venue is tucked inside the same building as the dinosaur bones and European masterworks of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Founded in hopes of bringing about a revival of the American brass band, River City Brass aims to share the uniquely joyous art form with audiences across Pennsylvania. And for the past 30-odd years, the group has done just that. River City Brass’s 28-piece ensemble—some of whom have been members since the early ’80s—play more than 50 concerts annually. Their programs span continents and centuries, with every performance bringing a new showcase of styles. Modern music, classical pieces, big-band jazz, and show tunes have all passed through RCB’s bright cornets, chortling tubas, and crisp percussion.
Music director Betsy Burleigh has steered The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh's 120 vocalists to appearances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and at the Library of Congress, venturing beyond their patron composer to other choral treasures. Mozart composed the soaring strains of his unfinished Great Mass in C Minor as an expression of thanks for the recovery from illness of his wife, who then sang the starring first-soprano part at its premiere. The work's occasional lightness of tone and operatic trills may come as a surprise to those with more solemn conceptions of liturgical music, though the opening Kyrie sets a tumultuous storm brewing with its use of the full chorus and solo for strobe light.
Tickets in these sections are first-come, first-serve, so book early for the best seats. Ticket-holders who arrive at 6:30 p.m. will also get to enjoy an informative hour-long discussion of the concert’s lineup of pieces and the fascinating stories behind them.