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.
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, the organization 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 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.
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.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Under the sprawling roof of First Niagara Pavilion, music greats such as Billy Joel, Rush, and Jimmy Buffett have all taken over the stage as fans throughout the amphitheater space watch, transfixed. Whether enjoying the show from the open-air pavilion or the verdant lawn, concertgoers demonstrate their love for the performers by dancing along to the music or holding up lighters engraved with the lead singer’s astrological sign.