From the Office of the CEO

October 5, 2021

Popular Programming News:

It is our pleasure to welcome Troupe Vertigo to Heinz Hall this weekend for their Pittsburgh Pops debut. The Orchestra will be conducted by our good friend Daniel Meyer and will feature a solo performance by PSO violinist Kelsey Blumenthal in Celos by Jacob Gade. This Los Angeles-based theatrical circus company was founded in 2009 by Aloysia Gavre and her husband Rex Camphius. Gavre began her career touring with San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus, the company that would later inspire the creation of Montreal-based Cirque de Soleil. Gavre went on to perform as an aerialist with Cirque de Soleil in over 2,000 shows. Camphius has worked in theater, film, television and circus production since 1986. He served as stage manager for the Pickle Family Circus from 1992 to 1995, touring both nationally and internationally with the company. Camphius remains active in film by directing five short documentaries each year for the Children’s Defense Fund/Beat the Odds with co-producers JJ Abrams and Katie McGrath. Troupe Vertigo’s program this weekend will feature beloved works from the classical canon including Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, selections from Bizet’s Carmen and Maurice Ravel’s mesmerizing Bolero. Against this backdrop, Troupe Vertigo’s remarkably talented performers will execute feats of aerial acrobatics, juggling and contortion.   

Development News:

The Development Department is pleased to recognize the generosity of Donald Block in endowing the section cello chair held by Alexandra Lee in memory of his father, William Block. A PSO trustee from 1948 to 1988, William Block served as a Vice President on the Executive and Planning Committees between 1967 and 1982. His tenure oversaw the renovation of Heinz Hall, and he was part of the search committee responsible for hiring André Previn as Music Director. The chair will be named the William Block Memorial Chair for a 20-year term effective immediately. Congratulations, Alexandra!  

Artistic News:

Bravo and congratulations to principal trumpet Micah Wilkinson on a fantastic subscription debut this past weekend. We were pleased to present Micah in both the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, as well as the world premiere of a new arrangement of Scherzo for Trumpet and Orchestra by Anthony Plog with the composer in attendance all the way from Germany.  The weekend also marked the PSO debut of Ukrainian guest conductor Kirill Karabits who led an excellent performance of Stravinsky’s Suite from Pulcinella which featured many of our musicians in wonderful solos. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2, “The Little Russian,” returned on subscription for the first time in over 25 years.     

Learning and Community Engagement News:

The third and final installment of Virtual Schooltime’s  Musical Storytelling series launched this week. “Giraffes Can’t Dance” was created in collaboration with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) and is a musical rendition of Giles Andreae’s classic children’s book. PBT teaching artist Kerra Alexander leads dance demonstrations and narrates the story of Gerald the Giraffe in his quest to find his song. Principal Pops Conductor Byron Stripling, guest artists Nicki Parrott, bass, Jim Rupp, drums, and Micah Thomas, piano, along with 21 PSO musicians perform each of the dances referenced in the book to help listeners see, hear, and move along to the story’s plot. Additional resources are available online to learn more about dance styles, explore animals, and delve deeper into storytelling. “Giraffes Can’t Dance” is available through November 30. 

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