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Maestro Donald Runnicles to Lead the Pittsburgh Symphony in BNY Mellon Grand Classics Program, 3/21 & 23

Maestro Donald Runnicles to Lead the Pittsburgh Symphony in BNY Mellon Grand Classics Program, 3/21 & 23

One of the world's leading Wagnerians, Maestro Donald Runnicles, returns to lead the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the BNY Mellon Grand Classics program on March 21 and 23.

Another Pittsburgh Composer of the Year is featured during the weekend's performance - the Pittsburgh Symphony will perform "Euphonic Blues" by Carnegie Mellon University's Nancy Galbraith. Mendelssohn's nuanced Piano Concerto No. 1 features acclaimed British-born pianist Stephen Hough, the first classical musician to win a McArthur Foundation Fellowship. Runnicles finishes the performance with a rare treat - orchestral excerpts from Wagner's famous four-epic opera cycle, "Der Ring des Nibelungen."

Each BNY Mellon Grand Classics concert is part of the Explore & Engage program, which includes pre-concert talks, exhibits, display boards and interactive activities that illuminate the music, composers and the time in which they created. That weekend, Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh will conduct a pre-concert talk with composer Nancy Galbraith one hour before each performance.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $25.75 to $105.75, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or by visiting pittsburghsymphony.org.

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2013-2014 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Donald Runnicles is concurrently the general music director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB), chief conductor of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO), and music director of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyo. Runnicles also is principal guest conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO). Beyond his annual BBC SSO, Atlanta and Grand Teton commitments, Runnicles is active in symphonic repertoire and finds time to guest conduct with some of the world's finest symphony orchestras. Runnicles was born in Edinburgh and was educated there and at Cambridge. Following a season with the London Opera Centre, he began his career in Mannheim, Germany as repetiteur, and spent summers assisting in Bayreuth where he further honed and explored his Wagnerian disposition, and guesting throughout the German repertory theaters and orchestras. He made his North American debut in 1988 conducting Berg's "Lulu" at the Metropolitan Opera, jumping in for an indisposed James Levine; in 1989, he became General Music Director in Freiburg, Germany for three years, and to which he returned in 2010 to help honor and celebrate the Freiburg orchestra's centennial. In 1990, after two "Ring" cycles at San Francisco Opera, he was asked to be its music director, and began the appointment two years later. Over the last two decades he has conducted at leading international opera houses, orchestras, and summer festivals. Among the awards bestowed upon him are the Order of the British Empire and honorary degrees from Edinburgh University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, an honorary doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

In 2001, Stephen Hough was the first classical performing artist to win a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded the 2008 Northwestern University's Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano, won the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in 2010 and in January 2014 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in the New Year's Honors List. He has appeared with most of the major European and American orchestras and plays recitals regularly in major halls and concert series around the world. He is also a regular guest at festivals such as Aldeburgh, Aspen, Blossom, Edinburgh, Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Verbier and the BBC Proms, where he has made more than 20 concerto appearances, including playing all of the works written by Tchaikovsky for piano and orchestra over summer 2009, a series he later repeated with the Chicago Symphony. He is artist-in-residence with the BBC Philharmonic and performs with orchestras including the Netherlands Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. A noted writer, Hough has regularly contributed articles for The Guardian, The Times, The Tablet, Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine and was invited by The Telegraph in London in 2008 to start a blog that has become one of the most popular and influential forums for cultural discussion. His book, "The Bible as Prayer," was published by Continuum and Paulist Press in 2007. Hough resides in London and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester.

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