Pittsburgh Symphony Kicks Off Pops Series With Frank Sinatra Tribute for 100th Birthday Tonight

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra kicks off the 2015-2016 PNC Pops season with "Sinatra and Beyond with Tony DeSare, a tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes in celebration of the iconic singer's 100th birthday, this weekend, October 2-4 at Heinz Hall.

Singer-songwriter and pianist Tony DeSare (who's been described as "two parts Frank Sinatra and one part Billy Joel") performs Rat Pack-era hits with a classic twist along with the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guest artist Benny Benack III, a trumpeter and Pittsburgh native. The Pittsburgh connection continues with the music of Pittsburgh greats Henry Mancini and Dean Martin serving as a perfect complement to the music of Sinatra. Grammy Award-winning guest conductor Jeff Tyzik will lead a swingin' night of indelible songs like "Night and Day," "Moon River," "My Way" and many more.

A Pops Talk will occur on stage following the concert on Friday, October 2, led by Maestro Tyzik with DeSare and Benack as guests. The Pops Talk is free to ticketholders.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $24 to $99, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/sinatra.

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank PNC for its 2015-2016 title sponsorship of PNC Pops, and UPMC & UPMC Health Plan for its sponsorship of this concert weekend. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

About the Artists

Grammy Award-winner Jeff Tyzik is one of America's most innovative and sought after pops conductors. Tyzik is recognized for his brilliant arrangements, original programming and engaging rapport with audiences of all ages. Tyzik holds The Dot and Paul Mason Principal Pops Conductor's Podium at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and also serves as principal pops conductor of the Seattle Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Oregon Symphony and The Florida Orchestra. This season, Tyzik will celebrate his 22nd season as principal pops conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Frequently invited as a guest conductor, Tyzik has appeared with the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Milwaukee Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In May 2007, the Harmonia Mundi label released his recording of works by Gershwin with pianist Jon Nakamatsu and the RPO, which stayed in the Top 10 on the Billboard classical chart for over three months. Alex Ross of The New Yorker, called it "one of the snappiest Gershwin discs in years."

Committed to performing music of all genres, Tyzik has collaborated with such diverse artists as Chris Botti, Matthew Morrison, Wynonna Judd, Tony Bennett, Art Garfunkel, Dawn Upshaw, Marilyn Horne, Arturo Sandoval, The Chieftains, Mark O'Connor, Doc Severinsen and John Pizzarelli. He has created numerous original programs that include the greatest music from jazz and classical to Motown, Broadway, film, dance, Latin and swing. Tyzik holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music.

Named a Rising Star Male Vocalist in Downbeat magazine, Tony DeSare has lived up to this distinction by winning critical and popular acclaim for his concert performances throughout North America and abroad. From jazz clubs to Carnegie Hall to Las Vegas headlining with Don Rickles and major symphony orchestras, DeSare has brought his fresh take on old school class around the globe. DeSare has three top ten Billboard jazz albums under his belt and has been featured on the "CBS Early Show," NPR, "A Prairie Home Companion," the "Today" show and his music has been posted by social media celebrity juggernaut George Takei. Notwithstanding his critically acclaimed turns as a singer/pianist, DeSare is also an accomplished award-winning composer. He not only won first place in the USA Songwriting Contest, but has written the theme song for the motion picture, My Date with Drew, along with several broadcast commercials. DeSare's forthcoming appearances include the Pittsburgh Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Arizona Music Festival, The Smith Center in Las Vegas and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. DeSare releases new recordings, videos of standards and new originals every few weeks on his YouTube channel, iTunes and Spotify. Follow DeSare on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe on YouTube to stay connected. Tony DeSare is a Yamaha Artist.

Trumpeter/vocalist Benny Benack III has quickly gained a reputation for being an incredibly versatile, fiery improviser who lends superb technique and musicality to any setting. He has won every major jazz trumpet competition including the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Soloist Competition (2011), International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition (2011, and the National Trumpet Competition - Jazz Division (2012). He also was a finalist in the Gentlemen Sing Vocal Jazz Competition (2013), showing his versatility as a singer as well. After receiving a number of youth accolades, he has parlayed that promising start into a blossoming career. In the August 1, 2011 issue of Jet magazine, Benack was featured on Wynton Marsalis' list of the "next Generation of Jazz Greats," and recently his quartet completed a master class with Marsalis in Miami, filmed for YoungArts. He is a member of the newly formed New Century Jazz Sextet led by Ulysses Owens Jr., rounding out a formidable front line alongside Michael Dease and Tim Green. He is featured as a composer/arranger, trumpeter and vocalist on 2013 releases by Ulysses Owens Jr., as well as a fierce scat battle with Mike Dease and Wycliffe Gordon on Dease's big band record. Currently living in NYC, he has had the opportunity to perform as both a leader and sought after sideman at some of the finest jazz clubs including The Blue Note, Birdland, SMOKE, the Bar Next Door, the Iridium, the Jazz Gallery, the 55 Bar, Small's, Cornelia St. Café and frequently leads his band playing at Jazz @ Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Benack is currently in graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music on a full-tuition scholarship for jazz performance. He is endorsed by Carolbrass Flugelhorns.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, is credited with a rich history of the world's finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah" in 1944 and John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series "Previn and the Pittsburgh." The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900-including 36 international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America-the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world's greatest orchestras.

Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh's Cultural District, Heinz Hall also hosts many other events that do not feature its world-renowned orchestra, including Broadway shows, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org

Editors please note:

Friday, October 2 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, October 3 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, October 4 at 2:30 p.m.

Heinz Hall
JEFF TYZIK, conductor
TONY DeSARE, vocals and piano
ED DECKER, guitar

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