Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to Join Forces with PNC Pops for 'Sci-Fi Spectacular', 11/14

By: Oct. 31, 2014

PITTSBURGH - Captain's Log, Stardate November 2014. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conductor Jack Everly and host George Takei take audiences to galaxies far, far away to explore new worlds with lights, music and lots of action during PNC Pops "Sci-Fi Spectacular" at Heinz Hall on November 14-16.

This out-of-this-world concert features the world renowned Everly leading the Pittsburgh Symphony, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (directed by Betsy Burleigh) and vocalist Kristen Plumley in music from classic sci-fi TV programs and films, such as "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Star Trek," "E.T.," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and more!

"I am always delighted to sense the thrill that concertgoers and Sci-Fi fans feel upon hearing some of their favorite symphonic music played live. This genre of inspired story-telling and great music grabbed an enthralled public when Jules Verne's novels were first published and 'A Trip to the Moon' was a popular silent film in 1902," says Everly. "Great stories and great music will come together onstage and our audiences' enthusiasm will surely be felt in Heinz Hall!"

Audience members should brush up on their sci-fi trivia as Everly will invite one person at each concert on stage to participate in a trivia game with a chance to win a light saber as the prize!

For each of the weekend's performances, Pittsburgh artist, entrepreneur and former NFL running back Baron Batch of Studio A.M. will create a painting inspired by the weekend's sci-fi themes before concert start and during intermission in the Grand Lobby. He will present a finished painting from stage at the end of each show and the paintings will be auctioned online.

Audiences can expect other surprises during this fantastic voyage to the stars. Live long and prosper!

Performances are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $24.75 to $99.75, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org. Subscriptions to the 2014-2015 PNC Pops series are still available.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra would like to recognize and thank PNC for its 2014-2015 title sponsorship of PNC Pops. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Jack Everly is the principal pops conductor of the Indianapolis and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras, Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa). He has conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and appears regularly with The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center. In the 2013-14 season, he debuts with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra at The Mann Center. This year, Everly will conduct more than 90 performances in more than 20 North American cities. As music director of the National Memorial Day Concert and A Capitol Fourth on PBS, Everly proudly leads the National Symphony Orchestra in these patriotic celebrations on the National Mall. Everly is the also music director of Duke Energy Yuletide Celebration, now a 27-year tradition. Originally appointed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Everly was conductor of the American Ballet Theatre for 14 years, where he served as music director. In addition to his ABT tenure, he teamed with Marvin Hamlisch on Broadway shows that Hamlisch scored. He conducted Carol Channing hundreds of times in "Hello, Dolly!" in two separate Broadway productions. In 1998, Everly created the Symphonic Pops Consortium, serving as music director. The Consortium, based in Indianapolis, produces new theatrical pops programs, including this season's On Broadway with Kander & Ebb. In the past 12 years, more than 250 performances of SPC programs have taken place across the U.S. and Canada. Everly, a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, holds an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Franklin College in his home state of Indiana.

George Takei is an actor, social justice activist, social media mega-power, star of the upcoming Broadway musical "Allegiance," host of the AARP-produced YouTube series "Takei's Take" and subject of "To Be Takei," a documentary on his life and career. With a career spanning five decades, Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise. Takei starred in three seasons of Star Trek and later reprised his iconic role in six movies. Mashable.com in 2012 reported Takei is the #1 most-influential person on Facebook, currently with more than 7.3 million likes. Takei has more than 1.2 million followers on Twitter. He authored "Lions and Tigers and Bears: The Internet Strikes Back' and "Oh Myyy! There Goes the Internet," released in e-book and paperback in 2012, and it ranked #10 on the New York Times E-book nonfiction list. Takei and Tony Award winner Lea Salonga are developing "Allegiance-A New American Musical." The musical is an epic story of love, family and heroism during the Japanese American internment. Allegiance's world premiere at the Old Globe theatre in San Diego in 2012 will be followed by a Broadway run. "Free Birds," a computer-animated 3D comedy film, features the voice of Takei along with Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson and he is featured in the comedy film "Larry Crowne," starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Takei's on-camera television credits include guest appearances on "Lost Girl," "The Neighbors," "Hawaii Five-0," "The New Normal," "Supah Ninjas," "Malcolm in the Middle," "Scrubs," "Miami Vice," "MacGyver," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Mission: Impossible," "My Three Sons," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "The Twilight Zone." He has appeared on "The Big Bang Theory," "Psych," "3rd Rock from the Sun" and "Will & Grace." Takei has brought his voiceover talent to hundreds of characters in film, television, video games and commercials during his prolific career. Takei has provided narration on many projects including the 2009 PBS series "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," the 2006 Peabody Award-winning radio documentary, "Crossing East," centered on the history of Asian American immigration to the United States and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," which garnered Takei a Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word Album. Takei, a Japanese American who from age four to eight was interned in two U.S. internment camps during World War II, is an outspoken supporter of human right issues and community activist. Takei is chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The openly gay Takei has served as the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign "Coming Out Project," and was cultural affairs chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League. He was appointed to the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission by former President Clinton and the government of Japan awarded Takei the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for his contribution to U.S.-Japanese relations. The decoration was conferred by His Majesty, Emperor Akihito, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. In 2007, Asteroid 7307 Takei, located between Mars and Jupiter, was named in the performer's honor in appreciation for his social work. Takei lives in Los Angeles with his husband Brad Takei.

A soprano with a sparkling voice to match her personality, Connecticut native Kristen Plumley brings her joy of being on stage to every role she performs. Plumley has portrayed Adina ("L'Elisir d'Amore") and Gilda ("Rigoletto") with Greensboro Opera Company; Norina ("Don Pasquale") and Zerlina ("Don Giovanni") with Virginia Opera; Barbarina ("Le Nozze di Figaro") with New York City Opera; Norina ("Don Pasquale") and Zerlina ("Don Giovanni") with Virginia Opera; Nannetta ("Falstaff") and Amor ("Orfeo ed Euridice") with Opera Festival of New Jersey; Sophie ("Werther") with Chautauqua Opera; Adele ("Die Fledermaus") with Boheme Opera and Opera Theatre of Connecticut; Despina ("Così fan Tutte") with Lyric Opera of Cleveland; the Sultan of Egypt (Glück's "Les Pelerins de la Mecque") with L'Opéra Français de New York; Yum-Yum ("The Mikado") with Opera Memphis and Josephine ("H.M.S. Pinafore") with Nevada Opera. Other roles to her credit include Juliette ("Roméo et Juliette"), Lauretta ("Gianni Schicchi") and Kathy ("Student Prince"), and musical theater favorites Maria ("West Side Story"), Carrie ("Carousel"), Fiona ("Brigadoon") and Laurey ("Oklahoma!"). On the concert stage, Plumley has performed a broad spectrum of works, including Mozart's Coronation Mass and Haydn's Mass in Time of War with the New England Symphonic Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, Mozart's Mass in C minor and Elgar's For the Fallen, Bach's Coffee Cantata, Respighi's Laud to the Nativity and Bach's Cantata #1, "A Yuletide Celebration" (sacred and secular Christmas music) with the Indianapolis, Seattle and Portland symphonies, and "An Evening of Gilbert and Sullivan" with the symphony orchestras of St. Louis, Richmond, Memphis and Minnesota. Enthusiastic about contemporary works, she has been active in many new operas at the prestigious Banff Centre for the Arts (Alberta, Canada) and in companies throughout New York City. Plumley received an Artist Diploma in opera from the Hartt School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and music from Holy Cross College. Twice a winner in the Connecticut Opera Guild Scholarship Competition, she is also a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant (Shoshana Foundation).

At 105 years young, the Mendelssohn Choir is Pittsburgh's oldest continuing performing arts organization. The Mendelssohn Choir is passionate about choral music. By singing choral music at the highest level, the Choir combines the clarity of words with the mystical power of music so that the deepest and most universal of human expressions are magnified through a community of voices. As the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's "chorus of choice," the Mendelssohn Choir has performed under the baton of some of the world's foremost conductors including Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michael Tilson Thomas, Claudio Abbado, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Charles Dutoit, André Previn, Sir Neville Marriner, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Helmuth Rilling, Ingo Metzmacher, Richard Hickox, Zdenek Mácal and Manfred Honeck. Performances of the Choir with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are heard locally over WQED-FM (89.3) and distributed nationally by PRI. Under the direction of Betsy Burleigh, the Choir has become known for its mastery of the great choral classics. Most recently under her direction, the Mendelssohn Choir has performed Aaron Copland's In the Beginning and Mozart's Great Mass to sold-out audiences at East Liberty Presbyterian Church and Dr. Burleigh led the chorus in a critically acclaimed performance of Rachmaninoff's a cappella masterwork, the Vespers, at St. Paul's Cathedral. The Choir has numerous commissions and premieres to its credit, including works by Ned Rorem, Nancy Galbraith and Derek Bermel. A leader and collaborator in the regional arts community, the Mendelssohn's artistic partners have included the Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the River City Brass Band, the Children's Festival Chorus, and the Duquesne University Tamburitzans. The Mendelssohn Choir continues to garner critical accolades as it shares the joy of choral music with the more than 50,000 individuals who hear the Mendelssohn in performance each year. The more than 110 singers who comprise the Mendelssohn share a remarkable commitment to the art of making great choral music and collectively contribute more than 45,000 volunteer hours each year. Through its recordings and commissions of new choral works, the Mendelssohn Choir seeks to advance the choral art. The Choir's most recent recording released in fall 2011 is Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Children's Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh with Manfred Honeck conducting. As part of its commitment to educating the next generation of choral musicians, approximately 50 high school singers participate annually in the Junior Mendelssohn Program. Junior Mendelssohn alumni are to be found in concert halls and on opera stages throughout the world. The Junior Mendelssohn achieved national acclaim last year when it was honored nationally with a 2011 American Prize for best vocal performance by a high school chorus. The Mendelssohn Choir is a Steinway Artist.

Betsy Burleigh, music director of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh since 2006, is associate professor of music and the chair of the Department of Choral Conducting at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Burleigh has led the Mendelssohn Choir in their own concert productions, including Mozart's Great Mass, Copland's "In the Beginning," Brahms' Requiem, Bach's B Minor Mass, and Rachmaninoff's Vespers, in addition to preparing the choir to sing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, she took the Mendelssohn Chamber Singers, a select sub-chorus of 32, to sing an invited performance at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. As guest conductor, Burleigh has led the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Akron Symphony, the Canton Symphony and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. Theater engagements have included music direction at Opera Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Theater. Also active as a clinician and festival conductor, she most recently led Cincinnati's October Festival Choir in Haydn's "Theresienmesse." She has prepared choruses for Manfred Honeck, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Anton Coppola, Jane Glover, Jahja Ling, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yuri Temirkanov and Franz Welser-Möst, among others. Burleigh served as assistant director of choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra from 1998 until 2009, and as chorus master for Cleveland Opera from 2002 to 2006. From 1994 to 2010, she was coordinator of choral and vocal music at Cleveland State University, where she achieved the rank of full professor. Her career began in Boston, where she was music director of The Master Singers, the Longy Chamber Singers, the Cambridge Madrigal Singers, and held teaching positions at Tufts University, Clark University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a past musical director of Boston's Chorus pro Musica and the Providence Singers. Burleigh earned a doctor of music degree at Indiana University, a master's degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, and a bachelor of music education degree from Indiana University.

For more than 117 years, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been an essential part of Pittsburgh's cultural landscape. The Pittsburgh Symphony, known for its artistic excellence, 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. This tradition was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world's greatest orchestras. The Pittsburgh Symphony has made 40 international tours, including 20 European tours, eight trips to the Far East, and two to South America. Under the baton of Gilbert Levine, the PSO was the first American orchestra to perform at the Vatican in January 2004 for the late Pope John Paul II, as part of the Pontiff's Silver Jubilee celebration. The PSO has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the PSO broadcast coast-to-coast, receiving increased national attention in 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International (PRI). The PRI series is produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3 in Pittsburgh and is made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

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.

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