Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to Kick Off New Season with MOONLIGHT MASQUERADE Gala

A world of mystery, romance, intrigue and great music await you at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's annual gala concert on Saturday, September 17 at 7 p.m. in Heinz Hall.

This year's concert, "Moonlight Masquerade," will whisk the audience to the grand costumed balls of centuries past, which were always celebrated with extraordinary music, food and entertainment. Preeminent violinist Gil Shaham joins Music Director Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony for this concert, which features charming Kreisler showpieces and evocative night music, including Debussy's Clair de lune and Prokofiev's "Masks" from Romeo and Juliet. The technically demanding Carmen Fantasy by Sarasate will close the evening with a dazzling display of skill and musicianship from Shaham.

The concert is preceded by a cocktail party at the EQT Plaza and adjacent tent, and is followed by a Gala dinner in Heinz Hall and the annual Soirée back at the EQT Plaza and adjacent tent.

The "Moonlight Masquerade" Gala is chaired by Shannon & Devin McGranahan - along with Honorary Chairs Ann and Christopher Donahue and Ginny and Dick Simmons. The Gala evening includes a pre-concert cocktail hour at the EQT Plaza, valet parking, premium-level seating for the concert, a silent auction, a post-concert formal dinner and a dessert reception with Maestro Honeck in Heinz Hall. The Gala Silent Auction Chairs are Ann and Bruce Gabler. Gala packages start at $825.

The "Moonlight Masquerade" Soirée includes valet parking, a pre-concert cocktail hour at the EQT Plaza and adjacent tent, concert tickets and a post-concert celebration with symphony musicians also in the EQT Plaza and adjacent tent - including hors d'oeuvres, an open bar, a silent auction and music. The "Moonlight Masquerade" Soirée is chaired by Brian Ashton, Michele Meloy Burchfield and Richard Ernsberger. Honorary chairs are Sarah and Kevin Eddy and Bonnie and Jay R. Mangold Jr. The Soirée Silent Auction Chair is Ginevra Ventre. Soirée packages start at $225.

Silent auction items for "Moonlight Masquerade" events include premium tickets to Pittsburgh sporting events, a wild encounter to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, a design makeover from the Container Store and many more fabulous items.

Gala packages and Soirée tickets can be purchased by contacting Clarisa Kearney, events coordinator, at 412-392-6070 and ckearney@pittsburghsymphony.org. All proceeds from the gala concert and associated parties support the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Education and Community Engagement programs.

Tickets, ranging in price from $25 to $95, for the gala concert only are on sale now and can be purchased through the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or pittsburghsymphony.org/moonlight. The gala concert begins at 7 p.m. and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Ticket prices are subject to change.

About the Artist

Renowned for his distinctive interpretations, MANFRED HONECK has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. He and the orchestra are consistently recognized for their performances and are celebrated both in Pittsburgh and abroad. To great acclaim, they regularly perform in major music capitals and festivals, among them the BBC Proms, Musikfest Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Grafenegg Festival, Carnegie Hall and the Musikverein in Vienna. This successful collaboration has also been extensively documented on recordings. The SACDs released by Reference Records, most recently Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, have received numerous rave reviews, as well as two Grammy Award nominations.

Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado and was subsequently engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he earned the prestigious European Conductor's Award in 1993. Other early posts include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra, and Oslo, where he was appointed principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He went on to become music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2007 to 2011, Honeck was music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where he conducted premieres of operas by Berlioz, Mozart, Verdi, Strauss, Poulenc and Wagner. Other operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Royal Opera of Copenhagen and the Salzburg Festival.

As a guest conductor Honeck has worked with the world's leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the United States include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has been artistic director of the International Concerts Wolfegg in Germany for more than 20 years.

Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College, Carnegie Mellon University and the Catholic University of America. Most recently, he was awarded the title of honorary professor by the Austrian federal president.

GIL SHAHAM is one of the foremost violinists of our time: his flawless technique combined with his inimitable warmth and generosity of spirit has solidified his renown as an American master. The Grammy Award-winner, also a Musical America's "Instrumentalist of the Year," is sought after throughout the world for concerto appearances with leading orchestras and conductors, and regularly gives recitals and appears with ensembles on the world's great concert stages and at the most prestigious festivals.

The violinist already has more than two dozen concerto and solo CDs to his name, including bestsellers that have ascended the record charts in the U.S. and abroad. These recordings have earned prestigious awards, including multiple Grammys, a Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d'Or, and Gramophone Editor's Choice. His recent recordings are issued on the Canary Classics label, which he founded in 2004.

Shaham was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1971. He moved with his parents to Israel, where he began violin studies with Samuel Bernstein of the Rubin Academy of Music at the age of seven, receiving annual scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. In 1981, while studying with Haim Taub in Jerusalem, he made debuts with the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. That same year he began his studies with Dorothy DeLay and Jens Ellermann at Aspen. In 1982, after taking first prize in Israel's Claremont Competition, he became a scholarship student at Juilliard, where he worked with DeLay and Hyo Kang. He also studied at Columbia University.

Shaham was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990, and in 2008 he received the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. In 2012, he was named "Instrumentalist of the Year" by Musical America, which cited the "special kind of humanism" with which his performances are imbued. He plays the 1699 "Countess Polignac" Stradivarius, and lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, and their three children.

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), André 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. Its "Pittsburgh Live!" series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and, in the late 1970s, 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 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 hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, popular touring artists, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.

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