Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to Perform DISTANT WORLDS Concert, 8/1

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to Perform DISTANT WORLDS Concert, 8/1

PITTSBURGH - The official symphony concert world tour Distant Worlds: music from FINAL FANTASY arrives at Heinz Hall on Saturday, August 1 at 8 p.m. as part of the Summer with the Symphony series.

This concert features the music of SQUARE ENIX's iconic video game series FINAL FANTASY, including works by Japanese game composer Nobuo Uematsu. Led by Grammy Award-winning conductor Arnie Roth, Distant Worlds features the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh - led for the last time by retiring director Betsy Burleigh - and local actor Tim Hartman, as narrator, performing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

A stirring multimedia experience, Distant Worlds combines beautiful screen images with the soaring emotional impact of the music from the more than 25-year history of this world-renowned video game series performed with the high artistic standards of the Pittsburgh Symphony!

A post-show meet-and-greet, which includes an autograph session and photo opportunity with Roth and FINAL FANTASY XII composer Hitoshi Sakimoto, will be held at Heinz Hall for those who purchase a VIP package, which also includes premium seats.

Tickets for Distant Worlds: music from FINAL FANTASY range in price from $45 to $150 and can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or by visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/summer.

Those interested in attending more than one summer concert can craft their own series of concerts at a discounted rate. Buy tickets to two concerts and receive 10% off the ticket price; three concerts receive 20% off the ticket price; and four or more concerts receive 30% off the ticket price. These discounts are only available via phone or in person at the Heinz Hall box office. Pittsburgh Symphony subscribers can receive a 15% subscriber discount by calling their patron services representative (PSR).

Music Director Arnie Roth is a Grammy Award-winning artist known for his work with a renowned list of international recording and performing artists from pop music, classical, R&B, rock and musical theater, including Il Divo, Diana Ross, Jewel, The Irish Tenors, Charlotte Church, Josh Groban, Patrick Stewart, Branford Marsalis and Andrea Bocelli. Roth has conducted many of the world's leading orchestras, including the London Symphony, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Sydney Symphony and the WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln. He is well known in the world of video game music for his work with Nobuo Uematsu and SQUARE ENIX as music director and conductor of Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy; as conductor of the WDR Radio Orchestra of Cologne's concerts including Symphonic Fantasies, Symphonic Odysseys and Symphonic Legends; as music director and conductor of PLAY! A Videogame Symphony, and many other successful concert productions in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. He was the winner of the Best Score Award at the 2003 DVD Premier Awards for his score for the film Barbie as Rapunzel and was nominated for an Emmy in 2007 for his original song "Shine" from the movie Barbie in The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Roth has produced dozens of bestselling CDs. For more information, visit awrmusic.com.

Tim Hartman has been professionally acting, singing, writing and illustrating since 1982. He has appeared on Broadway in Finian's Rainbow and A Tale of Two Cities. Regionally he has appeared as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Daddy Warbucks in Annie, El Gallo in The Fantasticks and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, as wel as Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Hook in Peter Pan, Falstaff inHenry IV and C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands. Hartman also has appeared as Merlin in Camelot, Thenardier in Les Miserables and 24 characters in The Cotton Patch Gospel. His film credits include Silence of the Lambs, The Piano Lesson, The Mothman Prophecies, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh andThe Fault in our Stars. For the last 15 years, Hartman has been writing and performing assembly programs for schools. He also is an award-winning political cartoonist. For more, visit timhartman.com.

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.

Whether it's the early sounds of gaming in the 1980s or the live orchestral scores for some of today's leading game series, Hitoshi Sakimoto is recognized as an industry pioneer, helping to shape the face of video gaming music. Best known for his work on Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics and the Valkyria Chronicles series, Sakimoto has so far worked on more than 180 projects, ranging from video games, animated series and CD releases. Beginning his video game career at 16, Sakimoto first gained attention in the industry through his work on the game Revolter, as well as the sound driver Terpsiphorean; a synthesizer driver which was implemented into many games throughout the Japanese game market In the early '90s. This recognition led to many game designers and companies recruiting Sakimoto to compose and arrange music for their projects. Working as a freelance artist, Sakimoto scored many games including Vagrant Story, Ogre Battle, Gradius V, Legaia 2: Duel Saga, Tekken Advance, Vagrant Story, Radiant Silvergun and many others. But amongst these, his first notable title on an international scale came when he and co-composer Masaharu Iwata created the score to SQUARE-ENIX's Final Fantasy Tactics. Praised by fans and critics alike, various sequels and soundtracks to the game would soon follow, as well as another offer from SQUARE ENIX, to compose the entire soundtrack for the inevitable Final Fantasy XII. From the followings of FFXII, Sakimoto expanded his company, Basiscape, as a result of demand for his compositions. It is now regarded as the largest independent video game music production company in Japan. Since its formation, Sakimoto and his team have worked on several high profile titles such as Odin Sphere, ASH (Archaic Sealed Heat), the Valkyria Chronicles series, Tekken 6 and the remake of the classic Tactics Ogre. He also composed the orchestral soundtracks for the Japanese anime Romeo x Juliet, The Tower of Druaga and the Valkyria Chronicles animated series.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, known for its artistic excellence for more than 119 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.