Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to Premiere Bach's ST. JOHN PASSION

Music director Manfred Honeck leads the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, guest vocalists and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh in a BNY Mellon Grand Classics program featuring the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra premiere of Bach's St. John Passion oratorio on March 4 and 6 at Heinz Hall.

Composed in Leipzig in 1724 for the Good Friday Vespers, the St. John Passion intensifies the narrative of the Passion of Christ told in the Gospel of John. Honeck welcomes guest vocalists Martin Lattke, tenor, as the Evangelist; Paul Armin Edelmann, bass, as Jesus; Sunhae Im, soprano; Andrey Nemzer, counter tenor; Thomas Cooley, tenor; Lucas Meachem, baritone; Alexander Elliott as Pilatus; Amelia D'Arcy as Ancilla; Jeffrey Klefstad as Petrus; Jonathan MacDonald as Servus; and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh in a semi-staged representation of this biblical composition. With stage director Sam Helfrich and lighting designer Eric Southern, the Pittsburgh Symphony will present this timeless masterpiece in a program guaranteed to elevate the audience's senses and bring new meaning to the Lenten season.

A pre-concert talk, open to all ticket holders and led by Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, will occur on stage one hour before each concert. Program notes for the weekend are available online at pittsburghsymphony.org/passion and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.

During the weekend, beginning one hour before concert time, student musicians will perform in the Grand Lobby of Heinz Hall. On Friday evening, a Youth Chamber Connection Quartet will perform and on Sunday, the Vincentian Academy Choir will sing. These performances are free to ticketholders.

The performance begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/passion.

About the Artists:

MANFRED HONECK has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. Together with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Honeck's widely celebrated performances and distinctive interpretations continue to receive international recognition. To great acclaim, Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra 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 Lincoln Center. Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra have also built a close relationship with the Musikverein in Vienna. Following a week-long residency in 2012, they will return once again for three performances in the course of an extensive tour of Europe in spring 2016.

Honeck's successful work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been extensively documented on recordings with the Reference and Exton labels. The first SACD released by Reference Records of Strauss tone poems, drew rave reviews. The second recording, of Dvo?ák's Symphony No. 8 and the Symphonic Suite from Janácek's opera Jenfa, conceptualized by Honeck himself, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 was released in February 2015 and received a second Grammy nomination. Beethoven 5 & 7 was released on November 13, 2015 to critical acclaim. Several recordings, among them Mahler's Symphony No. 4, which won a 2012 International Classical Music Award, are also available on the Japanese label Exton.

As a guest conductor, Honeck has worked with the world's leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome. In the United States, Honeck has conducted the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is also a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. In 2013, Honeck gave his successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, resulting in a CD recording of Dvo?ák together with Anne-Sophie Mutter for Deutsche Grammophon, which received an Echo Klassik award in 2014. The 2015-2016 season sees him return to Bamberg, Stuttgart, Rome, Stockholm and New York, as well as the Munich Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, among others.

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 and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. Honeck began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor's Award in 1993. Honeck was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig and in Oslo, he assumed the post of music director at the Norwegian National Opera and was engaged as principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2000 to 2006, he was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he resumed for another three years at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season.

From 2007 to 2011, Honeck was music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart where he conducted premieres including Berlioz's Les Troyens, Mozart's Idomeneo, Verdi's Aida, Richard Strauss's Rosenkavalier, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites and Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal, as well as numerous symphonic concerts. His operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera of Copenhagen, the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival.

Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and, most recently, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Moreover, he has been artistic director of the "International Concerts Wolfegg" in Germany for more than 20 years.

SAM HELFRICH is an opera and theater director based in New York. He has directed opera productions at Boston Lyric Opera, Portland Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Spoleto Festival/USA, Virginia Opera, Opera Boston, Pittsburgh Opera and Wolf Trap, among others. Recent opera highlights include Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld at Virginia Opera, Lermontov's Masquerade (accompanied by the Brooklyn String Orchestra), the world premiere of Enemies: A Love Story, by Ben Moore, at Palm Beach Opera; Embedded, by composer Patrick Soluri, at Fargo-Moorhead Opera; Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos at Virginia Opera; Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking at Eugene Opera; André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire at Virginia Opera; the American premiere of Philip Glass' Kepler at Spoleto Festival/USA; Adams' Nixon in China at Eugene Opera; a fully staged Messiah with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; the world premiere of Michael Dellaira's The Secret Agent at Center for Contemporary Opera in New York; the Armel Opera Festival in Hungary and Opera Avignon; The Turn of the Screw at Boston Lyric Opera; Philip Glass' Orphée at Pittsburgh Opera, Virginia Opera, Portland Opera and Glimmerglass Opera; and Anthony Davis' Amistad at Spoleto Festival/USA.

Recent theater credits include Arthur Miller's After The Fall at NYU/Tisch Grad Acting, off-Broadway productions of Owned, a world premier play by Julian Sheppard, and Tape, by Stephen Belber, both of which played to wide audience and critical acclaim, and a double bill of plays by Shaw and De Musset at the Franklin Stage Company.

Upcoming projects include Patrick Soluri's Embedded at Ft. Worth Opera, Mark-Anthony Turnage's Greek at Boston Lyric Opera, Haydn's Creation with the Pittsburgh Symphony and the world premiere of Dan Sonenberg's The Summer King at Pittsburgh Opera.

Helfrich is also an associate arts professor and head of dramaturgy in the graduate Department of Design for Stage and Film at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts.

Hailed as one of the finest choruses in the country, the MENDELSSOHN CHOIR OF PITTSBURGH (MCP) is proud of its long artistic partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and looks forward to another exciting season at Heinz Hall. Primarily a volunteer chorus, the Mendelssohn Choir is composed of more than 100 singers whose passion and commitment enables them to perform alongside the world's greatest musicians. In addition to its performances with the PSO, the Mendelssohn Choir produces its own concerts in the community and operates the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, the region's premier young adult chorus. The Mendelssohn Choir began its 2015-2016 season with an all-Duruflé concert on October 11 at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, and bid farewell to Betsy Burleigh, MCP's much beloved music director. Burleigh is universally acknowledged for building upon the legacy left by Music Director Emeritus Robert Page, and taking MCP to new levels of excellence during her 10-year tenure with the Choir. Under her direction, MCP has earned high praise for its mastery of the great choral classics. The Mendelssohn Choir is engaged currently in the search for its next music director, who will be its seventh in its 108-year-old history. For the remainder of the season, Maria Sensi Sellner will be acting music director and will prepare the Choir for its forthcoming performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

As the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's "chorus of choice," the Mendelssohn Choir has performed with 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. Committed to fostering the choral art form, the Mendelssohn Choir has numerous recordings, commissions and premieres to its credit, including works by Ned Rorem, Nancy Galbraith and Derek Bermel. 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.

The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, celebrating 120 years of music in the 2015-2016 season, 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.



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