The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Presents HAYDN & ZARATHUSTRA, 1/17-19

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra invites you to ponder universal questions and fundamental truths in a stirring BNY Mellon Grand Classics program featuring Haydn, Danielpour and Strauss on Jan. 17-19, 2014 at Heinz Hall, under the direction of conductor Christoph König and featuring the powerful voice of soprano Hila Plitmann.

König leads the Pittsburgh Symphony first in Franz Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 22, "The Philosopher," a nickname thought to be inspired by the musical "question and answer" in the first movement of this enchanting symphony. Plitmann joins the symphony for Darkness in the Ancient Valley, Richard Danielpour's tribute to the plight of the Iranian people and a co-commission between the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Nashville Symphony. The concert concludes with Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra, inspired by the Friedrich Nietzsche book of the same name.Strauss' "tone poems" tell remarkable tales about extraordinary characters, events and places, and in Also sprach Zarathustra, he comments on nothing less than the evolution of humankind. The "sunrise" portion of this piece was made famous in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, possibly the most well-known two minutes of music ever written.

The Saturday night performance features the first Beyond the Notes program of the year, highlighting Also sprach Zarathustra. In these concerts, the conductor and orchestra will spend the first half of the concert explaining and demonstrating the nuances of the music, taking the audience inside the compositions and revealing many fascinating details. Following the intermission, audience members will hear the complete performance of the piece with an enriched understanding of its meaning. Please note that Plitmann will not be a part of the Saturday performance and the concert will open with Haydn's "The Philosopher."

The concerts will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging from $25.75 to $109.75, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900, or by

The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2013-2014 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Christoph König currently holds positions as principal conductor of the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música (from January 2009) and principal conductor and music director of the Solistes Européens, Luxembourg (from September 2010). With Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Musica, he has toured Brazil and Europe, including performances in Vienna, Rotterdam, Antwerp and at the Musica Festival in Strasbourg. He recently performed with the Solistes Européens, Luxembourg at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and at the Philharmonie Cologne. König is in demand as a guest conductor. His recent performances have included engagements with the Orchestre de Paris, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London and many more. Since his debut in the United States in 2010, he has conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony and Colorado Symphony Orchestras. König was born in Dresden, where he sang in the celebrated Dresdner Kreuzchor. He studied conducting, piano and singing at the Dresdner Musikhochschule. His early work as a conductor took him to master classes given by, amongst others, Sergiu Celibidache and Sir Colin Davis, with whom he worked as assistant conductor/korrepetiteur at the Dresden Opera.

Grammy Award-winning soprano Hila Plitmann is known worldwide for her astonishing musicianship, light and beautiful voice, and the ability to perform challenging new works. She regularly premieres works by today's leading composers while maintaining a vibrant and extraordinarily diverse professional life in film music, musical theatre and song writing. Plitmann has worked with many of today's leading conductors, including Leonard Slatkin, Kurt Masur, Robert Spano, Marin Alsop, Esa Pekka Salonen, Andrew Litton and Steven Sloane. She has appeared as a headliner with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New Israeli Opera and numerous other orchestras and ensembles in the United States and abroad. Plitmann has appeared as soloist in several world premieres, including "Paul Revere's Ride" with the Atlanta Symphony, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici, Esa-Pekka Salonen's "Wing on Wing" with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of the composer, "Mr. Tambourine Man" written by Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Corigliano with the Minnesota Orchestra and "Two Awakenings and a Double Lullaby," a song cycle written for her by Pulitzer Prize winner Aaron Jay Kernis. Born and raised in Jerusalem, Plitmann received both her Bachelor's and Master's of Music degrees, with high honors, from the Juilliard School of Music, and has been awarded the coveted Sony ES Prize for her outstanding contribution to the vocal arts.

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