The Swon Brothers to Headline 'Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2015'; Lineup Announced!

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced today that new venues and a new look will be utilized for the 21st annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh. Each year, approximately 40,000 people ring in the New Year at 150 events at 50 venues throughout the Cultural District. 90% of all events are held indoors. For the fourth consecutive year, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will serve as the presenting sponsor for the event, produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

"Highmark is proud to support the communities we serve," shared Dan Onorato, executive vice president, Highmark Health. "We are proud to be the long-time sponsor of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, helping the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust highlight all that is great about our city. The Highmark First Night tradition brings families together from across the region, in our cultural district, to celebrate art and culture in a manner that reflects the hope and promise we eagerly anticipate with each new year."

"As the Vice President of Education & Community Engagement, I view Highmark First Night Pittsburgh as one of the most important evenings of the year," shared Janis Burley Wilson of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. "Through music, dance, comedy, visual art and hands-on activities, the Trust welcomes and entertains visitors of all ages, for a joyous celebration of the arts in an alcohol-free atmosphere. What better way to enter into a new year, than with events that nurture an appreciation and understanding of ourselves through the arts?"

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh will kick off with children's fireworks at 6:00 p.m. on the Dollar Bank Stage along with a performance by Beauty Slap. The new local sensation performs electronic music with five horns, a saxophone, a guitar and a DJ.

At the end of the evening, visitors enjoy the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale: the countdown to midnight, raising of the 1,000 lbs. Future of Pittsburgh ball 150 feet in the air above Penn Avenue Place, and a spectacular Zambelli fireworks finale; they will also be serenaded by the rockin' sounds of The Swon Brothers on the Highmark Stage. Arista Nashville recording duo The Swon Brothers (Zach and Colton) just released their new single, "Pray For You," the follow-up to their Top 15 debut single, "Later On," which shot to No. 1 on iTunes' Country Top Songs chart within 24 hours of its release and helped earn them a nomination for "Vocal Duo of the Year" at The 48th Annual CMA Awards. Originally from Oklahoma, the duo first hit the national radar charming fans with their incredible sibling harmonies and fun-loving personalities as finalists on "Team Blake" in Season 4 of NBC's The Voice. Find them online at www.swonbrothers.com, Twitter @TheSwonBrothers, and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/theswonbrothers.

New attractions taking placethroughout the evening includea special vouchered performance by Cello Fury and Texture Contemporary Ballet, which will unite classic, contemporary and rock styles with music and dance. Lee Terbosic Magic and the one-man variety show, Chris Ruggierro join the Highmark First Night line-up for the first year. Gemini Theater Company will present a children's production that utilizes local landmarks and lingo in a story that challenges audiences to help "find a secret treasure on the Great Mon."

Other vouchered performances will include Arcade Comedy Theater, featuring its in-house improvisation team, the First Night Comedy Club at the O'Reilly Theater, which will feature alternating performances by Player One and Aaron Kleiber and T-Robe.

With all of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust galleries offering extended hours, visitors can take in world-renowned exhibitions, and stroll along their own personalized gallery crawl on New Year's Eve. From the creator of The Secret Life of Robots, Toby Atticus Fraley premieres The Lost Search Sound Machine in Pittsburgh, inviting visitors to find and playback old sounds floating by in the atmosphere at 8th and Penn Avenue. Obsessions, curated by Tom Sarver, highlights six national artists exploring the nature of obsession at SPACE and Sheila Cuellar-Shaffer debuts her Recent Works in 709 Gallery, which opens on Friday, December 5.

Additional performing art highlights include holiday plays by Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company and Playwright FJ Hartland's Postcards from a Dead Dog, all of which will take place at 937 Liberty Avenue.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh serves as a platform for artists. Adding additional locations of Trinity Cathedral and First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, the Festival will reach even farther into the Cultural District, expanding participant experiences.

In addition to new attractions and new venues, more traditional Highmark First Night visitors can still participate in Pittsburgh perennial favorites including the FedEx Ground Parade at 8:00 p.m., themed "Imagination: Delivered" and featuring Grand Marshal and WQED Producer, Rick Sebak. Giant puppets, art cars, marching bands, and a bicycle parade will return as part of the festivities.

Kids and kids at heart can enjoy the hands-on activities in the First National Bank Family Tent. There, visitors will learn about circuitry with Assemble, help The Children's Museum's "First Night Resolution Tree" to bloom by writing and posting reflections from the past year and wishes for the New Year. Participants can also learn how to make their very own wooden kazoo with the help of the Carnegie Science Center. Other First National Bank Family Tent collaborators include Citiparks and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Be sure to stop by the tent to say hello to Pirate Parrot and Steely McBeam -- Pittsburgh's favorite sport mascots!

River City Brass, the 28-member band, returns to perform in the Benedum Center, continuing its commitment to educating and engaging citizens locally, nationally and internationally in the American music culture.

Enjoy a four-hour long production featuring live ice carvings, fire dancers and a fire-breathing dragon at Fire & Ice Plaza locatedat the 8th Street parking lot, which will again feature Ice Creations and Steel Town Fire.

Music lovers will be pleased that the WYEP music station will return and feature the Appalachian-inspired, three-part harmony group The Early Mays and native-Pittsburgher Joy Ike with her percussive, soulful and powerful-pop.

There a tons of other activities to enjoy including Roland Ford Line Dancing, Belly Dancing with Cattywhomp Tribal, Indian Dance with Aparna Nigam, Japanese Sword Dancing and iQKids Radio at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh at the intersection of Penn and Liberty. There is truly something for everyone!

All programming is subject to change. Updates will be posted online at TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH. The Highmark First Night Pittsburgh website provides even more event details and allows users to sort through the schedule of events and customize plans. TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH is mobile-friendly and will allow smartphone users to plan on-the-go during New Year's Eve.

ADMISSION: All-Access Highmark First Night Pittsburgh buttons (worn by attendees) are available beginning December 3, 2014 at participating Giant Eagle locations; online at TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH; by phone at 412-456-6666; or at The Box Office at Theater Square, located at 655 Penn Avenue. Buttons cost $8 in advance or $10 night-of-event. Children age 5 and under are admitted FREE.

Some indoor performances also require seating vouchers, which are free tickets. They must be reserved to ensure theaters do not fill beyond capacity. Vouchers can be reserved starting December 4th by phone or at The Box Office at Theater Square only. Events requiring vouchers are listed at TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH.

Want your vouchers sooner? The VIP package, permits special "First Night Friends," to revel with a cause, enjoying priority seating, access, parking, and more! For more information on becoming a part of this special sponsorship opportunity, call 412-471-6086.

HIGHMARK FIRST NIGHT PITTSBURGH - Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is an arts-focused and family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Pittsburgh's Cultural District. It is the largest single-day celebration in the region offering around 150 events at nearly 50 indoor and outdoor locations within the 14-block Cultural District. The celebration offers something for everyone.

PITTSBURGH CULTURAL TRUST - The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh's most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh's quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts. Follow us on Twitter @CulturalTrust, and like us on Facebook.



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