Conductors, soloists and composers involved in making great Pittsburgh Symphony performances talk about their music.

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Osmo Vanska and Lorna McGhee - Oct 7, 2021

Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vanska returns to Heinz Hall as a guest with Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Flute Lorna McGhee in Kaija Saariaho’s new Flute Concerto "Wing of a Dream" with bird song, extended technique, poetry, exclamations, smiles, guttural sounds and general delight. Jim Cunningham joins the duo masked in the Guest Conductor’s Dressing Room sitting as far apart as possible discussing how the concerto was a hit in its out of town try out in Minnesota. In Pittsburgh, it will appear with Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and the Scottish Symphony by Mendelssohn. Soloist and conductor talk about the premiere in detail and Maestro Vanska accepts congratulations for presiding over the designation as Orchestra of the Year in Minnesota as voted by the readers of England’s Grammophon magazine. He suggests that unlike Mick Jagger budgeting an extra day to visit the Phipps Conservatory, he is all about the music when he’s in Pittsburgh. His last season includes a Sibelius party on New Year’s Eve and after 19 years, he goes out on a high note but promises to return. The Minnesota performance can be seen on Youtube. Pittsburgh will hear the concert October 8th and 10th at Heinz Hall.

Jean Yves Thibaudet - Sep 29, 2021

French born pianist Jean Yves Thibaudet has performed in Pittsburgh in at least three visits with Mariss Jansons, Charles Dutoit and Marek Janowsky.   He was scheduled for a return when the pandemic hit but promises to back soon. Fom his home in LA, he spoke with Jim Cunningham about his new cd Carte Blanche with 24 tracks of very personal favorites, arrangements, encores, music from the film score for Pride and Prejudice, Pierre Sancan, Morton Gould, Chopin, Couperin.  He’s done 50 cds for Decca, so the company said you’ve got Carte Blanche to record what you like and he went to work just this past May at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Renee Fleming interviewed Jean Yves for the notes and he discusses their work together on a PBS special broadcast just this past New Year’s Eve 2020.  Jean Yves has a special memory of playing an encore for Mariss Jansons and he had to include something for his Mom on the play list.

Helene Grimaud - Sep 23, 2021

Pianist Helene Grimaud returns to Pittsburgh for the Ravel Piano Concerto in G with Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony. She’s just arrived from Los Angeles where she played Schumann with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a new conductor Marta Gardolinska. She tells us about her new cd from Deutsche Grammophon, The Messenger; how she survived the pandemic and about the 20th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11 at the World Trade Center the same day she played Beethoven at the Proms in London. Plus, she still runs with the wolves and is active in conservation efforts. In order to be socially distanced in Rehearsal Room 2 upstairs at Heinz Hall, Helene Grimaud held the microphone on a long cord while Jim Cunningham shouted.    

Manfred Honeck & Anne-Sophie Mutter - Sep 16, 2021

Pittsburgh Symphony Music Director Manfred Honeck returned this week for the first full Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concerts in 18 months to open the Heinz Hall 50th anniversary season with Anne-Sophie Mutter at the Gala on September 16th.  Ms. Mutter will be playing a concerto by the Chevalier de Saint George and music by John Williams. She discusses her solo spots and the incredible success of her live Vienna Philharmonic cds with John Williams conducting. She works with John Williams a few days after Pittsburgh in Los Angles at a concert which will play tribute to cellist Lynn Harrell. She remembers her colleague along with Maestro Honeck’s thoughts. Other topics include pandemic reflections; the Mutter Virtuosi with which she will go on tour; upcoming recording plans which include a disc with Manfred Honeck conducting in Prague; why now is the time to belatedly look into African-American composers and other composers who have been long out of the spotlight; the importance of radio to classical music; and much more in this half hour with Jim Cunningham.  Recorded at the Fairmont Hotel in the floor 2 restaurant. 

PSO Front Row - Jack Everly - Jul 27, 2021

The Pittsburgh Symphony presents "Hollywood Hits" in a virtual concert found on the Pittsburgh Symphony website from August 23rd at 7:30pm through September 5th - with music from Game Of Thrones, Henry Mancini, George Gershwin and John Lunn's score for Downton Abbey. In his online concert, Jack Everly speaks to the camera in introductory remarks. Maestro Everly is one of America's most widely traveled guest conductors with regular spots at four orchestras and serving as conductor of "A Capitol Fourth" and the Memorial Day US Capitol celebrations with the National Symphony for many years. So is the American orchestra getting as many minutes on TV in 2021? You must judge. He speaks about the broad array of military trumpets that participated in this year's Olympic Fanfare by John Williams, remembers Gene Kelly and Oscar Levant, recalls almost conducting the Civic Light Opera, the challenges of pandemic programs, and the hope of getting audiences back in seats in this July 26, 2021 conversation by Zoom with Jim Cunningham.

Earl Lee - Jul 26, 2021

Pittsburgh Symphony Associate Conductor Earl Lee will lead four concerts at Hartwood Acres in July and August for he Summer With the Symphony series. He discuses his programs on July 30 and 31 with violinist Marta Krechkovsky in the Tchaikovsky Concerto, Rossini's Thieving Magpie Overture and Brahms First Symphony. On August 6 and 7, Maestro Lee joins cellist Will Chow to perform the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations, Mendelssohn's Scherzo From A Midsummer Nights Dream and dances by Brahms and Dvorak plus Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. He discusses his wife's work as flutist with the New York Philharmonic, studying Mendelssohn in Leipzig, and more in this interview with Jim Cunningham.

Byron Stripling & Nicki Parrott - Jul 23, 2021

Pittsburgh Symphony Principal  Pops Conductor Byron Stripling leads four concerts at Hartwood Acres in the Summer with the Symphony series. In this conversation with Jim Cunningham, he joins soloist singing and playing bass Nicki Parrott to talk about their favorite jazz singers Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstein and George Benson, Nikki's journey from Australia to the USA, work with Pittsburgh bass superstar Ray Brown, how singers learn to control their breath at a whisper and the program at Hartwood Friday night July 23rd at 8:15pm titled "Songbook and Sunset," Saturday morning July 24th at 11:15am it's "Melodies and Movement" for families, and August 13th and 14th with "Summer and Sinatra." With food trucks! 

Robert Langevin - Jul 20, 2021

The Principal Flute of the New York Philharmonic, Robert Langevin, served as Principal in Pittsburgh for eight years until he was asked to join New York by Kurt Mazur. He discusses his new cd on the Bridge label "La Belle Epoque" with the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Syrinx, Faure Fantaisie and Morceau, Enesco Cantabile and presto, Mouquet Flute de Pan, Widor Suite and Gaubert Nocturne, Fantaisie and Madrigal with pianist Margaret Kampmeier. Robert remembers his years with Lorin Maazel and Mariss Jansons in Pittsburgh and New York, talks about his love of summers at Chautauqua, New York, recordings of Mozart and Nielsen and whether he has bribed the director of Live From Lincoln Center to feature his solos on the PBS New Year's Eve broadcasts. The tradition of French flute playing is explored in detail in this conversation with Jim Cunningham.

Center Stage - Schoenberg's "Verklarte Nacht" - Jul 15, 2021

Pittsburgh Symphony Acting Principal Viola, Tatjana Mead Chamis, and violinist Jeremias Sergiani-Velazquez talk about rrecording Arnold Shoenberg's "Transfigured Night" and the musical influences that shape them - including Tatjana in Germany at age 7 winding up in Utah with a slight European accent, studying at Curtis and working with the Philadelphia Orchetra's Joseph de Pasquale. Can either musician tango? Tatjana wants to and Velazquez played in a Grammy award winning tango ensemble but the steps are still a mystery. Jeremias describes his young years in Cordoba, Argentina riding the bus 10 hours to lessons in Buenos Aires, later joining Midori in playing chamber music for refugees in camps and shelters after the earthquake in Nepal and much more in this converstaion with Jim Cunningham.

Center Stage - Peter Sullivan - Jul 6, 2021

Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Trombone Peter Sullivan speaks about the music he recorded for Center Stage by Casterede and Defaye, his teaching, summer music making at Hartwood Acres and Aspen, his many recordings in Montreal before coming to Pittsburgh, and the current state of affairs with the Pittsburgh Penguins in this conversation with Jim Cunningham.