Charlie Albright

Gilmore and Avery Fisher prize winning pianist Charlie Albright makes his Pittsburgh Symphony debut April 12, 13 and 14 with George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for PNC Pops and Saturday morning Fiddlesticks concerts. He’s from Centralia, Washington with a start at age 3 then on to studying at Harvard with an interest in economics and pre medicine but the piano became the main focus. He’s appeared with Yo Yo Ma on numerous occasions often with special circumstances and he is loving the sound of the Pittsburgh Symphony, the grandeur of Heinz Hall and the collaboration with Byron Stripling. The subjects covered include why he loves music and young people, his work on YouTube teaching piano, his daughter who is less than one year old and the pre concert ritual which now and then includes a stop at Chipotle. Charlie Albright spoke after the Friday rehearsal with Jim Cunningham sitting at the top of the stairs in the grand lobby under the crystal chandeliers.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins Jim Cunningham to share his thoughts about Camille Saint-Saens and the Egyptian Concerto No. 5 written in uxor and inspired by his visit to the country even weaving a bit of a song he heard from the river. Jean-Yves talks about his Hall of Fame designation at the Hollywood Bowl, his work in the wine region of Burgundy with cellist Gautier Capucon, his interest in jazz, his new cd with Michael Feinstein and his style with couture from Vivienne Westwood.

Osmo Vanska

The long time Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra discusses the Inextinguishable Symphony No 4 by Carl Nielsen, the Bach Toccata and Fugue in d minor in the Skrowacewski transcription and its use on horror films along the way to becoming the best known music by J. S. Bach. Maestro Vanska says he’s living the Finnish equivalent of the free life but enjoys his home in Minnesota, he knows the Finnish wunderkind Klaus Makela and why he is great having just been appointed Music Director in Chicago along with the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Topics include the Finnish character to avoid small talk , his Yamaha motorcycle and why he let the Minnesota Orchestra auction it off.

David Sogg – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra The Inextinguishable

Acting Principal Bassonist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, David Sogg, spoke live with Jim Cunningham on the Morning Show about his role in Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, The Inextinguishable, being performed this Friday, April 5th and Sunday, April 7th. Sogg talks about his first introduction to Nielsen’s work with his Wind Quintet, and his personal connections to Denmark. This concert also includes Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 5, performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Visit to learn more and find tickets.

Juanjo Mena

WQED-FM’s Jim Cunningham sat down with conductor Juano Mena, who will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra this weekend in Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula by James Lee III. Plus, he’ll conduct violin works by Ginastera and Sarasate with Hilary Hahn.

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PSO Live Broadcast Intermission Interviews – 3/15/24

During WQED-FM’s live broadcast of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Friday March 15, 2024, Jim Cunningham spoke with conductor Jacob Joyce, guest violinist James Ehnes, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Vice-President of Artistic Planning Mary Persin and WQED President and CEO Jason Jedlinski during intermission.

Mason Bates

Mason Bates joins Jim Cunningham to talk about his Pittsburgh premiere of Philharmonia Fantastique, commissioned in part by Pittsburgh. With animation and live action film this score has won a Grammy in its Chicago Symphony recording while becoming Mason’s most performed piece. It mixes animation with ties to the Pixar studio and Lucasfilm, live action on screen while the orchestra plays. Mason also fills us in on his next opera based on Michael Chabon’s “The Fabulous Adventures of Kavalier Klay.” Mason Bates recalls how much he enjoyed his Pittsburgh visits, commissions and year as Composer in Residence and his winning of the Heinz Award, plus meeting Theresa Heinz. At the end of the conversation, he reveals where he takes out of town guests when they visit San Francisco while he teaches at the Conservatory.

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PSO Double Bass Section

John Moore, Micah Howard and Nicholas Myers, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Double Bass section, stopped by the QED Morning Show with Jim Cunningham to talk about the Pittsburgh Double Bass Symposium taking place at CMU on Sunday March 10th, as well as the Sound Fusion concert taking place at Heinz Hall on March 5th.

Cellist Pablo Ferrandez

Pablo Ferrandez returns to Heinz Hall having had a sensational debut in a 2023 December concert with Anne Sophie Mutter and John Williams playing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Anne Sophie Mutter. He describes the challenge of playing the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No 1., the composer’s fear of being taken away in the night were he to run counter to what Stalin thought he should be writing, the importance of the timpanist in the First Concerto, his family of musicians naming him after Pablo Casals, growing up in sunny Spain, his recordings for Sony including the Brahms Double Concerto with Anne Sophie Mutter, the Czech Philharmonic and Manfred Honeck, and what he knows about Pittsburgh and the orchestra in this conversation with Jim Cunningham.

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Composer Katherine Balch

Katherine Balch talks about her new music commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony and several other American Orchestras with the world premiere on February 16, 2023— Musica Pyralis to be conducted by Manfred Honeck. She is inspired by the events around her including fireflies in the music for Pittsburgh. Katherine tells Jim Cunningham her story: born in San Diego, now teaching at Yale, her thoughts about connecting with audiences. her family and whether she is a California girl.

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Alexandre Kantorow

Pianist Alexandre Kantorow makes his Heinz Hall debut February 9th through 11th at Heinz Hall with Manfred Honeck. In this conversation with Jim Cunningham recorded in the Dorothy Porter Simmons Rooms at Heinz Hall, he talks about the Liszt Second Concerto; his recent win of the Gilmore Prize and the win at the Tchaikovsky Competition; his early career; growing up in the musical family with his Dad, a conductor and his Mom a violinist; being French; wearing a beret; enjoying fresh baguettes; and his upcoming tour with Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.