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

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Manfred Honeck and Maria Duenas - Nov 24, 2021

Manfred Honeck returns to Heinz Hall for the Thanksgiving weekend concert of Strauss waltzes and polkas in the spirit of the Vienna New Year’s Day concerts seen around the world and on WQED-TV from the ORF and PBS. This year at Heinz Hall, Maria Duenas makes her debut with the Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1. Maria is 18 years old. She tells her story and describes the special qualities of the instrument she plays.  Manfred Honeck remembers his concerts playing the New Year’s Day program in Vienna and suggests the spirit of the program with encores expected. The interview with Jim Cunningham took place in the upstairs rehearsal room in order to record video which can be found on Vimeo.

Symphony Splendor Holiday House Tour 2021-Jean Horne and Christine Thompson - Nov 11, 2021

Fanfare columnist for the Tribune-Review, Jean Horne, and Christine Thompson, long time member of the Mendelssohn Choir, both have worked tirelessly for the Pittsburgh Symphony Association event Symphony Splendor Holiday House Tour 2021 taking place at a gilded age Shadyside House Mansion the weekend of November 19th.  The story of the house and the forty musicians of the orchestra who will perform is discussed with Jim Cunningham. Christine also has details on the upcoming Choir events and Jean reveals at least one secret of her column.  

Behzod Abduraimov - Nov 11, 2021

Pianist Behzod Abduraimov returns to Heinz Hall to make his debut with Juraj Valcuha in the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2. They’ve recorded together in Italy for Decca but never given a live concert until Pittsburgh. Is playing with a mask fun? No. Especially during this concerto, which requires heavy lifting but he’s managing. Behzod talks all about Prokofiev and his recent recordings of Rachmaninov’s own piano in Lucerne, Switzerland, where he toured the villa Rachmaninov.   

Daniel Meyer - Pittsburgh Symphony Pops - Nov 5, 2021

Daniel Meyer conducts the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops Troupe Vertigo concert this weekend at Heinz Hall with Bizet's Carmen, Ravel's Bolero, music by Gimenez, Marquez and an overall Latin Spanish flavor. The acrobatics and the orchestra come together in a way that Maestro Meyer suggest is not to be missed. Daniel also runs down upcoming events on his calendar and why you should drive to the Warner Theater in Erie to hear his orchestra there.

Kirill Karabits - Oct 28, 2021

Kirill Karabits, born in Ukraine, makes his Heinz Hall debut October 29th and 31st with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Principal Trumpet Micah Wilkinson playing the Haydn Trumpet Concerto and the Anthony Plog Scherzo; plus the Stravinsky Pulcinella Suite and the Tchaikovsky Little Russian Symphony with its Ukrainian folk tunes. He has recorded more than a dozen CDs with standard and rare repertoire including a never before recorded Liszt opera. Now he feels he must spend more time in his homeland, Ukraine. Only a week ago he wasn’t certain if the Covid travel regulations would allow him to make the trip to Pittsburgh, but he is loving it now as you can hear in the conversation with Jim Cunningham recorded in the Conductor’s dressing room on October 28th right after rehearsal.

Micah Wilkinson - Oct 26, 2021

Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Trumpet Micah Wilkinson plays the Haydn Trumpet Concerto along with a world premiere of the orchestrated Scherzo by Anthony Plog, Micah’s teacher during his European year of study in Freiburg, Germany. He remembers with pleasure his Haydn performances while touring with his colleagues from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He didn’t mind the cold at all. In this conversation with Jim Cunningham, Micah discusses his pandemic back porch concerts, his newly published books of trumpet solos, and the music he plays at Heinz Hall October 29th and 31st with the debut of Kirill Karabits.  

Jan Lisiecki - Oct 21, 2021

Pianist Jan Lisiecki returns to Pittsburgh to perform the Grieg Piano Concerto on Friday October 22nd, 8pm and Sunday October 24th, 2:30pm at Heinz Hall.  He talks about the concerto, working with Guest Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, and more in this conversation with WQED-FM's Jim Cunningham.



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.