The Symphony and Hill District Artists Partner to Honor the Strength, Resilience and Artistic Vibrancy of Women

February 19, 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA—The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is thrilled to once again collaborate with community members in the Hill District to create a powerful program for the annual “Life Every Voice” concert, a celebration of the neighborhood’s cultural legacy and an opportunity to elevate contemporary artistic voices spanning music, fashion, poetry, photography, dance and more. Kicking off Women’s History Month, the symphony and Associate Conductor Andrés Franco will be joined by co-hosts Demeatria Boccella, founder of FashionAFRICANA, and Kiya Tomlin, founder of Kiya Tomlin Fashion; vocalists Capathia Jenkins and Anqwenique Wingfield; violinist Adé Williams and pianist Deanna Witkowski; the Lift Every Voice Unity Choir; and the Hill Dance Academy Theatre for a joyful evening that showcases phenomenal women who relentlessly push the boundaries of artistic expression. The concert will take place on Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. at Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts.

“With so many amazing performances, this year’s ‘Lift Every Voice’ concert is sure to be an extraordinary evening that will move people spiritually and leave attendees walking away empowered,” said Demeatria Boccella. “I love the inclusive aspect of the theme ‘Celebrating Phenomenal Women’ and that the PSO is being intentional in recognizing local and national women, particularly from the African American community. It’s important to create platforms to recognize those who aren’t being recognized and allow everyone the opportunity to see reflections of themselves in the arts and cultural events. This inclusion is what makes us have such an enriching and vibrant community – at its core, this programming celebrates women and is important on so many levels.”

“I am thrilled to be a part of an event that celebrates diversity in so many aspects of our city, not just culturally but also diversity in what Pittsburgh is known for,“ added Kiya Tomlin. “Our city is gaining wide notoriety as being a hub for tech and medicine, but we should never lose sight of the amazing artistic talent that we have in our region. This is what makes Pittsburgh so great and I can’t wait for the audience to experience this beautiful celebration of women and talent.” 

A true collaborative effort across all featured artists, the concert opens with the Lift Every Voice Unity Choir and Hill Dance Academy Theatre performing a special arrangement of Lift Ev’ry Voice alongside the symphony. The program features Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Mvt. 3. Price is notably the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer and to have a composition played by a major orchestra when this piece debuted with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. 

Also included is Dream Variations (Bond/Hughes), which sets the poems of Langston Hughes and will feature vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield, pianist Rebekah Hill and poet Bonita Penn. Adé Williams, first place laureate of the 2012 Sphinx Competition and current freshman at the Curtis Institute of Music, joins the symphony for Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, op. 28.

Symphony No. 1, Mvt. 3 by William Grant Still, the first African American to have a major orchestra play one of his compositions, will be accompanied by a curated collection of photographs by local photographer Njaimeh Nije. This leads into a tribute to Mary Lou Williams, a ground-breaking jazz pianist, arranger and composer, featuring Syl-o-gism, Scorpio, Walkin’ and “Singin’ and Lonely Moments

The second half of the concert includes an energizing tribute to Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul," with A Natural Woman and Respect sung by Broadway and concert artist Capathia Jenkins.  The Lift Every Voice Unity Choir will close the program with Clara Ward’s How I Got Over, a gospel hymn made famous by Aretha’s mentor Mahalia Jackson.

Before the concert and during intermission, audience members are invited to view a special exhibit showcasing the fashions of Mary Lou Williams and Aretha Franklin styled by Kiya Tomlin and Demeatria Boccella. After the concert, jazz combo Funky Fly Project will perform. 

The “Lift Every Voice” concert is a part of the PSO’s community engagement programming, which leverages the power of music to support the goals and priorities of neighbors across the region. Highly collaborative, these programs cross geographical and disciplinary boundaries to create meaningful experiences that are responsive to issues and interests of the Pittsburgh community.

Pittsburgh Symphony Learning & Community Engagement programs are supported by generous grants from Lincoln Learning Solutions, The Jack Buncher Foundation, the Allegheny Regional Asset District, and the Pennsylvania Tourism Office. The lead sponsor for Lift Every Voice is Classical WQED 89.3 FM; the supporting partner is the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania. 

Ticket prices for this special show range from $25-$45, and special $15 tickets are available for students. They can be purchased in person at the Heinz Hall Box Office at 600 Penn Avenue, downtown Pittsburgh, by phone at 412.392.4900 or online at


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The 2018 GRAMMY Award-winning PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004).  This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. Its “Pittsburgh Live!” series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground-breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900 — including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

HEINZ HALL FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Heinz Hall hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, popular touring artists, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.

Media Contacts
Julie Goetz | Director of Communications
jgoetz@pittsburghsymphony.org | 412.392.4866