Fall 2020 Programming Will Be Online with New Digital Programs that Will Be Free to the Public

125th Celebration Event Will Take Place on Historic Day in February 2021

For Immediate Release
August 11, 2020

PITTSBURGH, PA—Due to public health guidance and government restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra announced today that it is moving forward with a reinvented 2020-2021 season, the 125th in the orchestra’s history, that will begin in the fall with newly created digital programming that will be free to the public, as previously-announced concerts from September to December 2020 have been cancelled.

“For this 125th season, now challenged in an unprecedented way, we recall the vision of our founders, including Andrew Carnegie, who started this orchestra when few cities had one. The joy of our symphonic music has enhanced the lives and been a source of civic pride for the many generations who have followed,” said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “While it is heartbreaking to know that we will not be able to share the special experiences that were planned for the fall, we simply can’t be together with our audience inside Heinz Hall at this time, given current building restrictions and public health guidance.”

“However, as we expressed when we announced our 125th season, and is no less true today, we are extraordinary together with our community. From our celebrated history, we have a deep well of energy and inspiration that we draw from, that, with the passionate leadership of our exceptional Music Director Manfred Honeck, Principal Pops Conductor Byron Stripling and Musicians, will propel us forward to meet this pandemic with the strength of the mission of this great orchestra,” said Tourangeau. 

“We have reinvented next season that will start with an exciting new digital series in the fall that will be available free to the public, and that will connect with our community in innovative and deeper ways. All 2020-2021 subscribers will keep all of their subscriber benefits and be rolled automatically into the 2021-2022 season, which is also the 50th anniversary of Heinz Hall as the home of the orchestra,” said Tourangeau. “We are currently planning a return to the Hall in January 2021 to continue the celebration of the 125th season with previously announced and newly imagined concerts and programs. This return will be based on public health and safety guidance, and expected conditions, including possible travel restrictions. We will continue our close consultation with health and safety experts, and we will continue to maintain Heinz Hall so that it is ready to welcome you back.”

“I’m reminded now more than ever how essential music is to our lives.  I think often about Beethoven, and how some of the greatest music was born out of times of struggle and adversity.  As we mark the 250th anniversary of his birth this year, I’m inspired by the power of music as one of the greatest expressions of our humanity, our times and our hope for the future,” said Manfred Honeck, Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “It is my wish that our digital programs will be a reminder to us all of how music continues to lift our souls and bring us together as a community. I greatly look forward to the moment when we can come together in person to enjoy the glorious sounds of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and I can't wait to be with you at Heinz Hall as soon as possible."

“When I’m at Heinz Hall I can’t help but think how magical the theater is – and to think about all the incredible sounds that have swirled around. That spirit of great music is still with us and will continue to be a source of sustenance during this time. We are all so hungry for music right now, to get nourished and fed spiritually, to share our humanity by experiencing music together,” said Byron Stripling, Principal Pops Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  “When we’re all together in these moments, we’re a family. The soul and power of music lie in love and togetherness, so for this fall we’ll find new ways to open our hearts to great music, to come together and be lifted. This is what I believe the world needs now.”

The actions that the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is taking are as follows:

  • All subscribers to the 2020-2021 season will have their subscriptions rolled automatically to the 2021-2022 season, which is also the 50th anniversary of the opening of Heinz Hall as home to the orchestra. These subscription series are BNY Mellon Grand Classics, PNC Pops, and Fiddlesticks Family Concerts.
  • Previously announced concerts for September-December 2020 at Heinz Hall are cancelled.
  • The Pittsburgh Symphony is working to incorporate pillar elements of the 125th anniversary season (such as artistic partnerships, commissions, and Beethoven in Your Neighborhood) into programming throughout 2021.
  • Fall 2020 digital series: The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plans to announce soon a new series of digital music programs that builds on the strength of the digital initiatives launched during the pandemic (“Extraordinary Measures” and “Summer with the Symphony” online) and will be made available to the public free of charge. The fall programs are being planned to include ensembles of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and will incorporate community artists and partners when possible, to create meaningful musical experiences during this time of shutdown of normal business and limited human interaction. They will be produced in accordance with health and safety regulations, including wearing masks and social distancing.
  • All Learning and Community Engagement concerts scheduled for September-December 2020 are cancelled. However, online content will be available in the fall.
  • The 125th Anniversary Celebration will move from October 3, 2020 to Saturday, February 27, 2021, the anniversary date of the very first Pittsburgh Symphony concert in 1896. The Mahler 8 program that was scheduled for February 26-28, 2021 is not able to be performed due to health and safety guidelines regarding choirs. New programming for that weekend, in addition to the 125th Anniversary Celebration, is being planned.
  • 125th Season January-June: The Pittsburgh Symphony is currently planning to return to Heinz Hall in January 2021 with previously announced and newly imagined concerts, subject to ongoing public health guidance, and government regulations including possible travel restrictions. Tickets and subscriptions to this 2021 mini-season will be announced later in the fall.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2020-2021 title sponsorship support of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics series, marking BNY Mellon’s 20th consecutive year as title sponsor of the series. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra would like to thank PNC for its 2020-2021 title sponsorship of the PNC Pops series, marking PNC’s 20th consecutive year as title sponsor of the series. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra would like to recognize and thank Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield for its title sponsorship of Highmark Holiday Pops. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra would like to thank Clearview Federal Credit Union as Presenting Sponsor of the Fiddlesticks concerts. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra thanks Wesley Family Services, FedEx Ground, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Allegheny Health Network and Comcast for their sponsorship of Sensory-Friendly concerts. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel and Delta Airlines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Radio station WQED-fm 89.3 and WQEJ-fm 89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.


    European Festivals Tour (previously cancelled)
Sept. 25-27   
    BNY Mellon Grand Classics: Scheherazade
Oct. 3   
    Exclusive Event: 125th Anniversary Celebration
Oct. 9-11   
    PNC Pops: Swingin’ at the Club
Oct. 16-18   
    BNY Mellon Grand Classics: The Rite of Spring*
  *This concert is currently being reviewed for scheduling in 2021.
Oct. 23, 25   
    BNY Mellon Grand Classics: Symphonie Fantastique
Oct. 24   
   Fiddlesticks: Fall into Halloween
Oct. 30, Nov. 1   
   BNY Mellon Grand Classics: Beethoven – The Five Piano Concertos
Nov. 4  
    PreK/Kindergarten Schooltime Concerts
Nov. 11, 17, 18   
    4th Grade Schooltime Concerts
Nov. 6-8   
    PNC Pops: The Music of ABBA Featuring Rajaton
Nov. 13,15   
    BNY Mellon Grand Classics: Ravel & Sibelius
Nov. 27, 29    
    BNY Mellon Grand Classics: Thanksgiving Tradition – Strauss Family Favorites
Dec.11-13, 18-20   
    Highmark Holiday Pops
Dec. 19    
    Sensory-Friendly Holiday Pops



Media Contacts
Julie Goetz | Director of Communications
jgoetz@pittsburghsymphony.org | 412.392.4866 or 412.905.9058 (mobile)