Pops: American Traditions – Folk Songs, Gospel & the Blues 
Classical: Ultraviolinistics 
Classical: Carmen to Beethoven 
Virtual Schooltime: Meet the Composer 

For Immediate Release
April 1, 2021

PITTSBURGH, PA—The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Spring digital concert calendar continues this Saturday, April 3, at 7:30PM (EDT) with the premiere of a PSO Pops concert led by Principal Pops Conductor Byron Stripling. That program is followed by two new classical concerts led by Music Director Manfred Honeck, and a new concert designed for school children in grades 4-6. Tickets for Pops and classical programs are available on the orchestra’s digital platform Front Row: The PSO Virtual Experience. School concerts are available free to educators through the Orchestra’s Virtual Schooltime web page.

Press assets for April concerts →

Members of the press may request complimentary tickets to Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra digital concerts. Please establish a Front Row account at psofrontrow.org, then contact Julie Goetz, Director of Communications, for more information: jgoetz@pittsburghsymphony.org 



American Traditions: Folk Songs, Gospel & the Blues is an intimate program created by Byron Stripling that explores early folk classics, popular ballads, and the blues that followed. Byron Stripling welcomes a dynamic trio of musicians on piano/Hammond B3, bass and drum set to join with an ensemble of Pittsburgh Symphony musicians. “Art is the highest form of hope. And I know I hear great happiness when I hear the Pittsburgh Symphony,” Stripling says in comments from the stage during the program.” Of note:  

  • Five pieces have arrangements commissioned specifically for this concert. 
  • The program features an insightful conversation between Byron Stripling and John Clayton, the GRAMMY® Award-winning bassist/composer/conductor/arranger (known for his arrangement of the “Star Spangled Banner” for Whitney Houston’s performance at the Super Bowl in 1990; the recording went platinum) who arranged “Oh Shenandoah” for this program. In the conversation, Clayton reveals his thoughts on using the viola and cello as the “vocalists” of the piece, and then “giving them some freedom.” 
  • GRAMMY® Award-winning bassist and arranger Larry Cook reinvented the childhood favorite, “Old MacDonald,” as a thrilling and upbeat feature for Pittsburgh Symphony violinist Jennifer Orchard. 
  • The PSO string section is featured in a performance of American conductor, composer, arranger and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik’s innovative “Blues Suite for Strings,” with featured solos by Mark Huggins, associate concertmaster, and David Premo, associate principal cello. 


Premiere: Saturday, April 3, 2021; available through April 9, 2021 
7:30 p.m. (EDT) 
Byron Stripling, conductor, trumpet and vocalist 
Bobby Floyd, piano/Hammond B3 
Andy Woodson, bass 
Jim Rupp, drum set 
Jennifer Orchard, violin 
Gretchen Van Hoesen, harp 
Mark Huggins, violin 
Micah Howard, bass 
David Premo, cello 
Joen Vasquez, viola 

Tickets are $15, and are available on the Pittsburgh Symphony’s digital platform, Front Row: The PSO Virtual Experience: psofrontrow.org.  



The classical programs in April led by Music Director Manfred Honeck feature widely diverse composers and compelling works that make intriguing connections. They continue the Pittsburgh Symphony tradition of presenting masterpieces and new discoveries, and bringing to the stage great talent from around the world. Of note in the next two programs:

  • Simone Porter, violin, has been recognized as an “emerging artist of impassioned energy, interpretive integrity, and vibrant communication.” 
  • Audiences will be treated to a “Musical Guide,” a Pittsburgh Symphony musician who acts as host and shares personal commentary about the program 
  • Each concert includes an “Interlude” featuring a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra solo wind or brass musician. 

Premiere: Saturday, April 10, 2021; available through April 16, 2021 
7:30 p.m. (EDT) 
Manfred Honeck, conductor 
Simone Porter, violin 
Lorna McGhee, flute 

Antonin Dvořák (arr. Honeck & Ille): Seven Gypsy Songs, Opus 55, No. 4 for String Orchestra, Harp and Percussion    *World Premiere arrangement
Fritz Kreisler (arr. Wood): Praeludium and Allegro for Solo Violin and String Orchestra 
Arvo Pärt: Fratres for Solo Violin, String Orchestra and Percussion  *PSO Premiere* 
Antonio Vivaldi: “Winter” from The Four Seasons for Violin and Orchestra, R. 297 
Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Chaconne for Solo Flute, Opus 107, No. 30 
Dmitri Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony (after String Quartet No. 8) in C minor, Opus 110A 
(arr. Barshai) 

Virtuosity and the violin are front and center: the Pittsburgh Symphony welcomes the electric Simone Porter to the stage, as she and the orchestra perform brilliant works by Kreisler, Pärt and Vivaldi. And, it would not be a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra season without a world premiere: with composer Tomas Ille, Music Director Manfred Honeck has created a new arrangement of Antonin Dvořák’s Seven Gypsy Songs. Musical Guide: Marta Krechkovsky, violin. 

Premiere: April 24, 2021; available through April 30, 2021 
7:30 p.m. (EDT) 
Manfred Honeck, conductor 
Victoria Luperi, clarinet 

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Opus 18, No. 4 for String Orchestra 
(arr. Manfred Honeck) 
Anna Clyne: Stride  *PSO Premiere* 
Béla Kovács: Hommage a Manuel de Falla for Solo Clarinet 
Rodion Shchedrin: Carmen Suite (after Georges Bizet) for Strings and Percussion 

Three composers tied together by their constant search for new colors, new musical languages and for musical storytelling: Ludwig van Beethoven, Anna Clyne and Rodion Shchedrin. This program features new visions of stellar works: a new arrangement by Music Director Manfred Honeck of one of Beethoven’s most popular string quartets; the Pittsburgh Symphony premiere of Stride, Clyne’s reimagination of the stride baseline from Beethoven’s “Pathetique,” which just had its world premiere in December 2020; and Shchedrin’s conception of the Carmen Suite, an enchanting recasting of Bizet’s alluring and memorable melodies in fresh instrumental colors. Musical Guide: Lorien Benet Hart, violin. 

Tickets for each classical concert are $15, and are available on the Pittsburgh Symphony’s digital platform, Front Row: The PSO Virtual Experience: psofrontrow.org.  



Virtual Schooltime is a reinvention of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s traditional Schooltime concerts which each year typically welcome more than 20,000 elementary age children to enjoy live concerts at Heinz Hall, the orchestra’s home in downtown Pittsburgh. Virtual Schooltime is comprised of three units of music education for elementary students in grades PreK-6, and two additional units of music education for students in grades 6-12. Units combine performances by PSO musicians, guest artists and supplementary resources for extended learning. Each unit is available at no cost to PreK-12 educators through a closed online platform hosted on the Pittsburgh Symphony website; registration is required

Musical Composition: The Composer’s Process
Available April 12, 2021 – May 11, 2021

How is music created? A multifaceted look at the creative process by which instrumental music is composed, this unit features performances of historic compositions and works by living composers, details about the composition process, composer interviews, and insight from PSO musicians about the experience of preparing a new piece of music for its premiere.  

Chamber Music: Marvelous Mozart

Available through April 13

How is chamber music made? From the French word chambre, meaning room, chamber music was composed for smaller ensembles of musicians that needed to fit into rooms like parlors and palace chambers. Resident Conductor Earl Lee hosts an exploration of this particular musical form, featuring newly recorded performances of two of Mozart’s masterpieces, interviews with PSO musicians, and resources to discover more about the history, structure, and evolution of chamber music.

Musical Storytelling: Bunheads 

Available through April 30   

Ayisha Morgan-Lee, founder and CEO of Pittsburgh’s Hill Dance Academy Theatre, will read Misty Copeland’s new book Bunheads, which tells the story of a young Misty—who went on to become the first African American Female Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre—and her early experiences with ballet. 

Meet the Orchestra

Available through April 30th

How do different instruments make sound? The PSO explores each instrument family of the orchestra through a series of chamber performances, demonstrations, and interviews with individual PSO musicians. The unit includes newly recorded performance footage and curated archival excerpts from Front Row: The PSO Virtual Experience that together illuminate the unique characteristics and sound production of the many instruments that make up a symphony orchestra.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is deeply grateful to BNY Mellon for sponsoring the Pittsburgh Symphony classical digital performances and to PNC for sponsoring the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops performances. 

Pittsburgh Symphony Learning & Community Engagement programs are supported by generous grants from FedEx Ground, Equitrans Midstream Foundation, PPG, EQT, Henry C. Frick Educational Fund of the Buhl Foundation, Howard & Nell E. Miller Foundation, The Jack Buncher Foundation, Allegheny Regional Asset District, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.   

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