Make Music Pittsburgh -- call for artists/venues

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

The first-ever Make Music Pittsburgh is coming, and the organizers are looking for venues and artists to be part of a worldwide event showcasing a variety of music and bringing live performance to city neighborhoods. For those interested in being a performer or host, here is additional information from the organizer:

On June 21, 2015 Pittsburgh will launch its first annual Make Music Pittsburgh in all of the inner city neighborhoods. Make Music Pittsburgh is a festival designed to show off our local musical talent and inspire others to play music as well. Originally started in France in 1982, Pittsburgh will become one of over 700 cities globally to play music on June 21, 2015 as part of a global Make Music Day celebration of music which always takes place on the summer solstice. Whether it's hip hop in Lawrenceville, gospel in Highland Park, blue grass in Squirrel Hill, classical in the Hill District, or kids playing the harmonica in Bloomfield, Make Music Pittsburgh is about what we as a city decide to make it. Every musician has the power to choose where they are located and every location can match with their preferred style of music – just keep it outdoors so everyone can enjoy!

Open Call For Venues:

Venues are needed to sign up to get a musician to play out front of their locations. Venues include businesses, empty lots, and parks. This year Make Music Pittsburgh will focus on neighborhood business districts to help promote business, however venues outside of business districts are able to sign up.

Venues can sign up at and specify what style music they would like to have out front of their business. Once they sign up to the matching site, we will be able to pair them with an artist.

Open Call For Artists:

Artists of all types are welcome to play regardless of age, type of music, or level of ability. Street artists/buskers are not required to receive a permit for playing on the sidewalk in the city of Pittsburgh – as long as they do not block the sidewalk or street, and as long as no one complains about noise.

Therefore artists are welcome to play outside anywhere. Make Music Pittsburgh has provided a matching site as well if artists would like to schedule time in front of specific venues. Benefits of schedule through the matching program also include a concert listing on the website and app.

Videos of Make Music Day in other cities:

About Make Music New York:

Mass concert story on NPR:

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Children's Festival Chorus Becomes Pittsburgh Youth Chorus

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Children's Festival Chorus has changed its name to Pittsburgh Youth Chorus to more accurately reflect its mission and location. The organization recently appointed Shawn Funk as artistic director.

Rebranding can be an opportunity to reflect what an organization already does (as in this case) or foreshadow new things to come. That was the case with the artist formerly known as the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, which changed its name to Chamber Music Pittsburgh last year

More from the chorus:

Children's Festival Chorus is excited to announce that will change its name to Pittsburgh Youth Chorus. The name change was initiated, in part, to more accurately reflect the region the chorus serves as well as the wide age-range of talented young singers in the chorus.

The Children's Festival Chorus was founded in 1983 when the Pittsburgh Symphony needed a children's choir to participate in a festival performance of Mahler's Symphony #3. That first group of children had such a wonderful first experience that they wanted to keep on singing together as a chorus. The name Children's Festival Chorus continued to be used even though the ensemble never again participated in another festival.

According to Executive Director, Edwina French, "As we look towards the future, this is the perfect time for our organization to embrace a new name and a new brand. We've recently named a new artistic director, moved our administrative offices and we are in the process of revising our website. We are also excited to launch a new outreach program in the north and south hills of Pittsburgh called Neighborhood Training Choirs. We are a progressive and growing organization that does so much more than our current name implies."

French further explained that by adopting "Pittsburgh" as part of the organization's name they stake their claim as the premiere children and youth chorus in Pittsburgh. Adopting "youth" as part of the name acknowledges that its singers span many ages all the way up to young teens. Keeping "chorus" in the name acknowledges that they sing a range of musical genres both sacred and secular. By taking "festival" out of the name, it will eliminate confusion that the organization is somehow associated with a festival.

As Pittsburgh Youth Chorus, the organization will continue its mission to enrich children's lives through professional level choral education and performance and with new artistic director Shawn Funk in place, the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus will continue its vision to become nationally recognized as a model for educating children in choral performance, sought out by families, educators, and community as a resource for developing confidence and learning through the arts.

For more information about the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus please call 412-281-4790 or visit us online at



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Fireworks at the Symphony

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .


The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Saturday night performance of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony a few weeks back had fireworks, literally.

The solemn final movement of the work, which is often associated with the composer’s death, was interrupted by a fireworks display after the Pirates game (April 18). This was especially unfortunate because the symphony was live-recording the weekend’s concerts for a commercial release. (As is typical, a “patch session” followed the weekend’s concerts, according to a symphony spokeswoman.) Ruth Ann Dailey, who writes a Post-Gazette column and is married to PSO principal percussionist Andy Reamer, was at the concert and reported on the experience of listening to the “Pathetique”-cum-“1812 Overture”: 

What do you think? How can Downtown’s various noisemakers coordinate their activities? 


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A marathon of operatic proportions

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .


Lisette Oropesa is in town to sing the title role in Pittsburgh Opera’s production of “Daughter of the Regiment” and, during her time in Pittsburgh, has already tackled much more than Donizetti’s high notes.

On Sunday, Ms. Oropesa, 31, of New York, ran the Pittsburgh Marathon. The soprano and avid runner placed 899 out of 1,699 female participants with a time of 4:45:41. Pretty impressive for someone who was singing at the Benedum until about 10:30 p.m. the night before! Toi, toi, toi to the marathoner:


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Violins of Hope coming to Cleveland

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

It might be worth a visit to our neighbors in Ohio this fall to check out a project to bring the Violins of Hope to Northeast Ohio. The 45-plus instruments were played by Jews imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps and have been restored by an Israeli violin-maker. The project includes a collaboration between various institutions, including the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cleveland Orchestra and Facing History and Ourselves. More details about concerts and other events will be announced at a later date; until then, here is the press release:


CLEVELAND – More than a half dozen organizations across the community have come together to bring the historic Violins of Hope to Northeast Ohio this fall. Played before and during the Holocaust, the instruments have been painstakingly restored and serve as testaments to the resilience of the human  spirit and the power of music to lift hearts in even the most horrific of circumstances.

Among the organizations inspired to partner on a project combining performances, educational programs and a major exhibition are: The Cleveland Orchestra, Case Western Reserve, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Facing History and Ourselves, ideastream, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and  the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

“The opportunity to bring these extraordinary instruments to greater Cleveland immediately united organizations and individuals across the region,” said Richard Bogomolny, Musical Arts Association Chairman of the Board and one of the leaders of the Violins of Hope Cleveland effort. “A profound personal story lives within each violin, and together they possess the potential to leave an indelible impact on every person who sees and hears them.”

Details about all of these programs and events, including ticket information, will be available this summer. More details about the project and associated activities can be found at Amnon Weinstein, a second-generation violin-maker based in Tel Aviv, Israel, has collected and repaired  more than 45 Holocaust-era violins from around the world, some with the Star of David on the back and others with names and dates inscribed within the instrument. The violins have been played in concerts around the world, most recently by the Berlin Philharmonic in late January of this year.

The Cleveland visit will mark the violins’ second trip to the U.S. The violins first came to this country in the spring of 2012, when the University of North Carolina Charlotte hosted a two-week visit. UNC Charlotte musicology professor James A. Grymes published Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust – Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour last year and is curating an exhibition of the violins at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage that runs from Oct. 1 through Jan. 3, 2016.

Among the highlights of Violins of Hope Cleveland will be a September concert featuring The Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst, which will dedicate newly renovated Silver Hall, part of Case Western Reserve’s Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple – Tifereth Israel.

“These violins carry extraordinary meaning across generations,” said Milton Maltz, one of those who catalyzed the effort to bring the instruments here. “To have members of one of the world’s finest orchestras play them in the newly renovated Silver Hall, and also have them available to view at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, represents a remarkable opportunity for education of people’s hearts and minds.”

Members of the Cleveland Orchestra will play the restored violins, while the Israeli violin virtuoso Shlomo Mintz also will perform with one of the instruments. The hall is named for The Temple’s longtime leader, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, who also was among the leaders in the effort to establish the nation of Israel after World War II.

“We can think of no more fitting way to mark the opening of Silver Hall than this extraordinary concert,” Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder said. “We also look forward to hosting extensive public programs featuring our faculty and collaborating with the rest of the organizations involved.” ideastream, the region’s nonprofit public media organization that includes WVIZ/PBS, 90.3 WCPN, and WCLV 104.9 Classical, will record September’s Violins of Hope Cleveland Concert live for broadcast by WVIZ/PBS and WCLV Classical 104.9 radio. ideastream also will develop a half-hour documentary highlighting Northeast Ohio’s experiences with the project as well as individual stories involving the instruments.

“This is a once-in-a lifetime event for the Greater Cleveland community, and it’s essential to record and document the series of Violins of Hope events and exhibitions,” said Kit Jensen, ideastream chief operating officer. ”The live broadcasts and recordings will amplify the amount of people who can participate in this uniquely historic project, both today and in the future.”

Case Western Reserve faculty already have begun planning lectures and programs that will provide students and the broader Cleveland community opportunities to learn more about the complex role of music in concentration camps and the larger religious, cultural and historical contexts involved. The university’s Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program will play a pivotal role in outreach across the region, and also will join with the Department of Judaic Studies to bring internationally renowned Jewish scholars to speak in Cleveland.

Local students also will have ample opportunity to participate in public programming, and to consider the violins within their classrooms. The Cleveland regional office of Facing History and Ourselves has scheduled teacher workshops and is developing lessons and other materials for Northeast Ohio educators to use. Facing History is an international non-profit education organization dedicated to using lessons from history to encourage students to consider how their own choices can make a positive impact on society. 

“These violins are a dramatic memorial to the lives lost in the Holocaust,” said Mark Swaim-Fox, Director of the Cleveland office of Facing History. “Learning about their story is an emotional lens that allows students to experience the many ways that Jews in Europe used music to survive and to resist the Nazis.”

The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) Orchestra, meanwhile, will present Music of the Violins of Hope, a free concert for the community at Severance Hall on October 14 in which CIM students play the restored violins from the Holocaust. In addition, CIM will present several faculty and student concerts featuring chamber music of the time, including music written by composers held in concentration camps. CIM's Distance Learning program will support the project's education efforts with offerings that prepare students and area residents for their visit to the exhibition and concerts.

“The Violins of Hope will serve as a reminder to us all of the timeless power of music over adversity,” said Joel Smirnoff, President and CEO of CIM. “The Cleveland Institute of Music is proud to partner in bringing these historic instruments to Cleveland and in bringing their sound back to life for our community.”

The breadth of activities planned for Violins of Hope Cleveland touches multiple elements of the mission of the 112-year-old Jewish Federation of Cleveland – perhaps most significantly in the organization’s commitment “to promote the well-being of our community.”

“The Jewish Federation of Cleveland is thrilled and proud to be a partner in bringing the Violins of Hope to Cleveland. Through this program, our entire community will have the opportunity to learn about the enduring lessons of the Holocaust–not only the tragedy brought about by baseless hatred but also the resilience of the Jewish people,” said Hedy Milgrom, Chief Development Officer at the Federation. “One manifestation of that resilience is embodied in the violins owned and played by thousands of Jews, most of whom perished, but some of whom survived. These violins were played throughout the years of the Holocaust–because where there was music, there was hope. And through these violins, the Jews who perished are immortalized and serve as an inspiration for us today.”

To learn more about programming and events, please visit the Violins of Hope Cleveland website,

Violins of Hope Cleveland is a community-wide collaboration that aims to inform, educate and inspire people throughout the Midwest. Played by Jewish prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, the instruments have been collected and restored by Israeli violin maker Amnon Weinstein for more than two decades. The historic violins have been played in concerts from Jerusalem to Berlin and Charlotte, NC, and provide a rare opportunity to explore unique stories behind each instrument and the individuals who owned them. Throughout the fall of 2015, a diverse range of nonprofit organizations will sponsor performances, lectures, an exhibition and other public programming. The partners are: The Cleveland Orchestra, Case Western Reserve, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Facing History and Ourselves, ideastream, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. For more information, please visit


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