Pittsburgh Opera and PSO announce 2015-16 seasons

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

In case you missed it: Both Pittsburgh Opera and the Pittsburgh Symphony announced their 2015-16 seasons this week. There's a lot to whet the musical appetite. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Ricky Ian Gordon's "27" and the David Hockney production of "The Rake's Progress" at Pittsburgh Opera and the performers-slash-composers-of-the-year at Heinz Hall. 

For those of you who are print readers, you might not have noticed the full PSO schedule, which was too long to publish. But it's in the online version, and I'll post it here for your perusal.

Sept. 12: "Cinema Serenade" gala, Manfred Honeck, conductor; Izthak Perlman, violin. Music from the golden age of film.

Sept. 18 and 20: Mr. Honeck; Daniil Trifonov, piano. Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 ("Italian"), Trifonov's Piano Concerto in E-flat minor, Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien."

Sept. 25-27: Mr. Honeck; Augustin Hadelich, violin. Bach's "Chaconne," BWV 1004; Beethoven's Symphony No. 8; Brahms' Violin Concerto.

Oct. 9 and 11: Gustavo Gimeno, conductor; Pablo Villegas, guitar. Jonny Greenwood's "There Will Be Blood"; Rodrigo's "Fantasia para un gentilhombre"; Stravinsky's "Jeu de cartes"; Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe" Suite No. 2.

Oct. 16-18: Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor; Gretchen Van Hoesen, harp. Edu Lobo's "Suite Popular Brasileira," Ginastera's Harp Concerto, Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring."

Oct. 30 and Nov. 1: Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Conrad Tao, piano. Tao's "Pangu"; Gershwin's Piano Concerto; Strauss' "Symphonia Domestica."

Nov. 13 and 15: Jiri Belohlavek, conductor. Smetana's "Ma Vlast."

Nov. 27 and 29: Mr. Honeck; Michael Rusinek, clarinet. Rossini's Introduction, Theme and Variations for Clarinet and Orchestra; Weber's Clarinet Concerto No. 1; Strauss family waltzes and polkas.

Dec. 4 and 6: Mr. Honeck; Yulianna Avdeeva, piano; Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh; soloists TBD. Mozart's Mass in C major ("Coronation); Schubert's Symphony No. 7 ("Unfinished"); Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor").

Dec. 5: Mr. Honeck; Mendelssohn Choir; guest soloists TBD. Handel's "Messiah."

Jan. 15-17, 2016: Christoph Konig, conductor; Tim Fain, violin. Respighi's Overture to "Belfagor," Glass' Violin Concerto No. 2 ("The American Four Seasons"), Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral").

Jan. 29 and 31, 2016: Gianandrea Noseda, conductor; Denis Kozhukhin, piano. Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3, Rossini's "William Tell" Overture, Beethoven's Symphony No. 2.

Feb. 12 and 14, 2016: Juraj Valcuha, conductor; Joshua Roman, cello. Wagner's "Prelude und Liebestod" from "Tristan und Isolde"; Dvorak's Cello Concerto; Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" Overture-Fantasy; Bizet: Excerpts from "Carmen" Suites No. 1 and 2.

Feb. 19 and 21, 2016: Marcelo Lehninger, conductor; Stewart Copeland, percussion. Copeland's Trapset and Percussion Concerto No. 1 ("The Tyrant's Crush"), Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1.

March 4 and 6, 2016: Mr. Honeck, Sunhae Im, soprano, other vocalists TBD, Sam Helfrich, stage director, Mendelssohn Choir. Bach's "St. John Passion."

March 11 and 13, 2016: Osmo Vanska, conductor, James Ehnes, violin. Sibelius' "Finlandia," Sibelius' Violin Concerto, Sibelius' Symphony No. 2.

April 1-3, 2016: Mr. Honeck, Emanuel Ax, piano, the All University Choir. Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2, choral works TBA.

April 15 and 17, 2016: Mr. Honeck, Cameron Carpenter. Carpenter's Organ Concerto, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10.

May 6-8: Mr. Honeck, Mr. Trifonov. Haydn's Symphony No. 93 (Friday and Sunday only), Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, Tchaikovsky's Symphonies Nos. 6 ("Pathetique," Saturday only) and 4.

May 13-15: Mr. Honeck, Martin Grubinger, percussion. Strauss' "Elektra" Symphonic Rhapsody (Mr. Honeck and Tomas Ille, arr.), Hartl's Percussion Concerto, Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier" Suite.

June 10 and 12: Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor. Prokofiev's Suite from "Lieutenant Kije," Copland's "El Salon Mexico," "The Earth — An HD Odyssey," Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra," Adams' "Short Ride in a Fast Machine."

June 17-19: Mr. Honeck, Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin. Mozart's Rondo in C Major for Violin and Orchestra, Klezmer Violin Concerto (conceived by Mr. Bendix-Balgley), Mahler's Symphony No. 5.


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Eastern Catholics seek to keep the faith alive

Written by Peter Smith on .


One of the most striking things about my interviews with married clergy in the Eastern Catholic churches is that at least two of them didn't grow up Eastern Catholic.

One, the Rev. Jason Charron, a Ukrainian Catholic priest in Carnegie, didn't have any ethnic ties to Ukrainians. He grew up in the predominate Roman Catholic rite in Canada.

Similarly, Joseph Wargacki, a deacon studying for the priesthood at the SS. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, has no ties to the Ruthenian ethnic roots of the church.

But both found decisive moments in their religious lives when exposed to the rich liturgical tradition of those rites -- part of the same Byzantine liturgical tradition and spirituality shared by Orthodox Christians, with its roots in the ancient Greek capital of the eastern Roman Empire.* The liturgy, complete with the sensory overload of robust choral anthems, clouds of incense and an eyeful of iconography, is anchored around dramatic re-enactments of the biblical accounts of the heavenly worship of God and the earthly life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

"We kept coming back," Deacon Wargacki recalled of his and his wife's first encounters with the liturgy years ago. It was the "whole ball of wax, the beauty of the liturgy, the preaching."

What they and others are hoping for is a revival of their traditions following the pope's decree last year enabling the tradition of married clergy to be the norm in the Eastern Catholic diaspora -- that is, outside the homelands of such faiths areas stretching from Eastern Europe to parts of Asia. That's after a century of the practiced being repressed.

News of the restoration of the married priesthood also cheers Donald Warhola of Cranberry Township

. Even as the American melting pot poses challenges for Eastern Catholics, he and his family are keeping the tradition alive. 

He’s an active layperson at his Byzantine parish in Gibsonia and is raising his son (shown receiving communion above) in the Byzantine tradition.

“It’s sad to go into our churches and see fewer and fewer young people,” he said. Eastern Catholic churches, he said, can learn from non-denominational churches’ hospitality and social outreach.

But along with such innovations, what the Eastern Catholics can offer is tradition. 

“I like that it hasn’t modernized, knowing this liturgy is the same as it was a thousand years ago,” said Mr. Warhola, who works at the Andy Warhol Museum, dedicated to the art of his late uncle, himself a committed Byzantine Catholic.

Allowing married priests, Mr. Warhola said, will help the “Byzantine Catholic faith do whatever is necessary to remain viable.”

For a longer profile on the extended Warhola family's faith traditions, see the story by my colleague Mark Roth here.

* Not all Eastern Catholics are in the Byzantine tradition, but the Byzantine (historically Ruthenian), Ukrainian, Romanian, Melkite and perhaps others are. Still other Eastern Catholics have their parallels in Arabic, Armenian, Indian and other rites. Then there's the more recent Anglican rite, a Western tradition, which is another story. There are lots of other stories here.

Photo by Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette




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Empty Netter Assists - Ehrhoff and the trade deadline - 02-11-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Jim Rutherford has made an emphasis on seeking forwards who can play multiple positions such as Nick Spaling.

-How much does Christian Ehrhoff's (above) injury complicate things for the Penguins as the trade deadline approaches?

-The Penguins placed forward Mark Arcobello on waivers.

-Former Penguins forwards Terry Ruskowski and German Titov are among 29 former NHL players who have joined a lawsuit accusing the NHL of not doing enough to prevent and treat head injuries.

-Happy 31st birthday to former Penguins forward Maxime Talbot (right). An eighth-round pick in 2003, Talbot spent parts of six seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2005-06, Talbot appeared in 48 games and scored eight points. He broke through as a full-time NHLer in 2006-07 by playing in 75 games and netting 24 points. During the 2007 postseason he saw action in five games and recorded one assist. In 2007-08, Talbot played in 63 games and set a career-high with 26 points. During that spring's postseason, he appeared in 17 games and scored nine points while helping the franchise advance to its third Stanley Cup final. He followed that up in 2008-09 by appearing in 75 games and scoring 22 points. During the 2009 playoffs, "Superstar" lived up to his nickname by playing in 24 games and scoring 13 points, including both of the team's goals in a Stanley Cup-clinching 2-1 win in Game 7 of the Cup final in Detroit (below). Injuries limited Talbot to 45 games and seven assists in 2009-10. In that season's playoffs, Talbot played in 13 games and scored six points. In 2010-11, Talbot appeared in all 82 games and scored 21 points. He played in seven postseason games during the spring of 2011 and contributed four points. In the summer of 2011, he joined the Flyers as a free agent. In 388 career regular season games with the Penguins, Talbot scored 108 points, 79th-most in franchise history. In 66 postseason games, he had 33 points. He is currently a member of the Avalanche.


-Happy 60th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Paul Harrison. Acquired by the Penguins in the 1981 offseason in a trade for future considerations with the Maple Leafs, Harrison appeared in 13 games that season for the team going 3-7-0 with a 5.49 goals against average. He would be claimed off waivers by the Sabres in February of that season.

-Happy 61st birthday to former Penguins all-star goaltender Michel Dion (right). A free agent signing in the 1981 offseason, Dion spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. He paid immediate dividends for the Penguins in 1981-82 by playing in 62 games, going 25-24-12 with a 3.79 goals against average. In addition to that, he became first Penguins goaltender to be selected to an all-star game that season. In the 1983 postseason, Dion saw action in all five of the team's postseason games and went 2-3 with 4.34 goals against average. He followed that up in 1982-83 by playing in 49 games, going 12-30-4 with a 4.26 goals against average. In 1983-84, Dion was limited to 30 games and had a 2-19-4 record with a 5.33 goals against average. His final NHL season was 1984-85. He only played in 10 games, went 3-6-0 and had a goals against average of 4.67. He retired following the season. In 151 regular season games with the Penguins, Dion had a record of 42-79-20 and a 4.28 goals against average. Along with Marc-Andre Fleury, Dion is one of two goaltenders in franchise history to be selected for an all-star game.

-Happy 78th birthday to former Penguins forward Eddie Shack (right). An all-star with the Maple Leafs, Shack came to the Penguins late in 1971-72 season in a deal which sent Rene Robert to the Sabres, Shack spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. "The Entertainer" finished 1971-72 by playing in 18 games for the Penguins and scoring 14 points. In that spring's postseason, Shack played in four games and recorded one assist. His only full seasons in Pittsburgh was 1972-73. Skating on the eloquently-named Shack-Schock-Schinkel line (with Ron Schock and Ken Schinkel) he played in 74 games and scored 45 points In the 1973 offseason, Shack was trade to the Maple Leafs in exchange for cash. In 92 regular season games for the Penguins, he scored 59 points.

-Happy 51sth birthday to former Penguins defenseman Ville Siren. Acquired early in the 1984-85 season in a deal which sent Pat Boutette to the Whalers, Siren spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1985-86, Siren played in 60 games and scored 12 points. He followed that up in 1986-87 by setting a career high in games (69) and points (22). In 1987-88, Siren saw action in 58 games and scored 21 points. After 12 games and one goal in 1988-89, Siren was traded to the Minnesota North Stars along with Steve Gotaas in exchange for Gord Dineen and Scott Bjugstad. In 199 games with the Penguins, Siren scored 56 points. He is currently a scout with the Blue Jackets.

-Happy 42nd birthday to former Penguins defenseman Jamie Pushor. Acquired at the 2002 trade deadline in a deal which sent a draft pick to the Blue Jackets, Pushor spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He finished 2001-02 by playing in 15 games and recorded two assists. His only full season in Pittsburgh was 2002-03. He saw action in 76 games and scored four points. He left the Penguins in the 2003 offseason when he re-joined the Blue Jackets as a free agent. In 91 games with the Penguins, he scored six points. He is currently a professional scout for the Lightning.

-Happy 67th birthday to former Penguins forward Lew Morrison (right). Acquired midway through the 1974-75 season in a deal which sent Ron Lalonde to the Capitals, Morrison spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. He finished 1974-75 by playing in 52 games for the Penguins and scoring 12 points. In nine postseason games that spring, he failed to record a point. During 1975-76, Morrison matched a career-high with 78 games and scored nine points. He appeared in three postseason games that season and failed to net a point. In 1976-77, he saw action in 76 games and recorded three points. In one postseason game that spring, he did not record a point. Morrison's final NHL season was 1977-78. He was limited to eight games and two points. Midway through the season, he was loaned to Binghamton of the AHL. In 214 regular season games with the Penguins, he scored 26 points. In 13 postseason games, he failed to score a point.

-After the Jump: An overtime goal for James Neal.

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Brewed On Grant: Dick LeBeau

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Dick LeBeau is no longer the offensive coordinator for the Steelers, who released him in January. But he is not retiring. He's is moving to Tennessee to coach for the Titans. Pittsburgh City Council proclaimed February as "Dick LeBeau Month." 

021115 Dick LeBeau

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Marvel and Sony agreement unites Spider-Man and Avengers' cinematic universe at last

Written by Sharon Eberson on .


Sony Pictures and Marvel announced today that "the new Spider-Man" will appear in a Marvel film from Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU), and Sony will thereafter release the next installment of its Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Marvel's Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal and the team at Marvel.

Spider-Man is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, taking in more than $4 billion worldwide.

"Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the webslinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films," according to the announcement at


Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the Marvel into future Spidey films, the statement said.

It continued, "The new relationship follows a decade of speculation among fans about whether Spider-Man – who has always been an integral and important part of the larger Marvel Universe in the comic books – could become part of the Marvel Universe on the big screen. Spider-Man has more than 50 years of history in Marvel's world, and with this deal, fans will be able to experience Spider-Man taking his rightful place among other Super Heroes in the MCU."

The report did not confirm rampant speculation that Andrew Garfield would not be back as Spider-Man after two films as Peter Parker. The deal follows on the heels of a petition after "Sony recently declined the opportunity to include Spider-Man in the upcoming Civil War movie, in which he plays a major role," according to

Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said, "This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans."


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