Violinist Itzhak Perlman joins the opening of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s 2015-2016 season

Itzhak Perlman. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco. 

PITTSBURGH – On Saturday, September 12 at 7 p.m., be swept away to the Golden Age of the Silver Screen during “Cinema Serenade,” the gala opening of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s 2015-2016 season at Heinz Hall, featuring legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman and Music Director Manfred Honeck.

Perlman and the orchestra will perform selections from “Cinema Serenade,” a 1997 recording on which Perlman, the Pittsburgh Symphony and conductor John Williams collaborate. Selections will include “As Time Goes By” from “Casablanca,” the love theme from “Cinema Paradiso,” the tango from “Scent of a Woman” and more! The audience will also enjoy music from Offenbach, Liszt, Brahms and others during the concert. There will be no intermission.

The concert is preceded by a cocktail party at Heinz Hall, followed by a Gala dinner and the annual Soirée at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh.

The “Cinema Serenade” Gala is chaired by Ann and Christopher Donahue — along with Honorary Chairs Dick and Ginny Simmons and Brenda and Steve Schlotterbeck. The gala evening includes a pre-concert cocktail hour at Heinz Hall, valet parking, premium-level seating for the concert, a silent auction, a post-concert formal dinner and a dessert reception with Maestro Honeck at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh. Gala packages start at $750.

The “Cinema Serenade” Soirée includes valet parking, a pre-concert cocktail hour at Heinz Hall, concert tickets and a post-concert celebration with symphony musicians at the Wyndham Grandincluding hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, a silent auction and live music. The “Cinema Serenade” Soirée is chaired by Sarah and Kevin Eddy and Bonnie and Jay R. Mangold, along with honorary chairs Mike & Angela DeVanney, Michael J. Herald, Steve Hackman and Nicholas Varischetti. The Soirée Silent Auction Chairs are Christina and Cabot Earle and the Musician Chairs are Becky and Ed Stephan. Soirée packages start at $225.

Silent auction items for “Cinema Serenade” events include premium tickets to Pittsburgh sporting events, Marco Valente earrings from Henne Jewelers, a chef table at the Wyndham Grand, a week-long stay at an eight-bedroom home on Lake Chautauqua and many more fabulous items.

Gala packages and Soirée tickets can be purchased by contacting Kierstin Wilson, events coordinator, at 412-392-4830 and All proceeds from the Gala concert and associated parties support the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Education and Community Engagement programs.

Tickets, ranging in price from $35 to $150 for the gala concert only, are on sale now and can be purchased through the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or Ticket prices are subject to change.

Undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Itzhak Perlman enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, he is treasured by audiences throughout the world who respond not only to his remarkable artistry, but also to his irrepressible joy for making music.

Having performed with every major orchestra and at venerable concert halls around the globe, Perlman was granted a Kennedy Center Honor in 2003 by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in celebration of his distinguished achievements and contributions to the cultural and educational life of the United States. He has performed multiple times at the White House, most recently in 2012 at the invitation of President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama, for Israeli President and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree Shimon Peres; and at a State Dinner in 2007, hosted by President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush, for Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. In 2009, Perlman was honored to take part in the inauguration of President Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams alongside cellist Yo-Yo Ma, clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Gabriela Montero, for an audience of nearly 40 million television viewers in the United States and millions more throughout the world.

Born in Israel in 1945, Perlman completed his initial training at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. He came to New York and soon was propelled to national recognition with an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1958. Following his studies at the Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay, he won the prestigious Leventritt Competition in 1964, which led to a burgeoning worldwide career. Since then, Perlman has established himself as a cultural icon and household name in classical music.

Perlman has further delighted audiences through his frequent appearances on the conductor’s podium. He has performed as conductor with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, National Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Montreal and Toronto, as well as at the Ravinia and Tanglewood festivals. He was music advisor of the St. Louis Symphony from 2002 to 2004 where he made regular conducting appearances, and he was principal guest conductor of the Detroit Symphony from 2001 to 2005. Internationally, Perlman has conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic.

Further to his engagements as violinist and conductor, Perlman is increasingly making more speaking appearances. Recent and upcoming engagements including the Salk Institute in San Diego on the centennial anniversary of Dr. Salk’s birth, Orlando at Rollins College, Greensboro at Guilford College, Palm Beach at the Society of the Four Arts and Chicago with the Jewish United Fund.

A major presence in the performing arts on television, Perlman has been honored with four Emmy Awards, most recently for the PBS documentary “Fiddling for the Future,” a film about Perlman’s work as a teacher and conductor for the Perlman Music Program. Perlman has entertained and enlightened millions of TV viewers of all ages on popular shows as diverse as “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Sesame Street,” “The Frugal Gourmet,” “The Tonight Show” and various Grammy Awards telecasts. His PBS appearances have included “A Musical Toast” and “Mozart by the Masters,” as well as numerous “Live From Lincoln Center” broadcasts. During the 78th Annual Academy Awards in 2006, he performed a live medley from the five film scores nominated in the category of Best Original Score for a worldwide audience in the hundreds of millions. One of Perlman’s proudest achievements is his collaboration with film composer John Williams in Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film “Schindler’s List,” in which he performed the violin solos. He can also be heard as the violin soloist on the soundtrack of Zhang Yimou’s film “Hero” (music by Tan Dun) and Rob Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” (music by John Williams).

In 2008, Perlman was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in the recording arts. His recordings regularly appear on the best-seller charts and have garnered 16 Grammy Awards. Perlman’s most recent releases include “Eternal Echoes: Songs & Dances for the Soul” (Sony), featuring a collaboration with acclaimed cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot in liturgical and traditional Jewish arrangements for chamber orchestra and klezmer musicians; a recording of Mendelssohn Piano Trios (Sony) with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax; and a recording for Deutsche Grammophon with Perlman conducting the Israel Philharmonic. Other recordings reveal Perlman’s devotion to education, including “Concertos from My Childhood” with the Juilliard Orchestra under Lawrence Foster (EMI) and “Marita and Her Heart’s Desire,” composed and conducted by Bruce Adolphe (Telarc). In 2004, EMI released The Perlman Edition, a limited-edition 15-CD box set featuring many of his finest EMI recordings as well as newly compiled material, and RCA Red Seal released a CD titled Perlman rediscovered, which includes material recorded in 1965 by a young Perlman.

Perlman has a long association with the Israel Philharmonic and has participated in many groundbreaking tours with this orchestra from his homeland. In 1987, he joined the IPO for history-making concerts in Warsaw and Budapest, representing the first performances by this orchestra and soloist in Eastern bloc countries. He again made history as he joined the orchestra for its first visit to the Soviet Union in 1990, and was cheered by audiences in Moscow and Leningrad who thronged to hear his recital and orchestral performances. This visit was captured on a PBS documentary entitled Perlman in Russia, which won an Emmy. In 1994, Perlman joined the Israel Philharmonic for their first visits to China and India.

Over the past decade, Perlman has become more actively involved in music education, using this opportunity to encourage gifted young string players. Alongside his wife, Toby, his close involvement in the Perlman Music Program has been a particularly rewarding experience, and he has taught full-time at the program each summer since its founding in 1993. Perlman currently holds the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair at the Juilliard School.

Numerous publications and institutions have paid tribute to Perlman for the unique place he occupies in the artistic and humanitarian fabric of our times. Harvard, Yale, Brandeis, Roosevelt, Yeshiva and Hebrew universities are among the institutions that have awarded him honorary degrees. He was awarded an honorary doctorate and a centennial medal on the occasion of Juilliard’s 100th commencement ceremony in May 2005. President Reagan honored Perlman with a Medal of Liberty in 1986, and in December 2000, President Clinton awarded Mr. Perlman the National Medal of Arts. His presence on stage, on camera and in personal appearances of all kinds speaks eloquently on behalf of the disabled, and his devotion to their cause is an integral part of Perlman’s life.

Manfred Honeck has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. After two extensions, his contract now runs until the end of the 2019-2020 season. To great acclaim, Honeck and his orchestra perform regularly for European audiences. Since 2010, annual tour performances have led them to numerous European music capitals and major music festivals, including Rheingau Musik Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Musikfest Berlin, Grafenegg Festival, Lucerne Festival and the BBC Proms. Several recordings, amongst them Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, which won a 2012 International Classical Music Award, are available on Japanese label Exton. Honeck’s successful work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is now captured by Reference Recordings. The first SACD — of Strauss tone poems — was released in fall 2013 and received rave reviews. The second recording, of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 and the Symphonic Suite from Janaček’s opera Jenüfa, conceptualized by Honeck himself, followed in summer 2014 and received a Grammy Award nomination. Several additional recordings are completed, and Bruckner No. 4 was released in February 2015 to high critical praise. Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early stations of his career include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Oslo, where he assumed the post of music director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and was engaged as principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for several years. From 2000 to 2006, he was music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he has resumed for another three years at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. As a guest conductor, Honeck has worked with leading international orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the United States include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also is a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. In February 2013, he had his successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the direct result of which was a CD recording together with Anne-Sophie Mutter (works of Dvorak). The current season sees returns to Bamberg, Stuttgart, Rome and New York as well as to the Vienna Symphony (a CD of works by the Strauss family was released in summer 2013) and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He also will conduct Tonhalleorchester Zürich and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others. Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and, most recently, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He has been artistic director of the “International Concerts Wolfegg” in Germany for more than 15 years.


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