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Melodic elegance expected from orchestra, Chang

Observer Scene | Thursday, December 1, 2005

The last time a group of Pittsburgh-dwellers and the Fighting Irish were in the same space, the athletes treated spectators to a Notre Dame victory on the Pitt gridiron. The latest interaction of these two communities, however, will certainly be of a more demure variety, as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra takes the stage of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts this Thursday night, for what is sure to be an evening of melodic elegance.

The orchestra comes to the DPAC with a reputation as one of the most excellent ensemble orchestras nationwide. With over one hundred years of history to their credit, the group is acknowledged for its reputation of professional and talented musical artistry.

Thursday’s performance will feature a guest conductor, Hans Graf. Graf, a native of Austria, comes to the DPAC and the Pittsburgh orchestra from Houston, where he is the music director. His numerous credits include conducting several high profile American ensembles, including those of Saint Louis and Atlanta, in addition to his participation in a number of music festivals, such as the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York City.

Graf, however, is not the sole guest of the Pittsburgh Orchestra to be coming to the DPAC Thursday night. Renowned violinist Sarah Chang will be joining the orchestra for this performance, and will act as the selected soloist for the evening’s presentation of Sibelius’ “Violin Concerto in D Minor.” Chang herself is a highly praised musician, having performed with the likes of Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma in past concerts.

Having played the violin since the age of four, Chang is now known as something of a virtuoso in the classical music world.

At eight, she was featured in a performance with the New York Philharmonic, and at seventeen, she starred in her own concert at Carnegie Hall. The addition of an artist of Chang’s reputation and prestige will certainly make the orchestra’s performance that much more memorable.

Thursday night’s concert will include three distinct works. The composers in question include Richard Strauss, Rachmaninoff and Sibelius, specifically their “Don Juan,” “Violin Concerto in D minor,” and “Symphony No. 2 in E minor,” respectively.

The PSO is among the most exemplary ensembles nationwide. Due mostly to its excellent collection of musicians, the PSO is regarded as one of the United States’ foremost groups. Joining the ranks of such orchestras at the New York Philharmonic, the PSO is both highly praised and highly accessible to the public.

“You could go to concerts all your life and hear a performance like this only once or twice,” the Wall Street Journal wrote of a recent performance of the PSO at Carnegie Hall.

The musical scope of the PSO is also highly regarded, as the orchestra is comfortable performing pieces of great depth and complexity.

“The symphony played with tremendous range in “The Dream of Gerontius,” from the darkly colored prologue … to ferocious outbursts from brass and percussion,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently raved after a June concert.

It is with this high level of skill and prestige that the PSO comes to the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s communities, and undoubtedly Thursday night’s performance will only enhance that distinguished reputation.