Pittsburgh Symphony Musicians Gift $10,000 to PBT Orchestra Endowment

PSO Musicians Present $10,000 Check for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra Endowment

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) is thrilled to announce that the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) have contributed $10,000 to the company’s endowment fund for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra.

PBT has set a $4 million goal for the orchestra endowment, which is part of PBT’s $21.2 million capital Campaign for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. The fund will protect the company’s current level of orchestra accompaniment and put PBT in position to expand it for the future by building a source of sustainable, long-term funding for annual performances with live music. Fifty musicians comprise the PBT Orchestra, which performs under the baton of Music Director and Conductor Charles Barker.

“The musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra have great pride in our city and its cultural institutions – the heart and soul of any great city,” said Micah Howard, PSO bassist and Orchestra Committee chairman. “We believe that live music is essential to the success of all ballet performances, and we hope that our donation will encourage other generous individuals in our city to give in order to bring the orchestra back to all Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre performances.”

As it nears the 86 percent mark of its total campaign goal, PBT is working to harness broad community support to invest in the PBT Orchestra. Community members can join the PSO musicians by pledging their support online at pbt.org/support, by calling Lois A. Wholey, PBT director of development, at 412-454-9133 or by mail at 2900 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15201.

“The musicians of the PBT Orchestra are overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and colleagues in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for their donation to the live music endowment. The PSO musicians know how important live music is in our city and in our precious performing arts institutions, and they have demonstrated their commitment in a very tangible way by this gesture of support,” said Cynthia Babin Anderson, a PBT Orchestra oboist who spoke on behalf of her fellow musicians. “The musicians of the PBT Orchestra are proud to be next-door neighbors in the Cultural District to the extraordinary musicians of the PSO, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their gift to the ballet to sustain and grow live music.”

Since 2006, when financials forced the company to scale back live music in order to stay afloat, PBT has committed to performing with the full PBT Orchestra for two out of five main-stage productions and is often able to feature a live musical ensemble for a third. In recent years, gifts from an anonymous donor have helped sustain this commitment and allowed PBT to add additional orchestra performances for occasions like the company’s 45th anniversary season.

This season, PBT is proud to feature the PBT Orchestra for two productions and a total of 12 performances – up from nine performances during the 2016-2017 Season. The PBT Orchestra will perform with PBT for the the Feb. 16-25, run of a redesigned “Swan Lake,” set to the famous Tchaikovsky score, and the company’s May 4-6, debut in Jerome Robbins’ “West Side Story Suite,” with music by Leonard Bernstein, and “In the Night, ” set to Chopin.

With a sizeable endowment, PBT can continue building on these advancements without compromising its fiscal stability.

“This is a powerful pledge of solidarity and leadership from the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and we hope it will inspire others who believe in the dynamism of live orchestral performance to invest in the exceptional cultural experiences that we are so proud to have in Pittsburgh,” said Harris Ferris, PBT executive director. “Many people don’t know that our ticket sales cover less than 50 percent of our production costs. In order to perform at this level, and keep ticket prices affordable and accessible to our patrons, we rely on individuals, corporations and foundations to invest in our art. Endowment gifts are truly a legacy that continue to give year after year, protecting our art now and for future generations.”

For more information about supporting the PBT Orchestra and the Campaign for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, please visit pbt.org/support or contact Lois A. Wholey, PBT director of development, at 412-454-9133 or lwholey@pittsburghballet.org.

PBT Musician Advances to Final Audition Round for American Music Abroad

Although PBT School pianist Ellen Gozion is well-known at PBT for her classical accompaniment, she will travel to New York City this month for a major musical accomplishment of a completely different genre – American folk music.

In just a few weeks, Gozion will join Pittsburgh-based ensemble Chatham Baroque as finalists in the live audition round for the U.S. State Department’s American Music Abroad 2013-2014 Season.

When she’s not in the studio accompanying PBT School ballet classes, Gozion specializes in folk singing and banjo playing, and most recently teamed up with Chatham Baroque as a guest musician for the group’s American Music series.  In a unique cross-over collaboration, the traditionally classical Chatham Baroque chose to feature Appalachian music for the series and for the musicians’ American Music Abroad bid.

More than 300 U.S. ensembles representing a wide array of musical genres applied for the American Music Abroad live auditions. Gozion and Chatham Baroque are among only 40 finalists chosen for the live auditions. At the end of the live audition round, 10 ensembles and two alternate ensembles will be selected for a month-long international tour with the American Music Abroad program, which sends American roots music groups of diverse genres to more than 40 countries to present concerts, performances with local musicians, workshops and other projects to engage diverse audiences.

Despite the stylistic differences between classical and folk music, dance remains the common link between Gozion’s primary musical passions. As a music student at The University of North Carolina Greensboro, Gozion first discovered her affinity for folk through dance.

“I found out about it through dancing when I was in my 20s and that’s how I got into playing for folk dance,” Gozion said. “For me, [folk and classical music] serve different purposes in a way. The folk is very social…music doesn’t stand alone, it always accompanies an event…and classical music tends to be a more inward, personal experience for the audience. It’s powerful in a different way,”

At the American Music Abroad live audition round in New York City, Gozion and Chatham Baroque will perform some of their own musical repertoire and will also be challenged to arrange a new variation combining folk tunes from Turkey, China and Russia. Gozion will also lead a folk dance lesson as an example of a community engagement program to offer abroad.

“I am excited that we were chosen…“I think it would be really exciting to travel,” Gozion said. “We’re trying to preserve this folk tradition in a modern era.”

Listen to Ellen Gozion and Chatham Baroque here.