Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Announces Live Music Appeal

In celebration of its 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) will embark on a Live Music Appeal to help sustain live music at PBT performances for the next 50 years. The appeal will raise $6 million by 2022 to ensure that the level of live music that PBT audiences have come to expect at performances each year will continue for the next generation.

For the past nine seasons, a single individual, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has been instrumental in supporting two to three programs every season with the PBT Orchestra. In support of PBT’s Live Music Appeal, this same individual has pledged a $3 million gift to double every donation made to live music over the next three years.

“It’s a way for our audience to preserve the experience [of live music] for generations to come,” Director of Development Christy Rowing said. “And it tells the next generation that, if you have an interest in being a classical musician, we have a venue for you to perform in.”

The Live Music Appeal will be announced to PBT audiences prior to performances of “Giselle” with the PBT Orchestra from Oct. 25-27 at the Benedum Center with a video celebrating PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season and remarks from PBT Music Director and Principal Conductor Charles Barker. 

“Having an orchestra in the pit sets up a sense of excitement, even for people who have been going to the theater their whole lives,” Barker said. “They still get a sense that something magical is about to happen.” 

As of Oct. 21, 2019, PBT has raised $3.7 million toward the Live Music Appeal – just over half of the total goal. While securing a live orchestra for performances of The Nutcracker is a long-term strategic goal of PBT, the Live Music Appeal will focus on sustaining two to three programs each season with the PBT Orchestra, totaling over 500 individual performances over the next 50 years. 


Donations can be made via text, web or mail.
To donate:
Visit: pbt.org/livemusic
Call: 412-454-9133
Text: PBTLIVEMUSIC to 56651

Please note that all gifts are tax deductible.


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.