During its 2014-15 season, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will keep it in the family -- in one case, literally.
The orchestra's upcoming season, announced today, features more than a dozen PSO musicians as soloists; the return of Mason Bates as composer-of-the-year; and a performance by music director Manfred Honeck's brother Rainer Honeck, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic.
Several internationally renowned musicians will come back to Heinz Hall, such as pianist Valentina Lisitsa performing Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" during opening weekend, Sept. 19-21; violinist Christian Tetzlaff on Beethoven's Violin Concerto on June 5-7, 2015; pianist Yefim Bronfman on Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2 during closing weekend, June 12-14, 2015; and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter at the PSO gala on Sept. 13.
Soloists from the PSO's own ranks are concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley, oboist Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida, bassoonist Nancy E. Goeres, violist Randolph E. Kelly, flutist Lorna McGhee, bassists John Moore and Jeffrey Turner, cellists David Premo and Anne Martindale Williams, violinist Jennifer Ross and the PSO horn section.
Many of these guests "play everywhere, with every great orchestra, but we also want to celebrate our own symphony orchestra members," said Mr. Honeck, who will conduct 10 of 20 subscription weekends.
Returning conductors include Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos conducting a Spanish-themed weekend on Oct. 10-12; Yan Pascal Tortelier conducting Nielsen's Flute Concerto (with Ms. McGhee) and Scriabin's Symphony No. 4 ("The Poem of Ecstasy"), among other works, on Oct. 24 and 26; and Michael Francis leading Mr. Bates' "Alternative Energy," Jake Heggie's "The Work at Hand" (with Ms. Williams and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton) and Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, which the conductor will discuss during a "Behind the Notes" presentation on May 16, 2015.
Mr. Bates will do another stint as the orchestra's resident composer, a position he held during the 2012-13 season. The symphony will play four of his works, including three PSO premieres, throughout the season.
"He has the talent to connect with people so deeply, especially young people," said Mr. Honeck.
One popular event was "Mercury Soul," a genre-bending concert-cum-party featuring Mr. Bates as DJ at Static Nightclub in the Strip District.
Perhaps the most familiar face of all, though, is someone who is making his PSO debut: violinist Rainer Honeck, who will perform Britten's Violin Concerto on April 17-19, 2015, conducted by his brother. The concerts also feature Dvorak's "Rusalka" Suite, arranged by Manfred Honeck and composer Tomas Ille, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 ("Pathetique").
While the Honeck brothers have played music together, the music director said he has conducted his brother on only one occasion.
"I always wanted not to mix up too many family things," said Manfred Honeck. "So, let's see, how it works with my brother, how we do this."
Others making their Heinz Hall debuts include mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano on Beethoven's Symphony No. 9; guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas in Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez"; conductors James Gaffigan, Andres Orozco-Estrada and Krzysztof Urbanski; and musical comedy duo Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-Ki Joo.
The pianist-violinist duo will compose a piece for the PSO, which will be premiered at the Thanksgiving weekend concerts, Mr. Honeck said. And on May 8-10, 2015, the PSO will play music to scenes from "Fantasia" and "Fantasia 2000," with a conductor yet to be determined.
The orchestra will also hold BeethovenFest, showcasing all-Beethoven concerts on three separate weekends -- Dec. 5-7, Feb. 20-22, 2015, and June 5-7, 2015. The first of those weekends, featuring Beethoven's Symphonies No. 5 and 7, will be recorded for a Reference Recordings album, Mr. Honeck said. Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 (April 10-12, 2015) and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 will also be recorded.
Following opening weekend, the PSO will perform two concerts in Chapel Hill, N.C., Mr. Honeck said.
Season tickets for six, seven, 14 or 20 concerts range from $114-$1,720 and are available at 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org.