The Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra leaves Tuesday for a 12-day trip to the land of pasta and Puccini for a series of four concerts in Milan, San Gimignano, Montecatini and Florence.
"The reason we chose Italy is, first of all, because of the musical and cultural history and significance," said executive director Craig Johnson. "But also, we want variety in our touring, and it seemed like it was a logical place to go."
Before Mr. Johnson's tenure, the orchestra had made only two overseas tours, to Scotland and Switzerland, since its inception in 1946. Under his leadership, the orchestra has visited central Europe, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary, in 2005 and China in 2008.
Students and parents held multiple fundraisers over a three-year period to pay for the trip, although sponsors, including The Heinz Endowments, Dr. Owen Cantor, Equipment & Controls Africa, and the Richard P. Simmons and Buncher Family Foundation, lent their support.
Heading to Italy are 100 students, 28 companions, 15 chaperones and seven staff members. Their Italian adventure will begin in Milan with an outdoor concert in nearby Zavatarello. The 90-minute program, the same for each concert, will open with Leonard Bernstein's overture from "Candide" but will rely mostly on the classical tradition with selections from Dvorak's "New World" symphony and Resphigi's "Pines of Rome," among others.
In between concerts, the students, ranging in age from 12 to 21, will also soak up the history in Venice, Siena, Pisa, Lucca and Rome.