Diversity abounds with new Mt. Lebanon music season

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Music for Mt. Lebanon will open its 68th season in October with five diverse shows that coordinators hope will appeal to a broader audience and a larger geographical area.

Tickets are on sale for the 2013-14 community series.

Three of the programs will be held at Upper St. Clair High School while Mt. Lebanon High School undergoes construction. One program will be performed at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Mt. Lebanon and one at Mt. Lebanon High School.

The season, which runs from October to April, will include:

• Oct. 19 -- "She's Got the Blues," with vocalist Jessica Lee and The Rick Purcell "Little" Big Band, Upper St. Clair High School.

• Nov. 9 -- "Grande Romanza," featuring Broadway love songs with Stefano and Nina Tanchiette, Upper St. Clair High School.

• Dec. 7 -- Golden Dragon Acrobats, featuring the Chinese acrobatic touring company, Mt. Lebanon High School.

• March 8 -- "The Pianist of Willesden Lane," featuring concert pianist Mona Golabek whose grandparents perished in the Holocaust, coupled with a compelling narrative, Southminster Presbyterian Church.

• April 12 -- The Royal Moscow Ballet presents "Sleeping Beauty," Upper St. Clair High School.

All shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

Season subscribers can choose either a four- or five-show package before June 30 at a reduced cost of $20 per show, per ticket. After June 30, the price per ticket increases to $25 for either package.

Individual show tickets can also be purchased after June 30 at $25 per ticket. Events will be open seating.

This year marks the return to a five-day format, with an option to choose a four-show package. The number of shows was cut back to four several years ago when attendance declined.

David Christopher, president of the community music series, said he is excited about next season and some of the things that will be different.

"We've diversified the program substantially," he said.

Music for Mt. Lebanon began in 1946 and is one of the few remaining programs of its kind, he said.

"Community music programs were very popular after World War II. Every small town had one," Mr. Christopher said. "Now very few do. Ours started out with classical programming. In recent years it has leaned toward music of the World War II generation, with music from George Gershwin, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. As this generation ages, the series subscribers have decreased."

Richard Pinkerton, artistic director with Music for Mt. Lebanon and music director for Southminster Presbyterian Church, said the series has "brought some fine musicians to the area over the years."

"We have tried to honor those musical traditions but also branch out and offer experiences that may not be musical but will reach out to younger members of the community and ultimately attract them to the musical programs," Mr. Pinkerton said.

As part of the 2012-13 season, illusionist Jason Bishop was invited to perform. Mr. Pinkerton was excited to see both older and younger generations represented at the program and hopes the same for the Golden Dragon Acrobats performing later this year as part of the 2013-14 series.

Still committed to musical excellence, the series offers "Grande Romanza" with married couple Stefano and Nina Tanchiette, who met some 20 years ago while they were students at Boston University's College of Fine Arts.

The couple have toured throughout the United States, Europe and South Africa with their extensive repertoire in opera, light opera and musical comedy. "Grande Romanza" showcases musical scenes of love using each of these mediums.

Mr. Pinkerton plans to feature a local musician each season and for 2013-14 the series includes Rick Purcell, of Mt. Lebanon, son of local Pittsburgh band leader Jack Purcell, with his "Little" Big Band and vocalist Jessica Lee, who grew up in Franklin, Pa. Ms. Lee's background includes classical training as well as years of experience performing in blues and jazz clubs and studying with accomplished jazz musicians.

And in March of next year, concert pianist Mona Golabek of Los Angeles will perform at Southminster Church, narrating the story of her mother, an Austrian-born concert pianist who escaped the Holocaust as part of the Kindertransport mission to rescue children threatened by the Nazis and bring them to England.

For ticket information, call 412-264-3345. Seating is limited.


Jill Thurston, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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