In an effort to celebrate the artistic and cultural vibrancy of the Hill District, the Pittsburgh Symphony, along with the Hill House Association, Macedonia Family Community Enrichment Center (FACE), Act3 Consulting Partners, LLC and the Hill Community Development Corporation will be hosting “Sounds of Summer on Centre.”
“We’ve had this partnership for about eight years and we just reinvigorated the partnership this year,” explained Suzanne Perrino, senior vice-president of learning and community engagement for the Pittsburgh Symphony. “We took a little hiatus from performing concerts, but we have started again. In January of this year we had the big Lift Every Voice concert and that was the relaunching of our partnership with the Hill District. This is the first time since 2015 that we’ve had a community concert at the Kaufmann Center but our partnership has lasted longer than that.”
The concert, which will take place on July 31 at 7 p.m. at the Kaufmann Center, 1825 Centre Ave., will feature Hill District native and Imani Winds member Monica Ellis as soloist in Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto and soprano Anqwenique will sing Giordano’s “Caro Mio Ben” and Daniel Roumaine’s “On the Edge of Night,” which features lyrics by Pittsburgh poet Yona Harvey. Andres Franco will serve as conductor for the night.
Pre-concert festivities begin at 6:15 p.m. and include drumming and storytelling in the courtyard by Amir Rashad. Attendees are encouraged to stay after the concert to enjoy jazz played by Kenny Blake. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students. All proceeds from the evening benefit the Hill House Association and can be purchased at pittsburghsymphony.org/hillhouse.
“We’re looking forward to it. It will be an evening of really amazing music,” explained Terri Baltimore, Director of Neighborhood Engagement at the Hill House. “Part of the evening is a tribute to women. It came up in one of the meetings and as we started to talk about it. It made sense. Some of the music is written by women composers and part of the evening is a tribute to a woman who taught voice and piano lessons at the Hill House for 36 years.”
Baltimore continued: “Her goal in life was to become an opera singer but at that point in time the Pittsburgh Opera wouldn’t take her because she was African American. So, what could’ve been a hurtful thing ended up being her translating (a desire) to be a singer into helping these aspiring opera singers in Pittsburgh. Anqwenique is doing a song in honor of her.”
The idea of having people come into the Hill for entertainment and cultural enrichment has been a part of the strategy for years. People can go there not only to enjoy performances at the Hill House but in other places in one of the coolest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.
That’s one of the reasons Trish Gadson, executive director of Macedonia Family Community Enrichment Center, wanted to revive the concert portion of the partnership. “One of the many points that we have raised for their consideration is that engagement within the African American community requires that you come outside of Heinz Hall and it requires that the art form recognizes the rich cultural context that exists in the African American community in the Pittsburgh region.”
The Summer on Centre concert is one of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s strategic moves to do just that.
“Having an event in the Hill is a good start,” Gadson said. “Sometimes we as a collective community place a value over one artform over another and what this will demonstrate is that our cultural contribution on a platform that gives or promotes artistic equity.”
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