The Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra is a vibrant ensemble of talented local professional musicians, most of whom are members of the Pittsburgh Opera and Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestras. Our concerts are prepared in a maximum of two rehearsals, which speaks to the proficiency of our players. They are compensated on a per-service basis in accordance with the fee schedule of the Pittsburgh Musicians’ Union, Local 60-471. In contrast to community and professional full orchestras of 80+ members, we have an ensemble of 12-30 players and feature music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic Eras.
Previous concert seasons have included two concerts in the Fall and one in the Spring. In 2010, we performed Saint-Saens’ Oratorio de Noel (Christmas Oratorio)Opus 12 for Orchestra and chorus in January.
In February we sponsored a Competition for Collegiate Composers for students enrolled in colleges in Allegheny County. Funds were raised through the Susy Robison Birthday Benefit Concert. An $800 scholarship was given to Sam Siskind, a student at the University of Pittsburgh.
In September and November, the orchestra performed a series of Baroque concerts in the new venues of Mount St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Mt Washington, Mount St. Peter’s Catholic Church in New Kensington and Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa.
In October, we sponsored a Baroque Aria Competition for Singers and gave out $1500 in awards. Funding came from grants from our new venues and from monies donated at the concerts.
In November Andres Cardenes, former concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, conducted the PFO in An Evening of Chamber Music.
In December, we began our new affiliation with the Westmoreland Choral Society, playing in two performances of their annual Christmas concert at the First Presbyterian Church in Greensburg, Pa.
The Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra (formerly the St. Andrew’s Festival Orchestra) first performed in November 2003 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh. As an outgrowth of a concert by England’s Hereford Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, St. Andrew’s produced an All Saints Festival which lasted a week, and which culminated in two performances by the St. Andrew’s Festival Orchestra and Chorus. As a result of this project, the ensemble was hired to perform at Christmas Eve and the subsequent Good Friday evening concert. Discussions in the Spring and Summer of 2004 led to the formation of a non-profit organization with a change of name.
Now in its ninth season, the Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra continues to enjoy an affiliation with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.