Classical Music

Fireworks, apple pie, sunscreen and Tchaikovsky: It’s a classical July in Pittsburgh.

To some it may seem odd that Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a Russian romantic composer, has become indelibly mixed into our star-spangled celebration of Independence Day, but what kind of a Fourth of July celebration is it without the 1812 Overture? You can hear it for free at least three times this month in the great outdoors.

Start July 2 at South Park with the Pittsburgh Symphony, led by assistant conductor Thomas Hong, who promises to do it without any cuts. (South Park Amphitheatre, Buffalo Drive, South Park. Fri., July 2, 8 p.m. Info: 412/392-4900,

The Johnstown Symphony, conducted by music director Istvan Jaray, will roll out the cannons at Point Stadium with fireworks. (Point Stadium, 100 Johns St., Johnstown. Sun., July 4, 8 p.m. Info: 814/535-6738,

Also on July 4, the Westmoreland Symphony with artistic adviser Daniel Meyer will celebrate in St. Clair Park along with an all-American favorites concert. (Robertshaw Amphitheatre, 135 North Maple Ave., Greensburg. Sun., July 4, 8 p.m. Info: 724/837-1850,

The orchestras promise such patriotic classics as John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and the piccolos and flutes will stand as the audience sings along. Take earplugs in case you wind up sitting near the howitzers.

As American as apple pie with whipped cream and a cherry on top, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble is back at City Theatre. Enjoy four great concerts of fresh American music played by a tight, comfortable septet, conducted by Kevin Noe with panache. You’ll also be treated to atmospheric lighting, stage movement and sound design.

The final weekend features a world premiere of “Radiance” from Ned McGowan, who won the Harvey Gaul Composition Competition, sponsored by the PNME. He’s just back from a South Indian adventure and promises a piece infused with Indian carnatic flavor.

The uncommon woman herself, Joan Tower, who wrote Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, is in the lineup along with composers David Lang and Aaron Jay Kernis—plus, for the first time, you’ll hear arrangements of Cole Porter.

Concerts are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and if you attend on Friday and like what you hear, take your ticket stub back on Saturday for free admission to a repeat performance. (13th and Bingham streets, South Side. July 9-31: Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $20; students, seniors, $10; first-time PNME concert goers, free. Info: 412/431-2489,

Stretch out your blanket, lawn chair and picnic basket on the lawn at the Mellon Park Rose Garden for “Bach, Beethoven, and Brunch,” sponsored by the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, with three free Sunday-morning concerts this month.

On July 11, hear classically trained Cello Fury, a group comprised of graduates from Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon University. I was once told, “Jim, the trouble with classical music is you don’t have enough drums.” Cello Fury has added a drummer solving that problem and increasing the intensity, but this group also knows how to play softly and beautifully.

On July 18, you’ll hear Gershwin, Fauré and Ellington when The Pittsburgh Guitar Trio, presented by the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, brings together Joe Negri, Eric Susoeff and Marty Ashby. This concert is presented by MCG Jazz.

At the end of the month, on July 25, Allegheny Brass Band kicks it with spirit and style. The concert series continues through next month.

Additionally, there’s a “Best Brunch” competition during the intermission with prizes awarded by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. (Mellon Park, Fifth & Shady Avenues, Point Breeze/Shadyside. Every Sunday in July except July 4, 10:30 a.m.-noon. Free. Info: 412/255-8975,

Categories: Things To Do