New Hazlett Theater & additional venues

May 22 – 25
Various times

100 musicians playing everything from cymbals to conch shells. A pay-as-you-leave performance. A daylong concert roaming throughout the city.

These sounds and much more will activate the New Hazlett Theater and venues around town during the four-day Pittsburgh Festival of New Music. Spearheaded by Alia Musica Pittsburgh, the eclectic festival features public events spanning a wide range of contemporary chamber music. Book-ended by two distinct musical happenings taking place in unconventional and unexpected venues, the festival includes performances by Pittsburgh’s own leading new music organizations, alongside nationally and internationally acclaimed acts and US and world premieres, including artists hailing from Chicago, New York, Michigan and Houston.

Don’t miss hearing 100 percussionists playing everything from glockenspiels to air raid sirens at Lake Elizabeth Park during an exhilarating performance of John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit. Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music, Adams’ evocative composition, which makes its Pittsburgh premiere during the festival, aims to create a heightened awareness of place among listeners.

Also not to miss is a citywide performance of the landmark opera, Perfect Lives, by pioneering American composer Robert Ashley (1930 – 2014). Originally conceived as a seven-episode TV opera that debuted on the BBC in 1986, Perfect Lives weaves together an unspoken crime, an elopement and two mischievous itinerant musicians. New York collective Varispeed will present the seminal work as a daylong “crawling concert” installed in sites throughout the city, with performers and audiences literally roaming from location to location—a park, bank, church and backyard.

Representing the local new music scene will be a marathon concert dubbed The Pittsburgh Soundpike, featuring members of Trillium Ensemble, Black Orchid String Trio, Directions Duo and Eclectic Laboratory Chamber Orchestra, including a performance of Steve Reich’s monumental Different Trains by the Freya String Quartet. The innovative concert will include a unique twist: audience members may pay less if they stay longer!

Another highlight will be a rare recital appearance by the American-born pianist Frederic Rzewski. Based in Brussels since the 1970s, Rzewski (whose sons live and work here) will perform his original works for the first time in Pittsburgh.

Jennifer BaronArts & Entertainment / Jobs Editor

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...