music

Still Squonky After All These Years

Leave your preconceived notion of an opera in the car. Whatever Squonk Opera is, it certainly isn’t what you’re thinking. A description that succinctly encapsulates this Pittsburgh native is futile. Not quite a rock band, anything but an opera. So, what then? Squonk’s strength lies in its innate pliability. Each show is built atop a …

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Anne and the Album

She could sit here all day, really. On the upholstered, wooden chair without wheels that she’ll push from keyboard to keyboard while she’s creating songs in the studio she has set up in her living room. It’s a sunken space with hardwood floors and a wood beam ceiling, anchored by a stone fireplace that feels …

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An Ear for Music and Life

On a Tuesday morning in Squirrel Hill, Ceinwen (pronounced Kine-Win) King-Smith taps out notes on her piano. I stumble along, up and down the scale, straining my voice to match pitches. Ceinwen listens. She’s been blind since birth, and is so good at listening that according to her daughter she could hear from downstairs what …

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Trading Licks with Dave: The Wisdom from a Lifetime of Music

“You want a speedball?” Dave asks. “No, not that,” he adds, laughing at the blank stares. “Not coke and Quaaludes like they used to offer us in L.A. Espresso and wine. One of my clients got me this espresso machine. Fun. Oh man, have you heard of this? Beaver Valley Blend. Amazing. Really, really smooth.” …

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Market Square Frankie Sings His Song of Life

The stroller is one of those sporty, three-wheeled versions, the kind that athletic moms like to push around suburban neighborhoods while huffing out a cardio burn. This one is parked in a crosswalk, about two feet from the curb, right on the corner of Market and Fifth in the shadow of the Fairmont Hotel. In …

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Gimme That Old Time Music

Every first and third Sunday of the month, at around 5 p.m., the front door of Hambone’s, a bar and restaurant in Lawrenceville, becomes a portal to an alternate universe. Standing on Butler Street you will see men and women disappear through that door carrying banjos, fiddles, guitars, mandolins and the occasional contrabass. Should you …

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The New Sound

Steve Hackman, 35, is an emerging phenomenon in the world of music, fusing classical and popular pieces. Hackman is creating and conducting his hybrid concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Jan. 27 and March 9. A native of suburban Chicago, he has an undergraduate degree in piano performance from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and …

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Manfred Honeck, Music Director

I came to Pittsburgh in 2006 originally just to be a guest conductor for the symphony orchestra. I didn’t know at the time that they were looking for a music director. I really had no idea about it. When I arrived at the Pittsburgh airport, I noticed something that stayed with me. Two nuns were …

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The face of Brazil in Pittsburgh

Five years ago, Brazilian conductor and composer Flavio Chamis set out to create an album with musicians from five nations at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. Chamis and producer Jay Ashby decided to take things slowly, something unusual in the commercial music world. Three years later, in 2006, Especiaria was released. The album was picked up …

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Rich Engler, Music Promoter and Entrepreneur

I was born in New Kensington, Pa., and grew up in Creighton, across the river. My father was a glass worker at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. My mother worked for the county. I studied art education at Youngstown State, then at Carnegie Mellon. I was also playing in a band and began to see …

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Raging Grannies

Sometimes we Raging Grannies create quite a stir. Being of a “certain age,” none of us ever expected to find ourselves before an audience, let alone exiting to applause. But there we are, clambering up on stages and platforms, wearing outrageous hats and running shoes, singing like canaries and loving it. A feisty dozen women …

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Nathan Davis, Music Educator, Performer, Composer

Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, are twin cities, with nightclubs and great musicians in both places. The only thing that separates the two cities is a bridge. I grew up playing saxophone in Kansas City, Kansas, and went to the University of Kansas as a music education major. One night, a friend and …

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