Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Spain’s Gift to America

Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Spain’s Gift to America


EmpressofBiz…JoAnn R. Forrester

The Pittsburgh Symphony performance of Sheherezade on NOvember 8, 2013 was amazing!  I do not know many conductors names, and seldom if ever really glow over a conductor… But oh my, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos is an exceptional conductor who led the orchestra and featured guests to a brilliant performance. 

Arabella Steinbacher
The first part of the concert was devoted to the up and coming young artists and the Symphony No 6 "Symphony of Sorrows" and composed by Leonardo Balada. This piece was commissioned in 2005 by the Barcelona Symphony and National Orchestra of Catalonia to mark the seventieth anniversary of the start of the brutal Spanish Civil War…a miniature version of the World War II with all its devastation, sorrow and destruction.  It was a dramatic and haunting piece aptly presenting in music the horror and futility of war.

The second piece featured was concerto No 1 in D Major for violin and Orchestra Opus 19 composed by Sergei Prokofiev and featuring German violinist Arabella Steinbacher, one of today’s leading violinist on the international scene.   I enjoyed this piece greatly and especially enjoyed the rapport between Ms. Steinbacher and conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos.  His interaction with her was intense and weaved a magical circle of interaction between the two leading her to exceptional performance.   Quite enjoyable.

Maestro Frubeck
The second half was all Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos and he led the PSO on a thrilling performance of "Scheherazade," Opus 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  I love the story of the Sultana Scheherazade weaving tales of adventure to amuse and outwit the fickle Sultan Shakira who had the practice of putting each of his wives to death after the wedding night.   Night after night Scheherazade weaves these wondrous tales and the PSO make them come alive under his exceptional direction.

The audience was enchanted as I was and gave him a standing ovation which lasted almost ten minutes.  If you ever have a chance to hear and see Maestro Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos conduct an orchestra…you must go… he is exceptional and how I wish could follow him around the world and just listen to his concerts.

Named Conductor of the Year by Musical America in 2011, other numerous honours and distinctions he has been awarded include the Gold Medal of the City of Vienna, the Bundesverdienstkreutz of the Republic of Austria and Germany, the Gold Medal from the Gustav Mahler International Society, and the Jacinto Guerrero Prize, Spain’s most important musical award, conferred in 1997 by the Queen of Spain.  In 1998 Rafael Fr├╝hbeck de Burgos received the appointment of "Emeritus Conductor" by the Spanish National Orchestra. He has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Navarra in Spain.  Since 1975 he has been a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. 

Roving Pittsburgher Good News Reporter, JoAnn
Forrester is the Host of "Empress of Biz, Reinvent in Rugged Times," a business Talkcast syndicated on PPLMag, Pittsburgh's First Internet Radio and TV Network.  You can hear JoAnn and Business friends every Thursday at 9 AM on the TalkShoe network or archived later at:  Jo Ann has also been a regular business tip columnist at the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ann Hampton Callaway, PNCPops, Streisand Songbook An Entertainment Delight

Ann Hampton Callaway 

The Streisand Songbook with the Pittsburgh Symphony 

PNC POPS in Concert… 

An Entertainment Delight!


Empress of biz…JoAnn R. Forrester

The Pittsburgh Symphony Pops and Ann Hampton Callaway is a musical treat for Streisand Devotees.

Barbara Streisand one of the great popular song stylists of the last half of the 20th century was property represented by Ann Hampton Callaway and the PSO.  Ms. Callaway is a singer, composer, lyricist, pianist and born entertainer with a strong stage presence.     Her admiration and association with Ms. Streisand gives her an unusual insight into the music and life of Barbra Streisand. Barbra has recorded two of songs that Ann has written, I’ve Dreamed and At the Same Time

Did you know that Barbra has only given 92 concerts in her 50
photo by Bill Westmoreland
plus year career?  It is well known that Barbra hates to do concerts.  Well she does not have to do them…she has Ann Callaway out there singing her songs and talking about her. 

The Pops program included “Don't Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl,” Marvin Hamish’s “The Way We Were,” “Evergreen” from “A Star Is Born,” and Callaway's “At the Same Time.”

Ann Calloway Hampton has a strong command of the stage and a delightful sense of humor.  She did a great improvisation form the stage based on suggestions from the audience about a steelworker, therapist, a rendezvous at the Fairmont hotel and love blooming a year later.  It was a fun piece and demonstrated how talented and versatile she is.  I really joyed her work presenting the Streisand Songbook…and when she comes back to the ”burgh” I hope it is a show based on her own songs and work.  What a talented and creative person she is.

The Pops symphony was conducted by Assistant conductor Fawzi Haimor. He has a light breezy engaging style.  The symphony as usual was top notch and all together it was a fine and enjoyable night.

Roving Pittsburgher Good News Reporter, JoAnn Forrester is the Host of "Empress of Biz, Reinvent in Rugged Times," a business Talkcast syndicated on PPLMag, Pittsburgh's First Internet Radio and TV Network.  You can hear JoAnn and Business friends every Thursday at 9 AM on the TalkShoe network or archived later at:  Jo Ann has also been a regular business tip columnist at the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Killer Queen" Comes to Life in Rock Musical, "We Will Rock You!"

"Killer Queen" Comes to Life in Rock Musical, 

"We Will Rock You!"

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith aka TechnoGranny

From Scaramouch to the Killer Queen, “We Will Rock You” was an amazing, entertaining and unique departure from the “just another tribute band.” The musical truly recaptured the artistry and drama of Queen. The worldwide smash hit ‘rock theatrical’, Queen and Ben Elton’s “We Will Rock You,” built around 24 of Queen’s biggest hits, opened  at the Benedum Center (October 29), and TechnoGranny was there not exactly knowing why. 

My guest and I thought we were going to a tribute concert to Queen; obviously I read the press release on air and was brain dead.  “We Will Rock You” takes place on a futuristic planet once called Earth that is now controlled by a mighty corporation. The ruler of this planet is half human and half pixilated and pardon
Scaramouche & Galileo off to find last guitar.
my expression but a “bad-a_ _ _d b_ _ _h.   Globalization is complete. Individuality is taboo. Everyone watches the same movies, wears the same clothes and thinks the same thoughts, especially the Ga Ga Girls.  Music is generated by the corporation’s computers, rock music is unheard and all musical instruments are banned. But there is hope in a resistance with names like “Buddy Holly and the Crickets” and mangled names of Rockstars like Pelvis instead of Elvis as the King of Rock. This is a band of rebel Bohemians, waiting for a hero to lead the battle to bring the power of rock back to the people. 

We Will Rock You Ensemble
Gotta tell you that my guest was concerned when he saw the first female vocalist Scaramouch (Ruby Lewis) belt out her duet, “I Want to Break Free,” with Galileo (Brian Justin Crumb.  I could hear other saying, “Girl in Queen?” At intermission he said, “I thought “this can’t be right’ and then I decided to sit back and enjoy it.” Enjoy it we did.  It’s easy to see why in its 12th year in London and seen by a staggering 15 million people worldwide, this hilarious, multi-award-winning and record-breaking phenomenon is still running.  The show is written by celebrated British comedian Ben Elton and what a killer score.  Speaking of killer, spoiler alert:  The rebel alpha male, named Brittany Spears dies in the movie while saving the hero Galileo Figaro.

If you are not a person with your car radio on all the time then you will be surprised and reminded of fantastic Queen tunes that you just can’t resist singing along to, such as “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Are The Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and, of course, “We Will Rock You.”

My favorite character is the Killer Queen (Jacqueline B. Arnold)
and her outfits were also “killer.” Music aside I sat wishing I had her outfits in the eighties. Her robust performance was actually reminiscent of a combination of Grace Slick and Tina Turner.  Queen was so dramatic and the show likewise does not lack show-stopping, stellar artistry and a theatrical presence that keeps the audience upbeat and involved from start to end.
Just as you think the show is over and you say to yourself, “Something is missing here!”  A message comes across the stage, “Are you ready for Bohemian Rhapsody?”  Many of us had to rush back to our seats.  What a finale!

We Will Rock You is produced by Queen Theatrical Productions, Tribeca Theatrical Productions, Phil McIntyre Entertainment and Networks Presentations.   We Will Rock You is part of the PNC Broadway Across America-Pittsburgh series, presented by The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Broadway Across America and Pittsburgh Symphony.   This show is one more feather in the cap of the Pittsburgh Cultural District.  

(c) Joanne Quinn-Smith 2013

Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning internet radio broadcaster, blogger, author and internet radio and TV network editor and publisher. Joanne is the owner and CEO, Creative Energy Officer, of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a successful Pittsburgh-based marketing company. She is a grandmother and great grandmother, an unlikely trendsetter for online journalism and broadcasting. Joanne is internationally known as the “Get Your Google On” Gal. But better known as Techno Granny™ to over one million accumulated online listeners worldwide. Joanne has created a revolutionary online NEW MEDIA platform in Internet broadcasting, blogging and other social media participation that represents the new second generation of World Wide Web interactions, known in technology circles as Web 2.0. JQS is the online publisher of, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Oklahoma" As You Have Never Seen It Done by Students--Fantastic!


As You Have Never Seen It Done by Students--Fantastic!

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

Seeing Roger’s and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” at the Playhouse performed by the Conservatory Theatre Company was everything I never thought it would be.   I had sent reviewers to see other plays but had never attended myself.  Not only was it a rare treat but as other fans left the theatre they consistently told me what a bargain it is.

From college students to baby boomers we have heard the songs from “Oklahoma” but some of us never connected them with the play.  My companion, my young nephew Josh, an engineering student at WVU and he had never really heard of the movie or the play but found out right away what a treat it was.  For the Roving Pittsburgher Report I always like to take someone who will give a fresh perspective on the event.    From the time Curly Mc Lain (Stanley Graham) hits the stage to roust you with his theatre filling “Ho What a Beautiful Mornin’ “you know there will be no boredom and definitely no napping.  

Then as the reluctant romance begins between Curly and Laurey (a Kirsten Lynn Hoover) with Aunt Eller (Amanda Lee Hawkins) nodding her approval the audience is clip clippiting along in their seats to: “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top. “ Here all three give you a preview of their comedic ability in song and dialogue.  Hawkins’ portrayal of Aunt Eller gets her raving reviews as a feisty older character actress and it is amazing that such a big, clear enchanting voice comes from Hoover as Laurey.

Center Laurey and Curley Left Ado Annie

 About Will Parker’s (Matt Augustyniak) and the Male Ensemble’s performance of “Kansas City,”  young and old would have to say, “How do we bottle that energy and talent?”   And if you doubt that good things do come from Minnesota you just need to take a gander at his love interest Ado Annie (Jorie Ann Kosel).  If you are close enough to see her very expressive face you will have no doubt that both her voice and comedic ability will take her far beyond college musical theatre.

And I always feel badly when the bad guy in the play does a good job but he doesn’t get recognized with applause at the end of the play.  In “Oklahoma” that does not happen with the die-hard bad guy or the “rascal” in this production.  Luke Haferty as Jud Fry is the consummate bad guy with an amazing voice who makes the villain human and almost likeable in “Pore Jud is Daid” and “Lonely Room.”  His character portrayal makes our early American Western actors look like kindergarten kids.  Also Ryan Gregory Thurman must justifiably get rave reviews as the wandering peddler, Ali Hakim.  He adds a unique ethnic flavor to the diversity that was the old west and he’s just too darn funny in his portrayal.

There is so much to give kudos to in this all student cast.  One cannot attend without noticing the orchestra and the female ensemble and ballet dancers and the Dust Bowl Wranglers.  It’s hard to believe with the sheer talent on stage in “Oklahoma” that the cast are all students. 

The backdrop for “Oklahoma” however is not done by students and the scenery which was both authentic looking and innovative deserves professional accolades and the costume design also as it was authentic down to the pantaloons and the shoes.
Director Patrick Cassidy is to be given the ultimate praise for bringing out the best in every character, singer and dancer on the stage.  A side note, Cassidy’s mother, actress Shirley Jones is a native of our area born in Charleroi, Pa.

Oklahoma finished its run at the Playhouse on October 27 but please remember what a bargain the Conservatory Theatre is with seats ranging from $18.00 to $20.00.  Watch for the classic Greek Tragedy, “Hecuba” which begins November 2 and finishes on the 24th at the Playhouse.  If it is only 75% of what “Oklahoma” was it will be worth the trip and the price of the ticket.  Additional information at: