5 Surprising Facts about the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved cultural institutions. But how much do you know about it?

Check out the following facts to learn more about the Steel City’s world-renowned orchestra.

1. Women joined the Orchestra for the first time during World War II. As in many other industries, the Orchestra increasingly welcomed women into its ranks during the WWII years. Eighteen joined in 1942 and 24 joined 1944. At the time, Pittsburgh had more women in its orchestra than anywhere else in America.

2. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra helped change people’s perception of its namesake city. In 1964, the orchestra embarked on an 11-week, 24,000-mile tour to 14 overseas countries. The tour—which was sponsored by the U.S. State Department—showed an international audience that Pittsburgh had more going on than just heavy industry.

3. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was the recipient of the largest single gift ever awarded to a symphony orchestra capital campaign. In 1993, Howard Heinz and Vira I. Heinz Endowments gave a lead gift of $20 million to the orchestra’s capital campaign.

4. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was the first American orchestra to perform for a Pope at the Vatican. On Jan. 17, 2005, the Steel City’s famed orchestra gave a special concert to commemorate Pope John Paul II’s papal election.

5. Heinz Hall has hosted more than just music performances. The former hotel and current home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra played host to the former Gulf Oil shareholders’ meeting, Fred Rogers’ funeral, a Flood Aid concert to help residents affected by Hurricane Ivan and a TV movie (that would be 1998’s The Temptations).

Erie Insurance is proud to support the efforts of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. ERIE will be the exclusive sponsor for the Evening Opening Rehearsal on May 8. There will be two donor events that night—and everyone who attends will be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to the Opening Night Gala concert on Sept. 13!

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