From the Land of Fire & Ice: An Evening of Opera & More

Thursday, May 9, 7 pm

Featuring a trio of exceptional Icelandic vocalists, the concert is one of several in the region made possible by a cultural exchange between the Eintracht Mannerchor of New Castle, PA and Platin Scala Orchestra of Wenden Germany. 

Soprano Vala Gudnadóttir, tenor Gissur Pall Gissurarson, and baritone Ivar Helgason have not only entertained audiences throughout Iceland but much of Europe, offering exceptional versatility to opera, Broadway, classical, sacred, and folk songs.  The singers will be accompanied by Platin Scala Conductor-pianist Professor Walter Raczek of Berlin. 

Meet the Performers

Vala Gudnadottir

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Soprano Vala Gudnadottir is the Icelandic voice for the Disney films Pocahontas, Little Mermaid and Mulan.  She has performed regularly with the Icelandic Symphony and on Broadway and opera in such roles as Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera, Mercedes in Carmen, Fantine in Les Miserables, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, Rosina and Berta in Rossini’s Barber of Seville. She has also held many Icelandic television roles as a performer, actress and host.

Ivar Helgason

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Baritone Ivar Helgason began his career at the age of eight in a children's choir. By the age of eleven, he played the title role in Benjamin Britten’s children’s opera “The Little Sweep” at the Icelandic Opera House. Ivar’s professional training took him through Hafnarfjörður, the Reykjavik Singing School, the Musical-Theater Department of the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and at the “Associated Board Royal Schools of Music.”  Ivar has to his credit a multitude of broadway musicals, operas, and operettas.  A jack of all traides, he also works as a choreographer, director, composer, arranger, and dancer.

Gissur Pall Gissurasson

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Tenor Gissur Pall Gissurasson has won many national and international opera competitions in and representing Iceland. His opera work has taken him to Italy, France, Germanymand Japan in various roles, including Ruiz in the opera Il Trovatore, Rodolfo in La Boheme, Almaviva in The Barber of Seville and the Danilo in the Kåte Widow.  Gissur has also released two CD‘s to critical acclaim.

Walter Ratzekn

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Professor Walter Ratzekn is not only a brilliant pianist but the Conductor of the Platin Scala Orchestra.  Walter studied conducting with Professor Wolfgang Trommer from 1980-85 and piano with Prof. José Luis Prado at the Robert Schumann Academy of Music in Düsseldorf. He went on to conduct numerous orchestras including the Sinfonisches Blasorchester Hessen and Landesblasorchester Baden-Württemberg in Germany, and served as artistic director of the Deutsche Bläserphilharmonie.  In late 2016, he assumed management of the instrumentation / wind orchestra conducting program in Bolzano at the Conservatoire Claudio Monteverdi.  Walter’s former professor and mentor Wolfgang Trommer passed the baton of the Platin Scala Orchestra to Walter upon his retirement in 2018.


Renova Music Festival

Faculty Music Showcase I

Wednesday, June 5, 7:30 pm

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 Join us for the first of two Faculty Showcases featuring Beethoven’s “Archduke” Piano Trio and Destenay’s Trio for Oboe, Clarinet and Piano with guest pianist, Nanette Kaplan Solomon. The Renova Music Festival is an intensive performing arts experience for pre-professional musicians (ages 18-25) resulting in a series of student and faculty recitals throughout the region.  The Concert is free, but registration is requested.


Jazzed Up: Dinner Concert
with the Tania Grubbs Quartet

Saturday, June 22, 6 pm, $50

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Make it a date night with the Tania Grubbs Quartet! We’re jazzing up selections from the American Songbook to feature a laid back evening of dinner and cocktails. Vocalist Tania Grubbs is well known in the Pittsburgh jazz scene as a performer and Co-Music Director at the Fairmont Pittsburgh, overseeing Jazz at Andys. Her husband, Jeff, is a bassist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.