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New mural on Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall celebrates music and African culture

A new mural at Heinz Hall in downtown Pittsburgh celebrates the importance of music with a nod to traditional African culture.

“Playing the Cosmic Strings” is a 60-foot-wide photographic mural by Mikael Owunna, a locally based artist with a growing national and international profile.

The mural depicts a human figure painted to suggest the cosmos grasping a web of glowing strands. Owunna was inspired by the creation stories of his Nigerian heritage, which honor music as spiritual.

The mural was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and installed by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, which is marking its 50th anniversary at Heinz Hall.

It was formally presented Tuesday, in an event hosted by the PSO. Speakers included Mayor Bill Peduto.

“Playing the Cosmic Strings” hangs on the side of Heinz Hall facing the Benedum Center, across 7th Street at the corner of Penn Avenue.

Owunna said the mural will hang for three to five years.

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Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: