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Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Looks To Star Wars And Drag Queens To Keep Up Subscription Growth

Michael Sahaida
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will perform selections from the Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises, as well as a collaboration with "RuPaul's Drag Race" star Thorgy Thor as part of their 2019 summer programming.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is gearing up for summer programming set to include music from John William’s films, the Rolling Stones and the U.S. premiere of “Thorgy and the Thorchestra” – a collaboration with "RuPaul’s Drag Race" star Thorgy Thor. 

Credit Michael Sahaida / Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Melia Tourangeau came to the Pittsburgh Symphony from the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the only combined 52-week orchestra and opera organization in the United States.

Like symphonies across the globe, PSO CEO Melia Tourangeau says the Pittsburgh orchestra struggles to keep subscribers up and its bank statements in the black.

Tourangeau joined the organization in 2015 and immediately faced a nearly bankrupt pension program followed by a 55-day strike by musicians. She credits those musicians with making tough compromises to end the strike, including switching to a 401k-style pension program. Now, she says subscriptions are up for the first time in more than a decade and musicians are more engaged in the organization than before.

Tourangeau says the organization now works more closely with its marketing department to base its repertoire on what appeals most to the community. Find the PSO’s full event calendar here.

Later in the program:

Credit Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA
Mario Ulizzi, owner and operator of Sewickley Shoe Repair, opened the shop on Beaver Street when he was 24 years old. “It was really sink or swim at that moment,” he says. The store celebrated its 20th anniversary last month.

Chytrid fungus, which causes the disease chytridiomycosis, is killing amphibians around the world. The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple talks with researchers at The Richards-Zawacki Lab at the University of Pittsburgh about what the fungus does to amphibians and how it spreads.

Some early reports indicated medical professionals became ill as a result of the contact with passive absorption of drugs like fentanyl. 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Boden talks with a toxicology expert who says getting sick this way is very "unlikely."

And in the latest episode of 90.5 WESA’s Still Working podcast, Kevin C. Brown and Margaret J. Krauss explore people who keep us in motion

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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