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WRTI Spotlight

Watch and Listen: Tuba Player Craig Knox Plays Higdon, Verdi, Live from the WRTI Performance Studio

When Craig Knox premiered Jennifer Higdon's Tuba Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony last March, his performance was acclaimed as one that "hit it outta Heinz Hall." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Along with pianist Thomas Weaver and conductor Mark Russell Smith, Knox visited WRTI to perform selections from that concerto and chat with WRTI's Susan Lewis on January 24th at 12:10 PM.

Watch the performance recorded live on WRTI's Facebook page.

Craig Knox, principal tuba of the Pittsburgh Symphony and pianist Thomas Weaver performed the second movement from Higdon's Tuba Concerto (II. Crescent Line) and other selections, as well as a piece by Giuseppe Verdi. 

WRTI Program

Higdon, Tuba Concerto, Movement II

Higdon, Tuba Concerto, various selections

Verdi, Prelude to I Masnadieri (transcribed by Paul Krzywicki for tuba and piano) 

Higdon's Tuba Concerto was co-commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Curtis Institute of Music, where Craig Knox is a faculty member and alumnus.

On January 26th at Immaculata University and January 27th at the Kimmel Center, Knox and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra will perform the work in concerts conducted by fellow alumnus Mark Russell Smith.

Concert Program with Curtis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mark Russell Smith:

COPLAND Suite from Appalachian Spring (1945); HIGDON ('88) Tuba Concerto; IVES The Unanswered Question; DVO?ÁK Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70

Craig Knox has been principal tuba of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since 2005.  He was previously acting principal tuba of the San Francisco Symphony and principal tuba of the Sacramento Symphony. He has performed with the orchestras of Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Minnesota, Detroit, and Seattle, as well as the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

In addition to Higdon's Tuba Concerto, Knox and the Pittsburgh Symphony premiered André Previn's Triple Concerto for trumpet, horn, and tuba. 

He's made recordings with  Center City Brass Quintet,  the Chicago Chamber Musicians Brass Quintet and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra low brass section; and recorded a solo album, A Road Less Traveled.

Mr. Knox graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. He joined the tuba faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2014. He also teaches at Carnegie Mellon University and has presented master classes, seminars, and recitals worldwide.

Mark Russell Smith, a 1987 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, is artistic director of orchestral activities at the University of Minnesota, music director of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, and artistic director of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.

He has conducted the Saint Louis, Houston, Colorado, Eugene, Hartford, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Santa Barbara, Winnipeg, Costa Rica, and Xalapa symphonies; the Minnesota Orchestra; the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Orchestra London (Ontario); and the Tulsa Philharmonic.

He has led the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Verizon Hall, as well as Curtis On Tour in China and Korea in 2011. He has conducted the Curtis Opera Theatre and Virginia Opera, and has appeared at festivals in the US and Europe.

Mr. Smith collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma on Bridge of Souls, a concert featuring world premieres by Asian and American composers. A firm believer in the use of technical innovation, he annually conducts the final round of the Minnesota International Piano e-Competition, streamed live online. 

Thomas Weaver is a composer and pianist whose active solo and chamber career has included performances throughout major cities in the United States and Germany.

An active chamber musician, Mr. Weaver is currently a member of the Amram Ensemble and New England Chamber Players. A champion of new music, Weaver has premiered numerous works both in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Weaver's compositions have been heard throughout the United States, Germany, Austria, and Japan. His music has been programmed by a variety of ensembles, including the Boston University Symphony Orchestra, Daraja Ensemble, Alea III, and the Mannes American Composers Ensemble.

Mr. Weaver holds a Master of Music degree in piano performance and composition from Mannes College, Also on faculty at Boston University's Tanglewood Institute, Mr. Weaver joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2015.