Valentine’s Day concert set for Feb. 14 at Pasquerilla Spiritual Center

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra (PCO) will present a special Valentine’s Day concert titled “Music for the Heart” at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on Penn State’s University Park campus.

Tickets are $5 for Penn State students (with a valid ID) and children age 16 and younger. Adult tickets are available for $25 if purchased in advance and $30 if purchased at the door. A portion of all ticket sales will be donated to the American Heart Association. All attendees are invited to wear red to the concert.

The PCO, now celebrating its 25th season, is central Pennsylvania’s professional chamber orchestra. Its musicians include several members of the Penn State School of Music faculty, including concertmaster James Lyon, and area professional and pre-professional musicians from Penn State. The Valentine’s Day concert will also feature several Penn State alumni who are contributing significantly to program.

Dr. Paul Haidet, director of medical education research at the Penn State College of Medicine and an alumnus of the college, will present a free pre-concert lecture — “The Health Benefits of Music” — at 2 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. Haidet is a lover of music, and his research has focused on music and patient-physician communication. 

The PCO is partnering with the American Heart Association for this unique Valentine’s Day music event. Brooke Welsh, a Penn State School of Music alumnus and PCO board member, is currently the regional director of the American Heart Association, which will be giving out small bags of heart-health-related material and Valentine’s Day treats to all concertgoers.

Danya Katok, a guest soprano soloist from New York City, is a native of State College and a Penn State alumnus. She has performed in Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Katok maintains her own private voice studio and teaches voice at Brooklyn College. She made her debut in New York as Max Oliver in Knussen’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” She will make her debut with the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra, singing in the 4th movement of the Mahler/Lee Symphony No. 4.

Penn Stater Ben Firer will also make his debut as PCO’s assistant conductor by opening the concert with the Adagietto movement from Gustav Mahler’s 5th Symphony. Mahler, considered one of the most romantic composers, wrote this movement as a love letter to his wife, Alma. Firer is the music director of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra and director of Penn State’s Campus Orchestra. He holds a master’s degree in music from Yale University. Firer will also conduct the Concordia Singers with a selection of works from Handel, Giordano and Perera.  State College’s only auditioned children’s choir, the Concordia Singers is composed of a group of outstanding young singers.

The second half of the concert will be conducted by Yaniv Attar, PCO’s newly appointed music director, and will feature a solo by Katok. Yaniv will be conducting Mahler’s 4th Symphony, a remarkable work that he sees as “a cycle of life that will take the listener through a magical journey.” Yaniv describes the third movement as “one of the most beautiful things Mahler ever wrote.”

After the concert, alumni and concert guests are invited to a “Heart Healthy” reception at Juniper Village to meet the performers. Attar and Katok will perform two special encores for voice and guitar for the guests at the reception.

For more information or to purchase concert tickets, visit or call 814-234-8313.

Last Updated February 12, 2016