PSO President & CEO Melia Tourangeau on Marketing the Pittsburgh Region for International Investment with a World-Class Orchestra

by on August 30, 2017

The Pittsburgh Symphony is heading abroad for its 2017 European Music Festivals Tour, and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, southwestern Pennsylvania’s economic development marketing organization, is joining forces with this group of remarkable musicians to put the Pittsburgh region on the radar for international business investment – an important contributor to our economy and a significant creator of jobs in the region. 


THE PSO and the PRA have a rather unique relationship, a seemingly unlikely pairing of the arts and economic development, to raise our region’s profile on the global stage.  Tell us about that relationship.

In 2006, the PSO and PRA first teamed up to use the orchestra – on its international tours – as a way to capture the attention of public and private sector leaders and influencers abroad, including those who make decisions on where to locate or expand businesses.  Because of the generosity of the late Pittsburgh philanthropists, Henry and Elsie Hillman, the PSO is the beneficiary of the Hillman Touring Endowment.  It was given by us because of Henry’s belief that the PSO is not only one of our world-class arts organizations, but it’s also an exemplary economic ambassador for the region.

Abroad, a world-class orchestra has much of the same cachet or “star appeal” that perhaps our major league sports teams do in the U.S.  The business and investment audience abroad that we’re targeting know the classical music scene and they know quality.  On the quality scale, the PSO is one of the world’s best known and most highly regarded orchestras.  And therein is the magic in our relationship with the PRA.  The PRA is able to leverage the PSO and its prestige to capture attention of and open doors to business and investment leaders abroad who have to the potential to expand a business presence in North America.  In short, we want them to be thinking, “If Pittsburgh has what it takes to have this world-class orchestra and musicians, what else does it have that might be advantageous to my business?”


The arts and culture have, for nearly all of Pittsburgh’s two century-plus history, been held in esteem here.  What does that mean to the world beyond our own shores?

Pittsburghers have long seen the value in investing in the arts and culture in our city, which is the heart of the region.  The arts make for a quality of place and life, across southwestern Pennsylvania, that’s complementary to – and fosters – business success.  In short, we’re more than the sum of those parts.  In Pittsburgh, arts and culture stand alongside business and the engines of our economy.  Together they speak to a vibrancy, passion and commitment to quality and precision that define how Pittsburghers work, as well as spend their free time – whether in a robotics lab, the boardroom, on the advanced manufacturing shop floor or on the stage at Heinz Hall or one of Pittsburgh’s numerous other performance venues.


Speaking of “On the stage at Heinz Hall.” The musicians of the PSO themselves also play to our region’s strengths, too, don’t they?

Yes, they do. It’s important to remember that PSO musicians are also Pittsburghers. Many of our musicians have made decisions to advance their performance careers – and their personal lives – right here in Pittsburgh.  They could have landed elsewhere, buy they chose the PSO.  We have musicians from all over the U.S. and the world – including such places as Canada, Asia and South America.  Our musicians have found their place – and a place for their families or significant others – in Pittsburgh.  They are not only musical ambassadors, but ambassadors for the kind of good life that’s absolutely possible to enjoy in our region.


What’s in store for the PSO and PRA and their partnership this year, which I understand is the ninth time in an 11-year history of collaboration that these two organizations have crossed oceans to jointly promote Pittsburgh?

Well, we have quite a few stops and performances abroad this year as part of our European Festivals Tour, but where the PSO and PRA will converge is in London at the famous BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall.  Most people, even if they don’t follow the classical music scene closely, have heard of the Proms – a concert series which, incidentally, really captures the attention of a broad and diverse cross-section of music lovers.  The Proms is an event unto itself, and the PSO performance is near the close of this musical extravaganza, so the buzz should be at fever pitch.  Plus, we have the legendary violin soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter performing with the orchestra during a sold-out performance on the evening of Sept. 4.  All of this is coming together to frame what should be an exceptional opportunity for the PSO and PRA.

Together, we’ll showcase to a strategic group of business contacts and prospects from the London area – at a “Meet Pittsburgh Reception” before the concert and during the PSO’s Proms performance – to spotlight some of what is truly stellar about Pittsburgh.  I expect that we’ll convey, through our conversations and the orchestra’s performance, Pittsburgh’s long-standing commitment to quality, passion and precision in how we do our work, conduct business and live our lives in a truly classic American city.   We hope that it will all be so compelling that they’ll want to come and see Pittsburgh for themselves and bring more foreign direct investment to our region.