Press Releases

Capital region arts organizations announce first ever co-production

Collaboration commisions the creation of a world premiere!

Harrisburg, PA — The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) and Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra (HSO) announce a major co-commission of a new production of Carnival of the Animals, based on Camille Saint-Sa?ns’ most popular work.

The all-new production combines the choreography of CPYB principal faculty member and former Boston Ballet principal dancer Laszlo Berdo, accompanied by the HSO under the direction of assistant conductor Tara Simoncic, and narrated by the distinctive voice of WITF’s Cary Burkett. The world premiere will take place October 22-23, 2011 at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg.

“Collaborations among the region’s arts organizations support the growth of the artistic community as a whole and are part of our long-term business strategy,” said CPYB CEO Alan Hineline. “The results will be a new level of work and a deeper sense of artistic synergy within the capital region, as well as for audiences to broaden their viewpoint by experiencing different types of performances they may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend.”

HSO Executive Director Jeff Woodruff is equally pleased with the new relationship. “The symphony is thrilled to partner with CPYB on the creation of this brand new work. Having worked with this wonderful company on their annual production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” for many years, we can’t wait to see what Mr. Berdo does with Saint- Sa?ns’ amazing and endlessly clever score.”

The CPYB/HSO production offers a new spin on Saint-Saens’ famous ‘zoological fantasy.’ Playing a critical role with all-new choreography is Laszlo Berdo. Audiences are familiar with Berdo’s work including Snow White, Peter Pan, and Swan Lake.  

Long recommended as a playful way to introduce children to classical music, Saint-Sa?ns composed “The Carnival of the Animals” in 1886 to express in music some of the silly habits his friends shared with animals. “Carnival” quickly became one of his most popular works. HSO assistant conductor Tara Simoncic, who will lead these performances, commented: “Being involved in the give and take of a full theatrical production is always exciting, even more so when it’s a world premiere. I look forward to working with Mr. Berdo and Mr. Burkett on bringing their concept to vivid life at the Whitaker Center.”

CPYB and HSO are supported, in part, by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Cultural Enrichment Fund.


MEDIA OPPORTUNITY:We invite the media to attend upcoming rehearsals and speak with the performers and staff about the performance. For more information, please contact Bonnie Schulte at 717.245.1191 or Coverage opportunities of performances are also available. Contact Bonnie Schulte for arrangements and confirmation.

MEDIA PHOTOS:High resolution photos of Laszlo Berdo (CPYB) and Tara Simoncic (HSO) are available upon request - Please contact Bonnie ( or Kim ( 


About Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet
Established in 1955 by Founding Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet is a nationally and internationally recognized school of classical ballet headquartered in Carlisle, Pa. CPYB’s mission is to inspire, educate and enrich the lives of our students and the region through training in and the performance of classical ballet.

About Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1931, the Harrisburg Symphony is one of the Capitol Region’s cornerstone cultural institutions. Each season the orchestra performs seven pairs of Masterworks concerts, four pairs of concerts on the Capital BlueCross Pops Series, plus a number of family concerts, educational activities and special events. Maestro Stuart Malina will be celebrating his 12th season as the HSO’s music director in 2011-12. Concerts take place in the Forum, part of the Capitol complex in downtown Harrisburg.

Operating under the umbrella of the Harrisburg Symphony is the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra, founded in 1953 and one of the oldest youth symphonies in the country. Tara Simoncic is the Youth Orchestra’s music director.

About Choreographer Laszlo Berdo
Berdo was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and began studying dance at the age of five. He intensified his studies at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois. He danced for Ballet Austin, the Louisville Ballet under Alun Jones and Helen Starr, and Cincinnati Ballet under Ivan Nagy. Berdo joined the Boston Ballet in 1990 and became a principal dancer in 1995. As a principal, he danced numerous roles in ballets by Cranko, McMillan, Balanchine, Bournonville, Hynd and Stevenson. Berdo also excelled in contemporary works by Tharp, Taylor, Feld, Butler and York. He is honored to be the first to perform the lead role in Cranko’s Eugene Onegin in the United States.

Berdo began his choreography career in 1993. His works, which include the pas de deux Eternal Being, Four Hands, Below Down Under, Sanctuary, and Bass Elements, have been performed for the Boston Ballet, International Ballet competition in Jackson, Mississippi, summer festival in Biarritz, France, Norwegian National Ballet in Oslo, Finnish National Ballet in Helsinki, and Boston Conservatory. In 2001 he created Concertante for Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s (CPYB) ChoreoPlan.

From 2000 to 2003 Berdo was a faculty member for the Boston Conservatory and Harvard University. He joined the full-time faculty of CPYB in 2003, for which he choreographed Snow White and premiered Peter Pan. He presented The Nutcracker for the Eglevsky Ballet, which premiered in December 2010; and most recently staged Swan Lake for CPYB. Berdo teaches in the United States and Europe for ballet companies, summer intensives and colleges.

About Assistant Conductor Tara Simoncic
Tara Simoncic, Assistant Conductor to Maestro Malina and the new Youth Symphony Music Director, joined the HSO in July 2010 from an appointment as Music Director of the Norwalk Youth Symphony in Norwalk, Connecticut. While with the NYS, she founded and conducted the Chamber Orchestra there.

During her time as Music Director of the Norwalk Youth Symphony, she built the program from four orchestras to six, adding a very successful mid-level orchestral winds training ensemble as well as a top level chamber orchestra.

In addition to her NYS position, she was also the Music Director and Conductor of the Histoire Chamber Orchestra, Conductor of the Flexible Orchestra (in NYC), Cover Conductor for the Manhattan School of Music (NYC), and Pre-Concert Lecturer and Assistant Conductor for the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra (Greenwich, CT).

Originally from Stockton, California, Ms. Simoncic grew up in a musical family. Her father a composer and her mother a flautist, Tara was encouraged to study several instruments, but chose to focus on the trumpet at the age of six. Tara was bitten by the conducting bug while pursuing her Bachelor of Music degree in trumpet performance at the New England Conservatory of Music. There, she founded the Stravinsky Septet, an ensemble which toured New England with a staged production of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat and other works with similar instrumentation that were commissioned by the ensemble. Deciding to further her studies in conducting, she received her Masters of Music degree in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University.

Her conducting training extended to Europe, where she has studied at the Canford Summer School of Music (England) and with the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic), the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra (Czech Republic), the Adygeya Republic National Symphony Orchestra and the Astrakhan Symphony Orchestra (Russian Republic). She studied with Zdenec Macal, David Gilbert, Iloh Yang, Victor Yampolsky, George Manahan, George Hurst and Kirk Trevor.

About Narrator Cary Burkett
Cary Burkett is the host and producer for the morning Classical Air program on witf, 89.5, heard weekdays from 10-3. He also produces a regular feature on the arts in the region called The Creative Zone. Burkett received a BFA degree in theatre from the University of Texas and has worked in numerous regional theatres, dinner theatres, summer stock and touring companies across the country. Some of his roles include Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, and John Adams in 1776. He lived for several years in New York City, where in addition to performing in Off-Broadway productions he worked as a writer and editor for DC Comics and as a freelance writer for Marvel Comics. He has chronicled the adventures of such heroes as Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. He also created his own character, Nemesis, for DC Comics.