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Callaway hits high notes with 'The Streisand Songbook'

| Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Ann Hampton Callaway

Many singers perform “songbook” programs devoted to artists they admire. But rarely have those performers made their own contributions to the songbook in question.

Ann Hampton Callaway has enjoyed great success as singer and songwriter, strengths she combines in her concert show called “The Streisand Songbook,” which she's already performed with the Boston Pops and other orchestras. Barbra Streisand sang one of Callaway's songs, “I've Dreamed of You,” as a gift to her husband, James Brolin, at their wedding in 1998.

Boston Pops music director Keith Lockhart says the show “is a perfect convergence of wonderful things: iconic songs associated with one of the best-loved singers of our time, beautiful orchestrations, and — of course — the gorgeous voice and unmatched musical intelligence of Ann Hampton Callaway.”

Callaway will perform “The Streisand Songbook” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops conducted by Fawzi Haimor at concerts Nov. 14 to 17 at Heinz Hall, Downtown.

The songbook is Callaway's creation, one she began even before working with Streisand. When Callaway submitted her first song to Streisand, she was told by one of the star's aides that it was great but could she do re-writes — not completely surprising when dealing with so notorious a perfectionist as Streisand.

“It's a very daunting thing to choose the songs, not only that she sang and recorded and reflect her personality (but that also reflect) my personality,” Callaway says. “I need to feel a connection, too.”

She also values the connection she feels with her audiences.

“I know people who come to my concerts, by the end of the concert, feel they've gotten to know me and that we've become friends,” Callaway says. “That's the magic of music, that it touches the heart.”

The Pops program will include “Don't Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl,” Marvin Hamlisch's “The Way We Were,” “Evergreen” from “A Star Is Born,” and Callaway's “At the Same Time.”

The singer is a Chicago native whose father, John Callaway, was a Peabody and Emmy awards-winning broadcast journalist, and whose mother, Shirley, was a singer. Her sister, Liz, is a Broadway actress and singer. The sisters have performed together and released an album called “Sibling Revelry.”

The influence of both her parents was essential to Callaway's artistic development.

“My mother is certainly the genetic source of my musical talent and also my vocal mentor. ... My father was very important to me as an artist and musician,” she says. “He really gave me a sense of being fearless in pursuing an inner calling. ... My parents shared a loved of music, and I suspect that was a big part of what drew them together.”

The singer-songwriter says she's an optimist. “When you do feel that way, a lot of incredible things happen. Creativity is a duet between effort and grace.”

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com

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