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Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to perform at Sewickley church

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
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The performers from the Pittsburgh Symphony coming to St. James Church in Sewickley are George Vosburgh, PSO Principal Trumpet; Neal Berntsen, PSO Trumpet; William Caballero, PSO Principal Horn; Peter Sullivan, PSO Principal Trombone; Murray Crewe, PSO Bass Trombone; Craig Knox, PSO Principal Tuba.

The next concert in the St. James Music Plus Concert Series will involve three groups that are close to Judy and Sam Spanos' hearts.

The hourlong concert featuring the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Brass and titled “A Christmas Concert: Music for McGuire” will be held at St. James Church in Sewickley.

The Spanoses, Sewickley Heights residents who are underwriting the concert, have been members of St. James Church for 20 years, have supported McGuire Homes in New Brighton for almost as long and love the symphony.

The couple began supporting McGuire Memorial Foundation through St. James. Sister Mary Thaddeus Markelewicz, McGuire president and CEO, spoke to the congregation several times about the New Brighton facility, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

They became avid supporters after Sam Spanos began participating in a golf outing benefitting McGuire about 15 years ago, and found out about the work done there, Judy Spanos said.

“They care for the some of the area's most fragile and most handicapped people,” she said. “Some can't communicate, and there are so many with physical and mental challenges. This is a place they can go to be cared for, loved and educated.”

Sharron Schaefer, director of the concert series, agreed. Her granddaughter is a resident at McGuire.

“McGuire Memorial is a fairly well-known facility for its excellent and loving care of persons with special needs, but I am always surprised to see that there are some who do not know anything about it,” she said.

McGuire Memorial is a co-sponsored ministry of the Felician Sisters of North America, Our Lady of Hope Province and the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Sam Spanos, a former board member, said he “just can't do enough” for McGuire. He said it helps children and adults from all over the country.

“I told my wife that God has blessed us, and we have to do all we can to help the kids at McGuire,” he said.

Judy Spanos is vice president of Franklin Templeton Investments for the greater Pittsburgh region, and her husband is a manager and director of the Spanos Group of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Beaver.

Dennis Sabatini, executive director of McGuire Memorial Foundation, established in 1992, said he was “blown away” when he heard the Spanoses wanted to underwrite the concert so that all the proceeds could be donated to McGuire.

“I think it goes beyond the realm of generosity,” he said.

The concert will provide a rare opportunity for area residents to experience a PSO concert without traveling to Pittsburgh, Schaefer said.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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