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Upper St. Clair, North Allegheny choir concerts are an international affair

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 9:20 p.m.
Upper St. Clair Choral Director Lorraine Milovac (foreground) directs the Upper St. Clair Pantheon Choir and the North Allegheny Concert Choir during practice at USC on Tuesday, November 20, 2012. The combined choir will be singing with Giorgia Fumanti at each of the two schools this weekend. Heidi Murrin | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The combined North Allegheny High School Concert Choir and the Upper St. Clair High School Pantheon Choir rehearse at Upper St. Clair High School Tuesday, November 20, 2012 for their upcoming concert with singer Giorgia Fumanti this coming weekend. Fumanti's Musical Director Vito DiSalvo is at the piano, and Choral Directors Lorraine Milovac (USC) on podium, and Ernie Pontiere (NA) direct. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Ellie Blake, 17, a senior at Upper St. Clair, rehearses with the combined Upper St. Clair Pantheon Choir and the North Allegheny High School Concert Choir for the upcoming show with singer Giorgia Fumanti Tuesday, November 20, 2012. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Vito DiSalvo, Musical Director for singer Giorgia Fumanti, works with the combined North Allegheny High Shool Concert Choir and the Upper St. Clair High School Pantheon Choir during practice at USC Tuesday, November 20, 2012. The choir will be singing with Fumanti this coming weekend at the two schools. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
North Allegheny High School seniors Olivia Bowser, left, and Hannah Collins, both 18, greet Upper St. Clair freshman Turner Queen, 15, during rehearsal Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at USC. The North Allegheny Concert Choir and the Upper St. Clair Pantheon Choir are combining to sing with Giorgia Fumanti at two shows this coming weekend. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A combined choir of students from North Allegheny and Upper St. Clair high schools will perform with international singer Giorgia Fumanti in a pair of concerts this weekend.

About 175 students will accompany the French-Canadian soprano, who was born in Italy, in concerts on Friday and Sunday in their schools, performing classical, liturgical and pop pieces. The performances are part of an effort by her locally based music director to bring Fumanti to more U.S. audiences.

“The first, most obvious thing was to put her into the market I know most,” said Vito DiSalvo of South Park, Fumanti's musical director, co-founder of Mifflin Hills Music Publishing and former music teacher in the West Mifflin Area School District.

“It brings back memories; it's kind of neat getting back to (high school) for a minute,” he said.

Fumanti, whose biography compares her with singers Andrea Bocelli, Enya or Barbra Streisand, will sing with a nine-piece orchestra, then students will perform one song, then they will share the stage with Fumanti for the rest of the two-hour concert, DiSalvo said.

Fumanti said via email she's excited to work with the students.

“I started to sing and discovered my voice at the age of 17 in a choir in Italy, so I am very close to people who are in choir,” she said.

DiSalvo said he had previously recorded music with Ernie Pontiere, choral director at North Allegheny Senior High School, and this summer, Pontiere recommended joining forces with his counterpart Lorraine Milovac at Upper St. Clair for a concert featuring Fumanti.

About 65 students from Upper St. Clair and 110 from North Allegheny practiced the music separately for months, and held their first joint rehearsal for the concert Tuesday at Upper St. Clair.

Pontiere and Milovac shared the conductor's podium while DiSalvo played piano, working out how the choir will weave their voices around Fumanti's when she arrives for the final rehearsal and first concert Friday. They also demonstrated how the choirs should sway in unison during certain songs.

The concert will include songs like “You Raise Me Up,” “Amazing Grace” and “O Holy Night,” along with Latin and Italian songs like “Spente le Stelle” and “O Fortuna.”

The group will also sing “Tu Sei la Mia Vita” — translated as “You are My Life” — a song that DiSalvo wrote for his wife in the 1980s and Pontiere performed for his wife at their wedding.

“They'll be singing in English, Latin and Italian... They're different styles than (the students) are used to, like Italian pop music as compared to opera,” Milovac said after the rehearsal. “They walk out of the classroom still singing the music, so you know they like it.”

The concert will be at 8 p.m. Friday in Upper St. Clair High School, 1825 McLaughlin Run Road, and 7 p.m. Sunday in North Allegheny, 350 Cumberland Road.

Tickets are $25 and $20 and can be reserved by calling 412-653-4838. Proceeds go to each school's choral programs.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or

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