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Mendelssohn Choir, PSO celebrate of the life of choral director Robert Page

| Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Robert Page conducting in 2013.
Tribune-Review File
Robert Page conducting in 2013.

The life of choral director Robert Page will be celebrated the same way it was lived: in music.

“We want to share the music that was at the heart of my father's life,” says Carolann Page, daughter of the late educator and director of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.

The choir, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and a number of special guests will perform May 7 at Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, in a tribute to Page, who died Aug. 7, 2016. He was 89.

“When he died, my mother and sister and I wanted to put together a tribute that was more than a funeral,” Carolann says from her home in the Poconos area of New York state. “We want to thank the Pittsburgh Symphony and Heinz Hall for helping us with this.”

She, her mother, Glynn, and sister, Paula, are the chief organizers of “Love That's Here to Stay.”'

Carolann, a theater and opera performer, does not want anyone to miss the title of the event is an intentional play on words of the George Gershwin song, “Love Is Here To Stay.”

Music is a big part of the family. Sister Paula is a harpist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and their mother is a music professor emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland.

Page was a Texas native who in 1971 became director of the famous Robert Shaw Chorale after its namesake left that group. He also worked with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and was head of the school of music at Carnegie Mellon.

She says the 90-minute program will feature music from Ludwig van Beethoven to Stephen Sondheim in its look at the range of Page's work.

It will include works such as part of the choral finale of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, which was the first work Page did with the Pittsburgh orchestra. It also will include some of Carl Orff's “Carmina Burana,” for which Page won his first Grammy award.

But it also will feature classic American songbook tunes such as Irving Berlin's “What'll I Do” and Cole Porter's “De-Lovely,” Carolann says.

“It also will have ‘The Way We Were' as a nod to dad's work with Marvin Hamlisch,” she says, referring to the late composer and conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops.

The show also will include a wide range of colleagues of Page.

The orchestra and choir will be conducted by Andres Franco and Matthew Mehaffey, respectively, and Christine Jordanoff from Duquesne University will conduct the Mendelssohn Junior Choir, which she helped found with Page.

There also will be three guest conductors: Christine Hestwood, a singer and conductor who studied with Page and is director of music at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair; Andrew Clark, a past conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir who is director of choral activities at Harvard University; and Maria Sensi Sellner, conductor of the Resonance Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh.

“There also will be some surprise singers,” Carolann says.

Bob Karlovits is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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