Katherine Soroka & Friends – Shall We Gather By the River

Katherine SorokaMezzo-soprano
Robert FrankenberryTenor
Monique MeadViolin
Walter MoralesPiano

Join us to Celebrate ARCA’s birthday!

Join the fun and celebrate ARCA’s 16th Anniversary – a concert postponed from last year – with a classical cabaret performed by Katherine “Kathy” Soroka & Friends on Sunday, November 6, 2022 at 2 PM in Lincoln Hall.  This “Pops” concert will include an eclectic mix of many genres ARCA audiences have enjoyed through the years – chamber music, piano solos, art song, opera, jazz standards and musical theatre from Bizet, Strauss and Rossini to Gershwin, Bernstein and Sondheim. In this reprise of her performance of ARCA’s inaugural concert in 2006 of the same name, Kathy will be joined by tenor Robert Frankenberry, violinist Monique Mead and pianist Walter Morales. 

Raise a glass of champagne at intermission and, after the concert, enjoy birthday cake at the Red Brick Gallery for the opening of the exhibit of Jeffrey Calta’s “Dark Art: Leaded Glass in 2, 3 and 4 Dimensions”  in the Upstairs Gallery.  

w/Jennifer Orchard & Nathan Carterette

Known to ARCA audiences as a Board member handing out programs or taking photos at the back of the hall, Kathy has had a double career both onstage and backstage in the performing arts.  Hailed for her “masterful” and “heartfelt vocalism” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette), she is known for her moving and vivid performances as a singer-actress. Her world premiere of David Stock’s “Solomon Songs” with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble was acclaimed for “finding both lush lines and dramatic intensity… commanding the stage”. (TribLive) 

ARCA is grateful to Kears and Karen Pollock for their generous sponsorship of this concert.

Tickets may be purchased online here. Tickets are Adults $20, Students $5.  Call to Reserve at 724-659-3153 and pay by cash or check at the door.

Katherine Soroka performs Mahler “Songs of the Wayfarer” w/Edgewood Symphony & Music Director Walter Morales
Robert Frankenberry & Katherine Soroka

The musicians will share with the Lincoln Hall audience the joy they’ve had making music together in Pittsburgh concert venues.  Kathy has performed with the Edgewood Symphony with Music Director Walter Morales singing Mahler, Bernstein and David Stock.  Robert Frankenberry and Kathy have performed together in many Aria412 concerts, a Mozart celebration for Chatham University, and in recital at Mercyhurst University.  All three artists – Kathy, Robert and Walter – performed in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera and Richard Strauss’ Elektra with the Chatham Concert Opera.

Pianist Walter Morales, Katherine Soroka & Robert Frankenberry in Chatham Concert Opera’s Elektra

Internationally acclaimed violinist Monique Mead joins the ensemble in chamber music, performing Massenet’s Élégie and the achingly beautiful violin obligato in Richard Strauss’ Beim Schlafengehen, as well as the first Gershwin Prelude arranged by Jascha Heifetz.  While this is her first “live” ARCA appearance in Lincoln Hall, in the 2021 season Monique created the brilliant educational video Spark Your Creativity featuring her two children and the “Trio con Brio”.  The video was commissioned by ARCA to be presented in its Educational ArtReach program during the COVID restricted Spring 2021 semester in the Allegheny-Clarion Valley Schools.


ARIVE EARLY & EXPLORE FOXBURG!

Plan to Make a Day of it in beautiful Foxburg!  

After the concert, attend the ARCA “birthday cake” reception at the Red Brick Gallery and opening of the exhibit of Jeffrey Calta’s “Dark Art: Leaded Glass in 2, 3 and 4 Dimensions” – also featuring the nature watercolors of Donna Edmonds and a preview of the illustrations soon to appear in a new children’s book authored by Andy Johnson. Enjoy shopping in the first floor Gift Shop, featuring the art of talented Cooperative Artists from the region – pottery, wearable art and purses, fine silver jewelry, wooden gifts and furniture, woven rugs, paintings, photographs and more!

Enjoy a walk along the Allegheny River trail or rent bicycles with Foxburg Tours in the morning or early afternoon!  Have lunch at the Allegheny Grille with seating overlooking the Allegheny River, or for more casual fare, at Foxburg Pizza with salads, sandwiches and pizza.  Save time to enjoy wine tasting at Foxburg Wine Cellars and savor a gourmet coffee and hand made chocolate at Divani Chocolatier and Barrista.  Or spend the night in Foxburg in the lovely Foxburg Inn or up the river at Emlenton’s bed and breakfast,  The Barnard House.

denniskeyesphotography.com

 

Katherine “Kathy” Soroka

Familiar to ARCA audiences at the back of Lincoln Hall as a Board member in her capacity managing programing, website, social media and marketing – or coordinating educational concerts in the Allegheny Clarion Valley Schools, Kathy has had a double career both onstage and backstage in the performing arts.

A winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Auditions, Kathy is an avid recitalist known for creating characters and song interpretations that are brimming with life, pathos and humor. For the Frick Museum “Music for Exhibitions concert” in Pittsburgh, she curated and performed a concert with Chatham Baroque in conjunction with “From Michelangelo to Annibale Carraci, A Century of Italian Drawings From the Prado”. Performances for the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival with Aron Zelkowicz include chamber music performances for both their Ladino and Songs of the Season Festivals.

A proponent of contemporary music since her early study with Jan DeGaetani, Kathy performed Betty Oliviero’s Juego de Siempre in New York City with Joel Sachs and the internationally acclaimed new music ensemble, Continuum.

Solomon Songs with Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

Performing the world premiere of David Stock’s Solomon Songs with pianist Nanette Kaplan Solomon for the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, she also has sung world premieres of David Stock’s Rumi Sings of Love at Duquesne University and Judith Shatin’s Grave Music at Aspen Music Festival, as well as works by Chinery Ung and Noah Zahler, among others, at The Kitchen, The Julliard School, The Greenwich House, Columbia University and City University of New York. Recent performances in Pittsburgh include David Stock’s Three Yiddish Songs with a quartet comprised of members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for the If Music Be The Food concert series.

Katherine Soroka sings David Stock’s “Three Yiddish Songs” w/PSO musicians-“If Music Be the Food” series

Performances with orchestra include singing Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Lucas Richman and narrating concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Tiny Tots and Schooltime educational concerts under the batons of conductors Daniel Meyer and Lawrence Loh.

With the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Walter Morales, with whom she collaborates in this concert, Kathy performed Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony and David Stock’s Three Yiddish Songs. She also sang Copland’s Old American Songs with the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra at the Carnegie Library Music Hall.

Katherine Soroka sings Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony w/Edgewood Symphony & Walter Morales, Music Director

Recent operatic roles included Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera and Klytaemnestra in Elektra with Chatham Concert Opera – appearing in both with tenor Robert Frankenberry and pianist/conductor Walter Morales who join her in this recital; Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti with Aria412; and Baba in The Medium at Mercyhurst University directed by Louisa Jonason

Katherine Soroka with pianist Nathan Carterette in Walker Recital Hall, Mercyhurst University

Kathy has performed recitals in numerous New York City venues including Merkin and Cami concert halls and on the Trinity Church and Saint Stephens Church concert series, at Allegheny College with pianist Alec Chien, and in recitals collaborating with pianist Nathan Carterette in Pittsburgh on the First Friday Series at The Church of the Redeemer, the Chatham University concert series, for Tuesday Musical Club and in Walker Recital Hall at Mercyhurst University in Erie.

With pianist Pauline Rovkah in Copland’s Old American Songs & Schubert at Chatham’s Eden Hall

In a Chatham University chamber music concert outdoors at Eden Hall, Kathy performed Copland and Schubert with pianist Pauline Rovkah and members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

No stranger to ARCA audiences, Kathy performed its inaugural classical concert in November 2006 and over the years sang in Mozart and Beethoven festival concerts, including a 2010 performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Players and Natasha Snitkovsky, and a 2013 solo recital “Songs of the Spirt” collaborating with members of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Beethoven concert with Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Players & Natasha Snitkovsky

In recent years, Kathy made cameo appearances with pianist David Allen Wehr in a Schubert program and with the Alexander String Quartet in a tribute to the late Patricia Ann Steffee (long time ARCA Board member and Treasurer) in Richard Strauss’ Beim Schlafengehen from his Four Last Songs.

With Dr. Arthur Steffee & Alexander String Quartet after Strauss performance in memory of Patricia Steffee 2019

In her early career in New York City, Kathy performed the roles of Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Brooklyn Opera Company, Dido in Dido and Aeneas at Columbia University and Romeo in I Capuleti et i Montecchi with the Opera Ensemble of New York before assuming a senior executive position at the New York Philharmonic, and leaving behind operatic performing to continue singing recitals and contemporary music in New York City.

Musical theatre roles include Jenny in Company at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, the Witch in Into the Woods with the Barrow Civic Theatre, and Vera in Pal Joey at the Colonial TheatreShe has appeared in soap operas in daytime television, film and national television commercials. Kathy has performed cabaret shows and club acts in New York City including “A Summer Romance” and “Hats Off to Working Women” at Panache and Don’t Tell Mama and classical cabaret concerts in Pittsburgh for the McKeesport Symphony.

Appearing with Aria412 – Pittsburgh’s celebrated new cabaret opera and musical theatre company, she has performed opera arias, art songs, jazz favorites and comedic songs in its many-themed programs at the Indigo Hotel, Chatham University and via online streamed concerts during COVID.

With Aria412-the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, My Husband Makes Movies from Nine & What a Movie from Trouble in Tahiti

Anne Marit Bergstrom signs post recital autograph

Growing up in North Dakota, Kathy studied piano with Alma Mehus Studness, who prior to marrying and returning to ND, had toured Europe and performed the Tchaikovsky piano concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic at age 19. Also in ND, she studied voice with Studness’ daughter, operatic soprano (and painter) Anne-Marit Bergstrom. She credits their inspiration, encouragement and mentorship as the source of her life in music and dedication as a voice teacher.  Over the years, she has performed recitals frequently for the Chautauqua concert series in her home town – Devils Lake.

Kathy’s first career was “backstage” managing concerts and directing programs in some of the country’s major arts organizations.

Kathy served in the senior management of the New York Philharmonic; as Executive Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, WY and the Children’s Festival Chorus in Pittsburgh; and on the faculty and administration of Manhattan School of Music developing the nationally acclaimed  Orchestral Performance Masters Degree Program and founding the innovative MUSIC IN ACTION: An Educational and Community ArtReach Program.

A magna cum laude graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, Kathy studied voice in New York City with private teachers and performers, Jennie Tourel, Olga Ryss, Doris Jung, Elaine Bonazzi, Ed Dixon, Paul Gavert, Dr. Michael Warren and Louisa Jonason. Studying, performing and serving as a vocal accompanist for five summers at Aspen Music Festival, she also sang at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria and toured Italy with the North Carolina School of the Arts.

With Grace Smrcka at Mercyhurst

Soroka vocal studio in Pittsburgh

In NYC Kathy studied acting and performed at the Herbert Berghof Studio, Actor’s Institute and with renowned Actors Studio member and acting coach, Marilyn Fried. With Broadway actor and film choreographer and producer John DeLuca, she performed Vera to his Joey in Pal Joey and was directed by him in Company at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.

For five years, Kathy served as voice instructor and collaborative accompanist on the faculty of Mercyhurst University. She maintains a private voice studio in Pittsburgh and Foxburg and teaches cyber lessons to students across the country.

Married to former Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Percussionist John Soroka, Kathy is a Board member of Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts in Foxburg, PA where they now reside with their Hungarian Viszla, Plato.

Robert Frankenberry

Robert Frankenberry leads a multifaceted career as a vocalist, pianist, educator, actor, and conductor. As music director for Pittsburgh Festival Opera, he has collaborated on critically-praised new productions of a wide-range of works, including “reimaginings”of works by Offenbach (The Tales of Hoffmann – Retold) and Bizet (Carmen: the Gypsy) and site-specific productions of Orpheus & Eurydice by both Gluck and Ricky Ian Gordon (presented as Euridice and Orpheus), Daron Hagen’s Shining Brow-Fallingwater version, and Montemezzi’s L’Incantesimo (The Love Spell).

Robert has led the premieres of the Night Caps – also contributing as a composer – and Night Caps International projects, Roger Zahab’s Happy Hour, Gilda Lyons’ A New Kind of Fallout, and Dwayne Fulton’s A Gathering of Sons.  He currently serves as Director of the Pittsburgh Festival Opera Young Artists Program.

Since joining the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Theatre Arts in 2015, he has provided vocal direction and musical support for Pitt Stages’ productions of Nine, Peter & the Starcatcher, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; musical direction for Hair and Little Shop of Horrors; and direction for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Parade.

On stage, he has performed a wide range of roles including Mozart (Amadeus), John Adams (1776), Carl-Magnus (A Little Night Music), Bacchus (Ariadne auf Naxos), and the title roles in Don Carlo, The Tales of Hoffmann, Faust, and Willy Wonka.

A charter member of the New Mercury Collective, he originated the role of Orson Welles in Daron Hagen’s Orson Rehearsed in collaboration with Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble in September 2018.

At the piano, Robert performs regularly as an active member of numerous ensembles including Pittsburgh’s IonSound and AnimeBOP; New York City’s The Phoenix Players and PRISM Players; and multi-city entelechron and Chrysalis Duo. He can be heard singing and playing on the Naxos, Albany, New World Records, Roven Records, New Dynamic Records, and Innova labels.

Monique Mead

A passionate ambassador of classical music, violinist Monique Mead enjoys a rich career as a performer, educator, and innovator. Inspired and mentored by Leonard Bernstein, Mead has devoted her performing career to nurturing new audiences and deepening the musical experience for seasoned concertgoers. Her programs with major orchestras and festivals in the United States and Europe have drawn international acclaim for their popular appeal and innovative approach.

Interweaving live music with education and audience engagement at the highest level, her programs have reached millions through television appearances, a six-year radio series with the Munich Radio Orchestra, and nearly 20 years of concerts with the Cologne Philharmonic, Munich Symphony, Düsseldorf Symphony, Berlin Radio Orchestra, RIAS Chamber Choir, Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, San Diego Symphony, and the Mainly Mozart Festival, among others.

Sharing her passion for audience engagement are conductors and soloists such as Manfred Honeck, Leonidas Kavakos, Jon Kimura Parker, Sarah Chang, Lars Vogt, Arabella Steinbacher, and Yan Pascal Tortelier, with whom she collaborates to create interactive events that build excitement around the concert experience. In this capacity, she has created long-term programs for many arts organizations in the United States and Europe. Her current focus is on the Pittsburgh Symphony, where she serves as Consultant for Integrative Strategies, spearheading initiatives that build loyal audiences and integrate music into community life.

Mead’s ability to see musical connections in everything from Verdi to Vader and Star Wars to soccer, has resulted in over 200 thematic programs for audiences of all ages, many sponsored by Audi, Bayer, FC Bayern-München, Dresdner Bank, Ronald McDonald House, BASF, Opel, and the Anders Foundation, among others.

In addition to programming, performing, and presenting concerts with orchestras since 1997, Mead has trained hundreds of orchestral musicians to be effective teaching artists, helping them to make meaningful connections with young audiences. The opportunity to offer this training at the conservatory level came in 2012, when Mead was appointed Director of Music Entrepreneurship Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. With a focus on experiential learning, she collaborates with world-class musicians in helping students develop a broad range of skills and take an innovative approach to professional life.

Other affiliations with CMU include a position as Violin Instructor at the Preparatory School and a lecture series for CMU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Most recently, Mead founded the Center for Arts Innovation at CMU, which serves as a cross-campus laboratory for developing strategies and products that support orchestras and other arts organizations.

She currently performs on a 1717 Stradivarius, graciously made available by Carnegie Mellon University.

Walter Morales

 A native of Costa Rica, Walter Morales is the Music Director of the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra.  His previous positions include Music Director of Undercroft Opera, Music Director of the Carnegie Mellon University Contemporary Ensemble, Head of Music of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic, Assistant Director of Orchestral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University and Assistant Conductor of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic.

He has been a guest conductor with the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Pittsburgh Festival Opera Orchestra, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Philharmonic, University of Costa Rica Symphony Orchestra, University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, McKeesport Symphony Orchestra, Helix New Music Ensemble, and the Rutgers Chamber Orchestra among others.

Morales is the First Prize Winner of the 2019 American Prize in Conducting (Das Rheingold/ Pittsburgh Festival Opera) and the 2015 American Prize in Conducting (Undercroft Opera). In 2017, he was awarded Third Place in Opera Conducting for Julius Caesar (Pittsburgh Festival Opera) and Die Fledermaus (Carnegie Mellon University). In 2016, he was awarded Third Place of the American Prize in Orchestral Conducting (Westmoreland Symphony) and Second Place in Opera Conducting (Figaro Redux/Pittsburgh Festival Opera).

In addition to his commitments as a conductor, Morales is an active concert pianist. He has toured through out the United States, Central and South America. In New York City, he has performed at Steinway Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Lincoln Center. He has also appeared at Severance Hall, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, International Piano Series, and at Rutgers SummerFest. He has performed as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Symphony Orchestra of Chile, Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble, McKeesport Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Mellon Virtuosi, Princeton Pro Musica, University of Costa Rica Symphony Orchestra, College of Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and the International Piano Series Orchestra.

His first commercial recording featuring George Crumb’s Makrokosmos III: Music for a Summer Evening is available on Mode Records. In June 2007, this recording received the Diapason D’Or, the highest phonographic award in France. Other releases include “Small Bear, Large Telescope,” with music of Carson Cooman, “Season Within,” featuring works of Marilyn Taft Thomas, and “Sigel” with Chilean percussionist Gerardo Salazar, “Other Sun,” with music of Nancy Galbraith on the Centaur Records label and “Noises…Voices… Distant Songs“ featuring music of the Costa Rican composer Alejandro Cardona on the Quindecim label.

 

Shall We Gather By the River

The eclectic classical cabaret program for this 16th Anniversary Birthday Concert has been created to present many of the genres enjoyed by ARCA audiences since its inception – from opera arias and scenes to musical theatre and pop songs — and chamber music with voice, violin and piano to solo piano.

With Arch & Roberta Newton & Rose Kalinowsky-11/4/06

Katherine Soroka – who sang its first classical concert on November 4, 2016 returns for this anniversary celebration with artists Monique Mead, violin; Robert Frankenberry, tenor; and Walter Morales, piano.

Katherine will sing a hauntingly beautiful work by Purcell remembering ARCA’s Board, volunteers and members and honoring all all those who have generously supported ARCA over the years, with a special musical tribute to Founding President, Dr. Arthur Steffee.

This concert has it all – from the fireworks of Rossini and elegant melody of Massenet’s Elégie for violin, piano and voice to the steamy passion of a scene from Bizet’s Carmen with tenor Robert Frankenberry singing Don Jose and Katherine Soroka the gypsy. The high emotion opera of Robert Frankenberry’s Meyerbeer aria from Le Prophète will be matched by Gian Carlo Menotti’s “To This We’ve Come” from The Consul, in which Magda entreats a secretary during World War II to grant her the “papers” that she requires for safe passage… an aria most relevant in the context of the vaccine passports of 2021.

For the”operatically challenged” audience members, never fear! While the concert’s first half presents some vocal works in their native Italian, French and German, many are being sung in English – and for those in foreign languages, the storyline and drama will be explained and translations provided.

Then there’s the humor of Leonard Bernstein at his most outrageous with One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man – as well as heart warming charmers by Bernstein and Gershwin.  Touching will be Gershwin’s My Man’s Gone Now from Porgy and Bess, Bring Him Home from Les Miserables, and Children will Listen.  And, of course, Aaron Copland’s Shall We Gather By the River

Internationally traveled violinist Ms. Meade performs in works by Massenet, the exquisite Beim Schlafengehen by Richard Strauss and the first Gershwin Prelude arranged by Jascha Heifetz. Mr. Morales will delight the audience with a solo piano work.

At intermission, the audience will enjoy a champagne (or other bubbly) toast! And at the conclusion of the concert, the audience will be invited to the Red Brick Gallery for birthday cake and coffee, as they view the opening of Jeffrey Calta’s exhibit, “Dark Art:  Leaded glass in 2, 3 and 4 dimensions” as well as viewing nature watercolors of Donna Edmonds, previewing a new children’s book soon to be published and featured in the Red Brick Gallery Gift Shop.

Katherine Soroka w/Tom Roberts & Susanne Ortner 2008 and performing Strauss w/the Alexander String Quartet 2019

The Founding of Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts

riverstone_aerials-7
For hundreds of years the scenic allure of the Allegheny-Clarion River Valley  has attracted settlers whose foresight established the business and social structure of the towns of Foxburg and Emlenton. Since the mid-19th century, arts and entertainment were brought to the valley to enrich the community – whether touring variety shows and musicians, silent movies or Emlenton Civic Club presentations.

Arthur & Patricia SteffeeWhen Dr. Arthur Steffee and his late wife Patricia began refurbishing the Fox estate and establishing Foxburg businesses in the late nineties and early millennium, they envisioned the arts as a hub of community and cultural life – drawing people to appreciate the refreshment of the arts in this stunningly picturesque valley.   Hailing from Cleveland, they had fond memories of going to Blossom Music Center, the Cleveland Orchestra’s summer home, where the commingling of nature’s splendor and music’s soaring inspiration were an idyllic combination. They believed that the Allegheny River Valley deserved to have the same thing.

Inspired by their vision, sixteen years ago a stalwart group of local culture lovers, educators and artists came together and began devoting their time, energy and resources to make this dream a reality. The founding Board of Directors in 2005 established the non-profit organization, Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts, and began creating a center for arts and education on the banks of the beautiful Allegheny River in Foxburg.

Lincoln Hall on October 5, 2006 for Inaugural Concert

From the beginning, the generosity and hard work of these Board members and volunteers joining their ranks, established the cornerstone of ARCA; they not only developed the cultural offerings but also refurbished the concert venue itself.  The Fox family had built Lincoln Hall as a concert and community venue which opened in 1909 on the second floor of The Foxburg Free Library; however, it had long since been used as a medical center – broken up with small cubicles and a dropped ceiling.

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Lincoln Hall oil painting backdrop, Paul McKissick, & inaugural performance poster

According to founding Board member, Jae Brown, when Arthur Steffee first threw open the doors to show the Board the space, they were shocked and “gobsmacked… it was a debris-logged and entirely impassable ‘warren’ of partially deconstructed office space that precluded any passage past the foyer at the front door. It seemed impossible, looking back, but in a reasonable amount of time what had seemed an irretrievable space was redeemed by the vision and hard physical labor of many.”

Lincoln Hall

During the reconstruction, an original hand painted oil painting of the river, originally used as a curtain, was found rolled up under the stage. Carefully conserved by Andor Jobb, who lightly cleansed the surface and reinforced the backing using rabbit glue, the painting now serves as Lincoln Hall’s stage backdrop. A gift of Dr. Arthur and Patricia Steffee, a beautiful seven-foot Steinway grand piano graces its stage.  Noted for its intimacy and crystalline acoustics, the hall is a favorite of instrumentalists, such as the Alexander String Quartet and Members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

mckissick_wurlitzer-crop.2
Photo: Dennis Keyes

As Lincoln Hall was being renovated, considerable efforts ensued to move and install the 1929 Wurlitzer Theater Organ, which the Steffees had purchased from Paul McKissick.  Over eleven years McKissick had lovingly restored this treasure, which originally had been installed in Cleveland’s Uptown Theater and played to accompany silent movies.  Dubbed the Mighty McKissick Wurlitzer, the theatre organ is one of only 24 created in its style and size.

Beginning in September 2005, Paul McKissick began putting the pipes in specially built boxes to prepare for their move to Foxburg. Over the next months, Dr. Steffee moved the boxes of pipes using a horse trailer at times with the assistance of Board member Thomas Hovis, to ease loading and unloading. For the next year Paul personally, painstakingly installed the organ in its new home.

Arthur & Patricia Steffee, Scott Foppiano & Sally & Paul McKissick
Arthur & Patricia Steffee, Scott Foppiano & Sally & Paul McKissick

It was determined that ARCA would inaugurate its first performance season in the elegantly refurbished Lincoln Hall on October 5 and 6, 2006 with concerts on the Mighty McKissick Wurlitzer performed by Scott Foppiano; the first non-organ concert,“Shall We Gather By the River”, was performed by Katherine Soroka and Friends on November 4, 2006 with Raymond Blackwell, piano, and PSO musicians, Jennifer Orchard, violin, and Mikhail Istomin, cello.

Scott Foppiano & Katherine Soroka, Lincoln Hall 2006
Scott Foppiano & Katherine Soroka, Lincoln Hall 2006

ARCA celebrates its sixteenth anniversary performance season on November 6 with this “Birthday party” concert and pays tribute with a champagne/bubbly toast honoring its founding Board members and volunteers, whose vision and prodigious contributions over the years have created an arts organization hailed as “the cultural jewel of the region” and becoming a cultural destination in its own right.

Executive Director, Adam Weiss; Opening night audience, October 5, 2006; Mighty McKissick Wurlitzer organ