Ceremonies will honor composer

By Liz Navratil

‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt is sponsoring two events in remembrance of Stephen Foster today, on the 145th… ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt is sponsoring two events in remembrance of Stephen Foster today, on the 145th anniversary of his death. ‘ ‘ ‘ Foster, who was born in Lawrenceville, July 4, 1826, is famous for composing the songs ‘Camptown Races,’ ‘Oh! Susanna’ and ‘Beautiful Dreamer,’ among others. ‘ ‘ ‘ A service will be held at the Temple of Memorials Mausoleum, in Allegheny Cemetery, 4754 Penn Ave., at 2 p.m. today. Kathryn Miller Haines, associate director of Pitt’s Center for American Music, and Jacqueline Longmore, of the Lawrenceville Historical Society, and Tom Staresinic, superintendent of Allegheny Cemetery, will speak about Foster. ‘ ‘ ‘ The St. John Neumann School Choir will perform a medley of Foster’s songs. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Stephen Foster’s music was about the people of their time,’ said Deane Root, a Pitt music professor. ‘[His songs] are a time capsule, a message from his time to ours.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Root said Pitt has held events in remembrance of Foster since the 1930s, when the school built the Stephen Foster Memorial. ‘ ‘ ‘ Not only was Foster one of the nation’s first professional songwriters, said Root, but he was ‘the first person, through music, to get people to understand the needs of everyday life.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Root said Foster’s music speaks of the challenges of everyday life, and that ‘it got people to realize the need for individual, human dignity,’ when the nation was stuck in the midst of the Civil War and debating the morality of slavery. ‘ ‘ ‘ Root gave a presentation on Foster at an event held yesterday afternoon at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Downtown. Students in the school’s chorus, orchestra and band performed.