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May 23, 2006 > Family affair at Carnegie Hall

Family affair at Carnegie Hall

by Steve Warga

When she turned 80 four years ago, Louise Dondero Xavier, a first generation great-grandmother of Italian descent, realized a rare dream-come-true: she sang in Carnegie Hall, New York City. Even more uniquely, Louise sang with a woman near and dear to her heart, daughter Sharon Xavier de Sousa of Fremont. They sang the Mozart Requiem in honor of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Fifty members of the San Jose Symphonic Choir with about 150 people from choirs throughout the United States performed in accompaniment. World famous conductor and composer, John Rutter, flew from Cambridge, England to direct the group.

On May 28, 2006, Louise will top this remarkable achievement, returning to Carnegie Hall with Sharon on the occasion of Mom's 84th birthday. This time, however, Louise's other daughter, Jane Xavier Barnes, of Alamo will make this a family affair of historic significance. Operatic sopranos, all, the ladies will perform Brahm's German Requiem. John Rutter will again fly from England to conduct.

Amazingly, Louise was largely self-taught, receiving no formal training until her milestone eightieth birthday, when Sharon bought her mom singing lessons at Santa Clara University. Both Louise and her late husband, Walter, shared their musical talents with all four of their children, including brothers, John, a musician and artist in Reno and Gary, known as the "Piano Man of Reno" until his passing in 1999.

If you would like to enjoy Louise performing closer to home than New York City, she will be singing Carmina Burana with the Monterey Symphony on May, 20 in Salinas and May, 21 and May, 22 in Carmel. For more information visit

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