A newsmaker you should know: Musician has spent lifetime 'doing what I love to do'
When "The Lawrence Welk Show" came on television at the DiSalvo home in West Mifflin, a young Vito DiSalvo would sit, mesmerized by the accordion playing of Myron Floren in the orchestra.
When Vito was 4, his gifts under the Christmas tree included a toy accordion; before long, he was picking out tunes, which prompted his parents to give him accordion lessons.
In the fifth grade, the band director in West Mifflin schools had him play baritone in the concert band and sousaphone in the marching band.
"By the time I was in the eighth grade, I knew I wanted to major in music at Duquesne University, famous for its music program," recalled Mr. DiSalvo, now 61, of South Park.
Advised to study the euphonium -- a valved, brass instrument -- as a way to secure a scholarship, he entered Duquesne as a music education major. He really wanted to play piano, which he tinkered on at home.
"Taking one year of piano instruction was a requirement for all Duquesne music education majors at the time, but I studied the piano all four years and graduated proficient on two instruments -- the euphonium and the piano," he said.
Another of his interests centered on the architecture of music, or how it was put together. He wanted to compose, so he enrolled at the University of Miami, where he studied musical theory and composition.
"At Duquesne, I'd written a three-movement piece for symphonic band titled 'Concerto for Band,' " he said. "The work premiered in April 1972 at the Mid East Music Conference in Pittsburgh."
Since then, Mr. DiSalvo has written 10 other symphonic works, including one commissioned by Duquesne University professor Nestor Koval titled, "Rhapsody for Soprano Saxophone and Symphonic Band."
After he completed his master's degree, he and his wife, the former Lana Benedetti, moved back to the Pittsburgh area in 1976 to raise their children near family, and Mr. DiSalvo got a job teaching music in the West Mifflin district.
He also started the Mifflin Hills Music Co. in February 1977, an enterprise in which his wife still works as business manager. The company became an umbrella enterprise for bands he promotes, as well as We Three, a trio he formed while still in the ninth grade, composed of accordion, saxophone and drums.
In 2009, the company became Mifflin Hills Publishing LLC, to which some 30 composers from around the world contribute. The recording and artist management components of the company operate as MHM Productions.
We Three still performs. In 1987, the group recorded its first album, "Bravo Italia," a collection of Italian folk-style music. Ten other recordings followed.
Two tracks, Mr. DiSalvo's own "Tarantella Americana" and the "Wedding Tarantella," were used in the sound track of the film, "Eat, Pray, Love." Another of his compositions, "Wedding Waltz," was used in an episode of the television series, "The Sopranos."
Radio personality Jack Bogut introduced We Three for its performance at the Three Rivers Regatta. Later, Mr. Bogut asked Mr. DiSalvo to compose the music for a recording he planned to narrate. Mr. DiSalvo later composed the music for three recordings Mr. Bogut narrated.
Just before retiring from the West Mifflin district in 2008, Mr. DiSalvo became the music director for Italian baritone singer Patrizio Buanne. For several years, he accompanied the singer in concerts around the world. During a Pittsburgh concert at the Benedum Center, he met Giorgia Fumanti, an Italian soprano who opened for Mr. Buanne.
Ms. Fumanti liked her Benedum experience so much she asked Mr. DiSalvo to be her American music director. His first call for work came not for the U.S. but for a concert in Shanghai, China. Since then he's toured with her in the United States and Canada. Next year, he plans to accompany her to Moscow for a concert.
"It's been a lifetime of doing what I love to do," he said.
First Published January 10, 2013 5:04 am