Henry Shevitz turns pages for renowned pianist András Schiff (with cellist Miklós Perényi) at Seligman Performing Arts Center in Beverly Hills on April 4, 2007.

This little-recognized job is essential for successful piano concerts.

Dr. Henry Shevitz, 78, of West Bloomfield, spends his days as a doctor, specializing in nuclear medicine. But on weekends for the past 27 years, he has served as a volunteer page turner for the Chamber Music Society of Detroit. This little-recognized job is essential for successful piano concerts. Shevitz is the person who follows the performance in real time, sitting next to the featured pianist, and turns the music pages at just the right moment.

“It’s really a high-pressure job. If you do your job, nobody notices. All you can do is screw up,” he says.

A talented pianist himself, Shevitz plays the piano daily. “I learned to play the piano before I could read,” he says. He plays with different duos as part of a local group, Friends of Four Hands, which began in the early 1980s. Years ago, Shevitz played regularly with his late wife, Susan Shevitz.

His musical background helps with his concert role. Shevitz is familiar with about a quarter of the music performed, although sometimes he requests a copy of the concert music ahead of time. He doesn’t rehearse with the pianist so it’s no wonder that he describes his work as a “perilous job.”

“I talk to the pianist right before the concert. Some are nasty, some are nice, some are aloof,” he says.

His concert volunteer work began when he turned pages for several pianists at his West Bloomfield synagogue, Temple Kol Ami, years ago.

“In the almost 16 years I’ve been with the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, I cannot remember one single time when Henry was scheduled to turn pages for a concert and didn’t come,” says Willa Walker of Bloomfield Township, the Chamber Music Society’s vice president. “And I cannot remember one single time when he didn’t do his job perfectly. He’s highly skilled, professional and committed to the Chamber Music Society.”

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