Usually in a classical music concert, you're never supposed to notice the page turners.

Typically dressed in black, they enter the stage behind the musicians and discreetly position themselves at a spot where they can, at the right moment, turn the pages of whatever music is being performed so that the players don't miss a beat. If they do their jobs right, you never notice the page turners.

But at Sunday afternoon's final concert for the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, one of those page-turners, Mara McManus, will be in the spotlight.

McManus has been a volunteer page-turner for the festival for the last decade or so, after moving to Corvallis from Pittsburgh. After the move, she approached festival organizers to see if they needed any page turners for rehearsals and performances.

They did.

"I don't turn pages, unless I'm under duress," joked Erik Peterson, the festival's founder and artistic director.

So for the last decade or so, McManus has cheerfully been helping the festival's musicians.

"Mara's gone above and beyond what any mortal page turner should do," Peterson said, noting that she takes time off from work and attends festival dress rehearsals as part of her volunteer duties.

On Sunday, the festival's musicians and patrons will return the favor for McManus.

In April, McManus' son, Lincoln, lost his left leg in an incident involving a riding lawnmower. 

Peterson said that Chintimini musicians and organizers have been talking since then about what they could do to help the McManus family. But nothing clicked until they learned about the price tag the family was facing just for the helicopter that ferried 7-year-old Lincoln to a Portland hospital. 

The price tag for that one vital trip: $67,000.

Mara McManus said that her insurance will cover $7,000 of that tab, but that leaves another $60,000.

During Sunday's concert, Peterson plans to call McManus to the front of the stage. He'll announce that the Chintimini musicians are donating some of their festival payment to McManus. And he'll encourage concert-goers to donate as well. 

McManus said Lincoln was scheduled to get fitted for a prosthetic leg this week — "he's very excited about his 'superfoot,'" she joked — and overall appears to be doing well. "He's very athletic and fit," she said of her son, who plans to attend Sunday's concert. That fitness will be a plus to the lengthy physical therapy work ahead for Lincoln, who will enter third grade in the fall.

Overall, she said, Lincoln spent almost six weeks in hospitals, and estimated that all the medical bills to date likely exceed $300,000.

So she was grateful when Peterson extended his offer to help raise some money.

"I'm so appreciative of Erik," McManus said. "This really means a lot."

But it will require McManus to venture into new territory for a page-turner, Peterson told her at a rehearsal this week: "You'll get to walk in front of the musicians."


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