Peter Segal, founded Classical Guitar Society

Posted: January 30, 2006

Peter Segal, 56, a concert guitarist and professor who was a leader in the classical-guitar community in Philadelphia, died of esophageal cancer Thursday at his Society Hill home.

Dr. Segal was a founding member of the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society in 1967. He was director of guitar studies at Temple University from 1973 to 1993 and performed for 30 years in Philadelphia and worldwide. He appeared with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He also played with ensembles including the Concerto Soloists, Amerita String Orchestra, Davidsbund Chamber Ensemble, and Relache.

Dr. Segal made his European debut in London in 1969. He also performed in Italy, Canada, Spain and other countries.

Raised in Drexel Hill, he graduated from Upper Darby High School in 1967. He began playing the guitar at 7 with Peter Colonna of Settlement Music School.

He earned a bachelor's degree in business in 1971, a master's in music history in 1985, and a doctorate in musical arts in 1994, all from Temple University.

Dr. Segal often played historical instruments such as the four-string Renaissance guitar. His repertoire included solo works from the early 16th century, the Baroque and the 19th century, and contemporary composers.

Dr. Segal also commissioned original music, including Robert Capanna's "Man With the Blue Guitar" in 1993. The work was inspired by the Picasso painting and Wallace Stevens' poem of the same name.

Dr. Segal composed music for flute and guitar that he and flutist Janet Ketchum performed internationally for more than 20 years.

Among his many awards was a Solo Recitalist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1993, Dr. Segal switched gears to work in the nonprofit world, first as administrative director of Settlement Music School. In 2000, he became budget director for Resources for Human Development, a nonprofit group that provides social services in seven states. He worked there until shortly before his death.

Dr. Segal edited for publication compositions by Antonio Vivaldi, Franz Schubert, Mauro Giuliani and Joaquin Rodrigo.

Dr. Segal is survived by his wife of 21 years, Concha Alborg; stepdaughters Diana Day and Jane Day Rasmussen; three step-grandchildren; two brothers; and a sister.

Dr. Segal donated his body to science. A memorial concert is being planned for the spring.

Donations may be sent to the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society, 2038 Sansom St., Philadelphia 19103.

Contact staff writer Gayle Ronan Sims at 215-854-4185 or gsims@phillynews.com.

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