Modesto area harpist, Donelle Page, 55, dies

Donelle Nelson Page, an accomplished harpist who performed with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra and other orchestras around the region, has died. She was 55.

Ms. Page died Tuesday in Modesto after a nearly three-year battle with cancer, her family said.

She was well-known to many in the area for playing at countless parties and weddings.

"She definitely enjoyed making music for people," said her brother, Kurtis Nelson.

Ms. Page had played with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra for more than 20 years and a member of the union's negotiating committee during the musicians' 2002 strike. She was one of the few orchestra musicians who lived in Modesto rather than in the Bay Area.

"Donelle was a bright light for the (orchestra) and this community," said Paul Jan Zdunek, the orchestra's president and chief executive officer. "She was an incredibly gifted musician, but even more notably, a loving and caring human being who touched all with her kindness and deep concern for everyone she met."

Ms. Page also played with the Santa Cruz, Napa, Stockton and California (Walnut Creek) symphony orchestras and performed in the Carmel Bach Festival, Bear Valley Music Festival and Mendocino Music Festival.

She performed with the Moody Blues in the Bay Area, composed music and performed with a flute player and bassist in the trio Page 3. In addition, Ms. Page taught harp and piano lessons and performed and sang at Modesto churches, including Centenary United Methodist Church (where her father, Don Nelson, was pastor for nearly 30 years) and Calvary Chapel.

Born in Glendale, she lived in Reedley and Selma, near Fresno, before moving to Modesto. She studied harp and keyboard at Biola College and California State University, Long Beach.

She is survived by her adult children, Nelson and Naschelle Page, and her siblings, Kurtis Nelson of Ceres, Kreg Nelson of Modesto and Kristine Snyder of Maui, Hawaii.

A service is scheduled at 2 p.m. Saturday at Centenary United Methodist Church.

Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at 578-2313 or lmillegan@modbee.com.