This is part two of the ‘singing saga’ – performance #1 at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
In order to perform in the “Voices of Excellence” program sponsored by The Conservatory, students must audition in front of a panel including teachers and the director of the facility. Bryan had dreamed that one day he would make the cut. I was not overly optimistic, having heard the competition he was up against. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal. Bryan was accepted to perform.
The whole family was eagerly assembled that April afternoon in the Perlmann Theater, anxiously waiting Bryan’s Philadelphia debut. He was backstage for an hour beforehand. I hoped and prayed he was all right. His nerves were getting the best of him during the hour-long trip down I-95.
Bryan’s performance was midway through the recital. When he took the stage, the audience reacted raucously. Bryan became visibly upset that the piano introduction to his piece, “You Raise Me Up”, a Josh Groban favorite, was being interrupted by vocal outbursts and whistling.
I had to laugh. A large part of the audience was made up of residents of Woods Services – a residential facility specializing in those with developmental disabilities and autism. Bryan was miffed by those with whom he had probably played Special Olympics basketball!
He regrouped and began to sing. Halfway through the performance, Bryan reached inside the suit pocket of his gray pinstripe. “What the heck is he doing?”, I muttered to my husband. When he began the line from the song “I am strong when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be”, he thrust up his hand, clutching something partially hidden from our view. His hand stayed raised with the dangling object until the end of the song amidst thunderous applause (you can see it around his wrist in the above photo).
Bryan bowed, acknowledged the accompanist, and walked off stage. After the program we went to congratulate him , but he was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t backstage. The Conservatory staff didn’t know what had become of him. We began opening doors to green rooms and storage closets in search of Bryan. After ten minutes, I was beginning to panic. Finally, we opened the door to the last room. Lo and behold, there he was! Apparently, he had scoped out all the rooms backstage, determined that this particular room was the largest, and plopped himself down in a chair – pen in hand – ready to receive his fan base and grant a few autographs to the adoring public.
The eight of us, relieved to have found him and, laughing at this “moxie”, indulged him as he gleefully scrawled his signature on our programs.
Afterwards at a celebratory dinner at our favorite Philly restaurant, I finally got to ask what he had pulled out of his inner pocket during his performance. “It was Grandfather’s bollo tie”, he explained. “I was singing to him in Heaven”.
Instead of the reprimand I had in store for him, I gave him a big hug. How proud his grandparents, both singers, would have been to witness the performance and the dedication to them! I have to believe that, somehow, they were there with him in that auditorium, smiling down on their grandson.