WAYNESBORO -- Piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick will take center stage in Waynesboro Nov. 23 for a one-night performance.
Bortnick, who performs all types of music from classical to jazz, rock and his own compositions, promised an exciting evening. Speaking from the road as he traveled with his family from a gig in South Dakota to another in Montana, he offered a taste of what to expect in Waynesboro: "a surprise with a lot of audience interaction."
The young man's fame precedes him. He has been a gift to the music world and he, in turn, has reached out to share his talents for the benefit of others.
A Christmas baby born on Dec. 24, Bortnick is nearly 15 and, although young, has accomplished more than many musicians older than he. When he was three he asked his parents for piano lessons, and it was discovered that he has such an innate sense of music that just by listening to a piece he could play it back perfectly.
Two years later, he was writing original compositions.
His musical memory was a great advantage as he went on to perform on just about every continent: Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. The Guinness Book of World Records has certified him as "The World's Youngest Sole Musician to Headline His Own Tour," and Oprah Winfrey extended her imprimatur, calling him the "All Time Smartest, Most Talented Kid."
A family crisis when he was five changed the young pianist's career trajectory. His younger brother, Nathan, had to undergo three heart surgeries, a frightening experience for anyone. Walking through Miami Children's Hospital and seeing so many ill children affected Ethan so deeply that he decided to refocus his efforts on charity work.
Since then, he has helped to raise more than $40 million for non-profit organizations around the world.
He has performed alongside such well-known performers as Elton John, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Beyonce, and Reba McEntire.
With all his fame, Bortnick is still a regular youngster, although his degree of professionalism makes that hard to remember at times. He goes to school when he is not touring, although he said he is there only about 25percent of the time. "I get my homework ahead of time and I email and Skype my teachers. I practice when I can, based on the amount of homework I have."
On tour -- the current tour started in September -- he sits down at a different piano in every concert site. But neither the stress of travel nor a busy concert schedule, has dimmed his enthusiasm for what he does. "I love making music, it's what I do. I love especially to use music to help others. That's what motivates me - traveling, meeting new people, going on tour, and making people smile."
When he appears in Waynesboro, about 100 local middle and high school children will join him on stage for the closing songs.
Bortnick's performance is sponsored by the Waynesboro Community Concert Association, now in its 79th year. In a bit of a teaser, Linda McNew of the Association said that next year's milestone anniversary will see some major entertainment
One of the many advantages of being a member of the association, she said, is that one can also attend concerts in Hagerstown, Westminister, and Gettysburg.
"Ethan Bortnick is an example of the variety and high quality of the artists we bring to the community," she said.
WHEN YOU GO:
Waynesboro Community Concert Association
Waynesboro Area Senior High School Auditorium
550 E. Second St., Waynbesboro
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 23
$25.00 single tickets at the door or online at www.waynesborocommunityconcert.org.
For more information, visit the website above.