Face of the Week: Gabriel Orsini of Sudbrook Magnet Middle School
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image of the Face of the Week: Nick Calvert of Western School of Technology and Environmental Science


In a month’s time, tenor Gabriel Orsini will take a last sip of tea, quietly still the butterflies in his stomach, and step into the spotlight at Baltimore’s Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

Behind him, 80 musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will sit, bows hovering, fingers frozen, prepared to play. A few feet away, conductor Nicholas Hersh will nod and Orsini will turn, face the darkened audience, open his mouth, and launch into the first, familiar notes of “Walking in the Air” from “The Snowman.” He will do this for five shows, the only soloist selected this year for the BSO performances of “The Snowman.”

Not bad for a 13-year-old Grade 7 student in the vocal music program at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School in Pikesville.

“I’ll be a little bit nervous, I’m sure. I’ve never had this experience,” says Gabe. “But I’m really looking forward to standing there with all that power behind you, the power of all those instruments and musicians. It’s hard to find that kind of opportunity, and it’s hard to find a better orchestra than the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. So I know I’ll really enjoy it.”

Enjoyment is just the start of it. At an age when most boys have their sights set on little more than reaching the next level of the latest video game, Gabe Orsini has his future planned out: high school perhaps at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, college at Julliard, a recording contract, perhaps a career in the shape of some of his favorite singers – Bruno Mars, Prince, Michael Jackson, or Andrea Bocelli.

“That’s the goal,” he says. “But I don’t know if I’ll sing classical or pop, because I like them both.”

Right now, Gabe is singing tenor in Sudbrook’s vocal magnet and alto for the Peabody Children’s Chorus, where he’s performing in a production of the opera “Hänsel und Gretel.” He’s sung at the Peabody for the past seven years after his Grade 1 teacher at Reisterstown Elementary School suggested that his parents, Eric and Carley, get professional voice training for Gabe.

He’s still impressing listeners: “From the first time I heard him sing, I knew he had a special gift,” says Wesley Thompson, who teaches Gabe as Sudbrook’s orchestra director.  “He sings with a tone and style beyond his age, and I can’t wait to see his BSO debut!”

While at Peabody, Gabe has learned to sing in 10 languages, he says, including German and Latin. And Sudbrook has been helpful as well, teaching him music theory, rhythm patterns, and other skills.

“Gabe is extraordinarily passionate about the performing arts and his opportunities to contribute,” says Colleen Esposito, his Theater Arts teacher. “He not only acknowledges the importance and value that these performance opportunities bring him, but he is also gracious for the real-life lessons they have provided.”

Adds Gabe’s mother, Carley, herself a Peabody celloist for many years, “We are over the moon excited for this opportunity for Gabe. . . . (He) is passionate about singing and this is the opportunity of a lifetime for him.”

Music isn’t Gabe’s only interest. He enjoys playing basketball and rec league baseball, and for a while, he ran track and field so well he made the Junior Olympics for the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs and throwing a javelin. He enjoys social studies in school and has played the double bass, but his attention is on singing. That concentration became even more acute following the BSO audition with Hersh.

Over the next few weeks, he’ll rehearse with the orchestra. He’ll work on his vibrato singing and hitting all the highs and lows, and he’ll keep in mind the advice that has always guided his decisions.

“It’s just a joyful feeling when I sing. When I hear people clapping and being excited about what they are hearing from me, it’s a great feeling,” he says. “So I tell myself, ‘Just believe in yourself. Believe in yourself and you’ll succeed.’”

Want to see and hear Gabe Orsini sing with the BSO? Performances of Raymond Briggs’ “The Snowman” begin Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and follow for two performances on Friday, Dec. 2, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and Saturday, Dec. 3, at 11 a.m. All performances take place at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore 21201. For more information, go to:

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