By Jan Sjostrom, Daily News Arts Editor
Oliver Goodman practically was born with a song on his lips. That’s according to his father, Palm Beacher Dean Goodman.
“This is a kid who loves to sing,” he said. “When he wanders around the house, he sings.”
Oliver began singing when he was 3 or 4. He started with pop tunes - not too surprising since his dad is chief executive officer and president of Digity Companies, which sold its portfolio of 116 radio stations in 2015. Then he branched into Broadway show tunes and opera.Eight-year-old Oliver Goodman (black shirt, front row) of Palm Beach will sing a solo when graduating senior Sidney O’Gorman symbolically passes the torch to him during the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches spring concert Sunday at the Kravis Center.
A year ago, he joined the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches. He’ll be singing for a much bigger crowd than his family on Sunday when the group performs its 15th anniversary spring concert at the Kravis Center.
The theme of the concert is Why We Sing. The answers to that question are what motivated Oliver and more than 325 singers in second through 12th grades to join the organization.
The concert, which will feature live accompaniment, will open with quotes on that topic from the singers and a song titled Why We Sing. Other songs will include Found/Tonight, a mash-up of Hamilton’s The Story of Tonight and Dear Evan Hansen’s You Will Be Found, and Freedom Trilogy, which blends a third-century chant with 20th century African pieces and Amazing Grace.
Oliver will be spotlighted in Let Our Light Shine, which was written by D. Shawn Berry, the group’s artistic director and co-founder.
Graduating senior Sidney O’Gorman, who joined the young singers when he was in third grade, will open the song by singing along with a video of himself performing the tune during his first year with the choir. O’Gorman will hand a battery-operated candle to Oliver, symbolically passing the torch, and Oliver will pick up the tune. The song will conclude with all the young singers chiming in.
Oliver, who thinks nothing of serenading diners at Italian restaurants with O sole mio in exchange for a free dessert, is a bit nervous, his dad said. “He’s usually very confident in front of lots of people, but the build-up has been a little much.”
Berry and two other music educators founded the young singers to give children a place to sing irrespective of school boundaries, arts education funding cuts or racial, religious or socioeconomic backgrounds.
The group, which is based at the Kravis Center, started with 75 singers and two choirs. It’s grown to 325 singers and seven choirs. About 25 percent receive some form of financial aid for tuition. An outreach program in the Glades provides free music education and performance opportunities to 60 children.
The group has received four Muse Awards from the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. The organization performs two all-choir concerts each year at the Kravis Center’s Dreyfoos Hall. Last season, its ensembles entertained at nearly 20 community events and fund-raisers.
Resident Dave Frankland, owner of Vinoutlet, a Palm Beach wine and craft beer boutique, has two children in the program: Sean Luca, 13, and Angela, 12.
“As an organization, they’re super supportive,” said Frankland, who is vice president of the board. “It’s all about the kids.”
Like Oliver, Sean Luca is an irrepressible singer.
“We used to yell at him to stop,” Frankland said. “It sounded good, but it was ‘Please, give us a break.’”
About four years ago, Sean Luca auditioned for the young singers and was accepted.
“It was the most energetic I’d ever seen him about anything,” his father said. “It was like he’d found his thing.”
Young Singers has given their children not only an outstanding musical education, it’s also taught them discipline and self-confidence and introduced them to youngsters who share their interests, if not necessarily their backgrounds, Frankland and Goodman said.
“They’re all different, but all have the same kind of passion,” Frankland said.
For the young songsters that might be the biggest reason to sing.
Photos by Danielle Zaros