On a recent Sunday morning, two girlfriends got together for coffee. They chatted in a cozy living room, shared stories, laughed – a lot – and then got down to the business at hand.
Erica vanderLinde Feidner and Anna Rita Tornello are two incredibly gifted musicians. Erica, a Julliard-trained pianist whose concert career began at age 11, is known internationally as the Piano Matchmaker for her personalized piano selection business. Anna, a lyric soprano, was a police officer and professional singer in her native Italy before moving to the U.S. in 2003 and continuing both career paths here in the states, including becoming a Wilton police officer.
Oddly enough, however, the two did not initially connect through music. They have a trespassing solicitor to thank for that.
“I had called the main office at my complex to report that someone was knocking on my door without fully identifying themselves,” Feidner says. “They told me to call the police, which I did, and Officer Tornello came out.”
As the two women spoke, they walked out onto Feidner’s balcony to look around for the solicitor, making their way around two pianos in the process.
“I had a nine foot Bosendorfer concert grand and a Young Chang baby grand in my living room at the time,” Feidner says. “Anna said ‘Do you play?’ When I said yes, she said ‘Oh, well I sing.’”
Feidner says she began to play “Ave Maria” and only needed to hear Anna sing four notes before she stopped, getting chills at the officer’s talent. A bond was formed.
“I’ve worked with a lot of singers, but none like her,” she says. “Anna is world class.”
Tornello returns the compliment.
“You can put any piece of music in front of her, and the way she plays, you swear she has seen it before,” she says. “There is very little she cannot do.”
Now, for the second year in a row, Feidner and Tornello are teaming up for a special Spring Concert on April 6 to benefit the Wilton Interfaith Action Committee’s Stop Hunger Now campaign, an effort which culminates in a day-long event held every fall to package over 100,000 meals for malnourished children around the world. The Committee is made up of members from ten different faith-based organizations in town – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim – who come together to work on the project.
Feidner and Tornello say they have planned a musical program which will invite all ages to celebrate the joys of spring – something we could all use after this rough winter.
“In the first half, we will start with a flower theme, playing more classical pieces and opera arias, and we will explore the theme of the moon through different composers’ interpretations,” says Tornello. “For the second half, we will bring in a bit of a flirtation theme, and invite dancing.”
“Classical concerts have a reputation for being boring and stuffy,” adds Feidner. “We want this to be fun and family friendly. We will talk about the songs, and the meaning behind the songs. We want the kids to participate if they want to.”
Speaking of kids (and the young at heart), concert attendees can also enjoy authentic gelato from La Fenice of Greenwich. The popular family-owned shop made a generous donation to the event and will have a gelato cart on site, directing a portion of proceeds back to Stop Hunger Now.
Feidner says that preparing for their second performance together has been different this year than it was last year, when the two had just recently met.
“Over the last year, we’ve really gotten to know each other as friends. The pressure is off, and the enjoyment is all there,” she says.
“That is something special between the two of us,” Tornello agrees. “We communicate on all levels, both musical and personally.”
The Wilton Interfaith Action Committee Stop Hunger Now Benefit Concert takes place beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 6th at the WEPCO church complex, 36 New Canaan Road. Tickets are $15 at the door.