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“A Diplomat for Love” Michael Amante LIVE! at the PNC Bank Arts Center

By Shelley Bromberg, msbrom.com. Photos by Love Imagery

Even though it’s a dreary day this Tuesday, May 23, 2017, it doesn’t stop thousands of New Jersey music lovers from coming out to the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ to hear talented entertainer Michael Amante.

Perhaps these folks are privy to knowing what an incredible singer and performer Amante is, but for those who aren’t quite certain, they’re surely about to find out!

Termed “the people’s tenor” by none other than Tony Bennett, Amante is known for being an extremely versatile artist. The New York Times writes that he has “both the voice and charisma of a cross-over star.” Not only does Amante excel in classical music, but he can also belt out standards, contemporary music, and Broadway show tunes along with the very best of them.

And today, Amante will lead his followers on a musical journey that will include opera, musical theater, and even 1980’s pop.

This afternoon’s performance is the second offering in the Garden State Arts Foundations’ 2017 “Senior Concert Series,” which offers free concerts to New Jersey residents aged 55 and older. The first show — presented on May 17, 2017 — featured ’60s musical icons Gary Puckett and the Union Gap along with singer Vinnie Medugno.

As we take our seats, we notice the stage is set with an impressive array of musical instruments including a full-sized grand piano, a pair of synthesizers, a horn section, a percussion station with drum set and vibraphone, and a set of acoustic and electric basses. Judging from this set-up, we can expect today’s musical performance to be stellar!

First up is Ronald Gravino, the Vice President of GASAF’s Board of Trustees, who encourages the audience to take some time one day to visit the nearby New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Gravino also thanks the sponsors of today’s show — Live Nation Entertainment, PNC Bank, Sirius XM ‘60s on 6 radio, the Princeton Public Affairs Group, and the Sills Cummis and Gross law firm, in addition to individual donors — for their generous contributions. According to Gravino, “No federal, state, local, or Garden State Parkway toll money” is ever used to fund GSAF performances.

Michael Amante immediately takes the stage singing Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.”

Dressed in a long black jacket with gold embroidery and black slacks, Amante quickly sets the tone for a gripping and moving experience. The audience cheers and sings along with Amante as he croons: You made me so very happy/I’m so glad you came into my life.

Upon the song’s conclusion, Amante introduces himself saying, “I’m your musical guide, Michael Amante. Have you seen me before?”

To this — and for his performance thus far — the audience bursts into a strong applause.

Amante explains that his and the audience members’ presence today represents “freedom and safety,” in that they are not shying away from attending a concert. This comes in light of the tragic news the night before when 22 concert goers were killed in a terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

Continuing on, Amante reveals that his father flew in WWII for “peace and safety” and that he sees himself in a similar role as a singer and performer, stating he wants to be “a diplomat for love.

Not surprisingly, Amante’s professional experience includes musical theatre. Upon his performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story, Amante reveals that he enjoyed playing the role of Tony in the show and creating a “sense of anticipation.”

He also uses his voice with a special dramatic flair and strong emotion singing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera, crooning: You alone can make my song take flight/Help me make the music of the night.

And for those seeking some of opera’s best arias, Amante does not disappoint.

His performance of “Core’ngrato” is incredible; the sheer power and resonance of his voice bring the audience members to their feet with strong applause.

Other notable operatic numbers include “Malafemmena,” and his most noteworthy finale, “Nessun dorma,” which elicits a standing ovation and wild applause from the crowd at the show’s conclusion.

After the concert, we have a chance to catch up with some audience members who share their thoughts with us regarding this afternoon’s performance.

Loretta from Berkeley tells us, “I think this concert was really good. When Michael sang from Phantom, I loved that,” going on to add, “and I also apppreciate the work that the Garden State Arts Foundation does.”

Cheryl from Toms River states, “I loved this concert. This man has a beautiful voice and amazing breath support.”

We also had a chance to catch up with Michael Amante himself. When asked how he enjoys performing here in the Garden State, Amante shares that he loves the energy of audiences here in New Jersey, stating, “whatever I bring to them, they always give more back to me.”

Clearly, based on the love shown from the audience and his love for them, Michael Amante is a diplomat for love.

To learn more about Michael Amante, visit his website at www.michaelamantemusic. For more information about future Garden State Arts Foundation performances at the PNC Bank Arts Center — including The Osmonds on June 13 and the US Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus on June 29 — please go to gsafoundation.org.

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