The theatre was full of enthusiasm and awe as Fernando Varela took to the stage at the Kelowna Community Theatre this past Wednesday, September 19, 2012. The young vocalist has been taking the industry by storm, and with the recent release of his second album, Prelude, on September 10, there's every reason to believe that his star will continue to rise.
Born in Puerto Rico and largely raised in Central Florida, Fernando's love of music would eventually lead him to a meeting with Music mogul, David Foster (see the careers of Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli and Michael Jackson, to name a few). The 47 time Grammy nominee, and 16 time winner, 'found' Varela via the modern-day star maker, YouTube, and the rest is quickly turning into an impressive history. But the road wasn't always so clearly paved, as Fernando will tell you himself.
A young 17 year old Fernando was told by his university's music department that he couldn't sing and should stick to business, "You'll do well there." "I think we've proven them wrong," Fernando laughs with the audience during his two song encore that sees him finish on a more mellow, extremely moving note with the Charlie Chaplin/Nat King Cole classic, "Smile"
It was a fitting, and perhaps unexpected, end to a phenomenal concert that also showcased the talented Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, and saw the welcoming of Canada's own Ron Paley. Paley is a pianist and composer, and as Fernando described him during a conversation after the show, "One of the most talented musicians alive. He's brilliant!" This particular city and venue also saw another very special guest descend on our city, Fernando's charming and gifted wife, Susan Williams. This time in Kelowna was Susan's first trip away from home since the birth of the couple's two-year-old, Zeke, and Kelowna should count its blessings that she came. The couples obvious chemistry and harmonies were a rare treat, as they moved through such songs as "The Prayer", a Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli classic that was written by David Foster himself.
The entire night felt like a great privilege for those in the theatre, as we were treated with world-class musicians (many of whom call Kelowna and the Okanagan home), and a variety of music that left one moved and clapping along, sometimes at once. Fernando Varela's smooth tenor carried the audience through Operatic classics like Nessun Dorma and Con Te Partiro, only to effortlessly move into a fantastic medley arrangement of Roy Orbison tunes. Fernando is described as "classical meets classic rock" and with a medley of Coldplay hits and jaw-droppingly impressive rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (Freddie would absolutely approve), Varela didn't dissapoint.
A special 'Thank You' is owed to the Kelowna Community Theatre's manager, Randy Zahara, for bringing this talented singer back to our city. In fact, thanks are owed all around for a perfect night and performance and a celebration that the Kelowna Community Theatre is deserving of. On the heels of the Kelowna Community Theatre's 50th birthday, Fernando Varela's performance was indeed a gift to Kelowna. And of course, it doesn't hurt that the star of the show has a particular fondness for our city either. Following the show, I would say that the feeling is entirely mutual. Fernando Varela will be welcomed back to Kelowna with open arms, any time.
To see more photos, please click HERE