WEST HARTFORD – Norman Malone plays the piano with grace and elegance, despite playing with just one hand.
Now, he doesn't have to do it alone. The 79-year old recently realized a dream 70 years in the making: playing the piano with an orchestra.
Malone lost the use of his right arm at age 9 after a vicious attack by his violent father left Malone and his two brothers all partially paralyzed. Malone’s love of piano never waned, and while he made his living as a successful Chicago high school choral director, he continued to practice behind the keys, learning various works created solely for the left hand.
Malone’s circuitous route to West Hartford happened, in part, because his son and grandchildren moved to the town last year. Malone sought out by West Hartford Symphony Orchestra conductor Richard Chiarappa, who asked if he would like to play at a performance.
After practicing with the symphony for a few days, Malone made his very first concert performance in front of a full house at the Kingswood-Oxford School’s Roberts Theater. There, Malone played the ambitious piece "Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand."
"I never thought it would happen, I never imagined it," Malone said of his October concert. "I was praying all the way, praying all the way."
Ron Reisner, the president of the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra, said Malone’s performance deserved the accolades he got from a grateful crowd.
"It was the most awe-inspiring concert I’ve ever been a part of," Reisner said.
Music director and conductor Richard Chiarappa added his own review, saying Malone "got through it, and got he got through it beautifully.”
After the concert, Malone, flanked by family and friends said, "You should never turn back, you should fight your fears and go on… I took the chance and I succeeded, I’m thrilled."
Malone has returned to his native Chicago and says his piano playing will continue.
“I’ll still play piano, there’s always something to learn.”
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