DOWNEY - Self-taught pianist and composer Sebastian Sidi, a'94 Downey High graduate, has for a decade made his living mainly as a street performer. This has meant driving his van on the weekends to such venues as Downtown Disney, The Block at Orange, Irvine Spectrum, Universal City Walk, Shoreline Village, Triangle Square and others to play his brand of music - a blend of classical music and new age rock - to anyone who'd care to listen. Those who like what they hear buy his CDs.He has so far, he says, released six CDs, consisting of instrumental renditions of such timeless classics as "Phantom of the Opera," "My Heart Will Go On," "The 5th Symphony," "Time to Say Goodbye," "Wind Beneath My Wings," "Chariots of Fire," etc., as well as some of his original compositions. I've heard his piano-playing style is akin to Yanni's. He says his music appeals to all age levels-young people to people in their 50s and above. In 1998, the year he released his first CD, "Prelude," he made it a goal to perform at every outdoor venue in the Southern California area. Sidi says he has since reached that goal. Besides becoming a regular sight at local fairs and festivals, Sidi has looked to expand his fan base wherever opportunity took him. Thus his music has even touched audiences as far away as Texas. He has in the meantime of course also held live concerts at the important local venues such as the Downey Civic Theatre, OC Pavilion, and the Brixton Theatre, to name a few. On June 11, 2008, Sidi even hosted a PBS Premiere Party at Buster's Beach House in Long Beach, where his April 25 taped performance, "Sebastian Sidi: Live in Concert" at the OC Pavilion Performing Arts Theatre was shown on a big screen and on several other flat screen televisions. Now, he feels it's time to try to "take my act to the next level." "I've gotten as far as I could [doing these things] on my own," Sidi said, "and it's time to move forward, to get off the streets and perform on the main stage." He emphasized that this time he plans to be in complete control of the show's production, and all the details associated with it. This April 7, Sidi has scheduled a free two-hour documentary/concert special at the Downey Theatre, which will be taped for airing on public television sometime in July (specific TV stations and air time to be announced later). It's aptly titled "From Street to Center Stage." The documentary portion, he says, will take the viewer on a "journey through the challenges of an everyday street performer and share with him/her what it takes to make it as a performing artist." It will include interviews with Sidi himself, friends, fans and family as well as a ride-along with Sidi as "he shows what it's like on a typical day in the life of a street performer,"-filmed at Shoreline Village in Long Beach. This documentary has already been filmed. The special starts at 8 p.m. Sidi says he's going all out on this one, publicity-wise. While installing large announcement posters in strategic places in the city, he has printed 50,000 ticket vouchers which will be available at select locations around Downey such as Mambo Grill, Porto's Bakery, and other business locations. The vouchers will then be exchanged for free tickets from 4-7 p.m. on the day of the concert, April 7, at the Downey Theatre, first come, first served. The first three rows, though, will be reserved for those who wish to ensure guaranteed seating. Tickets for these will sell at $25 apiece. The next four rows will be reserved for those who ante up $15. He is encouraging those with a party of 20 or more guests to reserve their free tickets by calling (562) 544-7774, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, he says he is placing a series of ads in The Patriot which will offer free concert vouchers. After the show, there will be the usual meet and greet session with the fans in the lobby, at which he'll be signing his CDs. His mother, Miriam, has had a profound influence in his life, Sidi says: "She was sick [with cancer] for 12 years, but she always showed courage through it all. She never quit fighting. So whenever I'd feel discouraged, I think of her, and all negative thoughts would vanish. I feel I owe it to her to be strong, to be positive." A native of Montevideo, Uruguay, Sidi came to this country in 1982 when he was 7. He started playing drums, then the keyboards. He went on to compose and record, and continues to do so. After living half of his life in Downey, Sidi, now in his mid-30s, resides in Bellflower where he has his studio. "I hope to have a full theatre, and I want every audience member to be part of the taping," he said. "I'm determined to make a success of this. I want to do this from now on, all the time."
********** Published: January 19, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 40