Ethan Bortnick, 8, has had his share of remarkable experiences. Heâ€™s played piano on The Tonight Show three times, chatted up Oprah and was the opening act for Beyonce. But none of those things inspired him to make a career in the music business.
â€œI want to be a zoo keeper,â€ said Ethan, in a telephone interview Thursday. â€œIâ€™ll play music for the animals. They like it you know. It makes them happy.â€
He made the startling discovery two weeks ago while seranading a koala bear in Australia.
â€œHe started looking right at me, like I was a koala bear too.`â€ said Ethan. â€œI was playing jazz for him.â€
Ethan was talking from his Hollywood, Florida home.
â€œHeâ€™s a very nice guy,â€ he said, of commedian Jay Leno. â€œHe gave me a back pack I use for school. All the kids ask me, and I tell them Jay gave it to me. Now everyone in school says hi to me.â€
Ethan is scheduled to arrive today before his special concert Saturday at Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield.
â€œIâ€™m very excited to do it,â€ said Ethan.
The last time he was in Michigan a great blizzard raged. But it was 85 degrees in Florida Thursday, and the piano prodigy seemed somewhat disappointed he wouldnâ€™t be seeing snow on this trip north. Nevertheless, he expected to have fun.
â€œIf I make a small mistake, I keep going,â€ he said. â€œIf I miss a bunch of notes in a row that means I have to think about the song again.â€
The concert was organized to raise money for the Chaldean Federation of America.
The non-profit organization sponsors the Adopt-A-Refugee Family program for the vulnerable Iraqi families.
â€œChaldeans seeking refugee do not have militia to protect them in Iraqâ€ says Joseph T. Kassab Executive Director of the Chaldean Federation of America that represents more than 1 million Iraqi Christians, â€œthey do not have privet guards to protect them. The government of Iraq is unable to protect them because it is unable to protect itself. These people are peace-loving people who do not carry arms.â€
Event Tickets, $250 each or $2,000 for a table of 10, may be obtained/reserved by calling CFA offices at (248) 851-3023. Event Co-Chairpersons are Anmar K. Sarafa, President of Steward Capital Management of Birmingham, MI and John Oram, representing Pro Care Plus Co.