Roslyn’s Michael Pollack had only dreamed of one day performing beside his idol, but on Jan. 30, the Vanderbilt University freshman stepped on stage at the Nashville school and played piano alongside entertainer Billy Joel.
The duo performed one of Pollack’s favorite Joel classics, “New York State of Mind.”
“I’ve been dreaming of playing a song with him since I started playing piano,” said Pollack, 18, of Roslyn. “I’ve sang this song so many times and to hear his real voice on top of my piano was absolutely incredible. It gave me chills. If I never played piano again, I would be satisfied with that experience.”
Pollack attended the sold-out musical event, open only to students and faculty, knowing that Joel sometimes invites students on stage during the question-and-answer portion at the end.
So, beforehand, he made a pact with his roommate, Adam Luftig, that if one of them were called on during the question-and-answer portion they would ask to come on stage.
Pollack was pleasantly surprised when Joel called on him.
Pollack said to him, “My favorite song of yours is ‘New York State of Mind’ and I was very fortunate to play with Richie Cannata [Joel’s longtime saxophone player] many times in New York City and I was wondering if I could play it with you.”
With ease, Joel said, “OK,” and while Pollack sprung out of his seat and jogged down the aisle to the stage, Joel asked, “What do you play? You play piano? What key?”
Pollack answered, “What key do you want it in?”
The crowd laughed.
After sitting down at the piano and fixing his fingers to the keys, Pollack looked up at Joel, who leaned over the piano, and took it all in. A moment later, Joel began to sing.
“Once I saw him leaning on the piano, I was taken back,” Pollack said. “It was pretty wild. I kept telling myself to look up and enjoy the moment. It was an incredible experience.”
Check out an iPhone video of the performance on YouTube: