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Huntington boy hits the right notes at U.S. Open

Ten-year-old Brandon Gicquel of Huntington performs

Ten-year-old Brandon Gicquel of Huntington performs "America the Beautiful" prior to the night session on day eight of the 2012 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. (Sept. 3, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Brandon Gicquel's resume, before he sang "America the Beautiful" last night in the 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open's night session, consisted largely of a part in "Peter Pan" and performances with the Holy Child Singers, the choir at the Holy Child Academy in Old Westbury, where he is a fifth-grader.

Paula Carlton, his music teacher there and, since last year, private voice instructor, called him a "perfect talent" with "a nice musical way about him."

The hardest thing for 10-year-old Brandon -- for all young singers, she said, -- is deep breathing. "You need to breathe deeply enough to fill your lungs so you can sing an entire phrase."

This is important for a line like "sea to shining sea," she said. "He needs to hold that 'sea.' "

Brandon spent much of the day before his debut not in seclusion, as one might expect of a primo uomo, but hitting tennis balls against the garage door of his Huntington home and hanging out with friends.

He arrived at the National Tennis Center about 5 p.m. for a sound check with an entourage including his mother, Barbara McDermott Gicquel, and grandparents, Raymond and Barbara McDermott, of Massapequa; Carlton and Brandon's father, Pascal Gicquel, would also be in attendance.

"He was always singing, even when he was a baby," said his grandmother.

His mother added that he'd also done masterful renditions of "Sweet Home Alabama." His grandfather said there had been times in the car when Brandon had broken into song and he'd been "dumbfounded" by the sweetness of his voice.

Soon, a producer whisked Brandon off; when he reappeared, it was in the vast stadium before he walked out onto the court to applause.

His eyes looked as big as dinner plates but his voice sounded clear and sharp. He closed -- holding the "sea" long enough to make his voice teacher proud -- and walked off waving to cheers far louder than before.


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