His is a true story of a small-town boy with big city dreams come true, and how he ended up in Vero Beach is a culmination of small town, big city passions and desires, plus a little bit of puppy love and a dose of Canadian beauty.
Brandon Sturiale, music director, pianist, keyboardist, dedicated husband, friend, and proud fur-parent to a semi-famous pup, Bowery, grew up in an unoriginal town in the Midwest, ironically named Midwest City, a suburb of Oklahoma City. He had a quiet childhood and dreamed, from an early age, of being a big city star.
Sturiale, age 42, recollects his first keyboard as a boy – a Casio.
“I was kind of a loner as a child, and let’s face it, a total nerd,” Sturiale jokingly admitted. “I found solace by holing myself up in my room and playing that keyboard. Along the way I read books that taught me how to read music, and by listening to influences like Elton John, Billy Joel, The Beatles, etc., I was able to figure out how the notes on the keyboard lined up with the notes on the page. The following year I was given a bigger keyboard, and the year after that I finally bought my own real piano, with money I had saved mowing lawns. We put it right there in my bedroom, when I was about 15 years old.”
Brandon said it was around the same time he bought that piano when he began to discover musical theatre. He would go to a local record store and choose CD’s based on their cover art and that alone. Soon he had inadvertently begun a collection of famous musicals – Rent, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, to name a few.
“By listening to these cast recordings, I could follow along with the words and watch it like a movie in my mind, like kids in the ’30s must have done with The Lone Ranger on the radio,” Sturiale shared. “Not being much of a singer myself, I decided right then and there I wanted to play piano for these shows. I loved the idea of telling a story with music, and the thought of supporting the actors while getting to play this fantastic music was incredibly appealing to me. So, I continued working on it, getting better and better, and then when I was 22 I made the leap to NYC to give it a shot, with no piano lessons taken and no college to speak of.”
And so Sturiale made that leap with only faith and a passion and a drive to succeed and to perform. He struggled, as many musicians in NYC do, and so he worked by day at a theatre bookstore, and by night played in community theatre, to pay the bills. After four years, Sturiale finally got his big break when he was asked to go on tour professionally for three months. That tour led to another tour, which was six months, and then another, nine months. The snowball affect led to bigger and greater things, and Brandon says he hasn’t worked a day job since then.
So how did Vero Beach get to be chosen by Brandon (and his wife, Veronique), as the place they call home? As with other events in Sturiale’s life, things just fell into place alongside his hard work and dedication. His wife, by the way, he met and married in New York, back in 2015. She accentuates him beautifully with her love for theater, music, and the arts.
Sturiale explains how Florida became a part of his journey: “About five years ago, a buddy of mine in NYC said, ‘Hey, this theatre in Florida is looking for a keyboardist. Do you want to go down there for a month and play the show?’ It was the dead of winter, so a month in Florida sounded pretty good to me.”
Brandon agreed to the keyboardist position, and so began his relationship with Riverside Theatre. He then came back the following year after being invited back by Riverside, and then came back again and again, so much so, he really didn’t want to leave. Fortunately his wife also visited and loved the area, and it became their reality. After renting for a year, Brandon and his wife are now homeowners here, something that Sturiale said wasn’t going to ever happen in New York.
“You just don’t buy anything in New York!” he said.
Sturiale stays busy with his musical career, and is currently serving as Keyboard Programmer for Riverside’s upcoming production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Many strive to accomplish things that Brandon has accomplished from his musical beginning. He is not only proud of his accomplishments, but loves to share his talents with others.
“I’ve released two albums of original songs,” Sturiale said. “One was solo piano, kind of relaxing background music, called Light of a New Day. The other is a collection of 12 songs, sung by 12 different singers, ranging in genre from pop to rock, cabaret to country. That one’s called So Much More.”
Both albums are available on iTunes and Spotify.
Passion and success galore, right? Well that’s not it. Sturiale also wrote an original musical and is currently writing another one. In addition to the hundreds of shows he’s played throughout the years, Brandon was also the audition/rehearsal pianist for Mamma Mia 2.
Cool. Amazing. Stunning. Unstoppable. WHOA.
And there’s still more. In a rut with being “just” a professional musician and getting paid to do what he loves with the love of his life alongside him doing what she loves and supporting him, him supporting her, Brandon started a company selling promotional items, or “swag.” It’s called All Ears Promos.
And that’s where the success and semi-fame of their dog comes into play. Bowery, a frenchton, is the face of All Ears Promos, and has his own Instagram (@bowery_the_frenchton), and was interviewed last year by Vero News 32963. His Instagram, by the way, has 2,000 followers.
“I suppose I would say we bring to the community a sense of unique perspective,” Sturiale said. “Not that we’re the first people to move here from NYC, but that maybe we’re a little younger, or a little more involved in the arts, or something like that. My wife is a yoga teacher here; she teaches all over town and people will come up to her at restaurants and tell her how she’s changing their lives for the better. Or they’ll tell me they saw a show at Riverside and just loved it. I don’t know, there’s a sense of pride I have in knowing we made somebody happy even for a day.”
As for music and impact it has on those who choose to enjoy it, Sturiale is sentimental and proud.
“Music brings people a certain joy you rarely see anywhere else,” Sturiale said. “To be able to provide that for them, and for myself, is a wonderful feeling.”
A similar feeling Brandon gets with his All Ears Promotions business and the clients he interacts with.
“I get that same feeling when a client sees their hats or koozies or whatever with their logo on it for the first time; I’ve helped to make them feel like a legitimate business, and that’s very rewarding,” he said.
“This too shall pass.”An ancient quote that Brandon Sturiale has related to throughout his life.
Sturiale has a cool, humble, proud personality, but he admits growing up he was the opposite of cool – complete with the coke bottle glasses, buck teeth, and bright red hair. He says he always had a way of making people laugh, which helped him skirt out of situations where he was confronted with intimidation from the jocks and cool kids.
“Now I go back to my high school reunion and I see those same people and they’re in a job they hate, in a marriage they hate, generally unhappy with their lives, and I just think, ‘Wow, they must have really peaked in high school,'” Brandon explained. “Me, I keep learning about myself and the world around me, traveling to different countries, expanding my horizons, and making music and loving my job. And to me, that’s pretty cool.”
Aside from work, Brandon loves tennis, spending time with his dog, and he and his wife have turned their spare room into a movie theater room, complete with reclining chairs, surround-sound speakers,camera lamps, and tables made from film reels. They are movie enthusiasts and have made a comfortable abode for feature films and time spent together.
Sturiale’s family has come to respect his success in life, though at one point they didn’t quite understand his dreams. His father, a pharmacist, envisioned him going to college to study something in the field of medicine, according to Brandon.
“I can’t say I necessarily blame him,” Sturiale said. “He only wanted what was best for me. But I wasn’t listening. And of course I’m glad I didn’t, but I can see where he was coming from.”
A quote that Brandon lives by in life, is “This too shall pass.” He lost a sister at the age of 28, both of his cousins lost their children at ages 10 and 15, and he lost an uncle who was only 15.
“I look at this quote both ways,” Sturiale explained. “If times are hard, hey look, they aren’t always going to be like that. And if times are good, you’ve got to appreciate it while it lasts, because again, it won’t always be that way. That might sound depressing, but actually it’s a great way to remind yourself that you had to get through the dark days to get to the bright ones.”
To reach Brandon, you can follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/brandonsturiale/ or reach him by email at email@example.com.