It’s what every choral conductor fears most: At the last minute, one of your soloists isn’t ready to go on.
That was the situation Friday morning for Fresno Community Chorus conductor Anna Hamre. Her bass soloist for the Mozart Requiem, Anthony Radford, had started feeling ill on Thursday. By Friday, he didn’t have a voice at all. And the Sunday concert was just three days away.
That’s when a young father of 2 — a Navy man from Lemoore named Thomas Drew Duncan — saved the day.
Chris Darling, the chorus manager, writes:
Anna immediately began calling all over the state to try to find a replacement. All the singers we called who could have stepped in were already booked. The part calls for a low “G” and Anna thought to herself, “who do I know locally that can sing a low G?” She remembered a young, Navy man who had auditioned for the choir, had a wonderful voice and could definitely sing the low G. She called him, asked him to take a look at it, he agreed, she drove to Lemoore to rehearse with him, and Voila!
I called Drew Duncan about 9 am Friday and asked if he thought he could learn it. He said he’d have a little chance that day, but he had to babysit his two little kids while his wife was at a craft fair. So I drove to Lemoore (he’s stationed in the Navy) …we worked a bit … he was ready for the Saturday morning dress rehearsal. He is as humble as he is talented.
Was he nervous? You bet.
“I know that none of the “old men” of the choir could help his shaking hands tie his tuxedo tie,” wrote Rebecca McGregor in an email to The Bee. She was in the audience with her husband and heard the behind-the-scenes story from choir friends. “He knocked our socks off! His deep, bass voice was extraordinary, melodic and professional.”
Duncan even had some Navy friends in the audience. Darling writes:
He was so sure none of his Navy buddies would come but as soon as they found out he had the big Bass solo, they changed their mind. The only sad part of the story is that since he and his wife have a new baby and a 2 years old, she wasn’t able to find a babysitter and couldn’t go.
Drew is the most humble, sweet, honorable young man I’ve met in a long time. The rousing, thunderous applause he received from the audience on Sunday only confirmed what we had found out — Thomas Drew Duncan can sing!!!