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Monday, September 22, 2014
Big applause for Benjamin
Malverne resident performs for huge crowd at U.S. Open
By Emily Webb
Courtesy Teresa Truncale
After his performance, Truncale said, a handful of top players — including 12-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal — made their way past him onto the court.

While he may have earned his chops singing for large audiences over the past four years — most recently at one of the opening ceremonies at tennis’s U.S. Open, on Sept. 1 — Malverne resident and pint-sized chanteur Benjamin Truncale, 11, admitted that he felt a little nervous stepping onto the court to perform for the huge crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium that day.

“I was nervous because even though I’ve done it before, I still get nervous every time I do it, but each time, a bit less than the time before,” Truncale said. “But I went out, I stood in the middle of the stadium, and it was just really exciting.”

Selected from 150 vocalists who auditioned to perform at the tournament, Truncale sang “America the Beautiful.” Twelve other vocalists, ages 12 and under, performed other patriotic songs on the other nights. The performers were from around the country, but only two represented New York: Truncale and Trenie Acola, 11, of Kings Park.

Truncale has performed at major venues in the past, including Citi Field and Nassau Coliseum. “There were less people at the U.S. Open than at the Islanders game, but it felt bigger,” he said.

Truncale, who is starting sixth grade at St. Agnes Cathedral School this year, said that a number of teachers and classmates congratulated him on his first day of school after watching his performance on TV two days earlier.

“I think he doesn’t really understand the magnitude of what he’s doing,” said his mother, Teresa, 42, a special education teacher at West Hempstead Middle School. “I think when he gets older he’ll understand it, but for right now he’s just comfortable with it.”

Truncale began his public singing career in second grade, when he joined St. Agnes’s Men and Boys Choir with his father, Ben, 41. In the past four years, he has sung at every Sept. 11 memorial and Christmas tree lighting at Gazebo Park in Malverne, and landed the role of Bob Cratchett in his school’s production of “Scrooge” last year.

“When I sing for different things, I usually sing songs that are more on the classical side,” said Benjamin, whose favorites are “Ave Maria,” songs from the musical “Les Misérables,” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

When he’s not on center stage, he likes to watch TV, read and play video games with Jake, his 7-year-old brother.

“I also started taking piano lessons last year — I don’t know a lot of songs, but I love it so far,” Truncale said. “I practice and I just do it and I get better.”

Though he doesn’t plan on pursuing a singing career anytime soon — he would rather become an architect, a journalist or a lawyer, like his father, when he grows up, he said — his mother said she encourages him to explore his vocal talent and to try his best when he performs.

“I just want him to build confidence and meet people,” Teresa said. “I think he’s starting to understand now that he’s talented.”

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